It was decided this week that the North Wales Women’s Football League will return to being one division for the 2021-22 season.
It will comprise 12 teams, some of them familiar names and others relatively new.
Here, Grassroots North Wales takes a look at the dynamic dozen.
After a period of uncertainty following their bid to join Tier 2 North being rejected this summer, Amlwch Town are now much more settled.
Coach Mo Eynon had already resigned before the Tier 2 decision was made as he wants more involvement in his daughter’s football career and to continue working with the club’s thriving junior section he has been instrumental in.
Following the departure of key players, Amlwch put out an appeal for new recruits and it is reported training sessions have been well attended.
Town’s progress in recent seasons has been marvellous, winning their first major trophy in 2018-19 and then landing the North Wales Division Two title in 2019-20 without suffering a single defeat.
It remains to be seen how strong they will be in the season ahead, but just the fact they are carrying on is great news.
CPDM BANGOR 1876
Excitement aplenty surrounds the prospects of this newly-formed team which has already produced a number of eye-catching performances in pre-season.
Manager Johnathan Batten has great hopes for a squad he will run with the help of coaches Lois Regan, former Wales international striker, and Aron Griffith.
The marquee signing of the summer so far has been Lexi Crawley, arguably the most prolific striker in North Wales football, who has won numerous honours with the likes of Amlwch Town and Caernarfon Town.
Other experienced heads have been brought on board, such as Danielle Barnfield, the ex-Caernarfon Town Under-16 Welsh Cup winning captain, and former Bethesda and Llanberis stars Awel Ellis, Ffion Roberts and Cara Aston.
Becca Elliott, once a Welsh Premier League goalkeeper with Llandudno, plus George Bain, who developed her skills with Caernarfon Town, are two more to watch.
As for teenage talent, how about the likes of 17-year-old Gwen Roberts, who scored a hat-trick on debut for the side.
For their name alone, it is fantastic to see Caernarfon Town involved again.
While recent times have been difficult for the Canaries on the field, the main reason for that has been inexperience and bedding very young players into women’s football.
However, those youngsters are getting older and more wise, and when some of them flourish it could be great for the league.
Everyone knows Caernarfon’s background in women’s football, formerly of English pyramid competition the Northern Combination, later North Wales champions, Welsh Cup finalists, producing endless marvellous talent.
A team worth watching as their development continues.
A vibrant young squad which has been together for a number of years, winning numerous trophies up to Under-16 level before joining the women’s game.
Their progress since has been very good, winning promotion from North Wales League Division Two in their debut senior season of 2018-19.
In 2019-20, they finished next-to-bottom of Division One, but the season was so short due to coronavirus, it is unfair to assess any team’s performance based on what occurred.
Corwen were led by highly-promising young coach Alaw Davies-Smith in 2019-20 and possess some tremendous talent – goalscorers Llywela Edwards and Katie Armstrong, midfield dynamo Amelia Evans and classy defenders Rachel Roberts and Ffion Evans to name just a few.
It will be interesting to see their squad for 2021-22.
HOLYWELL GIRLS AND WOMEN
Their first season of 2019-20 was very much a learning curve with performances and development far more important than results.
Things are looking promising for 2021-22, with the signing of former Rhyl FC Welsh Premier striker Zoe Stopford a real boost.
The dynamic Caitlin Hadaway’s availability will soon be restricted due to important family commitments, but players such as captain Sarah Massey, Caitlin Latham and Ruby McGilloway are true towers of strength.
And new players like Courtney Lancaster, who certainly knows where the goal is, are worth following this season.
How good is it to see Llangefni Town back in women’s football after a long absence!
Cefni have been shaping up quite nicely in friendlies, a couple of heavy losses as is to be expected for any new side, but very competitive against teams at their relatively novice level.
Elwen Evans is a player who has shown a lot of leadership and organisational qualities so far.
And in Bryn Griffith, Llangefni have a down-to-earth manager with realistic ambitions but high-effort expectations.
One very welcome squad member is Jess Lane, who has played in the past for teams such as Bethel and Mountain Rangers.
Jess, still only 19, has plenty of football experience, having also spent a lot of time with Caernarfon Town as a youngster.
In 2019, Jess was named Young Volunteer of the Year at the national FAW Grassroots Awards in Cardiff for her work with Caernarfon Town. Just the sort of person you need at a football club!
Watch out for Jema Owen and Jenn Cox too – two players who have performed well so far.
For proof of how ambitious Llanystumdwy are as a club one only needs to know the fact they applied for Tier 2 North status this season!
While not successful on this occasion, they have laid down a marker for where they want to be.
