The model mining village of Llay (Llai) near Wrexham was built by the Llay Main Colliery Company in the early 1920s. The company was keen to foster sporting activities among the miners and 'Llay Main' football team was entered the Ffrith and District League during 1921-22.
Llay Main had difficulty fulfilling its fixtures because as the club chairman put it - 'Owing chiefly to the working hours of Llay Main Colliery it is most difficult for many of our players to turn out at match hours' [Wrexham Leader Friday 17th April 1922, p12] .Llay Main lost to Oak Alyn Rovers 3-2 in the Second Qualifying Round of the Welsh Cup in the 1923 - 24 season and played in the Wrexham Amateur League between 1929 and 1931.
The village soon grew to 2,000 inhabitants and with a colliery workforce of approaching 3,000 there were plenty of potential soccer players and other local teams sprang up. Those we know of are Llay Pals (1923), Llay Rangers (1925), Llay Institute Rovers (1925). The last two mentioned played in the Wrexham and District Amateur League. A mile from the village, Llay Hall FC based at the colliery of that name played in the North Wales Alliance League.
Later teams included Llay Wednesdays who played in the 1930s in a mid-week league for shop and shift workers in the Wrexham Area and Llay Methodists who played in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) after the second world war.
LLAY WEDNESDAY F.C.
Back row; Em. Baines, Ken Rowlands, Arthur Jones,
Baldwyn, Roberts, Cliff Davies, Albert Finney.
Front row; Lawrence Evans, Alf Morris, Peter Davies,
Gren James, Gwilym Owen.
c 1943 (Llay 'Meths')
|Back Row; Raymond Jones, Cliff Hughes, Bert Hartley,
Norman Tudor, Ted Lewis
Middle Row; Jackie Tudor, George Williams, Ken Salisbury,
Fred Jones, Walter Lewis, Tom Jones (Yorkie)
Front Row; Jack Suckley, Jimmy (Den) Owens, Ned Jones
In the 1950s the colliery's administrative staff formed a team played in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) and the colliery workshops also had a team.
|Llay Main Colliery Offices
|Back row; Albert Rathbone (trainer), Geoff Edwards, Alan Roberts,
Ben Jones, Ron Crewe, Sam Jones, Iorwerth Davies,
Wilf Jones, Noel Rogers
Front row; Phil Roberts, Gwyn Jones, Austin Owens,
Don Griffiths, Bill Jones
The colliery closed in 1966 but soccer in Llay continued to flourish. In the seventies Llay Royal British Legion became a force to be reckoned with in the Wrexham Sunday League. Their success encouraged them to enter a team in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) and after climbing through the lower divisions they reached the Premier division in 1986.
Of all the Llay teams two are outstanding - Llay Welfare F.C. and Llay United. 'The Welfare' was formed when the magnificent Miners' Welfare Institute and recreation grounds were completed in 1931. Both club and institute are still in sound health today but Welfare's bitter rivals in the Welsh National League Llay United are long gone. United were favoured by the bottom half of the village, Welfare's supporters came largely from the colliery houses near their ground at the top of the village. Nowadays it is hard to believe that hundreds and sometimes thousands of people thronged to their matches in the 1940s and 1950s.
Thought to have been formed in 1931 our earliest photograph of Llay United is of the team of 1931-32. It is believed that they played in the Chester League at this time. Whether this was a deliberate ploy to keep them apart from 'The Welfare' is not known. They were quickly into their stride and won a large cup, as yet unidentified in 1933. In the Welsh Cup of 1935-36 they lost 3-1 in the second round to Cross Street. The 1936-37 season proved successful as the team won the St. Martin's Charity Cup and were crowned Chester Amateur League champions.
After the war they joined the Welsh National League in 1945-6 and made an immediate impact winning the league title at their first attempt. In the same year they reached the final of the Welsh Amateur Cup, the first final after the Second World War. A crowd of 3,500 saw them lose 1-5 to Caerau United at Machynlleth.
In the 1946-47 season they reached the fourth round of the Welsh Cup before losing to Oswestry town 1-0. In the same season they again reached the final of the Welsh Amateur Cup and unfortunately there was a similar outcome to the previous year as they lost 0-5 to Troedyrhiw at Llanidloes. Not to be disheartened by their losses in the Welsh Amateur Cup, United came back strongly to win it in the 1948-49 season, their victims being Hanwood Welfare, who were beaten 2-0 at Wrexham Racecourse.
Llay became the only village in Wales to have two different teams win the Welsh Amateur Cup.
|Llay United F.C.
Welsh Amateur Cup Winners
1948 / 49
|Back row; Cecil Davies, Ivor Davies, Harold Rogers, Dennis Povah, Trevor Roberts, Matt Davies
Front row; John Edwards, Estyn Griffiths, Stan Valentine,
Cyril (Alec) Davies , Gwilym Williams