Prestatyn (pronounced /prɛs-tə-tin/) is a seaside resort in Denbighshire, North Wales. It is located on the Irish Sea coast, to the east of Rhyl. At the 2001 Census, Prestatyn had a population of 18,496.
Although Prestatyn remains a tourist destination and resort town, the decline of the British holiday means the town is diversifying. The NHS is planning to open an elderly care facility in the town to serve north Denbighshire, and the opening of big name shops and supermarkets looks set to increase the town’s status as a shopping district. Construction of the Scala cinema started in February 2007, it will help regenerate the town, increase employment, improve tourism and provide much needed facilities for well meaning but misguided community volunteer groups whilst providing a digital cinema with films, exhibition and theatre venues.
Work is under way on the revival of the Ffrith Beach Festival Gardens. After a troubled few years when the seafront site has lain deserted, attractions are planned (eg 10-pin bowling, quad bikes, dance studio and Yoghurt bar) to breathe fresh life into the resort.
The town is located at the northern end of the Offa’s Dyke Path, although not on Offa’s Dyke itself. It also marks the eastern end of the North Wales Path, a long-distance coastal route to Bangor. Other attractions include the remains of Roman baths, the Scala Cinema (now closed due to structural damage but undergoing renovation), opened in 1913, and the nearby Neolithic mound, The Gop.
Ground: Bastion Road
Capacity: 2000 (300 seated)
Admission: Adult £7, Concessions/child £4
How to get there
From the West: Travel along the A55 and leave at junction 24 signposted Prestatyn and Rhuddlan. Take the first exit onto the A547. Travel on the A547 for approximately 10 miles, going through towns such as Rhuddlan and Meliden. When leaving Meliden turn left on to Ffordd Pendyffryn – B5120. Travel along the B5120 until you reach the A548, turn right on this road. Travel along the A548 until you reach the crossroads at the Territorial Army Centre, turn left here on to Bastion Road. Travel along Bastion Road and take the second right on to Bastion Gardens. The football ground is at the far end of Bastion Gardens on the left.
From the East: Travel along the A55, leave at junction 33 signposted Flint. Travel through Flint along the A5119 until you reach the A548. Travel along the A548 for approximatley 10 miles travelling through Greenfield, Mostyn and Gronant. Travel on the A548 through Prestatyn until you reach the crossroads at the Territorial Army Centre, turn right on to Bastion Road. Travel along Bastion Road and take the second right on to Bastion Gardens, the football ground is at the far end of Bastion Gardens on the left.
Records show that football has been played in Prestatyn since the early 1890s with games being played on an undeveloped field on Marine Road (although various other pitches around the town were also used), Prestatyn Thursdays being one of the most successful sides in these very distant days.
The early history of Prestatyn Football Club is somewhat sketchy as there were many teams who lasted just a couple of seasons before folding but one Prestatyn side did enjoy some form of longevity, winning the North Wales Coast FA Junior Cup in 1928/9. The guiding genius behind this team was Sam Bennett who, it seems, was a real one man band.
Bennett was the manager, carried out training, acted as club linesman, headed up the committee and also supplied match reports to the local press!
Although never one of North Wales` football`s leading lights in the pre and inter-war era, Prestatyn attracted their share of star players including left back Alf Smith who, according to legend, never disclosed his age to anyone but had a long and distinguished career with the Seasiders before hanging up his boots after a spell with Penmaenmawr.
Other names include George Drummond, an old-fashioned wing-half who possessed incredible skill and should have played at a far higher level, winger-cum-centre forward Roger Jones banged in goals for fun before retiring to take up a pub in Abergele. Jones had also played with great credit for Rhyl in their Birmingham League days. Then there were the Roberts brothers, Alf and George and the wonderfully-named `Cunnie` Jones who left Prestatyn to become a stalwart centre-half with Rhyl.
The club as we now know it only came into being in the 1930s when it settled on the old Bastion Road ground behind what is now the Central Beach Club, then known as the Chandypore.
