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Farewell to the Welsh National (Wrexham Area) League – a tribute

Mold Alexandra celebrate their Welsh National League Premier Division title success of 2013-14. Picture: Barry Couchman

This season brought an end to the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) after 74 years of existence.

The league, which covered tiers 3 and 4 of the Welsh pyramid, was formed in 1946, having grown out of the Wrexham and District League that first emerged in the early 20th century.

Founded in 1903, the Wrexham and District League folded in 1912, but returned in 1925 before dissolving again in 1939.

During the periods the WDL ran and ceased to run, clubs from the Wrexham area also competed in The Combination and Birmingham and District League, as well as the North Wales Alliance League and Welsh National League Northern Section.

After World War Two clubs re-organised as the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area).

1946-2020

The league operated with just one division for its first two years, Llay United being the inaugural winners.

In 1947-48, a senior division was set up along with west and east sections.

Two seasons on, the system was changed again to accommodate divisions one, two and three.

This format continued more or less consistently until 1969-70 when four divisions came into being – initially Division One, Division Two, plus Divisions 3A and 3B.

Division Four replaced 3A and 3B from 1970-71 to 1973-74, then came a spell where the league reduced in size before the four divisions returned in 1978-79 and stayed until 1983-84.

The 1984-85 campaign saw a Premier Division introduced for the first time, Lex XI taking the title. Lex and Mold Alexandra shared a spell of domination, winning three championships apiece in the Premier’s first six seasons.

The WNL persisted with two or three divisions before in 2008-09 introducing a Reserves and a Reserves and Colts Division for the first time.

This four-division format continued until the very end.

Chirk AAA scooped their eighth top division title in 2012-13. Pic: Nigel Roberts

Most Successful Teams

Brymbo Steelworks/Brymbo have won the most top division titles, being crowned champions on 12 occasions. Chirk AAA boast eight top flight titles and Mold Alexandra have managed five.

Most Top Division Titles in Succession

Denbigh Town hold the record for the most titles on the bounce, winning the league four times in a row in 1972-73, 73-74, 74-75 and 75-76. They were only denied a fifth straight crown on goal difference in 1976-77.

Most Successful Product

Bala Town celebrate winning the 2016-17 Welsh Cup. The Lakesiders amazing run of success under Colin Caton began with the Welsh National League Premier Division title in 2003-04

The most successful team ever to play in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) has to be Bala Town.

After winning the Premier Division in 2003-04, the Lakesiders went on to lift the Cymru Alliance title in 2008-09 and have competed in the top league in Wales, the Welsh Premier, ever since, finishing runners-up in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The Maes Tegid club has also won the Welsh Cup and competed in Europe on five occasions, with a sixth campaign secured.

They came, they saw, they conquered….they disappeared

Wrexham Colts lived a very short but sweet existence in the Welsh National League.

Affiliated to Wrexham AFC, they joined the WNL in 1994/95 and went unbeaten in all 26 games as they won the Division Two title.

They followed up the season after by finishing top of Division One, then the next campaign they also scooped the Premier title.

Unable to accept promotion to the Cymru Alliance, the team disbanded with a league record of: played 78 won 64 drawn 9 lost 5 goals for 385 goals against 85. Not too shabby!

Runners-up Chirk AAA were promoted in their place.

Interesting names

Like most North Wales leagues, the WNL has accommodated a few teams with colourful and interesting names over the years.

In 1978-79, Tunnel Cement won the Division Four title.

Those who played against them said they could mix it, a hard bunch that could have enjoyed a long and successful path if they were not so set in their ways. These rumours are flimsy though, not concrete.

And what about the wonderful Grapes? A tough bunch, you did not want to be on the end of their Wrath.

They entered the league 1979-80 – won Division Four. In 1980-81 they landed the Division Three title, even having the audacity to nudge Tunnel Cement into second place.

The next season, Grapes finished top of Division Two – with Tunnel ending up fourth. Not ‘cement’ to be for those lads.

