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Football in Rhostyllen & Bersham

Rhostyllen and Bersham have always been well known for having talented and tough football teams with the players traditionally coming from working class backgrounds.  

The Vicarage Field has been used to play football since 1955 (when it was donated by Colonel Fitzhugh) but before that the “Village” football pitch had been sited in various locations including behind Bersham Colliery bank and where Ferndale Avenue, James Street and Amanda Grove are now situated. Also I remember playing on a pitch where Esless Park housing estate is now.

At the time of writing this article Rhostyllen are a reformed village football club who won the Clwyd East League in the 2015/16 season.

The origins of football in Rhostyllen and Bersham

From researching the newspaper archives it became apparent that Rhostyllen had a cricket team in the 1870’s. It is possible that the football team was formed from members of the Rhostyllen cricket team who wanted something to do during the winter months! Did this cricket team then go on to become Bersham Cricket Club which formed in 1902? To further complicate things there was also a Bersham United? (no information about this team)

Back: Dick Owen, Sam Morgan, Fred Roberts, Albert Owen, Herbert Davies, Joe Jones, Robert Davies. Front: Fred Davies, Haydn Jones, Jack Edwards,                Albert Williams, Jim Fisher

Circa early 1900’s - Bersham United

Rhostyllen FC

The earliest reference to football being played by a Rhostyllen team is a 0-0 draw with Grove Park School in December 1879. So if you play for a “Village” football team then wear your shirt with pride as there are over 130 years of history behind you.

Research indicates that the team was called Rhostyllen FC between 1879 –1882. The Club then reformed as ….

Rhostyllen Victoria (in 1883/84)

1884/89 - Allen ‘Alf’ Pugh (Rhostyllen Victoria & Wales)

Allen Pugh was born in Bersham on the 27th of October 1869. His father (William) was a sawyer from Bersham who worked on the Fitzhugh Estate. The family later moved to Station Road, Rhostyllen. Allen’s early football was played at Rhostyllen Victoria before joining Wrexham Olympic for a year in 1885. Described as a “competent goalkeeper”, at the age of 16 he represented Denbighshire twice: in January 1885, against Shropshire and in November, against Lancashire. After losing his place at Wrexham to Sam Gillam, he returned to Rhostyllen, where he continued to play for a further ten years.

“On 15 April 1889, Wales were playing their British Home Championship match against Scotland at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham. The regular goalkeeper Jim Trainer failed to turn up for the match as Preston North End refused to release him. The kick-off was delayed while a replacement was sought; eventually the match got underway with Allen Pugh in goal before Gillam arrived some twenty minutes into the match. Neither goalkeeper conceded a goal and the match ended 0–0. This was the first time in 14 matches between the countries that the Scots had failed to defeat the Welsh and only the second international match in which neither team had managed to score, the first being the very first officially recognised international match between Scotland and England on 30 November 1872. This was also the first use of a substitute in international football” (Wikipedia, 2014)

This was Allen’s first and last appearance for Wales. After his footballing career ended he was a secretary of a junior soccer club and kept the Union Vaults in Wrexham.

Complete Welsh Cup record 1881 - 1897

The Club was then possibly? reformed as…Esclusham ‘White Stars’

Back: Joe Lloyd, ? , Rees Lloyd, Ted Humphreys, Harry Thompson, ? , Alf Badwick, Dick Cotton, Ned Barton. Middle: Chas Williams, Herb Cave, A Lloyd, Front: ? ,Hugh Jones, ?, Eb Edwards, Tom Williams.

The Club were Welsh Amateur Cup Winners;
1904/05 - Esclusham White Stars 4v0 Bangor Reserves
1907/08 - Esclusham White Stars 1v0 Brymbo

The rumour is that Billy Meredith (Manchester City & Wales) played for this team. Geraint Lloyd's grandfather, Joe Lloyd was born in Chirk 1875 and went down Black Park pit with Billy and played with him for Chirk before Joe moved to Rhostyllen, where he played for the White Stars. Joe Lloyd's winning seasons with Esclusham White Stars were 1904 to 1909. During this time, they won the Welsh Amateur Cup twice. The medal has now been passed down to Joe Lloyd's great great grandson Ben Summers.

That was when he says Billy Meredith played for Esclusham White Stars.

