Some “imports” settle in North Wales football, others never do.
Steve Lewis is one that certainly did.
The big front man, hailing from Liverpool and affectionately nicknamed The Beast, has played for a host of clubs in Gogledd Cymru, achieving success with many.
It is almost 10 years since Lewis had his first experience of soccer in North Wales.
He originally signed for Welsh Premier club Bala Town from Liverpool League outfit Essemay FC in January 2011 aged 23 after impressing in a pre-season friendly.
Following a brief spell at Maes Tegid, Lewis moved to Rhyl after gaining further experience with Northern Premier League side Marine.
The likeable Liverpudlian was a major hit with the Lilywhites fans, and no wonder as he finished joint top-scorer with 16 goals when Rhyl’s invincibles won the 2012-13 Cymru Alliance League title without losing a single game in 30 outings.
Although disciplinary issues clouded some of his time at Belle Vue, he remained a key player and scored five times in 15 starts as Rhyl held their own on returning to the Welsh Premier in 2013-14.
Lewis left the club at the end of the season. He joined Cefn Druids in summer 2014, but parted company with the Ancients before the season started.
He kept busy playing local league games for a Liverpool area team before Lee Dixon brought him to Cymru Alliance club Caernarfon Town in January 2015.
And Lewis made quite an impact at The Oval, his 11 appearances delivering nine goals and he quickly developed a good rapport with the Canaries fans, but come summer 2015 he decided to sign for Welsh Premier newcomers Llandudno.
The move never worked out with Lewis not playing a competitive game for the Seasiders.
Instead he joined Holywell Town, newly-promoted to the Cymru Alliance, and did what he does best – banging in 13 goals in 18 outings for Johnny Haseldin’s side.
In January 2016, however, Lewis put pen to paper for Welsh Premier giants Bangor City.
On his third appearance for the Citizens, Lewis won himself instant access to all-blues fans’ hearts by scoring a stunning hat-trick in a 4-3 home victory against former club Rhyl.
Lewis made it 3-3 from the penalty spot in the 89th minute before writing himself into club folklore with an injury-time winner – a sublime 35-yard controlled chip in appalling conditions.
During the after-goal celebrations, an ecstatic Lewis, running at full pelt, flattened manager Neville Powell in front of the TV cameras, but the overjoyed boss bounced straight back up and went on a victory gallop of his own.
That rain-soaked night at Nantporth was as good as it got for Bangor’s No 32, who managed just one more goal before the end of the season.
The start of the 2016-17 season saw Lewis return to the English pyramid and join Droylsden, mainly due to family commitments.
The striker fared really well for the Bloods, bagging 12 goals in Northern Premier First Division North, which made him at the time the fourth highest scorer in the league.
However, December 2016 brought an unexpected return to North Wales and a second stint with Rhyl.
This time things did not go Lewis’ way as despite some good early displays injuries held him back and the season ended with the Lilywhites relegated.
Next up was a return to the club where perhaps the robust hit-man produced his finest form – Holywell Town.
The 2017-18 campaign saw Lewis bag 23 goals in 28 appearances for the Cymru Alliance club.
His most memorable achievement in that season was notching back-to-back hat-tricks in thrashings of Airbus and Holyhead Hotspur.
Being very much a people person, Steve’s ability to form a strong bond with the fans again served him well with the Wellmen.
Although he began 2018-19 at Runcorn Town, Lewis returned to Holywell and was welcomed back with open arms.
He scored nine times in 16 matches, making it 45 goals in 62 total appearances for the club, but sadly the Flintshire outfit were relegated from the Cymru Alliance.
The start of 2019-20 saw Lewis join Northwich Victoria (possibly his 15th club), but a knee injury halted his progress.
His latest association is with Quarry Bank Old Boys in the Liverpool County Premier League Division One on a Saturday and new team Mount Carmel of the Liverpool Business Houses Football League Championship on Sundays.
Is Steve’s love affair with North Wales football over for good?
He says so, he has many fond memories of playing in our leagues, but is happy at the level he is now.
Whatever he decides he will always be welcome in North Wales, as a player or spectator.
Steve Lewis career stats (where known)
2019/20: Northwich Victoria
2018/19: Runcorn Town/Holywell Town (nine goals in 16 games)
2017/18: Holywell Town (23 goals in 28 games)
2016/17: Droylsden/Rhyl (Rhyl – 1 goal)
2015/16: Holywell Town (13 goals in 18 games) Bangor City (10 matches, 4 goals)
2014/15: Nantwich Town/Caernarfon Town (nine goals in 11 appearances)
2013/14: Rhyl (15 Welsh Premier appearances, 5 goals)
2012/13: Rhyl (16 Cymru Alliance goals)
2010/11: Bala Town 2 (0)
Llandudno and Cefn Druids (signed but deal cancelled)