From Welsh Premier to Football League – Part Two

Marc Lloyd Williams bagged 47 goals for Bangor City in 2001-02. Picture: Mike Smith, Citizens Choice

Following our recent feature on players who started off in the Welsh Premier and went on to perform in the English Football League, we’ve come up with a few more.

Myself and ex-Denbigh Town and Caerwys defender David Cooke put our heads together and unearthed some names who I should have included first up!

To confirm, Jimmy McNulty should not have appeared in the last article as he actually played at Wrexham before going on to wear the colours of Bangor City and Caernarfon Town. The criteria is Welsh Prem first, then on to the EFL.

However, it was still nice to celebrate the progress of such a fine defender.

I also chose Ryan Hedges, who did not play in the Welsh Premier before signing for Swansea City and later Leyton Orient.

Ryan first starred for Flint Town United in the Cymru Alliance, but as it’s my game and my ball and I’ll take it home if you start picking on me 😂😂😂😂 he qualified under the special exception rule….and I’ll be doing that again here ⚽️.

Having said all the above, it doesn’t matter that much does it? It’s all a bit of fun, which is really what Grassroots North Wales is all about.

David Cooke

Anyway, massive thanks to David Cooke for his invaluable input….

Marc Lloyd Williams

Total Network Solutions’ Marc Lloyd-Williams and Glentoran’s Chris Walker (Photo by Matthew Ashton – PA Images via Getty Images)

I know! It’s like buying a pack of cards with the ace of spades missing!

Jiws first made his mark in the League of Wales with Porthmadog and Bangor City before spending time in the Football League with Stockport County, York City and Halifax Town.

His goal-getting record in the FL was modest, but in the Welsh Premier he was always unstoppable and is the league’s all-time highest scorer with 319.

In the WPL, Jiws played for Port, Bangor, Aberystwyth Town, The New Saints, Newtown, Rhyl and Airbus UK Broughton.

Marc was the highest scorer in all European leagues with 47 goals for Bangor City in the 2001–02 season, but did not win the European Golden Boot as the Welsh Premier had a lower co-efficient than some of Europe’s bigger leagues.

The lethal marksman also wore the colours of Colwyn Bay, Norwegian side Haugesund, Altrincham, Southport and ended his career where it all started – playing for hometown club Llanberis. Who said romance is dead?

A Wales B international, the legend has a total of 15 clubs on his CV.

Dion Donohue

Dion in his Caernarfon Town days. Picture: CTFC

This is where I play my ‘special exception’ card.

Although Dion did not play in the Welsh Premier before advancing to the Football League, he did star in North Wales football for Bodedern, Holyhead Hotspur and Caernarfon Town, who were in the Welsh Alliance and Cymru Alliance in his time there.

The 27-year-old has split his professional career across Leagues One and Two with spells at Chesterfield Town, Portsmouth, Mansfield, Swindon Town and latest club Barrow.

Dion has made a total of 113 Football League appearances and played in the FA Cup and League Cup.

Versatile player who can operate at left-back or in midfield, he is one of the finest ever to emerge from Anglesey.

Scott Quigley

Blackpool’s Scott Quigley competing in the air during the Checkatrade Trophy Third Round match between Shrewsbury Town and Blackpool on January 10, 2018. (Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Striker who spent six seasons with The New Saints between 2012-18, winning six Welsh Premier League titles.

Quigley netted 61 times in 122 appearances in all competitions for Saints, including six in 13 European matches.

Also had brief spells on loan with Carmarthen Town, Caersws and Cefn Druids.

In August 2017, Scott landed a two-year deal with League One Blackpool after being signed for an initial fee of £35,000 (potentially rising to £50,000).

January 2018 saw him go out on loan to National League Wrexham for the remainder of the season, scoring eight times in 17 league games for the Dragons.

In July 2018, the front man joined League Two Port Vale on a season-long loan. By January 2019, he had moved on to FC Halifax Town for the rest of the campaign.

On 20 May 2019, the 6ft 4 striker signed for National League side Barrow on a three-year deal.

He was the division’s top-scorer with 20 goals by the time the National League was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the season was not resumed, Barrow went on to be promoted to the Football League as National League champions.

Scott signed a new three-year contract for the League Two Bluebirds in July 2020.

Rhys Griffiths

Rhys Griffiths. Picture: Penybont FC

Was a massive hit in the Welsh Premier before Plymouth Argyle of Football League Two signed him in July 2012.

Griffiths played for the first time in the League of Wales in 2001-02 Cwmbrân Town.

He represented Haverfordwest County and Carmarthen Town before signing with Port Talbot Town in December 2004. In 2005-06 he was top scorer in the Welsh Premier League with 28 goals for Port.

In the 2007-08 season his 40 goals helped Llanelli become Welsh Premier League champions for the first time in the club’s history.

Griffiths scored a hat-trick in a 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup first round tie against Lithuanian A Lyga club Vėtra.

Llanelli won the match but lost on away goals after the tie finished 6–6 on aggregate.

The big front man scored 180 goals in 181 appearances for the South Wales Reds and was league top marksman for five successive seasons in their colours.

Rhys joined Football League club Plymouth on trial in July 2012 and scored the only goal in a pre-season friendly win at Truro City.

He signed a one-year contract with the club to become a professional football player for the first time at the age of 32.

The firefighter scored on his debut in a 3-2 win against Northampton Town in September. His goal in a 4-1 victory at Barnet in October took his tally to three in his first five league appearances.

After making 17 appearances in league and cup competition, he had his contract cancelled by mutual consent in January 2013.

Griffiths joined Newport County in February 2013. Opportunities were limited due to requiring a hernia operation, but he was part of the Newport squad that finished third in the league, making 10 appearances, to qualify for the Conference Premier play-offs.

The club defeated Wrexham 2–0 in the play-off final at Wembley Stadium. Griffiths’ contract with Newport was cancelled by mutual consent.

He returned to the WPL with Port Talbot and Aberystwyth before joining Penybont, where he is now player-manager.

Three times Welsh Premier Player of the Season, Rhys has also won six Wales semi-pro caps.

Although he boasts the best goal scoring ratio, Rhys is second in the all-time list of Welsh Premier League scorers with 271 goals in 343 appearances, 48 behind Marc Lloyd Williams.

Macauley Southam-Hales

Southam-Hales, who celebrated his 25th birthday on February 2, spent 12 years as a junior in Cardiff City’s academy.

The right-back signed for Welsh Premier club Barry Town United in 2017 and spent two seasons there before landing a move to Fleetwood Town in 2019-20, playing in two first-team matches.

He went on loan to Hartlepool United before joining National League club Stockport County in September 2020.

Adam Roscrow

Roscrow played youth football for Swansea City, before joining Llantwit Major.

He subsequently turned out for Neath, Llantwit Major and Pontardawe Town before signing for Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2014.

At Cardiff Met, Roscrow scored 34 Welsh Premier League goals in 79 appearances.

In June 2019, the 25-year-old signed for AFC Wimbledon. He scored his first goal for Wimbledon in an EFL Trophy tie against Charlton Athletic on 1 September 2020.

In January 2021, Roscrow joined The New Saints on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed, club record fee.

Conclusion

Although five of the above players were a big success in the Welsh Premier, none did – or as yet haven’t – really pulled up any trees in the English Football League.
Nonetheless, what they did in the WPL was certainly worthy of earning them a shot at the bigger time.

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