Grassroots North Wales top 10 sporting stories of 2020

Asa Thomas reached 500 career goals. Picture: Wynne Evans

With so much sport wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, drawing up a list of highlights for North Wales is not easy.

However, here are 10 of the best events/stories we covered on the Grassroots North Wales website during this awful year.

1 Holyhead Rugby Club reach national semi-final

The great George North visited Holyhead Rugby Club during the season

Holyhead Rugby Club recorded the finest result in their history on January 11 when they won 23-13 at Cardiff Saracens in the Specsavers National Shield quarter-finals.

A long distance journey to take on the WRU League 3 East Central C Sarries, who had a 100% record of 10 straight wins, was a hugely difficult hurdle, but the visitors from Division 3 North claimed a magnificent victory.

Tries from Ben Jordan, Mei Parry and Aron Parry, a Rhodri Parry conversion and penalty, plus three points from the boot of Owain Thomas sealed Holyhead’s best-ever win.

South Gower awaited in the semi-finals, but sadly the tie never took place due to Covid-19.

Holyhead’s achievement was all the more remarkable considering they had progressed so far from humble beginnings.

2 Connah’s Quay Nomads win Welsh Premier League

Nomads ended The New Saints’ eight-season stranglehold on the Welsh Premier League title.

It was a first national league championship for the Deesiders, who finished top on the unweighted points-per-game method, the campaign having ended early with six rounds of matches to play due to Covid-19.

Andy Morrison’s side made it a magnificent double as they also landed the Nathaniel MG (League) Cup, beating STM Sports 3-0 in the final.

They round off 2020 bang in contention to make it back-to-back titles in the new year.

3 Yasmin Williams – footballer makes military history

CPD Merched Bethel footballer Yasmin Williams defied the odds by making history in her military career.

The then 17-year-old from Bangor became the first woman ever to pass out for the Welsh Guards in February.

After developing her football talents through junior sides at Bangor, Yasmin joined Bethel Under-16s where she won the North Wales Girls League Cup in May 2018.

She moved up to the seniors in 2018-19 and was a key player in the squad which finished joint North Wales Women’s League Division One champions.

Yasmin is still with the club and plays when her military commitments allow.

4 Asa Thomas – 500 goals

It was confirmed in early 2020, that netbuster supreme Asa Thomas had reached the 500 career goals mark before the age of 30.

The Holyhead machine’s best season was 2010-11, when he amassed 112 goals in 47 appearances for Trearddur Bay United.

He has notched more than 200 goals for Trearddur in total, 100 in Morawelon colours, just below the ton for Holyhead Town and 69 as a Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic player.

Asa has also represented Holyhead Hotspur and Gaerwen and ends 2020 on 514 career goals.

5 Prestatyn Town win Cymru North title in a canter

The Seasiders won a third tier-two championship in 2020, finishing 16 points clear of the Cymru North summit.

Their previous title successes were by 15 points (2007-08) and 16 (in 2016-17).

In 2019-20, they were again a class above the rest.

Not only that, they also made it to the Welsh Cup semi-finals, but never got to play their tie against The New Saints because of Covid-19.

Unfortunately, Town were turned down for promotion to the Cymru Premier due to a licensing issue, but can still look back at 2020 with great pride for what they achieved in the Cymru North.

6 Menai Bridge Cricket Club – perfect season for 1st and 2nd XI

Jack Gower stood out for Menai Bridge. Picture: Andre Pepper, eventphotowales

Although there was no promotion/relegation or championships handed out in a shortened 2020 cricket season, Menai Bridge still produced some exceptional achievements.

The 1st XI finished top of Group A and the 2nd XI ended up first in Group D.

Neither side lost a match, with only cancellations preventing perfect records.

Jack Gower and Gethin Roberts averaged above 50 in the batting, while Mathew Jones was the league’s fifth best bowler with 21 wickets.

7 Connah’s Quay Nomads 2 Port Talbot 1 – FAW Women’s Welsh Cup shock

Candice Nellist (red) scored for Nomads in their Welsh Cup giant-killing of Port Talbot. Photo: Jay Catton

What a result for North Wales League Division Two side Nomads against Welsh Premier Port Talbot in February.

Despite there being two pyramid levels between the teams, Sara Hilton’s Deesiders stunned their illustrious visitors with a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Candice Nellist and Becca Bannister.

Nomads drew mighty Swansea City in the semis, but the game never happened due to Covid-19.

8 Arfon Ladies – 13th netball title

Arfon Ladies clinched their 13th title when they were crowned champions of Gwynedd and Anglesey Netball League Division One in January.

The most successful team in the league’s history wrapped up top spot with a game to go following a resounding 24-14 victory over second-placed Menai Mavericks.

It is always a keenly-contested affair between these two teams but Arfon established an 8-3 lead after a brilliant opening quarter.

Mavericks matched their opponents 5-5 in the second before Arfon extended their advantage in the third to eight goals at 19-11.

Menai put up a good battle in the last to cut the deficit to five, but Arfon responded back and finished with a flurry.

9 Llandudno Albion – FAW Trophy finalists

The cruel effect of Covid on Welsh sport was no more in evidence than in the case of Llandudno Albion.

The Welsh Alliance Division One club worked wonders to make it all the way to the FAW Trophy final, only for the match against Penydarren BGC never to take place because of the suspension of football due to the pandemic.

To reach the final, Albion saw off St Asaph City (4-2), Mynydd Isa Spartans (3-2), Carno (5-2), Berriew (1-1 – won on pens), Risca United (2-0) and Welsh Alliance champions Holyhead Hotspur (1-1 – won on pens).

All that hard work and denied the chance to round things off with the trophy – thanks FAW.

10 Bangor 1876 – Gwynedd League invincibles

Bangor 1876 have a tremendous fan base. Picture: Dafydd Hughes

Had the pandemic not ended the 2019-20 season prematurely in March, the all-conquering newly-formed Bangor 1876 could easily have ended up with five trophies.

As it was, the free-scoring new boys had to be content with the Gwynedd League title only, which they secured with 16 wins out of 16, 115 goals scored and just 9 conceded.

They were also still in the NWCFA Junior Cup, Gwynedd Cup, Bob Owen Memorial Trophy and Safeflue Shield, but none of those competitions were completed.

In the cups, 1876 won 12 games out of 14, with 70 scored and 18 let in. That made it 185 goals in total for the team from 30 matches, Dylan Summers-Jones netting 45, Jamie Petrie 43 and Bangor football legend Les Davies 23.

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