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
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.
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.