Anglesey footballing greats: Tommy and Jackie Welsh

ANGLESEY has produced it’s fair share of great footballing father and sons over the years.

Former Welsh Premier striker Nigel Moore, who played for Bangor City in the top flight, had also been a fantastic striker for the likes of Holyhead Hotspur and Glantraeth, much like his son Craig has been in recent times for the likes of Trearddur Bay, Hotspur and Bryngwran Bulls.
Then of course you have the legendary Holyhead-based goal-hetter Jimmy Thomas, whose son Asa is one of the most prolific goalscorers of the 21st century with more than 500 goals to his name.

Among one of the most well-noted father and son duos to ever have been produced on the island though are Tommy Welsh and his son John, known as ‘Jackie’.

Tommy (below with former pro Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock), who sadly passed away aged 90 in March of last year, is regarded by many as the greatest footballer Anglesey has ever had and with good reason too.

based in Holyhead, but originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, he scored a record-breaking haul of 631 goals as he terrorised defences all along the North Wales coast throughout the 1950’s and 60’s.

He first came to the forefront by scoring 29 goals in a season with Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1952/53, before going on to his glory days with Holyhead Town. He spent more than a decade with the Harbourmen, up until 1964, winning the Welsh League North title on two occasions.

He hit 79 goals in the 1953/54 season and scored a double hat-trick against Conwy Borough, with four of those six goals being scored in the space of less than four minutes. This would prove to be a regular occurrence for the truly-prolific Welsh who consistently notched up several hat-tricks (or three or more in a game).

Perhaps the most memorable one of all though was the one he managed as Town defeated Caernarfon Town 6-1 in the NWCFA Challenge Cup Final in front of 6,000 spectators at Bangor City’s Farrar Road.

Upon leaving Town in 1964, Tommy signed for Colwyn Bay and helped the club win its first Welsh League North title. He then went on to play for Bethesda Athletic and this was where he managed to reach the magic 631 goals for his career. In doing so, he surpassed the career total of another North Wales footballing great – Don Spendlove who managed 628 for Rhyl.

Despite attracting the interest of several English clubs during his playing career, including the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves, Welsh stayed loyal to his adopted hometown of Holyhead.

He may have passed away last year, but Tommy’s legacy will live in forever in Holyhead and his worth to the club was highlighted further when the first club’s home kit added his name to it some months after he died, along with the Northern Irish flag in his honour (below).

Many years down the line, Tommy’s son Jackie would have his turn to make his impact on the Anglesey football scene.

The talented attacking midfielder had a spell with Bangor City in the 1980’s and has also played for several Anglesey clubs including Trearddur Bay United, Cemaes Bay and several Holyhead-based clubs.

More recently though, Jackie (below) was still playing in the 2016/17 season at 53 years old. That year he helped Holyhead Town win a treble and promotion from the Anglesey League to the Gwynedd League in what was a phenomenal season for the Harbourmen under manager Craig Brodie, just months after they re-formed.

Jackie’s experience was key in the middle of the park for Town that season and his partnership with fellow midfielder club captain Tom Roberts in particular was formidable.

And the footballing talent extends further into the Welsh family too as Tommy’s other son and Jackie’s brother Gary is also a well-known player on the island, having previously been a goalkeeper for Holyhead Town.

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