Happy birthday to a true jewel in the crown of North Wales women’s football

Gwenno (front row, fourth from left or fourth from right) lines up with CPD Merched Bethel

Gwenno Gibbard Bolton received a perfect early birthday present on Monday when her beloved CPD Merched Bethel were accepted into Tier 2 North of the new Welsh women’s football pyramid system.

Bethel will be one of eight North Wales teams competing in the Welsh second tier in 2021-22.

It is just reward for a club which has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, finishing joint champions of North Wales League Division One in 2018-19 and twice reaching the Welsh Cup quarter-finals.

One of those at the helm has been Gwenno, who is 27 today having been born on June 2, 1994.

On top of being team captain and a star player in the midfield, Gwenno has helped nurture the talents of countless young players at the club as well as spending endless hours fundraising for the cause.

Gwenno began playing the game aged six, initially kicking a ball in the garden with dad Aled and sister Mari.

There were no girls teams at the time so Gwenno played for Llewod Llanrug under 7’s boys up to U-11.

Her father established the first girls team at under-12 in Llanrug and they finished their first season unbeaten, winning the league and cup.

Gwenno’s first-ever trophy success was winning the League Cup final where she netted the header to make it 1-0 for Llanrug – ironically against Bethel !

She also played for Pwllheli Girls in summer camps – receiving a trophy from Everton and England star Peter Reid one year – and in her teens represented North Wales Under-14’s and U-16’s.

As a senior, Gwenno’s first club was Caernarfon Town in 2010-11.

She benefited greatly playing alongside experienced and successful players such as Ceryl Jones and Iona Williams.

Gwenno was part of the Canaries squad which won the Welsh Premier Northern Conference, as well as the North Wales League and Maurice Naylor Cup.

Between 2011-2013 she took a break from football and concentrated on hockey instead.

She later returned to football and joined Newcastle Emlyn, her local team when she was studying PE at the University of Wales Trinity St David in Lampeter, Carmarthen.

Gwenno’s been a crucial part of CPD Merched Bethel’s development in recent years which have seen many successes and the emergence of a pool of fantastic young players.

She took time off from playing in 2019-20 as her and husband Ben Bolton, head coach at Bethel, were expecting their first child.

July 7, 2020, saw Henri Owen Gibbard Bolton enter the world at 9.04 am, weighing in at 7 lb 3 oz.

Gwenno and Ben on their wedding day in August 2018

It was the perfect result for Gwenno and Ben, who married in August 2018.

Gwenno planned to return to playing football in 2020-21, but the entire season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She now looks forward to competing in Tier 2 North in the season ahead.

Gwenno and Ben have been amazing supporters of Grassroots North Wales since the start.

We are indebted to them and wish Gwenno a huge happy birthday today – penblwydd hapus.

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