By Ryan Batty:
While the world’s premier clubs continue their pre-season preparations by jetting off to far-flung corners of the world, Nantwich Town embark on Act Two of their very own European tour this week, as they make the trip to North Wales to take on Colwyn Bay.
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Stadium: Llanelian Rd
Address: Old Colwyn, Colwyn Bay LL29 8UN
Date: Tuesday 23rd July
Name: Colwyn Bay FC
Nickname: The Seagulls
Manager: Craig Hogg
Ground: Four Crosses Construction Arena
Last Season: 11th (Northern Premier League Division One West)
The Manager – Craig Hogg
Craig was appointed as manager in September 2018 following the departure of Alan Morgan. A former assistant at the Four Crosses, Hogg was initially in the door on an interim basis, before discussions with the board led to him signing a deal to become the permanent manager with the Seagulls. Hogg spent seven years in the number two role, and was also with Colwyn Bay after his release from Everton at aged 20. In an effort to make the transition into the Welsh pyramid as smooth as possible, the board have trusted Hogg with the keys to the club with a five-year contract.
A Change of Scenery
A thirty-five year stint in English football came to an end earlier this year as Colwyn Bay’s application to re-join the Welsh leagues was accepted. The club departed the Welsh system after the 1983-84 campaign, and managed to reach Division One of the Northern Premier League by 1991 under long-serving manager Bryn Jones.
The rapid ascension of the Seagulls collided with the formation of the new Welsh system as the Football Association of Wales proposed a new league of Wales for the 1991-92 season. Colwyn Bay refused to join the system, which led to themselves as well as Newport County and Caernarfon Town being forced into exile, playing at Ellesmere Port and Northwich for two seasons.
However, the exiles took action against the FAW and won a High Court case, which led to them regaining their Welsh homes. For the next twenty years, Colwyn Bay continued to flourish in the English leagues, reaching the Conference North – two levels below the Football League – with promotion in 2010-11.
Despite this moment in the sun, Colwyn Bay suffered back-to-back relegations in 2014-15 and 2015-16, leading to financial issues which resulted in thoughts about re-joining the Welsh leagues. The club’s shareholders voted for this move, as did the FAW, and will see the Seagulls join the FAW Championship North, a newly formed league for the upcoming 2019-20 campaign.
New Signing – Toby Jones
Toby is a former Wales C international who arrives at the Four Crosses Construction Arena from Llandudno. The twenty-six year old has acquired lots of experience at JD Welsh Premier level as well as the second-tier. Jones comes to the Seagulls with knowledge of the management staff which will aid his progress as the club return to the Welsh system. Manager Craig Hogg has said that:
“Toby has the ability to influence games through his quality, super game intelligence and his exceptional work rate. They are attributes that I’ve witnessed first-hand and will be of much benefit to us.”
Alongside Jones, Bay have also brought in experienced names such as Sion Edwards, Mike Williams, Damian Ketley and Julian Williams.
Our Last Meeting
The last time the two sides met was a year ago in pre-season, when goals from Joel Stair, AJ Leitch-Smith and Joe Malkin saw the Dabbers come out with a 3-2 victory from the Four Crosses Construction Arena. Stair and Leitch-Smith put Dave Cooke’s side two-up within twenty minutes with a pair of headers.
The hosts grabbed a goal back before the seventy-minute mark when two trialists linked up to get Bay within a goal of equalising.
However, a Joe Malkin spot-kick saw Nantwich restore their two-goal cushion, though Danny Andrews cut the deficit in half, prodding home the rebound from Ethan Devine’s saved penalty.