I'm very grateful to Ian Garland, Welsh Football historian for the following observation on the above rumour (and for helping me so much in my research):-

“I haven't heard that story and I've checked the biography of Billy Meredith and there's no mention of Esclusham. I reckon Esclusham White Stars must have been formed around 1900. They are in the Wrexham Amateur League from 1903/04 onwards. After the First World War I think the team was called Esclusham (no White Stars). That would narrow it down but I think his clubs were Chirk, Northwich Victoria then on to Manchester. If he did play for Esclusham pre-WWI it could have been a friendly. Alternatively he might have played for Esclusham in a one-off charity match after he retired. He played quite a few charity matches in the 1920s, inc one at Caernarfon, and had any number of benefits. He didn't give up the mines until 1895 by which time he was at Man C. I read that before that he used to do an early shift on a Saturday then catch the train to Manchester. You don't get that sort of commitment these days”

Esclusham White Stars - League Record

Wrexham District League (formed in 1903):

1903/04 3rd in Division 1

1904/05 3rd in Division 1 (also Reserves top of Division 2)

1905/06 2nd in Division 1 (Reserves 4th in Division 2)

1906/07 8th in Division 1 (no Division 2)

1907/08 1st in Division 1

1908/09 6th in Division 1

1909/10 8th in Division 1

1910/11 6th in Division 1

1911/12 6th in Division 1

I think this league came to an end in 1912?

New league: North Wales Alliance

1912/13 11th

1913/14 no sign of Esclusham so perhaps they folded or joined a different league?

1919/20 13th

1920/21 13th

League disbanded 1921

There is a gap between 1921 and 1926.

The Wrexham & District Amateur League was formed in 1925.

No sign of Esclusham in 1925-26, then:

1926-27 4th

1927-28 10th

1928-29 8th

1929 - No record of Esclusham perhaps they folded?

This team won the cup at the Racecourse in 1965 - 66, Back L - R Len Hignett, Dave Owen, Dave (chippsy) Clutton, Rees Thomas, ?, ? Rob Owen (Benno), Paul Hignett, Ray Downward, Tommy Williams, Don Roberts, Middle L - R Tony Gray, ?, Geoff Platt, Dave Sears, Front L - R ? Steve Austin (Porky), Arthur Edwards, Steve Downward (Holding Cup), Frank Roberts, Ken Pritchard.

1965/66 - Rhostyllen Villa Cup Winners

Joe Lloyd’s Cup Medal from 1905

Rhostyllen Villa

From the left: D.Ryder, A.Edwards, D.Roberts, T.Evans, I.Williams, K ?, D.Lloyd, D.Hughes, V.Thomas, J.Howhelt, ?.

1975 - The Top Pub

Back row: D Powis, T.Lamothe, V.Thomas, D.Edwards, M.Parry, Glyn (Publican), T.Thomas

Middle row: E.Jones, R.Thomas, K.Pritchard, F.Roberts, D.Roberts, S.Adamson, Rob ?, G.Jones, G.Cooper, G.Davies.

Front row: J.Roberts, M.Messham, K.Jones, K.Edwards, P.Rogers, M.Thomas

1975 - Top Pub Presentation Night

From the left: K.Edwards, T.Evans, V.Thomas, B.Bloor, D.Lovelle, G.Cooper, B.Rommie, T.Lamothe, R.Thomas, D.Edwards, G.Downing


1st round

Rhostyllen 6 Corwen Mountaineers 1

Second round

Ruthin 11 Rhostyllen 0


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 1 Crown (Wrexham) 1 (replay 1-1, both clubs go through)

2nd Round

Wrexham 2 Rhostyllen Victoria 0


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 0 Crown (Wrexham) 5


1st round

Berwyn Rangers 2 Rhostyllen 1 (protest re roping off of ground, replay 2-1 to Rhostyllen Victoria)

2nd round

Rhostyllen Victoria - bye

3rd round

Group 1

Rhostyllen Victoria 0 Druids 0 (replay 1-5)


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 1 Druids 4


1st round

Druids 3 Rhostyllen Victoria 0


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 8 Corwen 1

2nd round

Rhostyllen Victoria 3 Vale of Llangollen 3 (replay 2-1)

3rd round

Wrexham 1 Rhostyllen Victoria  0 (protest, replay 4-0)


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 8 Vale of Llangollen 2

2nd round

Rhostyllen Victoria 3 Overton 0

3rd round

Chirk 7 Rhostyllen Victoria 1


1st round

Division 1

Ruabon 1 Rhostyllen Victoria 1 (replay 1-3)

2nd round

Wrexham Hibernians 3 Rhostyllen Victoria 5

3rd round

Rhostyllen Victoria 1 Chirk 2


1st round

Wrexham 2 Rhostyllen Victoria 1


1st round

Denbigh scratched to Rhostyllen Victoria

2nd round

Rhostyllen Victoria 2 Rhosllanrchrugog 2 (replay 1-1)


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 0 Westminster Rovers 3

1894-95 - did not enter?


