The Welsh Alliance Football League is in its 36th (and last) season.
Changes in the structure of Welsh football means that from 2020-21 the third-tier Welsh Alliance as we know it will be no more.
Here, Grassroots North Wales looks back over the past 35 years and turns the spotlight on 12 championship-winning teams which could lay claim to being the best in the league’s history.
What do you think? Are the best among this group, or have there been better out there?
- The Welsh Alliance was the successor to the Welsh League North, which ran between 1935-36 and 1983-84.
CONWY BOROUGH 2017-18
Played 28 Won 20 Drawn 4 Lost 4 Goals For 107 Goals Against 37 Points 64
Under Gareth (Perry) Thomas, Borough achieved an historical treble-winning season by landing the Welsh Alliance League title, FAW Trophy and Cookson Cup.
Goal machine Corrig McGonigle netted more than 50 over the season, but Conwy possessed several other quality players capable of finding the net, including Leigh Craven, Jamie Roberts, Cory Williams and Dean Seager.
HOLYWELL TOWN 2014-15
Played 26 Won 23 Drawn 2 Lost 1 Goals For 119 Goals Against 19 Points 71
In 2013-14, Holywell Town became the first ever tier-three team to reach the Welsh Cup semi-finals.
How could they follow that? Well, they made a pretty good go of it the season after, finishing Welsh Alliance Division One champions by 15 points as well as winning the FAW Trophy and Mawddach Cup, plus being beaten finalists in the Cookson Cup.
In all competitions during this season, Holywell’s record under Johnny Haseldin read: Played 46 Won 41 Drawn 2 Lost 3 Goals For 183 Goals Against 36.
Hard to pick out individuals, but the goals of Sam Jones and Phil Lloyd were pretty crucial.
DENBIGH TOWN 2013-14
Played 28 Won 25 Drawn 3 Lost 0 Goals For 96 Goals Against 18 Points 78
The invincibles of Denbigh Town were nothing short of awesome in this season.
Champions by a huge 13-point margin and unbeaten in all league matches, Kristian Pierce, Warren Duckett, Mike Lundstram, Stuart Vernon, Mike Jones, Mark Roberts and Andrew Swarbrick were among the many stand-out players for Richard Williams-Cooke’s side.
The way this team dominated was close to unbelievable.
CAERNARFON TOWN 2012-13
Played 28 Won 21 Drawn 3 Lost 4 Goals For 91 Goals Against 30 Points 66
Caernarfon hit the heights under new manager Lee Dixon, clinching the treble of Welsh Alliance League championship, Cookson Cup and FAW Trophy, beating Kilvey Fords in the final 6-0. This was the biggest winning margin in a final in the competition’s 123-year history.
Prominent players of that season included Lee McArdle, Dion Donohue, Geraint Mitchell, Paul Pritchard, Ywain Gwynedd and top-scorer Neil Thomas. Says it all…..
HOLYHEAD HOTSPUR – 2011-12
Played 30 Won 25 Drawn 1 Lost 4 Goals For 87 Goals Against 29 Points 73
Despite having three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player, this outstanding Hotspur squad pipped Holywell Town to the title by a single point.
Emlyn Manley Williams’ side completed a stunning treble by lifting the Cookson and Barritt Cups and so nearly claimed an unprecedented quadruple only to lose to Sully Sports in the FAW Trophy Final.
Mel McGinness netted 50 goals in all competitions for one of the finest teams Hotspur and the Welsh Alliance has produced. The outstanding Jay Gibbs also contributed 26 goals from midfield.
CONWY UNITED – 2010-11
Played 30 Won 25 Drawn 2 Lost 3 Goals For 89 Goals Against 30 Points 77
A young striker called Toby Jones was Conwy’s star player in this season, scoring more than 40 goals as the Tangerines coasted to the first-ever Division One title by a comfortable 11 points.
United were invincible at home, winning 15 out of 15, with the only blots on their copybook single-goal away defeats against Caernarfon Town, Denbigh Town and Holyhead Hotspur.
Conwy also reached the FAW Trophy Final, where they led 2-0 until the 89th minute, only for opponents Holywell Town to grab three quick goals and pinch the honours in an unforgettable match at Belle Vue, Rhyl.
BETHESDA ATHLETIC – 2008/09
Played 32 Won 27 Drawn 1 Lost 4 Goals For 146 Goals Against 35 Points 82
This record-breaking Bethesda side has to rank as one of the very best ever to lift the Welsh Alliance crown.
In 2008/09 they won the championship by the biggest margin in the league’s history (19 points) and scored the most-ever goals by a title-winning side (146).
Athletic had finished top the season before but were refused promotion to the Cymru Alliance over minor ground issues.
Chris O’Neal’s side landed the championship again the following season in a canter. Strikers Richard Owen (47 goals) and Gareth Davies (31) netted 78 times between them in the league.
PRESTATYN TOWN – 2005/06
Played 30 Won 25 Drawn 5 Lost 0 Goals For 114 Goals Against 28 Points 80
Dave Fuller’s Seasiders could lay claim to being the greatest ever Welsh Alliance team – statistically at least.
In 2005/06 they went through the entire season unbeaten – a run of 30 matches with 25 wins and five draws.
This feat has only been matched since by the Denbigh Town invincibles of 2013-14.
Although the Halkyn United title winners of 1999/2000 also emerged undefeated, they only managed it over 24 games.
And the Welsh Alliance’s predecessor competition, the Welsh League (North), which dates back to 1935, only produced two season-long unbeaten sides, Caernarfon Town in 1978/79 (15 wins, five draws) and Colwyn Bay in 1980/81 (17 wins, five draws).