Still in the early stages of their development, Llanystumdwy will probably best be suited to the third-tier for now.
They have suffered a couple of big losses so far, but also celebrated a first win and produced some encouraging performances.
One massive plus for the team is the signing of Tash Matthews.
In all truth, Tash should be playing Tier 1 or 2, but family commitments meant her joining Llan, as she lives in nearby Porthmadog.
She had originally been on the books of CPDM Bangor 1876, who were gutted to lose her, but fully understood her situation.
A fantastic defender with the likes of Bangor City and Llandudno in the past, Tash will be key to Llanystumdwy’s hopes.
Other great signings like ex-Wales international Malen Williams and former Everton and Birmingham prospect Shona O’Brien will boost the squad.
Joined the North Wales League in 2019-20 and have made fantastic progress.
Suffered a 9-0 defeat in their first competitive game to an on-fire Amlwch Town, but after that got better and better and eventually finished third in North Wales Women’s League Division Two.
Former Rhyl players Emily Jones, Ashleigh Mills, Rachel Lloyd, Amy Webster and goalkeeper Yasmin Mills provide ample experience and quality.
Meanwhile, the young prospects such as Jess Mills, Chloe Evans and Amy Chesters will only be better for that first season under their belts.
Unfortunately, a couple of highly-rated youngsters have moved to other clubs this summer, but there are still plenty of good players in the squad.
Another of the great names of North Wales football should be interesting to follow this season.
They have been shaping up quite well this summer, an 8-1 victory over Holywell particularly impressive.
Some fine young players are emerging at Rowley’s Drive, not least Sienna Strapp, a member the Northop Hall squad which had a marvellous run in the FAW Under-16 Welsh Cup in 2020-21 and who scored a hat-trick v Holywell.
For further evidence of the class the Hall are producing, Annie Small, who scored six goals in one Welsh Cup tie last season, has been selected for the FAW Girls Academy.
There are also a number of established players at the Hall who will continue to be vital cogs – Abbie Holland, Chelsea Evans, Ellen Sharps, Eleanor Thomas and the magnificent goalkeeper Bethan Thomas – voted joint best in North Wales in a Grassroots North Wales poll recently – among them.
CPD Y RHYL 1879
The name Rhyl in North Wales women’s football will always mean a lot.
Formerly Rhyl FC, the newly-formed 1879 will now carry the banner.
Tom Jamieson’s squad will contain the usual good balance of youth and experience.
Players such as Ceri Purvis, Natalie Harrison, Caroline Gardner and Joy Jamieson are worth their weight in gold, but there are a number of promising youngsters coming through in the junior teams too.
One massive plus for Rhyl is the return of Rachael Nattrass, former skipper and one of the best players ever to represent the club.
Rachael has extensive experience in the Welsh Premier and of the international football scene.
TREARDDUR BAY BULLS
Another newcomer from Anglesey who have been building up experience in recreational football over the past couple of seasons.
Like Llangefni Town and Llanystumdwy, the Bulls are a team in development so not too much should be expected of them.
Having said that, they do have some quality players on board capable of lighting up the league.
Gail Manning has been part of the flourishing Amlwch Town squad over the past couple of seasons and formerly won the Welsh Cup with Bangor City, as well as playing for Liverpool.
Defender Gemma Thomas won the FAW Under-16 Cup with the famous Caernarfon Town side of 2013-14 and is a player of true class.
And Ashleigh Jones spent several seasons with Amlwch. A midfielder who can play central or out wide, she gives it everything and is another huge asset for the Bay.
As for the manager, say no more! Chris Davies had massive success as boss of the Trearddur Bay United men’s side, winning 10 trophies in four seasons, and he is extremely enthusiastic about getting the season going as ladies manager.
Must be honest, I know little about them, but if they can make as big a contribution to the North Wales League as fellow Powys side Llanfair United did, then they won’t be going far wrong.
No doubt Welshpool will be keen to make an impression and with a new league to play in, one would expect an enthusiastic bunch of players to emerge.
This is just an early assessment of what’s coming up.
The season does not start until September 5, so between now and then no doubt much will change and many players could switch clubs, or commit to ones they have not fully affiliated to yet.
LIST OF NORTH WALES WOMEN’S LEAGUE CHAMPIONS (full list unknown)
2012-13 Kinmel Bay
2014-15 Denbigh Town
2015-16 Northop Hall
2016-17 Caernarfon Town
2017-18 Northop Hall
2018-19: Division One – Bethel/Llanfair United (joint); Division Two – Bethesda.
2019-20: Division One – Llanfair United; Division Two – Amlwch Town
2020-21: Season cancelled due to Covid