1st round

Wrockwardine Wood 2 Rhostyllen Victoria 0


1st round

Rhostyllen Victoria 2 Westminster Rovers 0

2nd round

Druids 8 Rhostyllen Victoria 0

Circa late 1950’s - Rhostyllen Villa

Back row: G.Davies, A.Jones, B.Thomas, ?, D.Griffiths, ?, ?, A.Smith (Manager)

Front row: T.Hooson (Trainer), ?, J.Williams, G.Cooper, R.Baker, B.Hughes

1963/64 - Rhostyllen Villa

Back row: R.Williams, T.Evans, D.Morton, S.Williams, H.Edwards, E.Davies.

Front row: V.Thomas, D.Powis, D.Thompson, J.Hughes, T.W.Williams

Circa Early 1990’s - Rhostyllen Villa

1990’s - The Middle Pub

1975 -Top Pub

Back row: G.Downing, E.Jones, B.Rommie, D.Lovelle, K.Edwards, B.Blower, E.Jones

Front row: T.Evans, V.Thomas, M.Thomas, G.Cooper, M.Parry, D.Edwards

The Shelley Cup Final 1993

1964/65 - Bersham Colliery Football Team

Rhostyllen under 12’s

The next reference I could find to football being played in the “Village” was in the Welsh National League with Rhostyllen Sports Club and Rhostyllen & Bersham Legion joining in 1946/47 and leaving in 1954/55.

Presumably these Clubs reformed as Rhostyllen Villa? This Club was formed in 1955 and joined the Welsh National League in the 1955/56 season were it stayed until the end of the 1984/85 season. Rhostyllen Villa continued in the Wrexham League until 1997, then there's Rhostyllen United that first appear in 1999. Possibly a new club? They continue to 2005. The following newspaper article covers the period 1946 - 1975.

1948 Rhostyllen & Bersham British Legion Football Team

Front row, end extreme, right Denis Pritchard (Danno)! My Geography teacher at Bryn Offa.

1955 Rhostyllen Sports Club Football Team

1955 Rhostyllen Football Team

Back row left to right, Den Jones, George Evans, Tony Cooper, Dennis Griffiths, Cliff Sear, Di Fairhurst, Will Thomas (Eli and Whippet’s dad), ?, ?.  Front row:- ?. Len Hignett, ? ?. Tommy Wright, The legendary Albert the Barber (Goff’s dad).

1975 Rhostyllen Villa

Back: Malcolm Roberts, Billy Blower, Frank Roberts, Alan Hughes, Rees Thomas, Paul Rowlands, Tommy Thomas.

Front: Tony Grey, Brian Morgan, Nigel Williams, Dave Cartwright, John Roberts

1960’s - Rhostyllen Villa playing in claret and blue with Ken Pritchard and brothers Dave and Frank Roberts, in the background you can just about see Bersham Bank.

Back row, 3rd from right Brian Badwick, front middle Derek Jones (captain) and front, end extreme, right Cliff Sear

1950 Rhostyllen Youth Football Team

1989/90 Middle Pub

Back row: Steve Bailey,?, Phil Jones, Ian Williams, Dave Kenny, Bryan Badwick, Tony Powell, John Roberts.

Front row Kev Roberts, Steve Churchill, Max Wiecko, Mark Pritchard, Nigel Harper.

1990/91 Middle Pub

Back row: Tony Powell, Carlton Barlow, Steve Jones, Mark Ithell, Bryan Badwick, Phil Jones, Steve Bailey,?, Vic Thomas, John Roberts

Front row: Ian Blower,?, Phil Hartley, Max Wiecko, Chris Matthews,?

1993 R&BRBL - Welsh National League Division 3 League & Cup Winners

Back row: Robbie Brown, Mark Powis,?, Conde,?, Ian Brown, Nick Jones, Kelvin Morgan, Paul Stevenson

Front row: Ronnie Williams, Kev Lamoth, Graham Williams, ?, Jacko Foulkes, Max Wiecko, Steve Downward, Robbie Brown, ?.

