History of Colwyn Bay Football Club
A team representing Colwyn Bay played its first match in January 1881 and competed in the North Wales Coast Football League from 1901 until that competition folded in 1921 when the majority of clubs joined the Welsh National League. The Bay enjoyed some success in this, winning the League Cup in 1928 and finishing as league runners-up in both 1928 and 1930 – which was to prove the last season for the competition.
In July of that year, a meeting was held at the Albion Hotel in Chester with a view to setting up the Cheshire Football Combination in which clubs from Cheshire and North Wales would compete – the eventual title of the competition was the North Wales Football Combination. The Bay became founder members – and can rightly claim to have first played in “English” football – in 1930-1931, and celebrated by taking the title at the end of the season. In 1931, the club joined the Birmingham & District League. In the Birmingham League were the likes of Worcester City, Cradley Heath, Wrexham Reserves and Kidderminster Harriers. Unfortunately this gave them transport difficulties and results tailed off. Unable to halt a slide down the table, which saw them finish bottom in 1935-1936 and 1936-1937 seasons, it was perhaps not surprising that they left this league to join the Welsh League (North) in 1937.
After the Second World War the club rejoined the competition and proved to be highly successful, starting off with a runners-up spot at the end of the first season and ending by taking the league title in 1983 and 1984. Bay also finished as runners-up in 1964 and amongst their cup successes were wins in the Alves Cup in 1964 and the Cookson Cup in 1974, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1984, the Barrit Cup in 1980 and 1984 as well as the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2011.
In 1984, the club crossed the border with election to the Bass North West Counties League. It was also at this time that the Bay left their Eirias Park ground for their present Llanelian Road base. During their first season in the new league, the club was promoted from the Third Division and following re-organization of the leagues in 1987 the club was promoted to the First Division. The Bay, under manager Bryn Jones, gained further success, finishing fourth in the League and reaching the Final of the Raab Karcher League Cup Final where they lost to Warrington Town at Gigg Lane, Bury. The club also reached the First Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time in their history that season, losing 1-0 away to Northwich Victoria. The following season the Seagulls again reached the Final of the Raab Karcher Cup and gained revenge on Warrington Town winning 3-0, again at Bury.
In 1990/91 the club finished runners up in the league to Knowsley United, but due to the demise of South Liverpool a vacancy was created in the Northern Premier League, and despite a strong challenge from North Shields to fill the vacancy, the club was duly elected to the Northern Premier League. The 1991/92 campaign started with the club on the crest of a wave, topping the table and enjoying an FA Cup run which saw them fall to Morecambe in the final qualifying round. However in October 1991 news broke that the Football Association of Wales, in readiness for a creation of a new League of Wales, would withdraw a sanction for all non-league clubs currently playing in England. The Football Association of Wales was challenged by the clubs and an appeal was heard. This appeal was set up by the FAW and consisted of members selected by the FAW. The appeal was turned down.
To the credit of the players and management, off the field activities did not affect those on the pitch and the club went on to secure a league and cup double as well as the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup. The Welsh Cup semi-final was also reached including a memorable 3-1 win over Wrexham; only days after the Football League side had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup. At the end of a highly successful first season in the Northern Premier League, the club had a big decision to make and gave its supporters a choice: Either join the new League of Wales or go into exile whilst the club continued its battle with the Welsh FA for the right to play in the English pyramid.
Financially the clubs choice was not easy, but was supported by the local council, townspeople and supporters alike. The club spent two years in exile at Northwich Victoria’s Drill Field and then Ellesmere Port, where they maintained their place in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. A temporary injunction was granted in summer of 1994 allowing Colwyn Bay as well as Newport County and Caernarfon Town to return to Wales and the fight was eventually finalized during April 1995 in the High Court in London and the Bay won the case against the Welsh FA. Under Bryn Jones the club consolidated their place in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and in 1995 had their best ever FA Cup run, eventually losing to Blackpool 2-0 at Bloomfield Road in the second round. The club also achieved a best ever FA Trophy run in 1996/1997 season, losing to Stevenage Borough in the quarter-finals.
At the end of the season 2000/2001 manager Bryn Jones stepped down as manager after eighteen years at the helm to be replaced by long serving centre half Colin Caton as player/manager. In his first season at the helm, the Bay maintained their Northern Premier League status, but the following season 2002/2003, the Bay were relegated for the first time in their history and Colin Caton stepped down as manager. The club was now struggling financially and had lost its sense of direction. A new group of directors took over running the club part way through 2004. A new clubhouse was opened at the ground in Easter 2005. The club appointed Peter Davenport as manager for the 2006-07 season but left half way through the season to join Southport was replaced by ex-Witton Albion manager Gary Finley. A strong end of season run saw the club into the play-offs where they were eventually defeated 3-2 by Cammell Laird courtesy of an injury time winner. At the end of the season a new board was appointed with the ambition of reaching Conference level football within 5 years, developing the stadium and a community affairs programme. The 2007/08 season was spent in the newly formed UniBond First Division North and regrettably the team could not re-produce the form of the previous end of season run and finished outside the play-offs. As a result a new manager was appointed in former Crewe player Steve Pope alongside the vastly experienced Paul Ogden as his assistant. But following a disappointing start to the 2008/09 season Steve Pope stood down as manager after only four league games.