This ground began life as an open plot of land with no real facilities. Players would change in the Chandypore and it was not until after the war years that a hut for changing and washing was erected on the field. When the club moved into the Welsh League North in 1958/9, rudimentary ground requirements were in force so the pitch was roped off through a series of metal posts and a covered area was erected in front of the dressing rooms.
The ground had some natural ambience as a football venue as there was a slight bank round three sides of the pitch and the homely little stadium was more than adequate for the club`s status at the time.
For a time in the late 1940s the club actually adopted the name Chandypore FC in deference to their `HQ` when they operated in the Dyserth Area League but quickly reverted to Prestatyn Town and, apart from dabbling with sponsor’s names (Prestatyn Town Nova in 1990), have remained so ever since.
But the club as we know it was officially founded in 1946 with a remit to provide local amateur footballers with the “highest standard of competition available to them allowing for the club`s facilities and financial resources” – a maxim that still more or less holds true today.
Success in these early days was in short supply, the only triumph of any note either side of the two World Wars was the capture of the North Wales Coast FA Junior Cup in 1928/9.
It was in season 1958/9 that the ambitious Prestatyn FC decided to take the plunge and join the Welsh League (North) after establishing themselves in the local Dyserth Area league.
This was a massive step up for Prestatyn as the Welsh League as it was then bore no resemblance to the Welsh Alliance League it has evolved into today. It was comprised of the cream of the region`s teams outside of English competition and the likes of Caernarfon Town, Porthmadog, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Bethesda Athletic and Pwllheli were packed with costly imported players from over the border and regularly entered the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup.
To step up among this elite gave Prestatyn`s committee a headache – did they abandon their local amateur policy or dig deep and bring in lads from Merseyside and Manchester who were undoubtedly more experienced but who wouldn`t lace their boots up unless they were paid four or five pounds, a lot of money indeed at that time.
After some soul-searching it was decided to stay with their local amateur policy and if success came that would be great but consolidation would be equally welcome among North Wales` footballing elite.
As committee man and club founder-member George Drummond told the Western Mail at the time: “This is not a pot-hunting or title-hunting club and never has been. If we can get to the top then all well and good but there will be no broken hearts or long faces if we don`t.”
Another resolution was to avoid the recruitment of professional players, preferring firstly to build upon the rock of amateurism and secondly because the committee of the time didn`t believe the club could afford it.
Mr Drummond added: “Our finances are comparitively sound at the moment but anything could happen between now and the end of the season. We need every penny we can lay our hands on to support a division one (Welsh League) team as well as our reserves in division two (Dyserth Area).”
So it was that chairman Don Yates sent out a circular to every business in the town appealing for their support towards the project, the response, he told the Mail, was ” very disappointing.”
Even so, the higher level of football appealed to the area`s football fans and their first few home games attracted record gates and although by the Welsh League gate receipts of the time £14 would not exactly knock you sideways, it did represent approximately 150 people through the turnstiles and by Prestatyn`s standards it was unprecedented.
However, a bone of contention was beginning to creep into the club – that of team selection. the starting eleven that took to the field each Saturday was chosen by the 16-strong committee (what would the club give to have 16 people on the committee today!) and each member had an equal say in who played. So, after much debate, it was decided to reduce this number by two-thirds to give manager-secretary Alf Lambert a more workable amount of people to deal with.
Lambert had played top-flight amateur football in the Isthmian League as a wing half with Dulwich Hamlet and had a stint with Southend United, although he never represented the Shrimpers at first team level. He brought his expertise to North Wales firstly with Rhuddlan United, where he enjoyed great success and then brought half his team with him to Prestatyn.
A pragmatic man, Lambert was under no illusions that an amateur team was going to struggle in the face of highly-paid semi-pro opposition but he was not going to content himself with bottom place either.
“We have strengthened the team a lot and I don`t think we will see a repetition of the Llandudno result (a 13-0 early season defeat), ” he told the Western Mail.
