Grassroots North Wales 2020 football awards

Bangor 1876 and Llysfaen – seen here in action in their NWCFA Junior Cup tie at the Banana Field in March – both feature in our 2020 Awards

It’s been a year we won’t forget in a hurry – for all the wrong reasons.

Most clubs in North Wales have not kicked a competitive ball since early March due to the coronavirus pandemic, so for the majority that leaves us two-and-a-bit months on which to assess their form.

The Cymru Premier gives us a bit more slack: January to March and September to December, while the Cymru North played January to March, plus one round of Nathaniel MG Cup games, involving only some of the clubs, in December.

All the same, we might as well reflect on what we saw and hand out our totally unofficial 2020 Grassroots North Wales Football Awards.

THIRD TIER AND BELOW

Team of the Year

Chirk Town

Chirk Town
Champions of a very competitive North East Wales League at the first attempt.

Player of the Year

Mark Connolly (red and white – furthest right) shoots for goal for Holywell. Picture: Lee Douglas

Mark Connolly (Holywell Town)
With 21 goals in 18 appearances, he was a true stand-out player for the Welsh National League Premier Division champions.
Not surprising he did so well considering he has netted more than 100 goals from midfield in the Cymru Premier.

Manager of the Year

Emlyn Robert Jones has ball skills as well as managerial skills

Emlyn Robert Jones (Llysfaen)
Llysfaen had achieved very little as a football club until they ignited under the leadership of Emlyn Robert Jones in 2019-20.
The Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League side went undefeated in Division One and finished runners-up by the slightest of margins on the points-per-game method.
They went unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions before losing what turned out to be their final game of the campaign against Bangor 1876 in the NWCFA Junior Cup.
Llysfaen were the last team in senior North Wales football to lose an undefeated record in 2019-20.

Young Player of the Year

Dylan Summers-Jones on the attack for 1876

Dylan Summers-Jones (Bangor 1876)
A magnificent 2019-20 season for the now 18-year-old, who was 17 when he netted 45 goals for newly-formed Bangor 1876.
The Gaerwen-based youngster’s goals tally included seven hat-tricks for the Gwynedd League champions.
His partnership with Jamie Petrie up front amassed 88 goals in all competitions.

TOP TWO TIERS

Cymru Premier

Team of the Year

All hail the Cymru Premier champions. Picture: NCM Media

Connah’s Quay Nomads
Has to be Nomads, who not only won the Welsh Premier title for the first time, breaking the eight-year stranglehold of The New Saints, but also scooped the Nathaniel MG (League) Cup.
Andy Morrison’s side were declared 2019-20 champions in May on the unweighted points per game method.
The 32-game season was ruled complete with six rounds of matches still to play, coronavirus having caused an early curtailment. Quay were four points clear.
And there has been no let up in the 2020-21 season, with Nomads just three points behind TNS with a game in hand when matches were suspended on December 21 due to Covid.

Player of the Year

Chris Venables (Bala Town)
Easy choice. Venables won the Welsh Premier Golden Boot in 2019-20 for a fourth time and he tops the 2020-21 chart with 15 goals in as many games.
Aged 35, he just seems to be getting better and better, especially with those back post headers.
No coincidence that Bala are such a strong WPL force with this class act in their squad.

Manager of the Year

Andy Morrison. Pic: NCM Media

Andy Morrison (Connah’s Quay Nomads)
The former Manchester City captain walks the award this year.
Since he took over in November 2015, Nomads have become a reborn major player in the Welsh Premier.
Under Morrison they have won a first-ever league title (2019-20), as well as the Welsh Cup and Nathaniel MG Cup, plus have achieved some marvellous results in Europe.

Young Player of the Year

Leo Smith in action for Caernarfon. Picture: Paul Evans CTFC

Leo Smith (Caernarfon Town/The New Saints)
Is it okay to give the award to a 22-year-old? It seems a pretty young age to me (there again, every age seems young to me).
Anyway, this midfield genius has shone for both Caernarfon Town and TNS in 2020.
The Porthmadog-born talent began his career at Wrexham, making 20 + first team appearances for the Dragons before a spell at Llandudno preceded a stint with Caernarfon, where he impressed greatly.
No surprise full-timers TNS snapped him up for the 2020-21 season and he has been outstanding for the Park Hall outfit.

Cymru North

Team of the Year

Prestatyn Town
Champions by 16 points at the end of 2019-20, the Seasiders were a class above as they stormed to a joint-record third tier-two title.
Unfortunately, a licensing issue blocked their promotion to the Cymru Premier, so Flint Town United went up instead.
No competitive matches for Prestatyn since March, but they started the year superbly well, also making it to the Welsh Cup semi-finals, where their tie versus The New Saints had to be cancelled due to coronavirus.

Player of the Year

Danny Davies joins the Nomads. Picture: NCM Media

Danny Davies (Prestatyn Town)
Such was the impact Davies made for the Seasiders in 2019-20, he earned himself a transfer to Cymru Premier champions Connah’s Quay Nomads this term.
He has produced some cracking displays for the Deesiders this season too.
Last season, Danny hit double figures for Prestatyn in the goal stakes, scoring vital winners against Flint, Rhyl and Conwy Borough.

Manager of the Year

Neil Gibson recently took over at Flint. Picture: Flint Town United FC website

Neil Gibson (Prestatyn Town)
Gibbo put together a third Cymru North title-winning team – and they did it in style.
Using many of the tried and trusted players who had served him so well in past seasons, the ex-Tranmere and Wales Under-21 midfielder proved again where Prestatyn is concerned he had the knack for success.
Sadly promotion did not happen and by October, Gibbo had left Bastion Gardens.
He is now managing in the Welsh Premier again at Flint Town United.

Young Player of the Year

Cai Owen

Cai Owen (Colwyn Bay)
Again I’m gambling on a 22-year-old being ‘young’ enough to be young!
Moved to Cymru Premier club Caernarfon Town in September 2020, but before that had an impressive spell at Colwyn Bay of the Cymru North.
Prior to that he played at Rhyl, having progressed through Bangor City’s Academy, making his senior debut at 16 under Neville Powell, before moving to Llandudno.
A quality wide player who can also operate in a number of other positions, he has always played at a high level and his best years could be yet to come.

2019-20 LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

Cymru Premier
Champions: Connah’s Quay Nomads; runners-up: The New Saints

Cymru North
Champions: Prestatyn Town; runners-up: Flint Town United

Welsh Alliance
Division One: champions – Holyhead Hotspur; runners-up: Denbigh Town
Division Two: champions – Y Felinheli; runners-up: Llannefydd

Welsh National League
Premier Division: champions – Holywell Town; runners-up: Cefn Albion
Division One: champions – Hawarden Rangers; runners-up: Cefn Mawr Rangers
Reserves Division: champions – Mold Alexandra; runners-up: Buckley Town
Reserves and Colts: champions – Connah’s Quay Nomads; runners-up: Airbus UK

Gwynedd League
Champions: Bangor 1876; runners-up: Nefyn United

Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League
Premier Division: champions – Rhuddlan Town; runners-up: Llanfairfechan Town
Division One: champions – NFA; runners-up: Llysfaen

North East Wales League
Premier Division: champions – Chirk Town; runners-up: Brymbo Victoria
Veterans Premier Division: champions – Caerwys Vets
Veterans Division One: champions – Lex XI Vets

Anglesey League
Champions: Cemaes Bay; runners-up: Mountain Rangers

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