TT No.129: Mike Latham - Sat 30 March 2013: Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Football League Division 2:             Penmaenmawr Phoenix 3-1 Llandyrnog Utd; Att: 45 (h/c); Admn: £2 incl. 24pp programme; FGIF Match Rating: 4*





Matchday images (34)


Early morning frost gave way to a gloriously sunny day on the North Wales coast and I headed for a ground I’d passed many times on forays into Anglesey recently.


Penmaenmawr lies on the North Wales Coast, just off the main A55 road between Conwy and Llanfairfechan.  It was once a major quarrying town, quarrying beginning here in the 1830s. There are some fascinating accounts of the lives of the workers and their families to be found on the internet.  These days Penmaenmawr is better known as a seaside destination and base for exploring the wild beauty of Snowdonia. The bay is quite sheltered, partly by Anglesey and partly by the jutting headland of the Great Orme near Llandudno and there is an excellent beach, ideal for dog-walking out of season, as I can testify from personal experience. 


One of the town’s biggest fans was the Victorian statesman and Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone; unlike many groundhoppers he kept coming back- he is said to have holidayed here eleven times between 1855 and 1896.  I was at university with one of his descendants who was also, from memory a football fan.  I wonder if he has ever visited Penmaenmawr?  The town has also seen its fair share of tragedy- a railway accident in 1950 that killed six people, a mass murder in the 1970s when a former army officer killed four people at a hotel before committing suicide.


Penmaenmawr Phoenix take the trouble to produce a programme, a very good production that is included in the modest admission price.  Included in the 24 pages is an excellent potted history that sadly ends with the advent of the Second World War.  Through many ups and downs, however, it can be ascertained that the roots of the game, beginning here in 1890, have now resulted in a competitive team of local players playing in the Welsh Alliance Division 2, level four of the pyramid in Wales.  The present club was formed in 1972.


Cae Sling, the modest home of the Phoenix is easy to find, on the left-hand-side of the road leading up to the town from the A55. There is a changing block and decent car park and a practice pitch with the main ground being at a higher level. Though it is all rather ramshackle, the friendliness of the locals and the stunning scenery more than atone. The playing area is surrounded by a post and rail fence which is badly in need of painting and rust treatment but the pitch itself was in excellent condition and remarkably flat considering the surrounding terrain. There is a small area of hard-standing and a covered standing area behind the near-side goal with the club’s name and badge panted on the white wall. Here, too is the ‘tea shed’ where hot drinks, chocolate and hot dogs are purveyed at cheap prices. The attendance at kick-off time was around the 20-mark but this grew in size as the afternoon progressed and everyone seemed to know one another.  It was a friendly atmosphere and everyone seemed to really enjoy their football.


The views around the ground are simply spectacular, inland to fields dotted with sheep that rise up to snow-capped mountains, out to sea looking towards Anglesey. From all the grounds I’ve visited in Wales, and that now numbers quite a few, this was one of the best.


The game was excellent, too, and the home side pulled off a shock win with a really gutsy and determined performance.  Llandrynog arrived as league leaders but were second best for most of the afternoon as Phoenix took the lead midway through the first-half when their tall centre-back headed home a corner.  The home side increased their lead just before half-time and virtually sealed the game when one of their midfield players, much to his own apparent surprise, found the net with a spectacular effort from 40 yards just after the hour-mark.


Though the visitors fought back strongly and pulled back a goal there was no denying Phoenix their famous win after what was a really enjoyable game of football.  Just like Mr Gladstone I’d recommend a visit to Penmaenmawr unreservedly and hopefully, just as he did on many occasions, I will return.


v2 contributed on 30/03/13