Lambert also brought in Bill Manley, who coached army teams in Malaya, as club trainer to bolster the development of the team. “In the past the lads have had no organised training schedule but now Bill has volunteered to take over and has got them cracking properly and we hope the results of this will make a big difference,” he added.
Come the end of the season, Prestatyn had held their own but endured some heavy defeats along the way. They ended up 12th out of 18 clubs with 27 points from a record of played 34, won 11, drawn 5, lost 18. Goals scored totalled 60 but 105 were shipped. Unbeknown, worse was to come!
At this time the reserve side were, to be blunt, dreadful. Competing in the second division east of the Welsh League, they finished rock bottom with one point from 16 games, scoring 22 goals but conceding 103. The following year, 1959/60 they were bottom again winning one game from 14, losing all the rest and letting in 102 goals in the process. Not surprisingly they disbanded at the end of the season.
Season 1960/1 saw a change of approach from Prestatyn. They abandoned the amateur ethos in favour of semi-professionalism and Alf Lambert stood aside for Londoner Ted Buckle to take the helm. However, Buckle needed success fairly quickly as the club had previously been run on a shoestring and ended season 1959/60 with just £107 in the bank. Total gate receipts for the season were £147 and expenditure amounted to £1,302 with income standing at £1,400.
A winning team was needed to bring bigger crowds into the ground and drive the bank balance up.
A seaman who served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, Buckle was – and still is – by far the most experienced ex-professional footballer ever to have been involved with Prestatyn Town.
After demob from the Navy in 1946, Buckle signed as a professional with Manchester United and spent four years at Old Trafford making 20 first division appearances and scoring six goals. Unhappy at being a fixture in the Central League side, in 1949/50 he moved across Lancashire to join Everton and became a big hit with the Toffees.
In a six year career at Goodison Park, the robust forward clocked up 97 appearances, hitting the net 31 times before moving south to Exeter City in 1955. Then in the Third Division South, Exeter proved a happy hunting ground for Buckle where he made 65 appearances in two seasons, scoring 12 goals, before the lure of the north took him back to Lancashire, this time as a semi-pro with Wigan Athletic, then one of the top clubs in the Lancashire Combination.
Buckle enjoyed more success at Springfield Park and made headlines when he scored in a 2-1 win over Southport (then a Football League side) in the first round of the F A Cup in 1957/8. In the second round the Latics drew Mansfield Town at home drawing 1-1 but losing the replay 3-1, Buckle scoring Wigan`s consolation in that game.
After leaving Wigan he became manager of Midland League Worksop Town before arriving in North Wales in late 1959.
So it was that he applied his wealth of experience to Prestatyn and enjoyed relative success. 1960/1 opened with two straight wins – including a 3-2 win over Rhyl – and a defeat to reigning champions Nantlle Vale. After the struggle of the previous two campaigns, Prestatyn ended in a creditable ninth place and things were looking good.
As player-manager, Buckle had bolstered the team with a number of ex-Rhyl players, among them Jimmy Rogers, defender Geoff Byrne, utility man Peter Jones and the former Aston Villa and Wrexham centre forward Peter Williams.
Season 1960/1 also saw the revival of the Prestatyn Football Supporters Club which had been disbanded some years earlier. The PFSC edict was to raise money for the team with the cash going to paying the weekly wage bill but another idea sown at this time was that of a new ground in the town – something that would not come to fruition for another ten years.
In the late 1960s the old Bastion Road ground was swallowed up by housing and after considering using a pitch in the middle of the old Prestatyn Raceway for a time (now the site of Pontin’s Holiday Village) the club moved to their present headquarters off Bastion Gardens in season 1970/1 which has been slowly but steadily modernised ever since.
For most of the 1960s Town had been members of either the Dyserth Area League or the Welsh League North but in 1970/71 after twelve seasons of semi-pro Welsh League football the club found itself in a dire financial position and it was a case of do or die – quit the Welsh League at the eleventh hour for the local amateur status Dyserth Area League or go under.