How about Grapes though, three straight league titles and in 1982-83 they were runners-up in Division One, finishing just two points behind the champions, the mighty Brymbo Steelworks.

The fruitily-named Wrexham side stayed in the Premier for three more seasons, but by 1986-87 the Grapes were gone – obviously a bad harvest.

During their spell of success the Welsh National League revealed they received several complaints from other clubs about how Grapes went about winning their matches.

The league ignored all comments, insisting it was nothing but sour grapes from teams which liked to ‘wine’.

What an effort by Grapes though. So nearly going through all four divisions of the league as champions. That cannot have happened too many times in football history.

Grapes’ other claim to fame was a visit to Rhyl in the 1985-86 Welsh Cup, where they lost 5-0 to the then Northern Premier League Lilywhites.

The 1966-67 Division Three champions were named British Celanese.

I thought initially this team might be made up of ex-pats from Ceylon, who had settled in North Wales.

How wrong was I? British Celanese was a chemical company based near Derby, who set up a factory in Wrexham.

There’s a whole page on the place, and some smashing pictures, on http://www.wrexham-history.com

British Celanese was an independent company before becoming a subsidiary of Courtaulds, who also produced a fine football team or two.

Holywell Town are the last-ever Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division champions. Pic: Lee Douglas

Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) list of champions (all divisions)

1945-46 Llay United

1946-47 Wrexham A

1947-48: Senior Division – Chirk AAA; West Division – Rhostyllen/Bersham BL; East Division – Coedpoeth

1948-49: Senior Division – Johnstown United; West Division – Overton St Mary’s; East Division – Coedpoeth

1949-50: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Ruabon Athletic; Division Three – New Broughton

1950-51: Division One – Druids United; Division Two – Penycae; Division Three – Rubery Owen Rockwell

1951-52: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Holt Nomads; Division Three – Royal Pioneer Corps

1952-53: Division One – Overton St Mary’s; Division Two – Llangollen Town; Division Three – Bradley Rangers

1953-54: Division One – Overton St Mary’s; Division Two – Bradley Rangers

1954-55: Division One – Welshpool AFC; Division Two – Gresford Colliery; Division Three – Bradley Rangers Res

1955-56: Division One – Buckley Wanderers; Division Two – Holt Nomads; Division Three – Tanyfron Youth Club.

1956-57: Division One – Welshpool AFC; Division Two – RO Rockwell; Division Three – Ponciau Youth Club

1957-58: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Royal Pioneer Corps; Division Three – Marshalls Sports Club

1958-59: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Rhos Aelwyd; Division Three – Tanyfron

1959-60: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Buckley Rovers; Division Three – Fron.

1960-61: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Pentre Broughton

1961-62: Division One – Welshpool AFC; Division Two – Rhosddu

1962-63: Division One – Llay Welfare; Division Two – Gresford Athletic; Division Three – Summerhill.

1963-64: Division One – Ruthin Town; Division Two – Summerhill; Division Three – Llanuwchllyn

1964-65: Division One – Welshpool AFC; Division Two – Buckley Rovers; Division Three – Coedpoeth

1965-66: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Rubery Owen Rockwell; Division Three – Marshalls Sports Club

1966-67: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Coedpoeth; Division Three – British Celanese.

1967-68: Division One – Llangollen Town; Division Two – Bala Town; Division Three – Rossett Villa.

1968-69: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Rossett Villa; Division Three – Burntwood & Drury

1969-70: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Druids United; Division 3A – Gresford Athletic Res; Division 3B – Cefn Albion

1970-71: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Burntwood & Drury; Division Three – Rhosddu; Division Four – Castell Alun.

1971-72: Division One – Llangollen Town; Division Two – Rhosddu; Division Three – Castell Alun; Division Four – Druids United Res

1972-73: Division One – Denbigh Town; Division Two – Ruabon St Mary’s; Division Three – Hawarden Rangers; Division Four – Treuddyn Villa.

