Back in March 1893, Holywell F.C. was one of seven founder members of the North Wales Coast League and, within six months, the club had 58 players registered. Holywell stayed in the Coast League until 1901, reaching the final of the North Wales Senior Cup (later NW Amateur Cup) in 1898. Unfortunately, they lost the final 3-0 to Bangor City. Under the name of Holywell United, the club surfaced once again in the Coast League for the 1912/13 season and, the following season, comfortably won the championship as well as the North Wales Coast Amateur Cup, beating Colwyn Bay 1-nil at Rhyl. On 13th October 1913 at the Ffordd-Fer Ground, now the site of the local high school, Holywell United staged their biggest game up to that time, playing an Everton XI. The Merseysiders included at least five players with English First Division experience and ran out 4-1 winners in front of a large crowd.
Runners-up to Holyhead Railway Institute in the 1920/21 season, Holywell scored 92 goals, almost two dozen more than any other team in the league that season. They also reached the final of the NWC Amateur Cup for the fifth time, but went down 3-1 to Holyhead. Revenge was sweet twelve months later, however, when Holywell defeated Holyhead 1-0 (Hewitt scored the goal) in the final played at Llandudno. Holywell United competed in the Welsh National League (North) from its inception in 1921/22 until 1928/29, with limited success. In 1929/30, the club appeared under the name Holywell Arcadians and competed in Division 2 (East) of the Welsh National League.
The following three seasons, however, saw Holywell Arcadians playing their soccer in the Welsh Football League, which ran alongside the North Wales Football Combination and was the forerunner of the Welsh League (North). Arcadians were champions in 1930/31 and 1932/33 and runners-up in between, before disappearing from the scene until resurrected as Holywell Town after the Second War. It was around this period that the moniker of 'The Wellmen' was adopted.
Holywell Town joined the Welsh League (North) in 1949/50, finishing a highly creditable fifth, and went on to become champions in 1952/53, beating off a strong challenge from neighbours Flint Town United. Two years later, however, the roles were reversed although Holywell Town were awarded the Alves Cup by virtue of their final league position! North Wales Amateur Cup success had come their way again in 1949, when Holywell beat Barmouth 2-0 in the final at Llandudno and The Wellmen were to triumph once more in 1957/58. This time they demolished Gwalchmai 6-0 at Farrar Road, Bangor.
Twelve months later, Holywell were back in the final for the ninth time and faced a strong Portmadoc side at Bangor. The match finished 1-1 with Holywell, having missed an 11th minute penalty, equalising in the 83rd minute through George Davies. The replay a week later was a dramatic affair. Twice Holywell led only for Portmadoc to come back strongly and take a 3-2 advantage. Despite having centre-forward Owen Davies injured, Holywell snatched an equaliser with the last kick of normal time. Extra-time proved too much for Holywell's ten men, however, and Port ran in five more goals to lift the cup. The two sides met again in 1963, though Holywell fielded an under-strength team in which goalkeeper Reg Banton played with a broken finger. Portmadoc won 3-0.
The Wellmen's Halkyn Road ground has been improved considerably and has staged youth internationals. Holywell Town maintained their membership of the Welsh League (North) for 17 seasons from 1949/50 until 1965/66, when they finished bottom of the league, just one point behind Blaenau Ffestiniog. Thereafter, Holywell played in local football until returning to the Welsh League in 1988/89, when they achieved a top five placing. Success at senior level continued to elude the club, despite reaching both the Welsh Amateur Cup Final in 1961/62 and the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup Final two seasons later, losing there to Borough United. At last, in 1986/87, Holywell Town triumphed in the premier North Wales Coast Challenge Cup competition. Throwing off the disappointment of defeat in 1964, Town played Mold Alexandra (at Flint) and won the cup 1-nil, thanks to a goal after 78 minutes scored by Merfyn Edwards.
Holywell Town became founder members of the MANWEB Cymru Alliance in 1990/91 and, two years later, were part of the newly-created national League of Wales. Top six finishes in each of the first two seasons, and 8th in 1994/95, meant the club had plenty to celebrate after 100 years of soccer. Though relegated to the Cymru Alliance in 1997, The Wellmen bounced straight back in 1997/98 only to suffer relegation a second time in 1999. The following season was a real struggle although the club managed to avoid relegation a second time, finishing several points above bottom club Corwen Amateurs. Matters improved in 2000/2001 when The Wellmen rose to a position mid-way in the league, in a season when they were one of six former League of Wales clubs to play in the Cymru Alliance. However, in 2001/2 the Wellmen finished a disappointing 16th, narrowly avoiding relegation and decided to part company with their Manchester-based manager and squad in favour of a more local set up. Unfortunately, their revised set-up fared no better 2002/3, finishing bottom - with a nine point deduction adding to a dismal playing record.
History compiled by Dave Rapson
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