The lights go on at Belle Vue

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9,000 spectators poured into Belle Vue for its first floodlit match on the very chilly evening of Monday, October 31st, 1955.

The crowd was entertained prior to the 6pm kick off by Rhyl Silver Band, conducted by Reg Little, and accompanied community singing.

The floodlighting of Belle Vue was the brainchild of a former manager of Rhyl F.C., Mr Ernie Jones, and Chairman of the Club Mr Arthur Barritt.  The cost was a very reasonable £500, the amount having been kept down by the contribution of much voluntary work.  In the souvenir programme Ernie Jones offered thanks to the following :  Mr Roy Stubbs, Mr George Ricketts, Mr Spencer Evans, Mr George Jones, Mr Tom Roberts, Mr Eric Davies, Mr Brian Baxter, Mr Gwynne Jones and Mr Dewi Wynne.  Mr Jones added “without their advice and assistance the scheme would never have come into being”.

This blog has previously looked into floodlighting at Rhyl football matches, “Football by the Electric Light” to read again, click here

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It was quite a line up for this inaugural floodlit match.  The game was between Rhyl and Bolton Wanderers. Among the Bolton players were the England internationals Nat Lofthouse and Malcolm Barrass.  Rhyl’s eleven included guest players Jack Kelsey (Wales and Arsenal), Ray Lambert (Wales and Liverpool), John Charles (Wales and Leeds Utd.), Trevor Ford (Wales and Cardiff City) and Billy Liddell (Scotland and Liverpool).  The programme indicated that Tom Finney (England and Preston N.E.) and Billy Wright (England and Wolves) would also appear for Rhyl.  Unfortunately this was not be, as they were both in the England team due to play Ireland at Wembley two days later.  However, this gave Mr Brian Gough Roberts and Ireland international Billy Hughes the opportunity to play.

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The Rhyl Journal reported the match with the headlines “The lights go up on ‘Wembley of the Coast'”, “Full house for first floodlit match at Belle Vue” and “Bolton and guest internationals provide soccer feast”.  The score was not actually recorded in the report, as such, but this non footballing blogger thinks it ended 3-1 to Bolton.  Lofthouse scored two and Barrass scored a penalty in the first half, in the second half John Charles replied for Rhyl scoring “a beautiful goal”.

The Bolton team and several of the visiting players were guests of Rhyl F.C. at the Marine Hydro on Monday night.

Many thanks to Jane Barrett for sending us the souvenir programme, which belonged to her late great uncle Mr George Jones of Meliden.

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3 Comments

Filed under 1950's, Sport

3 responses to “The lights go on at Belle Vue

  1. Pat Brooks

    Good to read about the Football Club and especially to see my Dad’s name (George Jones) mentioned. The Club was his second home and the team was his passion and his mates were a great team themselves and were great supporters of Rhyl Football Club.They all liked a pint, and a laugh but mostly they were avid supporters Many wives may have spent a lot of hours at home with meals waiting on the table etc while they were at “meetings”!! I think their legacy has been a good thing for Rhyl Football Club and I wish these men were all here to see how it has thrived and many changes made. Still see George James there most days but sadly most of the names mentioned are no longer with us. Proud big hearted men with a fondness for their Football Club and the friendship that came with it. I do remember having some of the younger footballers who joined the team stayed with my family until they could find their “digs”. Jimmy Rogers, Ian McFarlane, Tom McKillop and as I was only a youngster I would tell my friends when these names became more well known that they had lived at our house!! I knew nothing about football (still do not know much) much to my Dad’s disappointment but when I was older I did like going to the Social Club – it was a great place of entertainment and also somewhere to spend time with my Dad. Bless him and them all. It is part of my life now as I cannot forget it because I live in full view – Dad would have loved that!

  2. John Arwel Jones

    Also remember floodlight matches against Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.Remember goalkeeper called Alan Hodgkinson.Fantastic times.

  3. david shhepherd

    My Father and auntie were big supporters of rhyl fc,I can remember my father taking me to watch Rhyl as a child,I remember Phil Spruce as right back and what a fantastic support the team had then.Sadly I feel as much as the present overseers of the club are doing their upmost the glory days are long gone and as much as I would really love to see Rhyl excell again I can,t see it happening in the near future.you could call me a fair weather supporter but I do not see the point of watching a team that is not equipped to deal with the rigours of the league it is in.

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