Happy birthday to the amazing Emily Jones – 21 today!
Despite her young age, Emily has already packed plenty of highlights into her football career.
Her three seasons in the Welsh Premier League with the former Rhyl FC Women included scoring an away hat-trick at 17.
And at 16 she came on as a substitute to notch two goals which knocked Caernarfon Town out of the Welsh Cup.
Born on June 19, 2000, Emily first started playing football alongside twin brother Harry at the age of five for Rhyl Hearts United, a boys team as there were no local girls sides around then to suit her age group.
She joined a new girls team in 2007, Rhyl Hearts Ravens, who she played for all the way up to under-16’s.
Emily was then part of the Rhyl FC Women’s senior set-up before the team folded after the 2018-19 season.
This led to a fresh start at newly-formed Rhyl-based side NFA, where she is soon to start her second competitive season.
Always a striker, former Ysgol Glan Clwyd pupil Emily soon showed what she is capable of as a senior player when in October 2016 she took the field as a sub for Rhyl in a Welsh Cup tie at home to Caernarfon Town.
The Lilywhites were trailing 2-1 when Emily nicked the ball off former Wales defender Katie Williams and equalised.
In the closing minutes Emily fired in at the back post to win the match – and she almost made it a hat-trick when hitting the bar in the latter stages.
Emily was to make her mark again on the opening day of the 2017-18 campaign, scoring three times in a 5-1 victory at Caldicot Town. It was the ‘perfect’ hat-trick – right foot, left foot and header.
I referred to the achievement at the time as “Rhyl’s first Welsh Premier hat-trick” but in doing so did a disservice to Laura Williams, who actually netted three for the Lilywhites in a 3-2 triumph over Aberystwyth Town in January 2015.
However, I think it is safe to say Emily notched Rhyl’s first away hat-trick in the WPL.
That 2017-18 season was a special one for Ms Jones, as she finished top-scorer and also struck twice in a magnificent 2-1 League Cup success at Port Talbot.
She continued to do a good job for Rhyl until the end of 2018-19, when the team finished at the Welsh Premier basement.
Although they escaped relegation, as no North Wales team applied for promotion to the WPWL for 2019-20, Rhyl did resign from the top flight in August 2019 citing a lack of players.
Although a Rhyl Development side continued to compete in the North Wales League, Emily decided to join NFA where several of her former Lilywhites team-mates also ended up.
NFA had a good first season in North Wales Division Two and Emily finished joint leading scorer on 10.
With last season (2020-21) cancelled due to Covid-19, Emily is now keen to get stuck into the 2021-22 campaign.
NFA were unsuccessful in their bid to join the elite Tier 2 North, so will continue to compete in area leagues.
Emily is a very special, caring person, much-loved because of her willingness to always help others. On the football field she is a skilful, quick operator with a distinct eye for goal.
Grassroots North Wales wishes Emily and Harry a wonderful 21st.