1973-74: Division One – Denbigh Town; Division Two – Buckley Rovers; Division Three – Coedpoeth; Division Four – Overton Athletic

1974-75: Division One – Denbigh Town; Division Two – Lex XI

1975-76: Division One – Denbigh Town; Division Two – Coedpoeth; Division Three – Castell AC

1976-77: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Castell AC

1977-78: Division One – New Broughton; Division Two – Cefn Albion

1978-79: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Chirk AAA; Division Three – Penley; Division Four – Tunnel Cement

1979-80: Division One – Cefn Albion; Division Two – Ruthin Town; Division Three – Ruthin Town Res; Division Four – Grapes

1980-81: Division One – Cefn Albion; Division Two – Rhostyllen Villa; Division Three – Grapes; Division Four – New Broughton

1981-82: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Grapes; Division Three – Hawkesbury Villa; Division Four – Coedpoeth

1982-83: Division One – Brymbo Steelworks; Division Two – Rhos Aelwyd; Division Three – Coedpoeth; Division Four – Llay RBL

1983-84: Division One – Chirk AAA; Division Two – Lex XI Res; Division Three – Penycae; Division Four (N) – Connah’s Quay Res; Division Four (S) – Johnstown Athletic.

Premier Division era

1984-85: Premier Division – Lex XI; Division One – Llay RBL; Division Two – Chirk AAA Res; Division Three – Llangollen Res

1985-86: Premier Division – Mold Alexandra; Division One – Llangollen; Division Two – Penycae Res; Division Three – Bradley.

1986-87: Premier Division – Mold Alexandra; Division One – Llay Welfare; Division Two – Corwen; Division Three – Flint Town

1987-88: Premier Division – Lex XI; Division One – Corwen; Division Two – St Mary’s Ruabon; Division Three – New Broughton

1988-89: Premier Division – Lex XI; Division One – Rhostyllen Villa; Division Two – Marchwiel Villa; Division Three – Kelloggs

1989-90: Premier Division – Mold Alexandra; Division One – Bala Town; Division Two – New Broughton; Division Three – Kinnerton

1990-91: Premier Division – Marchwiel Villa; Division One – Llay Welfare; Division Two – Bradley

1991-92: Premier Division – Wrexham Reserves; Division One – Treuddyn Villa; Division Two – British Aerospace

1992-93: Premier Division – Penley; Division One – Cefn Druids Reserves; Division Two – Rhostyllen & Bersham

1993-94: Premier Division – Penycae; Division One – Brymbo Res; Division Two – Rhosddu

1994-95: Premier Division – Oswestry Town; Division One – Rhostyllen & Bersham RBL; Division Two – Wrexham Colts

1995-96: Premier Division – Gresford Athletic; Division One – Wrexham Colts; Division Two – Gresford Athletic Colts

1996-97: Premier Division – Wrexham Colts; Division One – Castell AC; Division Two – Owens Corning

1997-98: Premier Division – Penley; Division One – Bala Town; Division Two – Bradley Villa

1998-99: Premier Division – Corwen; Division One – Bradley Villa; Division Two – Borras Park

1999-2000: Premier Division – British Aerospace; Division One – Hand Hotel; Division Two – Cefn United; Division Three – Buckley Town

2000-01: Premier Division – Gresford Athletic; Division One – Cefn United; Division Two – Llay Welfare; Division Three – Queen’s Park

2001-02: Premier Division – Mold Alexandra; Division One – Mynydd Isa; Division Two – Queen’s Park; Division Three – Brynteg Village

2002-03: Premier Division – Castell AC; Division One – Queen’s Park; Division Two – Brynteg Village; Division Three – Ruabon Villa

2003-04: Premier Division – Bala Town; Division One – Acrefair Youth; Division Two – Coedpoeth United; Division Three – Buckley Town.

