Bala Town’s Chris Venables is back in familiar territory as he heads the current Cymru Premier top goalscorers list in the early weeks of the 2019-20 season.
The 34-year-old club captain has netted six times in as many games for the Lakesiders, who have begun their 11th successive national league campaign in impressive fashion overall, despite last Saturday’s blip at Newtown.
Venables’ flying start has revived memories of unforgettable times at Aberystwyth Town, where between 2013-14 and 2015-16 he won three WPL Golden Boots in a row, netting 24, 28 and 20 goals respectively.
He was also named WPL Player of the Season in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Now in his fourth season at Bala, Venables’ scoring has been more steady than spectacular at Maes Tegid, producing 33 league goals so far in 107 starts.
However, the quality and consistency of the Wales C and semi-pro international’s performances have made the No 25 one of the first names on manager Colin Caton’s team sheet.
Since the start of this season, Venables has also risen to sixth on the all-time Cymru Premier goal-getters list. His current total is 162 from 428 starts.
The question is, how high can Venners reach in the table before either hanging up his boots or, ending his Welsh top-flight service?
The current top two in the list are Marc Lloyd Williams on 319 goals and Rhys Griffiths with 269.
That pair are unlikely to be caught for a very long time, in fact one wonders whether Jiws’ record tally will ever be passed.
No-one has hit 30 league goals in a season since the aforementioned Griffiths achieved the feat in 2009-10.
Former Rhyl and Bala Town striker Lee Hunt lies third on 209 goals, Connah’s Quay Nomads evergreen Michael Wilde has 179, long-retired Chris Summers is fifth with 177 and then comes Venables with 162.
If he maintains current form, Venables could well rise above Summers’ mark this season, but with Wilde still finding the net for Quay, he is almost certain to remain in fourth.
Of course the remarkable thing about Venables is, as opposed to the top five, the Bala man is not a striker at all, but a midfielder. One could call him the Frank Lampard of the Cymru Premier.
Venners has been playing in the Welsh Premier since 2003-04, firstly spending four seasons with Caersws before moving to Welshpool Town for a single campaign.
He was at Aberystwyth in 2008-09 before four impressive seasons with Llanelli followed. Then came that golden second spell at Aber.
Summer 2016 brought a surprise switch to Bala Town, where he is now in his fourth campaign, the major highlight being captaining the Lakesiders to their first-ever Welsh Cup success in 2016-17.
Super-fit Venables is now competing in his 17th season as a Cymru Premier player and looks a good bet to keep going for a while longer yet.
Top 10 All-Time Welsh Premier League goalscorers
(up to and including September 16, 2019)
1 Marc Lloyd Williams (DOB: 8/2/73): Starts 419; sub apps 49; Goals 319
2 Rhys Griffiths (1/3/80): Starts 348; sub apps 41; Goals 269
3 Lee Hunt (5/6/81): Starts 344; sub apps 24; Goals 209
4 Michael Wilde (27/3/83): Starts 282; sub apps 89; Goals 179 *
5 Chris Summers (6/1/72): Starts 243; sub apps 32; Goals 177
6 Chris Venables (23/7/85): Starts 428; sub apps 6; Goals 162 *
7 John Toner (9/9/76): Starts 255; sub apps 91; Goals 161
8 Graham Evans (16/6/80): Starts 290; sub apps 59; Goals 157
9 Stuart Rain (5/6/69): Starts 312; sub apps 84; Goals 150
10 Paul Roberts (29/7/77): Starts 288; sub apps 58; Goals 147
*still active in Cymru Premier
*many thanks to Sion from Sgorio Cymru for his assistance with this feature