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Football fans – We all love a surprise package, don’t we?

Rhuddlan Town have surprised a few with their sensational form this season. Picture: Steve Bowden

When it comes to football everyone loves a surprise package now and again.

It can be such a refreshing change to see a break from the norm, a team coming from nowhere with a massive cup run or a league title charge no-one was expecting.

Two prime examples on the North Wales football scene this season have been Rhuddlan Town and Llysfaen.

Last season Rhuddlan finished mid-table in the Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League Premier Division and with no drastic changes to personnel this term, few probably envisaged Wayne Hughes’ men blowing the opposition away.

But in what is a pretty strong division comprising some great teams, Town have set an electric pace, currently leading the standings by 12 points with 13 wins and just a single defeat from 16 matches.

When (or if) we finish the season, Rhuddlan are firm favourites to land the title.

Llysfaen have taken local football by storm in 2019-20

Meanwhile, in Division One, Llysfaen have made a huge splash this term.

With no previous trophy-challenging form to speak of, Emlyn Robert Jones’ side have lost just once in 19 matches in all competitions – and that was to the very powerful Bangor 1876 in the NWCFA Junior Cup.

Otherwise, the Banana Field outfit are unbeaten in 11 in the league (two draws) and it looks to be between them and NFA for the title.

Llysfaen are also still in the REM Jones Cup and President’s Cup.

It’s been a fantastic story to cover and hopefully there are a couple more glorious chapters to come!

So that’s two surprise packages from the 2019-20 season…..what about historically?

Here’s a few instances that came to mind of teams causing ructions in leagues or cups.

Surprise Packages

Holywell Town (Welsh Cup semi-finalists 2013/14)

Holywell take on Aberystwyth in their 2013/14 Welsh Cup semi-final

You cannot use the word shock in North Wales football without referring to Holywell’s history-making run to the Welsh Cup semi-finals.

Johnny Haseldin’s heroes became the only third-tier club ever to reach the last four of the national knockout in its 137-year history.

En route to the last four, the Wellmen of the Welsh Alliance knocked out one Welsh Premier League side and three from the next-level-up Cymru Alliance.

Holywell eliminated Llannerchymedd (8-1), Penrhyncoch (3-0), Penycae (3-0), Llandrindod Wells (3-1), Newtown (3-2) and Porthmadog (2-1).

Town also took the lead in the semi against Aberystwyth of the WPL, but eventually lost 3-1.

Trearddur Bay United (Welsh Alliance Division One champions 2015/16)

Trearddur Bay’s 2015-16 title success was truly awesome

Having been promoted after finishing third in Division Two the previous season, Trearddur Bay United caused a real sensation by being crowned Division One champions at the very first attempt.

The Anglesey side lost just once in 30 matches, with the remarkable Asa Thomas notching 48 goals in all competitions.

Glan Conwy (FAW Trophy winners 2009/10)

Although Glan Conwy had a strong side this season, finishing second in the Welsh Alliance, it was still a pretty amazing achievement for a small village club to win a national competition.

And Jon Chapman’s side didn’t just win the Trophy, they did it in true style by thrashing Gwent County League outfit Clydach Wasps 5-1 in the final.

The only sting on the day came from the Welsh Alliance villagers.

Two-goal hero and man of the match Aled Stapleton broke the deadlock with a 25-yarder and it stayed 1-0 up to half time.

Ashley Smith doubled the Glan score early in the second half, and although Wasps pulled one back, Smith soon made it 3-1 from the penalty spot.

Stapleton scored again before Gareth Davies put the seal on things with a 20-yard effort.

Glan Conwy, beaten finalists in the Trophy in 2007, became the first Welsh Alliance League club to win the competition since Rhydymwyn in 1994/95.

Bodedern Athletic (Welsh Alliance Division One runners-up 2018/19)

Promoted from Division Two as runners-up in 2017/18, most would have expected Bodedern to aim for consolidation in their first season back in the top flight.

Not a bit of it, Ricky Williams’ side pushed champions Llangefni Town all the way and it was only right at the end of the campaign that Cefni clinched the title.

In a magnificent season, Boded also made it to the FAW Trophy semi-finals.

Plas Madoc (Welsh National League Division One champions 2018/19)

In their first season at WNL level, Wrexham side Plas Madoc blitzed their way to the Division One title by a 19-point winning margin.

Not only that, they went unbeaten through all 22 matches, winning 20 of them and scoring 106 goals.

Madoc were expected to do well, but to enter a new league and not lose a single game is quite something. It cannot have been done too often.

The previous season saw Plas roar to the North East Wales League title by nine points, amassing 130 goals in 26 games.

Flint Mountain (North East Wales League quadruple 2018/19)

Mountain had never won much until last season when they took the North East Wales League by storm by landing a quadruple.

The club celebrated their first ever league title after finishing top of the NEWL unbeaten.

This secured them promotion to the Welsh National League for the first time.

Mountain also lifted the President’s Cup, Horace Wynne Cup and Mike Beech Memorial Trophy, and were only denied a five-timer after losing in the Goals Premier Cup final to Acton – their sole domestic defeat in 2018-19.

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