With the move to the new ground earmarked for the following season – an ambitious and costly project – the drop down in standard proved a shrewd move. Under the chairmanship of Chester Reeve, the club began to blossom again and with treasurer Reg Heighway keeping tight control of the purse strings, the debts and bills were paid and Prestatyn began to rise through the ranks again.
On the field player-manager Eaton Woodfine had assembled a mix of youthful talent and experienced old stagers and for the next four seasons – until 1973/4 – Prestatyn dominated the Dyserth Area League until reorganisation of local football brought a whole new set of opportunities.
The new and for its level, exciting, Clwyd League pulled together the best teams in Deeside, the Denbighshire coast and the Vale of Clwyd and once again expenses rose as Town reverted to a semi-pro approach but this time on a much more even keel.
In the preceding seasons a 250 club had been established which brought in the tidy sum of £1,000 a year and a ten year lease on the new ground with an option to review for another ten, gave the Seasiders stability and security.
After becoming founder members of the Clwyd League in 1974/5 Prestatyn enjoyed immediate success under the charge of manager Woodfine, winning the inaugural and subsequent titles and bagging a host of cups along the way.
In the early to mid-1980s the Woodfine era came to a close and the club`s on-field fortunes declined a little until, under the managership of former player Ricky Westwell, they found their feet and a talented side of young local lads began to re-establish themselves as one of the league`s leading clubs.
After finishing runners-up to St Asaph City in 1992/3, they decided to take the plunge and rejoin the Welsh League North, now known as the Welsh Alliance. At the Alliance AGM, Town romped home in the vote, polling 16 against Llanfairfechan Town`s 11 and Porthmadog Reserves` 5.
But the Clwyd League weren`t happy and kept Town waiting until they decided whether to accept their resignation. The Clwyd League argued that their rules said only champion, not runner-up, clubs could move up under pyramid rules – but a dangerous precedent had been set by the Welsh FA who had allowed Llandudno, fourth in the Alliance, to make the move upwards into the Cymru Alliance.
After two meetings and a delay of three weeks, the Clwyd League (President – FAW President Elfed Ellis of Mostyn!) decreed Town could leave for the higher level but by this time relations between Prestatyn and their old league had become badly strained.
Prestatyn then set to preparing for their new status with a vengeance as the red tape wrangle had meant long delays to their plans and a busy programme of fundraising activities and ground improvements was begun.
During the 1993/4 season, Town, now under the management of former Queen of the South professional Eddie Garrett who replaced Westwell after he resigned citing work commitments, finished in eighth place but won the Alves Cup for the first time, beating St Asaph in an exciting final at Connah’s Quay. The following season, 1994/5, saw the Seasiders set up an incredible end of season run of 14 straight wins to finish just four points behind champions Rhydymwyn.
They also reached the semi-final of the Alves Cup while the reserve team won the Clwyd League’s Clwyd Cup.
Garrett had brought a new edge to the way team affairs were run, even if his occasionally old-fashioned and disciplinarian ways rubbed some younger players up the wrong way!
Born in Nethermill, Dumfriesshire, Garrett had been with local East of Scotland League club Glenafton Athletic where a string of hardworking performances up front brought him to the attention of his nearest professional club, Queen of the South. He was not the biggest of strikers but he could put himself about and his quick temper and robust attitude saw him make 68 appearances for Queens scoring 23 goals – including the winner in a 1-0 victory over Celtic at Parkhead.
In 1963 he was released from Palmerston Park and moved over the border to Carlisle United but things didn`t go so well at Brunton Park and he made only one Football League appearance before moving to Wales in 1964/5 season and signing for Rhyl on semi-professional terms.
Garrett based his management ethos around pride, punctuality, commitment and the basic aim of playing a quick, passing game on the deck, he established Prestatyn as one of the leading clubs in the Alliance and when he resigned at the end of 1995/6 after a 3-1 defeat at Porthmadog, he had left the club in good shape on the field and with a solid platform for his successors to build on.
