Date Published: Monday, 25th February, 2019 - 1:59pm by David Rapson
Two days prior to his 37th birthday last week, George Horan led The Nomads into the final of the Scottish Challenge Cup sponsored by Irn Bru - the first club from outside Scotland to do so. Not only did he stem the flow of Edinburgh City attacks for two hours after the visitors had taken an early lead, but George went close to scoring himself and it was his successful penalty kick in the shootout that earned Connah's Quay Nomads a piece of history.
Neville Powell obviously knew what he was about when signing George as an 18 year-old centre-back on loan from Wrexham late in 2000. The strapping youngster had only two Welsh Premier League games (for Bangor City) under his belt before joining The Nomads and making his debut against Aberystwyth Town on Boxing Day 2000. He quickly settled at the Deeside Stadium and became a lynchpin of the teamís defence for the next four seasons during which time Nomads gained a best-ever finish of fifth place in 2002/2003.
In his first five seasons with Nomads George made 147 league appearances and a further 35 in the various cup competitions. At the end of the 2004/2005 campaign with the team having slipped to twelfth place in the final table, local rivals Rhyl came calling. Runners-up to The New Saints that year having been champions in 2004, The Lilywhites were looking to strengthen their back line ready to do battle with TNS and Llanelli and George Horan, at 23 was the ideal centre-back.
In his first season at Belle Vue he played in all 34 league games, the team's sole 'ever-present' - a feat that eluded George by just one match in three of his five seasons with Nomads. He went on to enjoy great success at Rhyl making 146 WPL appearances over five campaigns as the team twice finished third, were runners-up to TNS in 2007 and then won the league championship in 2009 when George featured in 31 games and scored seven of the 95 goals that earned Rhyl the trophy.
By 2010 the newly-formed Chester FC, looking to rise from the ashes of Chester City, signed George for their first season in the Northern Premier League Division One (North). Despite losing their final game, Chester secured promotion under George's captaincy and repeated the feat twelve months later as champions of the NPL Premier Division. Nor did success finish there as Chester stormed to the Conference North championship in 2012/2013 winning 34 games and losing just three with captain George and goalkeeper John Danby (another hero from last week's Irn Bru Cup win for Nomads) at the heart of the team's defence. Chester FC were in the Conference Premier after three successive promotions - the level from which their predecessors were expelled in 2010.
That first season in the Conference saw Chester finish 21st but relegation was avoided thanks to Hereford United's demise. During the 2014 close season, after 137 league games with Chester, George Horan re-joined Connah's Quay Nomads where he was warmly welcomed back by the supporters who remembered his major contribution to the Club a decade earlier. His steadying influence in defence and robust attacking from set pieces began to impact upon the team's results and in 2015/2016 George led the team to a WPL Europa League play-off victory and a first-ever crack at European competition.
Success in the Europa League followed with commendable victories over Stabæk and HJK Helsinki before the crowning glory of a Welsh Cup final win only last May with George proudly holding the trophy aloft after our 4-1 win against Aberystwyth Town.
With a commanding presence in either penalty area it is no surprise that George has scored a total of 38 WPL goals for Nomads and Rhyl and several more in cup matches. Of the 23 he has netted for Connah's Quay remarkably only one was scored in a defeat. In 2003/2004 he registered goals in three successive games and notched a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Airbus UK Broughton in December 2016. To date the present campaign is the only one in which he has not scored a WPL goal for either of his clubs. George was named in the WPL 'Team of the Year' in four consecutive seasons with Rhyl and again in 2016/2017 with Nomads.
George made his 250th league start for Connah's Quay in our last home fixture against Caernarfon Town and, having missed last weekendís game at Barry, he should make his 400th WPL appearance this evening. Thankfully, his enthusiasm remains undiminished.