Perhaps the greatness of the 2005/06 team can be verified by the fact so many of them went on to star for Prestatyn in the Cymru Alliance and Welsh Premier leagues. This team kick-started an amazing period of success for Town.
RHYL RESERVES – 2003/04
Played 30 Won 26 Drawn 2 Lost 2 Goals For 101 Goals Against 27 Points 80
The 2003/04 season was a remarkable one for Rhyl FC.
Not only did the first team win the Welsh Premier League title, Welsh Cup, League Cup and North Wales Coast Challenge Cup, the Reserves lifted the Welsh Alliance League crown for the only time and the Thirds scooped the Clwyd League Premier Division championship.
Managed by Dave Fuller, Rhyl Reserves won the Alliance by 13 points and included in their squad many players who progressed to the Welsh Premier.
Top marksman was Stewart White, who netted 24 goals and went on to play for Connah’s Quay, Caersws and Prestatyn Town.
Jon Fisher-Cooke scored 16 times, and Mike Walsh, who later lifted the Welsh Cup twice with Bangor City, bagged 12 goals from midfield.
Future Football League star Gary Roberts also featured in three matches for Rhyl Reserves.
AMLWCH TOWN – 2001/02
Played 24 Won 20 Drawn 3 Lost 1 Goals For 94 Goals Against 28 Points 63
Cemaes Bay had already put north eastern Anglesey on the map following their three seasons in the League of Wales between 1995-98, but Amlwch began to make their mark in the new millennium.
Tom Charlton’s side convincingly lifted the Welsh Alliance crown in 2001/02, losing just once in 24 matches.
Some of Anglesey’s finest players of the day were in the Lôn Bach squad, including goal-getters Steve Owen and Andy Roberts, the iconic Peter O’Neill and Tony Jackson and the late Emrys Jones, a prolific past medal winner with Llangefni Town. Amlwch also won the Alves Cup that season.
Town elevated to the Cymru Alliance, where they spent two seasons.
HOLYHEAD HOTSPUR – 1997/98
Played 26 Won 23 Drawn 1 Lost 2 Goals For 102 Goals Against 32 Points 70
The 1997/98 season saw Hotspur, a team which had only been in existence since 1990, complete a great treble by following Anglesey League and Gwynedd League championship successes by lifting the Welsh Alliance title at the first attempt.
Managed by Les Davies, Hotspur had Holyhead, a town with great footballing tradition, buzzing again.
The goals of Nigel Moore and Dale Fleming, the midfield genius of Richard Jones and Colin Tatlock, plus the defensive prowess of Andy O’Malley helped make the Harbourmen a real force.
Hotspur rose to the Cymru Alliance the following season and spent 13 campaigns at that level before their unfortunate relegation in 2009/10.
LLANGEFNI TOWN – 1990/91 & 1991/92
Played 28 Won 19 Drawn 6 Lost 3 Goals For 102 Goals Against 32 Points 63
No club has won the Welsh Alliance League as many times as Llangefni.
The island outfit have snared the title on five occasions, the first in 1990/91 when Joe (Bach) Williams’ team were crowned champions in their debut season and added the Barritt and Alves Cups for good measure.
Dynamic striking duo Bob Parry and Alec James provided the majority of the goals while at the back Keith Ross was a true colossus alongside the late Allan Jones and Gareth Hughes was outstanding between the sticks.
This was a golden period for Llangefni as they won the title again the following season, beat HFS Loans League giants Bangor City 3-0 in the NWCFA Challenge Cup and also became the only Anglesey club to ever lift the Welsh Intermediate Cup.
WELSH ALLIANCE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
1984-85 Conwy United
1985-86 Conwy United
1986-87 Bethesda Athletic
1988-89 Flint Town United
1990-91 Llangefni Town
1991-92 Llangefni Town
1992-93 Cemaes Bay
1993-94 Llangefni Town
1995-96 Denbigh Town
1997-98 Holyhead Hotspur
1998-99 Llangefni Town
1999-00 Halkyn United
2001-02 Amlwch Town
2003-04 Rhyl Reserves
2005-06 Prestatyn Town
2006-07 Denbigh Town
2007-08 Bethesda Athletic
2008-09 Bethesda Athletic
2010-11 Division One: Conwy United; Division Two: Caernarfon Wanderers
2011-12 Division One: Holyhead Hotspur; Division Two: Glantraeth
2012-13 Division One: Caernarfon Town; Division Two: Llandyrnog United
2013-14 Division One: Denbigh Town; Division Two: Penrhyndeudraeth
2014-15 Division One: Holywell Town; Division Two: St Asaph City
2015-16 Division One: Trearddur Bay United; Division Two: Greenfield
2016-17 Division One: Glantraeth; Division Two: Llandudno Albion
2017-18 Division One: Conwy Borough; Division Two: Prestatyn Sports
2018-19 Division One: Llangefni Town; Division Two: Glan Conwy
Title wins (list includes top division only from 2010-11)
5 – Llangefni Town
3 – Bethesda Athletic, Conwy United, Denbigh Town, Glantraeth,
2 – Llanfairpwll, Rhydymwyn, Holyhead Hotspur
1 – Flint Town United, Porthmadog, Cemaes Bay, Halkyn United, Amlwch Town, Rhyl Reserves, Prestatyn Town, Bodedern, Caernarfon Town, Holywell Town, Trearddur Bay United, Conwy Borough