Season 1995/6 saw Prestatyn chasing eventual champions Denbigh Town all the way but again fate saw them end up in second place but this time only three points behind. In this season Town completed work on their clubhouse which meant the Seasiders now had their own entirely self-contained base.
As a club on the up, Town decided to take the initiative and tie in the official opening of the new clubroom – christened the Peter Cooper Lounge – with the Town Council`s centenary celebrations and as such, then secretary Mark Jones wrote to every club in the FA Premier League to see if they would send a squad down to play a friendly at the start of 1996/7 season.
A couple of weeks went by and then, on consecutive days, two letters dropped on to the secretary`s mat from clubs willing to come and play – Nottingham Forest and Manchester United!
Frantic arrangements were undertaken and through sheer hard graft by chairman Glyn Breeze Jones, treasurer Tony Thackeray, club president Gareth Savage and Mark Jones, assisted by a dedicated band of helpers, all the arrangements were put in hand and United and Forest came to the seaside.
A crowd of almost 3,200 crammed into Bastion Road to see a United reserve side run out 5-0 winners but Prestatyn put up a magnificent show and on a damp, sultry July evening against Forest, the 1,900 spectators were in raptures when a spectacular overhead kick by James Murnane put Town 1-0 up against a Forest side packed with talented youngsters. Fitness told though and the professional side ended up 3-1 winners but again, the Seasiders were far from disgraced.
Other Football League sides to have visited Bastion Road in friendly games include Shrewsbury Town, Preston North End, Chester City and Wrexham.
There was an acrimonious split at the club in 1998/9 which led to the formation of Prestatyn Nova and Town resigning from the Welsh Alliance to rejoin the Clwyd League but the move was not the backward step many detractors feared.
Under the leadership of Tony Thackeray and Gwyn ‘Gonzo’ Jones, the Seasiders completed a Clwyd League treble of championship, Premier Cup and President’s Cup while the reserves reached the final of the Coast FA Junior Cup, losing on penalties to Abergele Celts. Not bad for a club supposedly in crisis!
Town rejoined the Welsh Alliance the next year, finishing seventh and again winning the Alves Cup while the resrves won the Clwyd League’s REM Jones Cup.
By now a settled and ambitious outfit, 2001/2 saw Prestatyn appoint Graham Hunter as manager and Tony Thackeray became club chairman. Town were runners-up in the Alves Cup and the reserves retained the REM Jones Cup. 2002/3 saw managerial changes again when Paul Thomas and James Ainsworth took over the reins.
After a couple of seasons of underachievement there was change again for 2003/4 when Jim Hackett and Steve Jones took over and the transformation was immediate, Town finished third and just missed promotion to the Cymru Alliance.
Hackett left for a job at Chester City after a year and 2004/5 was a season of mixed fortune under the management of Lennie Dunster and Martyn Jones with a disappointing start leaving the team too much to do to catch the leaders and the Seasiders eventually finished sixth but did reach the final of the NWCFA Challenge Cup for the first time, losing 3-0 to Bangor City at Llandudno. Town were not outclassed by their Welsh Premier opponents and but for some wayward finishing, could have made the final scoreline a lot closer.
2005/6 was the season that really marked an upturn in Prestatyn’s fortunes when, under the chairmanship of Steven Jones, Town appointed Dave Fuller as player-manger and retained Martyn Jones as assistant and the club looked forward to the coming season with new hope and a five-year plan to attain Welsh Premier status. A policy to concentrate on the league title paid off in fine style with the team winning the Welsh Alliance title for the first and remaining unbeaten all season and ending up nine points clear of runners-up Denbigh Town.
Icing on the cake was a rewarding run in the Welsh Cup which ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat to Welsh Premier Carmarthen Town in front of 268 people at Bastion Road. The season also saw the reserves, under manager Sean Pritchard, finish a strong third in the Clwyd League’s Premier Division and winning the President’s Cup by beating Llandyrnog 5-2 at Halkyn United.
