So little women’s football to report on this year, but we’ve got a few memories to look back on and it’s worth putting together a few awards I think.
Anything that praises, highlights and publicises the female game is worth doing.
So here are the 2020 Grassroots North Wales Women’s Football Awards.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Connah’s Quay Nomads
A number of North Wales teams stood out last season but only one of them knocked a Welsh Premier team out of the Welsh Cup.
So for their outstanding 2-1 win over Port Talbot in the quarter-finals of the national competition on February 16, Connah’s Quay Nomads are my team of the year.
Goals from Candice Nellist and Becca Bannister ensured Sara Hilton’s side progressed to the semis, where Swansea City awaited.
Unfortunately, the tie was never played because Covid ended the season early.
Newly-formed Nomads also went unbeaten in North Wales League Division Two, but lost out on the title to Amlwch Town.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Erin Maloney (Bethel)
The young striker finished top-scorer in North Wales across all competitions with 21 goals for the season.
These awards are for what was achieved in 2020 alone, not over the whole season, but Erin also netted the most goals this year – 8.
A fantastic effort considering she was up against such strong defenders in Division One.
MANAGER (S) OF THE YEAR
Mo Eynon/Charlotte Bethany Webb (Amlwch Town)
Not only did this pair guide Amlwch to the Division Two title, they were also in charge of a team which knocked Division One side Rhyl out of the NEWFA Cup.
Amlwch finished up undefeated in Division Two – won 8, drawn 1 – and possessed a goal difference of + 73.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Catrin Evans (Amlwch Town)
Not a difficult choice. The 17-year-old scored 14 goals in total, ending up sixth in the overall chart.
It is not just about her goals, though, it’s her pace and deliveries from the wings which make her one of the league’s very best all-round players.
BEST NEW TEAM
Connah’s Quay Nomads
Who else really? To go unbeaten in your division and reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup at the first attempt really is something.
Special mention to Rhyl-based NFA, though, who really came good after a difficult start.
Bethan Thomas (Northop Hall)
Has long been regarded among the best the league can offer and she was excellent again in 2020.
Anest Haf Roberts (Bethel)
No praise can be high enough for this tremendous young prospect who has just about everything. Is there such a thing as an “attacking defender”? If there is, that’s what Anest is.
Ffion Owen (Amlwch Town)
Best goalscoring midfielder around. Added real quality to the Amlwch squad.
Rosie Hughes (Denbigh Town)
Her goals:game ratio was ridiculous, Scored 18 in all, including two double hat-tricks.
Llio Meleri Jones (Pwllheli)
Came into the team and made a great impact. Scored a goal in a fantastic 3-0 win over Rhyl in the Betty Pickering Cup.
Fast player and superb on the ball. Llio won the Best New Signing award for her club too.
BEST DEFENSIVE PARTNERSHIP
Anest Haf Roberts & Llio Henshaw (Bethel)
BEST MIDFIELD PARTNERSHIP
Ffion Owen & Cerys Gadd (Amlwch Town)
BEST STRIKING PARTNERSHIP
Ffion Mair Roberts & Awel Fflur Ellis (Llanberis)
Cara Hughes (to Pwllheli)
A tremendous signing for Pwllheli in March as Cara returned to the club where she started her career.
After joining Pwll as a 15-year-old, defender Cara, now 21, went on to gain experience in the Welsh Premier with Caernarfon Town and Llandudno.
On her return to Pwllheli, the club provided the following lovely quote about the player: “After an adventurous time away for her, experiencing the game at a high level, taking it all in and developing her own game, she has become a stand-out player in the Welsh Premier, making a huge name for herself.
“She also has been the heart of many clubs on her travels.
“She is an asset to any team and wherever she goes she is loved and respected.”
RAY OF SUNSHINE IN A DARK YEAR
Newly-formed side Llanystumdwy finally got to play their first game – a friendly against Bethel.
Player-manager Maria Lloyd has put together an enthusiastic group who will only improve as time goes on.
The articles on the team proved very popular with the readers. Lovely to see Llanystumdwy join the North Wales women’s football family.
MEDIA MARVEL (Best with the press)
Gwenno Gibbard-Bolton (Bethel)/Hayley Rees Williams (Pwllheli)
Has to be a joint award. Gwenno, who became a mum in 2020 (best new arrival – Henri) is amazing the way she helps me in my work. Anything I need and the information is there quickly.
Hayley has been brilliant in promoting Pwllheli, her lovely, bubbly personality making her a dream to work with.
Thank you so much both and everyone else who has helped me this year.
STORY OF THE YEAR
Aaron Jones-Evans (Bethel)
In January we told the story of how Aaron had made a remarkable return to playing football after suffering a brain haemorrhage which threatened not just to end his football career, but also his life.
Thankfully, the 34-year-old from Abersoch made a good recovery which meant him resuming as a player and also as coach with Bethel Ladies, where he works alongside Ben Bolton and Lenny Jones.
FUNNIEST STORY/BEST FEMALE FOCUS
Lani Bouckley (Connah’s Quay Nomads)
When I first checked out the Nomads women’s squad on the club website, I saw they had a player named simply Noelani.
I was fascinated with this, as I thought she might be of South American descent and went by her first name or surname only, as many Brazilian footballers do (Jairzinho, Pele, Socrates etc).
I later discovered she is from Buckley not Brazil and her full name is Noelani Illyria Bouckley, but she goes by Lani Bouckley for football purposes.
My Female Focus interview with Lani was probably my favourite of 2020. Really lovely person and so interesting. I found out her christian name is Hawaiian, means mist of rain. Reason? “My dad is very historic….”
She also has a twin named Rhonwen and other sisters Demetra and Stephanie.
I’m also reliably informed that when the skilful Lani plays, it’s just like watching Brazil!