1994/95 - R&BRBL Sunday League Team

Back row: ?, ? Mike Jones, Richard Sim, Paul Stevenson, John Hignett, Chipsy, Kelvin Morgan, Paul Stevenson, ?, Don Broadhurst

Front row: Steve Downward, Robbie Brown, Max Wiecko, ?, Ronnie Williams, Jacko Foulkes, Phil Conde, Kev Lamoth

1989/90 Middle Pub Shelley Cup Final 06/05/90 at Wrexham F.C.

Back row: Bryan Badwick, Alan Pritchard, Phil Hartley, Colin Jackson, kev Roberts, Gary Crewe, John Roberts.

Front row: Mark Pritchard, Nigel Harper, Steve Churchill, Max Wiecko, Mascot, Steve Bailey, Steve Jones.

1993 R&BRBL - Welsh National League Division 3 League & Cup Winners

Back row: ,?, Conde, Nick Jones,?,?, Ian Brown, Paul Stevenson, Ronnie Williams Front row: Ian Blower, Kev Lamoth, Steve Downward, Jacko Foulkes, Max Wiecko.

1989/90 Middle Pub

Back row: Kev Roberts, Chris Jones, Phil Jones, Bryan Badwick, Tony Powell, John Roberts, Sponsor.

Front row:  Mark Pritchard, Nigel Harper, Steve Churchill, Max Wiecko, Steve Bailey.


Front row: ?, ?, ?, ?, Den Jones, ?, ?

1981 Middle Pub

Back row: Dave Lloyd, ?, ?, Paul Roberts, Dave Cartwright,?.

Front row: ?, Max Wiecko, Gareth Jones, Tony Williams, + brothers "Eli" Ian + Whippet ?

1959 - Invitations to play for Rhostyllen Sports Club F.C. (C Weeks)

1948 - Rhostyllen Sports Club F.C.

Back row: Harry Lloyd (Goalkeeper), Gordon Evans (far right)

Front row: Arthur Shone (second from left), Tommy Thompson “Sailor” (far right)

1965/66 - Rhostyllen Villa

Rhostyllen Villa, ( Church Youth League ) 1965 - 66. Back Row, Bob Jenkins, Dave (Crockett) Hughes, Richard ( Benno ) Owen, Peter(Pecker) Hughes, Ken Pritchard, Frank Roberts, Arthur Edwards, Dave Harper. Front Row, Tommy Thomas, Alan Stevenson, Lenny Hewitt, Malcolm (Mansion ) Roberts, David Lloyd.

Rhostyllen Victoria 1890 – 1897 Played in the Welsh Senior League - Highest placing 3rd in 1890/91

Allen Pugh second from left at the family home in Station Cottage, Station Road.

Allen Pugh (back row with hat).

Allen Pugh (Station Road) with Eldon Williams (child). Eldon Grove was named after him.


 1947/48 - Rhostyllen & Bersham British Legion Football Team and Officials

Back row: Hughes, ?, ?, ?, ?

Middle row: Bates, ?, ?, Orville Evans, ?, Hary Lloyd, Simpkins, ?, Cooper, ?, ?, ?

Front row: ?, ?, Wilf Hanmer, Charlie Evans, Len Williscroft, ?, Den Pritchard, ?, ?

1965 - Rhostyllen Football Team

Back Row, L to R, David Hughes, Frank Roberts, Rees Thomas, Peter Hughes, Richard Owen, Ken Pritchard, David Ryder.

Front Row, L to R, Tommy Thomas, Alan Stevenson, Lenny Hewitt, Malcolm Roberts, David Lloyd.

1907/08 - Esclusham White Star F.C.

 "I can remember we beat Treuddyn 2-1 at the Racecourse and this was when we played in the Wrexham & District Church Youth League, I think the year was around 1965" - Ken Pritchard. Below are some of Ken’s medals.

 Welsh Amateur Cup Winners and Wrexham & District League Winners

1975 - Top Pub (improved image)

    Rhostyllen Football Club 1879 - 2020

1979 Rhostyllen Villa Football Team

1982/83 - Middle Pub Football Team Sponsored Walk

Back row: Raymond Downward, Stephen Foulkes, Brian ?, David Edwards, John ‘Skid’ Hignett, ‘Wevin’ Williams, Mark Williscroft, Beryl Downward, Frankie Roberts.

Front row: ‘Porkie’ Austin, Stan Matthews, John Thomas, Steve Downward, Nigel Harper, Kevin Lamothe.

1960’s - Rhostyllen Villa