Two weeks later Neil Young was appointed as the new manager, assisted by former Tranmere Rovers and Nottingham Forest player Gary Jones. The team went on a winning streak that saw them rise from 17th to 3rd place, securing two successive UniBond ‘club of the month’ awards for February and March along the way. The team eventually secured a play-off position finishing in 4th position, almost unthinkable before Young’s appointment. This was the clubs highest league placing for many years. Unfortunately, a run of injuries and a recall for influential on-loan midfielder Ashton Taylor back to Tranmere dented the clubs play-off hopes and after a brave effort were eventually beaten away at Newcastle Blue Star on penalties. A cruel twist being that eventual play-off winners Newcastle BS soon later folded, denying the Bay and the other teams in UniBond First Division North who made the play-offs a place in the UniBond Premier League. For the start of the 2009/10 season manager Neil Young made a number of signings in order to strengthen the side with the hope that the club could go one better this time around. Off the field, the club has managed to secure the biggest shirt sponsorship deal in the clubs history with The Co-operative Food Group. With a planned increase in community based initiatives, the launch of the Elite Performance Centre for the best young players in the area and with efforts continuing on improving ground facilities, the club can look forward to a bright future. The season started brightly for Colwyn Bay as they held the top spot for much of the season, but it was always a false position as the chasing pack had several games in hand over Colwyn Bay and with each game played, the gap continued to shrink. Colwyn Bay actually finished the season in 4th place and a massive 25 points behind eventual winners, FC Halifax and 21 points behind 2nd place Lancaster City. This was enough to secure Colwyn Bay a 2nd successive season in the play-offs and this time the would make full use of them as they travelled to Curzon Ashton where the Bay came from behind to win 2-1, then travelled to the Giant Axe where in monsoon conditions, Colwyn Bay won the match, and promotion with a late penalty strike from Ian Sheridan.
Manager Neil Young decided to leave Colwyn Bay to join re-formed Chester at the end of the season and club captain David Challinor was instantly the talk of the fans as they got behind their Captain as they publicly urged him to take the job. Behind the scenes, Colwyn Bay Directors had already drawn up a short list and like the fans; it was a unanimous vote of confidence as Dave Challinor was installed as player/manager. Challinor immediately brought in Colin Woodthorpe as his assistant. Challinor’s confidence in his decision making, coupled with an eye for spotting players with the required attributes saw his young side get his first season in charge off to a flyer as they went straight to the top of the table. Such was the success of this team, Colwyn Bay were very rarely outside of the play-off places and finished 2nd in the league behind the much fancied FC Halifax. After a comfortable win against North Ferriby, Colwyn Bay then went on to win 1-0 against FC United of Manchester with Jon Newby scoring the only goal to win promotion to the Blue Square Conference North.
Challinor and Woodthorpe, dropped a bombshell by moving on in October 2011 to take over at AFC Fylde and striker Jon Newby agreed to step up to take over as player-manager. He won the league’s Manager of the Month award within three months of taking over and successfully kept the team in the Conference North with a 12th place finish in their first season. Llanelian Road also saw major changes during the season with a new covered stand and new floodlights erected. Newby remained in post until January 2013 but after a poor run of results was replaced by former Bay goalkeeper Lee Williams. His tenure was brief and in February 2013 former Chelsea, Leicester City and Jamaica defender Frank Sinclair was appointed player/manager. Sinclair had joined the Seagulls the previous season and had scored on his debut in a victory at Altrincham. Sinclair took over a struggling side but the Bay six successive games to end the season which secured their Conference North status for a third season. Sinclair’s exploits earned him the Conference North manager of the month award for April 2013. The following season Colwyn Bay finished 12th to equal their highest position, but their four stay in the Conference ended with relegation on goal difference in the 2014-15 season, despite winning their final game 5-2 at Worcester. Frank Sinclair had left by mutual consent in the January, with Gus Williams taking charge to the end of the season, before standing down once relegation was confirmed. The club then suffered back to back relagations by finishing second bottom of the Evostik Premier Division, with two different managers, Ashley Hoskin and Kevin Lynch, and 58 different players failing to halt the slide. Paul Moore was then appointed manager in May 2016, with Phill Hadland and Dave Hughes as his assistant managers. Hadland then took over as manager when Moore departed in December 2016.