Gwenno is a born leader and model of consistency

Bethel club captain Gwenno Gibbard Bolton (left) shields the ball from Airbus midfielder Jade Scott. Picture: Kevin Prydderch

Having given birth to her first child in the summer, Gwenno Gibbard-Bolton cannot wait to return to the football field.

CPD Merched Bethel’s club captain is enjoying motherhood, but like every other footballer in Wales wants to be back playing competitively.

The problem is the coronavirus pandemic has prevented any football below tier 1 taking place since March – and that affects all women’s teams in North Wales.

At least training sessions have been permitted in recent times, and Bethel are certainly making the most of those.

In the new-look North Wales Women’s League, Bethel have been placed in the Premier Division where they could again go head-to-head with champions Llanfair for the title in 2020-21 – when, or if, the fixture list commences.

Gwenno is one of the senior players in a Bethel squad which has another crop of promising youngsters emerging aiming to establish themselves in the first team.

July 7, 2020, was a very special day in the lives of Gwenno and her husband Ben Bolton, who is head coach at Bethel.

On that date, Henri Owen Gibbard Bolton entered the world at 9.04 am, weighing in at 7 lb 3 oz.

Gwenno (right) and Ben

It was the perfect result for Gwenno and Ben, who married in August 2018.

So where did it all start for Bethel’s most famous football female?

New mum Gwenno began playing the game aged six, initially kicking a ball in the garden with dad Aled and sister Mari.

There were no girls teams at the time so Gwenno played for the Llewod Llanrug under 7’s boys up to U-11.

Her father established the first girls team at under-12 in Llanrug and they finished their first season unbeaten, winning the league and cup.

She recalls her first-ever trophy success was winning the League Cup final and netting the header to make it 1-0 for Llanrug – ironically against Bethel !

Gwenno and Reidy

Gwenno also played for Pwllheli Girls in summer camps – receiving a trophy from Everton and England star Peter Reid one year – and in her teens represented North Wales Under-14’s and U-16’s.

Gwenno (third left – back row) with Pwllheli Girls

As a senior, Gwenno’s first club was Caernarfon Town.

Gwenno, back row, first player in yellow on left, celebrates success with Caernarfon Town. Some amazing players in that line-up

She benefited greatly playing alongside experienced and successful players such as Ceryl Jones and Iona Williams, as well as fellow prospect Jordanne Greenough, now also at Bethel.

She was part of the Canaries squad which won the Welsh Premier Northern Conference, as well as the North Wales League and Maurice Naylor Cup.

Between 2011-2013 she took a break from football and concentrated on hockey instead.

Gwenno (left) after her last game for Newcastle Emlyn with friend Jessica Hammett, who now plays for Port Talbot

She later returned to football and joined Newcastle Emlyn, her local team when she was studying PE at the University of Wales Trinity St David in Lampeter, Carmarthen.

Gwenno’s been a crucial part of CPD Merched Bethel’s development in recent years.

Her pen picture on the club website reads: “Club captain Gwenno’s work rate and attitude helps her naturally lead by example.

“A player whose fitness allows her to be a box-to-box midfielder which means she can get her defensive duties done before bursting up the pitch to help with the attack.

“A regular scorer and provider of goals and a hard worker behind the scenes of Bethel Ladies FC.”

Seren ddisglair

Gwenno’s most memorable achievements with Bethel include being part of the team which reached the Welsh Cup quarter-finals in 2016-17, losing gallantly 4-2 to Welsh Premier side Cardiff City FC Women, and the side which memorably eliminated Caernarfon Town 4-1 from the 2017-18 competition.

She was also a key player in the Bethel squad which shared the North Wales Women’s League Division One championship in 2018-19 and also reached two cup finals.

Gwenno is undoubtedly a major figure in Bethel’s present and future and inspires all around her.

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