To read the previous blogs on the guide to the 2019-20 season’s Cymru Premier, they can be found below:
Following on from the previous blogs concerning the Cymru Premier, the top tier of the Welsh league football pyramid, I have decided to follow on from those guides and expand into the second tier. As of the 2019-20 season, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) took direct control of the Cymru Alliance (which governed the north and central of Wales) and the Welsh League Division One (which covered southern Wales). Under the whole Cymru Leagues re-branding exercise done by the FAW, the new leagues were called the Cymru North and the Cymru South.
For this series, I am focusing on the Cymru North – a league I am very aware of and have good knowledge on. Obviously being a northerner or ‘gog‘ helps with the knowledge in the league. Alas my beloved Holywell Town would have been competing in this division had they not got relegated on the final day of the final Cymru Alliance season…sigh…oh well!
Anyway in this part of the series, I will briefly introduce the seventeen teams who make up the Cymru North for the 2019-20 season, giving a short history of the teams, and the locations they come from. I will also explore the history of the Cymru Alliance, how it was created and who were the founding members of the league, and the 2018-19 season of the competition will also be discussed.
History of the Cymru Alliance
Prior to 1990, there had been previous attempts to create a joint league that covered northern and central Wales, but all had failed either through disagreements or arguments between the various regional FAs. This was in start comparison to the situation in southern Wales, which had an established league and pyramid system which covered the whole of the area.
However, action started to take place when the Football Association of Wales (FAW) decided to get involved. They were planning to establish a fully national league (later to become the League of Wales) for the 1992-93 season, and thus wanted the northern and central leagues to establish their own northern league, which would subsequently become a feeder league for the proposed League of Wales.
Therefore in February 1990, an agreement was made between the Welsh Alliance League (which covered most of north-western Wales), the Mid Wales League and the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) that they would subsequently feed into the brand-new ‘Cymru Alliance’ league.
The fourteen founding members of the Cymru Alliance were:
- Connah’s Quay Nomads
- Conwy United
- Flint Town United
- Gresford Athletic
- Holywell Town
- Lex XI
- Llanidloes Town
- Mold Alexandra
- CPD Porthmadog
- Welshpool Town
Caersws, Carno, Llanidloes Town, Penrhyncoch and Welshpool Town all came from the Mid Wales League, Gresford Athletic, Lex XI and Mold Alexandra (from the Welsh National League) and the remainder from the Welsh Alliance League. The only exception was the Flintshire-based side, Mostyn, who came from the Clwyd League (a lower league system whose area covered all of former county of Clwyd).
Originally Flint Town United were not planning on competing in the Cymru Alliance as they had applied to play in the English football system, and the North West Counties League. However their application was rejected by the FAW, and despite some initial frustration and refusal to play in the new northern league, the Silkmen eventually decided to join the inaugural league for the 1990-91 season. Ironically it would be a wise decision for the black and whites, as they won the first Cymru Alliance, winning the league title by seven points from their nearest rivals, Caersws. The Silkmen had the best attack and defence in the league, as they gained a victory in 22 of their 26 league games. Local rivals, Connah’s Quay Nomads, came third in the table, three points clear of Lex XI in fourth position.
Lex XI became the first winners of the Cymru Alliance League Cup, when the Stansty Park outfit defeated Caersws 2-1 in the final, as well as clinching the North East Wales FA Cup, by beating Wrexham Reserves 3-2. Despite missing out on two trophies, the Bluebirds of Caersws would gain some silverware from the season by winning the Central Wales FA Challenge Cup, beating Morda United in the final.
Penrhyncoch finished as the league’s worst side, finishing bottom of the table, and three points adrift of Gresford Athletic in thirteenth position. Mold Alexandra were a further three points ahead in twelfth place, although having had the most porous defence in the league, having conceded 66 goals from their 26 league games (an average of 2.53 goals per game). Despite their lowly positions, no teams were relegated in the first season, as the league was expanded to 16 teams for the next season. The WNL Champions, Brymbo, and MWL runners-up, Llansantffraid, being elected into the new league.
Returning to Flint Town United, their unplanned stay in Welsh league football would ultimately become an historic season for the Deesiders. Firstly they beat then-English Northern Premier League side, Caernarfon Town, in the final of the North Wales Coast FA Challenge Cup, and then were crowned the de facto very first ‘champions of Wales’. They played a playoff against the winners of the [South] Welsh league to see who was the best team in Wales. The Silkmen managed to overcome Abergavenny Thursdays, to be crowned the best team in Welsh league football.
During the league’s 29-year history, there have been 55 teams who have played in the league. Buckley Town made the most appearances in the Cymru Alliance, playing in 25 seasons of the league, with Ruthin Town, being the second most appearances with 24 seasons. Although neither side were founding members of the Cymru Alliance, both teams would become founding members of the Cymru North this season.