2004-05: Premier Division – Queen’s Park; Division One – Brynteg Village; Division Two – New Brighton; Division Three – Mold Juniors

2005-06: Premier Division – Rhos Aelwyd; Division One – Castell AC; Division Two – Bala Town Res; Division Three – Venture

2006-07: Premier Division – Brymbo; Division One – Bala Town; Division Two – Venture; Division Three – Brymbo Res

2007-08: Premier Division – Brymbo; Division One – Airbus UK; Division Two – Garden Village; Division Three – FC Cefn

2008-09: Premier Division – Llangollen Town; Division One – FC Cefn; Reserves Division – Bala Town; Reserves and Colts – Castell AC

2009-10: Premier Division – Rhos Aelwyd; Division One – Garden Village; Reserves Division – Airbus UK; Reserves & Colts – Ruthin Town

2010-11: Premier Division – Penycae; Division One – Penyffordd; Reserves Division – Rhos Aelwyd; Reserves & Colts – Airbus UK.

2011-12: Premier Division – FC Cefn; Division One – Saltney Town; Reserves Division – Chirk AAA; Reserves & Colts – Mold Alex

2012-13: Premier Division – Chirk AAA; Division One – Borras Park Albion; Reserves Division – Ruthin Town; Reserves & Colts – Buckley Town

2013-14: Premier Division – Mold Alexandra; Division One – FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay; Reserves Division – Penycae; Reserves & Colts – FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay

2014-15: Premier Division – Gresford Athletic; Division One – FC Queen’s Park; Reserves Division – Cefn Druids; Reserves & Colts – Mold Alex

2015-16: Premier Division – FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay; Division One – Cefn Albion; Reserves Division – Mold Alex; Reserves & Colts – Saltney Town

2016-17: Premier Division – FC Queen’s Park; Division One – Lex Glyndwr; Reserves Division – Cefn Druids; Reserves & Colts – Flint Town United

2017-18: Premier Division – Buckley Town; Division One – Brymbo; Reserves Division – Ruthin Town; Reserves & Colts – Brickfield Rangers

2018-19: Premier Division – Corwen; Division One – Plas Madoc; Reserves Division – Cefn Druids; Reserves & Colts – Holywell Town

2019-20: Premier Division – Holywell Town; Division One – Hawarden Rangers; Reserves Division – Mold Alexandra; Reserves & Colts – Connah’s Quay Nomads

FC Nomads players celebrate a goal on their way to winning the 2015-16 Premier Division title. Picture: Richie Minshull

Most top division titles

Brymbo Steelworks/Brymbo 12
Chirk AAA 8
Mold Alexandra 5
Denbigh Town 4
Welshpool AFC 4
Gresford Athletic 3
Lex XI 3
Llangollen Town 3
Brymbo 2
Cefn Albion 2
Corwen 2
Overton St Mary’s 2
Penley 2
Penycae 2
Rhos Aelwyd 2
Bala Town 1
British Aerospace 1
Buckley Town 1
Buckley Wanderers 1
Castell Alun Colts 1
Druids United 1
FC Cefn 1
FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay 1
FC Queen’s Park 1
Holywell Town 1
Johnstown United 1
Llay United 1
Llay Welfare 1
Marchwiel Villa 1
New Broughton 1
Oswestry Town 1
Queen’s Park 1
Ruthin Town 1
Wrexham A 1
Wrexham Colts 1
Wrexham Reserves 1

The future

The official end to the Welsh domestic football season on May 19 meant the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) and the old North East Wales League (2011-2020) are no more.

As part of widespread changes to the Welsh football pyramid, the NEWFA has formed a new competition, also called the North East Wales League, which will consist of a Premier Division, Championship and a reserve league.

This will replace what has been up to now tiers 4 and 5 (the old Welsh National League Division One and the former North East Wales League respectively).

The Welsh National League Premier Division forms part of a new-look FAW-run tier 3 along with the Welsh Alliance League. The name of the new league is not yet known.

The new NEWL structure will have an automatic promotion and relegation from tier 5 (Championship) to 4 (Premier Division – top two and bottom two) rather than the application process which operated with the old North East Wales League and WNL Division One.

Copyright Dave Jones © All rights reserved. CoverNews by AF themes.
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