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Which is the greatest North Wales team to win the Welsh Premier League title?
In the 28 completed seasons of the national league to date, the north has secured six championships.
Bangor City have been crowned three times, Rhyl twice and Connah’s Quay Nomads once.
For the record, The New Saints top the overall chart with 13 titles, Barry Town are on seven and there has been one apiece for Llanelli and Cwmbran Town, who were inaugural champions back in 1992-93.
Grassroots North Wales is running a Twitter poll asking readers to vote for their choice of northern No 1’s.
Here is a look at the successful teams to date……
Bangor City 1993-94
Nigel Adkins’ side became the second team to lift the League of Wales title – and the first from North Wales.
An amazing 9-0 win in their penultimate game against Haverfordwest at Farrar Road gave them the necessary goal difference advantage over Inter Cardiff to require just a draw from their final fixture at Porthmadog to seal the championship.
City did the job in style, winning 2-0 at Y Traeth in front of what is believed to be a record attendance for a Welsh Premier match.
Adkins replaced Paul Rowlands in the October and brought in master signings Jimmy Carberry and Steve Appleton, but the diamond capture was Frank Mottram, who arrived in the January and finished top-scorer with 16 goals.
Bangor City 1994-95
There was none of the late drama of the previous season in 1994-95 as Bangor breezed to back-to-back titles.
This time they finished nine points clear of their nearest challengers Afan Lido.
Top marksman of 1993-94, the deadly Frank Mottram, led the goals charge again with 31 in the league, while Llanberis lad Marc Lloyd Williams, known as Jiws, contributed 21 before signing for Stockport County in March.
Other star turns for the Citizens included popular winger, Anglesey ace Steve Humphreys, midfield generals Dave Barnett and ex-Everton title winner Kevin Langley, and the outstanding right-back Kevin Jones from Wrexham.
What an amazing side John Hulse put together this season.
The previous campaign, largely the same squad lifted the Welsh Premier League Cup – the Lilywhites’ biggest trophy in Welsh football for 50 years.
Little could the fans have known this was a forerunner to a unique quadruple which could have been a quintet.
Rhyl lost just once in the league all season, yet still finished just a point ahead of ever-threatening TNS.
Unlike Bangor back in 1993-94, the Lilies needed to win at Porthmadog to seal the crown. Goals from Gary Powell and Andy Moran in a 2-0 victory ensured they did just that.
Rhyl also won the Welsh Cup, beating TNS in the final, retained the League Cup and scooped the NWCFA Challenge Cup for a record 15th time.
They knocked Swansea City out of the FAW Premier Cup at the semi-final stage, only to lose 4-1 to a full-strength Wrexham in the final.
While Moran hit 47 goals in all competitions, this was a team effort if there ever was one.
Chris McGinn, Marc Limbert, Gary Powell, Tim Edwards, Lee Hunt, Steve Walters, James Brewerton….the list is endless.
And the reserves and thirds won their respective league titles too. What a season!
On paper, perhaps the most impressive-looking team ever to compete in the Welsh Premier….
While John Hulse’s quadruple kings were built with fairly modest resources, the 2008-09 Rhyl squad was the result of a major cash injection from then club chief Peter Parry.
As a consequence, ex-Football League players like Neil Roberts, Gareth Owen, Danny Williams, Greg Strong and Jamie Reed landed at Belle Vue.
Then there were Welsh Premier greats George Horan, Lee Kendall, Matthew Williams, Mark Connolly and Greg Stones brought on board.
Not surprisingly, Rhyl lost just twice in the league all season, and won the title by seven points.
In the cups, similar to Glasgow Rangers this term, they flopped, getting eliminated from the Welsh Cup and League Cup by Bangor City, while they caused their own downfall in the NWCFA Challenge Cup – expelled for fielding an ineligible player.
The league was the priority and they won it – but at what cost?
The following season, a funding crisis rocked the champions and they ended up demoted from the top flight after failing to secure the domestic licence on a finance issue.
It is still painful to take that Rhyl FC does not even exist any more.
Bangor City 2010-11
The last great romantic story the Welsh Premier League truly produced?
This was the first season the national league was reduced to 12 teams and one where this Bangor City side truly peaked.
Already Welsh Cup winners three times on the bounce, and a success in Europe, Neville Powell’s men knocked full-timers The New Saints temporarily off their perch before the Oswestry went on to dominate for years.
It was so fitting that City clinched the title with a 1-0 win on the final day of the season over TNS at Farrar Road, the Citizens’ beloved stadium which was just months away from being demolished to make way for a new supermarket.
Bangor began the campaign on fire, 15 straight wins from the start of the season setting a modern-day top-flight British record.
By the end of phase one – when the league split into two groups of six – City’s lead at the summit had been cut to four points.
The second phase proved initially disastrous for the all-blues – just one win in seven – but the tale was to end in joy as crucial away wins at Port Talbot and Neath set Bangor up for that title-clincher over TNS.
No stand-out superstars in this squad – just a great team – although 17-goal top-scorer Jamie Reed’s departure to York City in January did certainly set the Farrar boys back.
The league goals of Alan Bull (16), Dave Morley (11) and Les Davies (10) were crucial, but so were the efforts of everyone else, not least the goalkeeping heroics of Paul Smith and the defensive sublimeness of Michael Johnston.
Connah’s Quay Nomads 2019-20
Apart from for TNS fans, the Welsh Premier League from seasons 2011-12 to 2018-19 had become somewhat predictable and even boring.
The New Saints had landed eight titles in a row and the league desperately needed someone to challenge their superiority.
Enter Connah’s Quay Nomads…..
Since former Manchester City skipper Andy Morrison had become manager at Deeside Stadium in November 2015, the Nomads had fired out several hints that they might be ready for a big league campaign.
Morrison had led them to their first Welsh Cup success in 2017-18, achieved some marvellous results in Europe, scooped the League Cup and made the final of the Scottish Challenge (Irn-Bru) Cup.
And in one v one battles, the Quay were beginning to match TNS too.
On top of this, the club had been building a marvellous infrastructure off the pitch, and working alongside Morrison in the management team was Craig Harrison, who had led TNS to six successive WPL titles, four Welsh Cups and three League Cups, as well as Jay Catton, one of the top coaches and youth development specialists in the country.
All was geared for a major league title quest in 2019-20 and how they delivered!
While the season ended six rounds early due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nomads were four points clear of TNS at the time and this ensured the Deesiders were crowned champions on the PPG (points per game) unweighted method.
Saints were far from happy, even taking the FAW to the High Court claiming lack of sporting merit over the PPG decision, but the club were unsuccessful.
To be fair, in the second phase, TNS were not in the best of form and Quay were looking more likely champions anyway.
It was a superb team effort from the Nomads, Jamie Insall top league scorer on 14 goals, but players such as Michael Wilde, Michael Bakare, Callum Morris, Declan Poole, Priestley Farquharson, George Horan and Danny Holmes were also huge figures.
As we write, Nomads stand a great chance of making it successive titles.
So….who are the best of the North so far?