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What next for the North Wales Women’s Football League ? A normal season would be nice

Bethel and Llanfair (dark blue) do battle in the farcical 2018-19 season

The recent history of the North Wales Women’s Football League has been anything but straightforward.

In fact, to put it bluntly, the last three seasons – for differing reasons – have been pretty much shambolic.

But there have been many good times too.

Let’s look back as far as 2014/15, mainly because any league information before then is very hard to find.

2014/15

Champions Denbigh Town

Denbigh Town were crowned champions after a convincing 3-1 win at Llanfair United.

John Clayton’s side oozed consistency, winning 16 of their 18 matches and losing just one.

The prolific goal-scoring skills of Mari Edwards were a particular stand-out, while keeper Netty Jones also excelled.

In the game where they won the title, Town trailed to a 15th minute Nia Ellis goal, but the visitors responded with heavy pressure.

Chelsea Doherty picked up the ball on halfway and threaded a superb pass for Mari Edwards to race clear and fire a low drive just inside the keeper’s left-hand post.

It was no surprise when on 35 minutes Denbigh took the lead. This time it was Lucy Morris who placed an inch perfect pass into the path of Edwards, who blazed away and slotted past the advancing keeper.

The game was all but over on the hour when, after playing a couple of one-twos with Edwards, Doherty saw the keeper slightly off her line and produced a delightful chip which finished up in the net.

2015/16

Northop Hall sealed the title with a 12-0 win!

gap Northop Hall clinched the title in emphatic style with a 12-0 victory over Point.

Goalscorers for the Hall were: Annmarie Jones (5), Emily Hughes (3), Shannon Hobbs (2), Paulina Rywinska and Barbara Nadworma.

Two days earlier Hall put themselves in a strong position to win the championship with a 3-2 win at main rivals Denbigh Town.

Hughes, Rywinska and Hobbs grabbed the all-important goals for the visitors, Gwawr Williams with both for the home team.

Hall had been relegated from the Welsh Premier Women’s League back in 2013/14, so it was a big lift for the club to win the North Wales title.

2016/17

There was no stopping these flying Canaries

Caernarfon Town ruled the roost this season in no uncertain fashion.

The Canaries won 18 of their 20 matches, the latter defeat coming when the title was in the bag, and they amassed a phenomenal 120 goals – an average of precisely six per game.

Top-scorer was Catrin Thomas, who across all competitions banged in 38 goals in about half that many matches, while attacking midfielder and captain Ffion Owen netted 33.

Caernarfon reeled off 10 straight league wins, hitting double figures three times, scoring 75 and conceding just four before suffering a surprise loss to Airbus.

Town piled up eight more victories to seal the title and were 2-0 up in their final league game at home to Llanfair United before rain forced an abandonment.

The Canaries still received the championship trophy on the night. Town made it a double by lifting the Betty Pickering Cup.

2017/18

Worthy 2017-18 champions Northop Hall

This was the season where the rot started to set in.

The league’s refusal to allow Rhyl to enter a development team led to the FAW stepping in.

The national governing body suspended the league, then later allowed Rhyl to join the fixtures list and took over the running of the NWWFL for the remainder of the season.

The Rhyl Development side eventually began their fixtures in February and the league (almost) finished its programme with Northop Hall top of the table.

The Flintshire ladies clinched the championship with a thrilling 4-4 home draw against Llanfair United.

Beaten just once all season – a 2-1 loss at Llanfair, the only team which could have prevented them finishing champions – Hall’s point against the Powys ladies saw them over the line to title glory.

Llanfair came to spoil the party and took a first-minute lead through Gemma Jones. After nine minutes Jones struck again.

After 11 minutes Ashleigh Foster lashed into the far top corner to make it 2-1.

Then after 15 minutes Gemma Williams’ sliced clearance looped over her own keeper and moved Llanfair 3-1 in front.

After 20 minutes Laura Pennington made it 3-2 with an exquisite finish, then on 25 it was Foster who popped up again to equalise.

Llanfair took the lead again just before the break when Jones completed a hat-trick with her 28th goal of the campaign.

In the second half both teams pushed for more goals but it was not until nine minutes from time that Pennington delivered the all-important equaliser, her 48th goal of the season.

2018/19

Llanfair and Bethel in action

Another season which descended into farce.

A new committee had taken over the league following the previous one’s dispute with the FAW over the admission of Rhyl Development.

The NWWFL became a two-division competition for the first time, but despite a smooth first few months big problems were around the corner.

A proliferation of postponements, partly due to the weather, but also down to certain teams pulling out of games right, left and centre presented the league with a late-season backlog.

A thrilling battle for the Division One title ended in turmoil when Kinmel Bay refused to play their final fixture away to Llanfair in May.

Llanfair needed to win the match 4-0 to take the title on goal difference.

However, the deadline to complete the fixture passed and left the destiny of the championship in limbo.

Previous unplayed games during the season had resulted in a 2-0 concession. Had that applied to Llanfair, they would have lost out on GD.

The league’s committee decided to award Llanfair a 2-0 win, the Powys club appealed to the NEWFA, and they, as per FIFA ruling, granted a 3-0 victory.

This meant both Bethel and Llanfair finished level on points and GD.

Bethel had scored the more goals, but under the NWWFL rule-book, ‘goals scored’ was not a factor in deciding league placings. However. ‘goals scored’ does apply under FIFA rules!

Although never officially declared, the title race ended up a tie between Llanfair and Bethel, the two stand-out teams of the season.

Llanfair also won the Division One Cup and NEWFA Cup with striker Gemma Jones league top-scorer with 32 in all competitions.

In Division Two, Bethesda clinched the title with 10 straight wins, but failed to play their final fixture against Wrexham.

To seal promotion, Wrexham had to win that game. The league awarded them a 2-0 victory which ensured they elevated to Division One, with Corwen and Rhyl Development (nowadays simply Rhyl due to the disbandment of the original first team) also going up.

The Supplementary Cup also became a comedy when Caernarfon Town were unable to raise a team for their Group A final against Pwllheli, so the game was scrapped.

Amlwch Town and Wrexham provided some cheer when they met in the Group B final. Amlwch won 2-1 to secure the first major trophy in their history.

A rare highpoint in a shambles of a season.

2019/20


Candice Nellist (red) in action for Nomads in their stunning upset against Port Talbot. Picture: Jay Catton

This season has been a virtual non-starter, but this time no-one can be blamed.

After the weather wiped out a multitude of games, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has ensured a ball has not been kicked in the league (or any others) since March 8.

The major highlight before the action stopped was Division Two newcomers Connah’s Quay Nomads getting to the Welsh Cup semi-final, where a clash with mighty Swansea City awaits.

Nomads knocked out Port Talbot of the Welsh Premier in the quarters – one of North Wales women’s football’s greatest ever results.

2020/21

Anyone like to take a guess? ………

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