A LATE winning goal, scored against Total Network Solutions
by Justin Perry, brought Ebbw Vale’s 1997/98 season to a successful conclusion.
By finishing third in the League of Wales on the strength of a 15-match unbeaten
run from February until the end of their campaign, Ebbw Vale qualified to play
in the InterToto Cup for the second successive summer. Although the club managed
to complete their two-legged tie against the Norwegian side Kongsvinger, off-field
events saw the club fold before the start of the 1998/99 domestic season.
The earliest records of a soccer club in the town of Ebbw
Vale date from 1888, though little of its playing history has been traced prior
to the club becoming a founder member of the South Wales League in 1896. The club
retained membership until 1902 and was then re-admitted in July 1903. Vale’s
first appearance in the Welsh Cup was during the 1903/04 competition when they
were eliminated in the second round by fellow Gwent club, Rogerstone FC.
The same team sent Ebbw Vale spinning out of the cup the following season, too,
this time after a replay, although Ebbw Vale had recorded their first Welsh Cup
win in the previous round; 1-nil against Treharris Welfare. Nevertheless, it was
a successful season as the club captured the league championship. Captain George
Brown was carried shoulder high from the field after Ebbw Vale defeated Porth
FC to win the title. The following season, 1905/06, they won the South Wales Cup
for the first time, beating Treharris Welfare 3-1 in the final played at Aberdare.
Ebbw Vale continued in the South Wales League
before folding in 1906. It is generally believed that this was as a direct result
of their failure to obtain a new ground. A new club was formed for the 1907/08
season and, just twelve months later, this team re-gained the South Wales League
title. Ebbw Vale joined the English Southern League in 1914, remaining there until
1932 and twice winning the Welsh Section in 1921/22 and again the following season.
Having been Welsh Cup semi-finalists in 1920, Ebbw Vale went all the way to the
final six years later and unexpectedly beat favourites Swansea Town 3-2 to lift
the coveted trophy. Twelve months later, Vale won three other cup competitions,
the Welsh League Challenge Cup, the Monmouthshire County Cup and the South Wales
& Monmouthshire Senior Cup.
Members of the Welsh National League (South) whilst their senior team competed
in the Southern League, Ebbw Vale continued their membership after leaving the
English system in 1932. Twice the club’s name was engraved on the roll of
honour when they won the Welsh League championship both in 1952/53 and 1987/88.
Justin Perry scored Vale's last ever goal in the League of Wales against TNS, a club he went on to play for.
Founder members of the League of Wales, Vale finished
the inaugural season well up the table in fourth place having gained 66 points
from their 38 matches, winning exactly half of them.
They soon became well established in the national competition, although disappointed
with mid-table finishes (9th, 13th and 11th) in each of the next three seasons.
In 1995/96, Ebbw Vale reached the final of the League of Wales Cup. Overcoming
the challenges of Cwmbran Town, Inter Cardiff and Ton Pentre in their qualifying
group, Vale went on to beat Caersws and then Barry Town in the two-legged knockout
stages. In the final, however, they were beaten 1-0 by Connah’s Quay Nomads,
missing several early chances to take the lead and paying for such generosity.
Third in 1996/97, as they were twelve months later, Ebbw Vale earned a crack at
European competition in the InterToto Cup, opposing Grazer AK (of Austria), the
French side SC Bastia, Croatians FC Hrvatski Dragovoljac Zagreb and Silkeborg
IF of Denmark. The Welshmen took just one point from their four games before the
adventure came to an honourable yet disappointing conclusion as, indeed, did the
club’s history just 12 months later.
Club histories and stats based on information compiled by David Rapson.