Belle Vue stadium, Rhyl


Belle Vue stadium, Grange Road

It’s generally thought that the first floodlit soccer match in Wales took place in Rhyl in March 1879, a few months after Sheffield’s Bramall Lane ground hosted the world’s first floodlit soccer match. The floodlit match, Rhyl v Grosvenor, was at the Greenfield ground, in east Rhyl. However, research by Rhyl History Club has revealed that a floodlit match was held in nearby Abergele, between two teams from Rhyl, on 13 February 1879, a fortnight before the match in Rhyl.

The first soccer matches in Rhyl followed the formation in the 1870s of a team known as the Rhyl Skull and Crossbones. Rhyl FC was a founder member of the Welsh League in 1890, but withdrew from the league the following year. In 1893 the club reformed as Rhyl Athletic and helped found the North Wales Coast League, winning the title in 1894-95.

Rhyl Athletic joined forces with  Rhyl Town in 1898 and switched to the Anglo-Welsh competition known as The Combination. In 1899 it moved to Belle Vue Gardens, alongside the Botanical Gardens. This remains its home.

Later the team was renamed Rhyl United, moving to the North Wales Alliance after the First World War and becoming founder members of the Welsh National League (North) in 1921. Rhyl won the title in 1925-26 and became a limited company in 1928 as Rhyl Athletic.

North Wales football was in turmoil in the early 1930s, so Rhyl sought to realise its ambitions in the Birmingham and District League. Travelling to matches in the West Midlands proved onerous, and Rhyl joined the Cheshire County League in 1936, opening one of the most successful chapters in the club's history.

Rhyl won the league title in 1947-48, 1950-51 and 1972. When the Cheshire County League was dissolved in 1982, Rhyl joined the North West Counties League, winning promotion to the Northern Premier League in the first season. Since 1992 the club has played in Welsh leagues.

Notable players associated with the club include Graham Williams (West Bromwich Albion and Wales), Barry Horne (Everton and Wales), Andy Jones (Charlton Athletic and Wales), Andy Holden (Oldham Athletic) and most recently Lee Trundle, who played for Rhyl in 2000-01.

With thanks to Dave Walker, and to Ruth Pritchard of Rhyl History Club

Postcode: LL18 4BY    View Location Map

Website of Rhyl FC

Details of Wales’ first floodlit match – Rhyl History Club blog

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