Off the field the new clubhouse extension was completed along with a new seated stand and hard standing around the pitch to comply with the requirements of the Cymru Alliance and in their first season, Fuller – now assisted by Neil Gibson – had a wobbly start but regained the team’s composure to finish fourth and reach the final of the CAL League Cup and the NWCFA Challenge Cup.
Dave stood down in the close season with Gibson taking over as player-manager for 2007/8 and with the majority of the squad staying, the push for Welsh Premier football began in earnest.
With a brief to `forget the cups, win the league` the Seasiders set the pace from their opening game, a 5-1 home drubbing of Ruthin Town. Early exits from the Welsh Cup, League Cup and Coast FA Cup did nothing to dent morale and what became an unstoppable machine ploughed on through the season and to an inevitable conclusion.
With the title mathematically secured at Llanfairpwll with two matches remaining, Prestatyn finished up 15 points clear of runners up Bala Town (the only team to beat them twice) and the race was on to get Bastion Road ready for Welsh Premier football.
What followed was a true footballing fairytale. The club had submitted an application for floodlights, an extension to the stand, new seating, a turnstile block and treatment room to Denbighshire County Council in mid-February and the application was due to be heard on March 15th. However, disaster struck when the council asked for further information from the club and deferred the March date until the next meeting on April 23rd.
This was a hammer blow for Prestatyn, if the application was approved it gave the club just eight days to do all the work before the Welsh Premier`s May 1st deadline, if it was refused, there was no time to appeal and the club committee would have had no option other than to tell the WPL they would not be accepting promotion.
As it was, despite some serious opposition from local residents, the application sailed through by an amazing 25 votes to nil and what happened next was previously unheard of in Welsh football.
The April 23rd planning meeting began in Ruthin council chambers at 9.30am. Town`s application was early on the agenda and was approved by 10.05am. Chairman Tony Thackeray then phoned through to the ground where the floodlight contractors and a gang of club volunteers were standing by to begin work.
If the application had been refused a very disappointed band of people would have been going home but as it was they got stuck in and by 5pm that night, three pylons were in place, the base for the turnstiles was laid and blockwork had been erected for the additional seating.
Over the next week, work continued from dawn till dusk as people who had never previously laid a brick or mixed concrete in their lives became quick learners. By May 1st all the work had been completed and when WPL supremo John Deakin came to inspect the improvements, he could not hide his admiration for what had been a superhuman effort by a band of very dedicated people and recommended acceptance – the Seasiders were in! Now members of the elite 18 club Welsh Premier League for season 2008/9, the hard work has only just begun…watch this space!
Alves Cup Winners 1993/4, 1999/0 Runners Up 2000/1
Barritt Cup Runners Up 1996/7, 2006/7
Clwyd Premier League Champions 1974/5, 1975/6, 1982/3, 1983/4, 1998/9, 2006/7, 2007/8 Runners Up 1992/3
OCS Premier Divison Merit Award Winners 1985/6
Clwyd League Division One Champions 1991/2
Runners Up 1980/1
Clwyd League Division Two Champions 1989/0, 1993/4
Clwyd Premier Cup Winners 1974/5, 1975/6, 1981/2, 1983/4, 1998/9
Clwyd President`s Cup Winners 1983/4, 1998/9, 2005/6
Edin Hughes Award Winners 1984/5
Cymru Alliance Champions 2007/8
Cymru Alliance League Cup Runners Up 2006/7
Dyserth Area League Champions 1971/2, 1972/3, 1973/4
NWCFA Challenge Cup Runners Up 1983/4, 2006/7
NWCFA Junior Cup Winners 1928/9 Runners Up 2006/7
REM Jones Cup Winners 1994/5, 1999/0, 2000/1
Welsh Alliance League Champions 2005/6
Runners Up 1994/5, 1995/6
Address: Bastion Gardens, Prestatyn, Denbighshire LL19 7ES (click for map)
Tel: 01745 856905
Press Tel: 01745 851658
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