Past Winners of the Cymru Alliance
There have been twenty different winners of the Cymru Alliance since it’s foundation in the 1990-91 season. As mentioned previously, Flint Town United were the inaugural champions in 1991, whilst fellow Flintshire side, Airbus UK Broughton, were the final champions of the Cymru Alliance in 2019. Below is the list of all of the league winners from every season of the Cymru Alliance, with the number of times they had won the title in brackets:
- 1990-91: Flint Town United
- 1991-92: Caersws
- 1992-93: Llansantffraid
- 1993-94: Rhyl
- 1994-95: Cemaes Bay
- 1995-96: Oswestry Town
- 1996-97: Rhayader Town
- 1997-98: Rhydymwyn
- 1998-99: Cefn Druids
- 1999-00: Oswestry Town (2)
- 2000-01: Caernarfon Town
- 2001-02: Welshpool Town
- 2002-03: Porthmadog
- 2003-04: Airbus UK Broughton
- 2004-05: Buckley Town
- 2005-06: Glantraeth
- 2006-07: Llangefni Town
- 2007-08: Prestatyn Town
- 2008-09: Bala Town
- 2009-10: Llangefni Town (2)
- 2010-11: Connah’s Quay Nomads
- 2011-12: Connah’s Quay Nomads (2)
- 2012-13: Rhyl (2)
- 2013-14: Cefn Druids (2)
- 2014-15: Llandudno
- 2015-16: Caernarfon Town (2)
- 2016-17: Prestatyn Town (2)
- 2017-18: Caernarfon Town (3)
- 2018-19: Airbus UK Broughton (2)
The most successful team in the league’s history was Caernarfon Town, who won the league on three occasions and finished runners-up twice. Those two league wins and second-place finishes occurred during a four season period between 2014-15 and 2017-18 when the Cofis finally managed to gain promotion back to the top flight, after being initially rejected for promotion in 2016 for failing to obtain a Welsh Premier League licence.
As well as Caernarfon, there are other teams who have won the league more than once. Oswestry Town were the first team to win the league more than once by winning the league in 1996 and 2000 (before they merged with TNS Llansantffraid to become The New Saints), with Anglesey-based Llangefni Town becoming the second team to win two Cymru Alliances in 2010. Connah’s Quay Nomads are the only side to have won the league twice in a row after having their WPL application rejected the first time around, whilst Rhyl, Cefn Druids, Prestatyn Town and (most recently) Airbus UK Broughton have also claimed dual title victories in the Cymru Alliance.
In the history of the league, Rhyl were the only team to win the title undefeated. The Lilywhites won 24 times and drew 6 games on their way to the 2012-13 Cymru Alliance title, and a return to the Welsh Premier League. A few teams came close to an ‘invincible’ season, with Rhayader Town (1996-97), Airbus UK (2003-04), Cefn Druids (2013-14) and Caernarfon Town (2017-18) all winning the league, having lost just the single occasion in their respective league campaigns.
The Final Cymru Alliance Season – 2018-19
With the FAW announcing plans to formally takeover control of the running the second and third tier leagues in both of the north and south of Wales, as part of their ‘Cymru Leagues’ reorganisation plan, the 2018-19 season would be the final season of the Cymru Alliance before it became the FAW Cymru North.
The champions in the final season was Airbus UK Broughton, who managed to win their second Cymru Alliance league title in their history. They ran away with the league title and promotion, finishing 18 points clear of their nearest rivals, Flint Town United, who finished in second. The Wingmakers won 24 of their 30 league games, scoring 75 goals (the league’s highest goal tally) and conceding just 20 goals (the league’s best defence).
Flint Town United just pipped the runners-up position by a single point from Porthmadog, who finished in an impressive third position. They were six points ahead of pre-season title favourites, Bangor City and Rhyl, who both finished on 51 points and in fourth and fifth positions respectively.
[NOTE: Throughout the summer, there was confusion about whether Bangor City would remain in the league as they were initially hit with a 31 point deduction for playing ‘ineligible players’. This would have seen the Citizens finish just above the relegation zone on goal difference. However after a protracted appeal throughout the summer of 2019, where they were accused of playing even more ineligible players (which could have seen a further points deduction and subsequent relegation), the appeal process declared they had broken no rules, and were handed back their 31 points, thus confirming their fourth place finish!]
Once again, Guilsfield punched above their weight and seemingly limited resources, by finishing the season in a very comfortable sixth position, with fellow surprise package, Ruthin Town, finished in seventh place, fired to the spot by the league’s top goalscorer, Llŷr Morris. Cymru Alliance ‘everstays’, Buckley Town, enjoyed a successful return to the second-tier in eighth position, whilst Prestatyn Town recovered from a horrendous first half of the season, to finish strongly and end their campaign in ninth spot.
The excitement in the league would be found at the opposite end of the table, with a number of teams fighting for relegation. Holyhead Hotspur were the first team confirmed as relegated, having been adrift at the bottom of the table for the majority of the season. The Islanders, finishing eleven points adrift from safety.
However going into the final game of the extended season, three teams were at threat of being dragged into one of the two remaining relegation spots. Promoted side, and favourite for the drop, Llanrhaeadr, had just about secured their position for the following season. An excellent start to the season was just enough for the Waterfallmen, as a Hull City style run of form, saw the club drop down the table, but just about escape relegation by two points.
This meant that 2017-18’s runners-up, Denbigh Town, Holywell Town (who had finished in fifth position for the past three seasons) and Penrhyncoch were scrapping to avoid the drop. Denbigh were in the safe spot prior to the final games of the season, but having ended their season with a defeat to Holywell Town, it meant they had to watch on and have their fate decided for them. Should either Holywell or Penrhyncoch win their respective games against Holyhead Hotspur and Conwy Borough, it meant they would suffer a surprising relegation.
As it transpired both sides won their games, which saw Denbigh Town relegated to the Welsh Alliance. However it would prove a nail-biting finish for Holywell and Penrhyncoch. The Wellmen managed to win Holyhead by a comfortable 3-0 scoreline, meaning they were waiting on the game at Cae Baker to finish, although its kick off had been delayed by 10 minutes. At first it looked as if Holywell had achieved the ‘great escape’ as Penrhyncoch were 1-2 down to Conwy with only five minutes remaining. However two very late goals from the Roosters, snatched safety away from Holywell to ensure it would be the Ceredigion-based side who would gain the final spot in the Cymru North.
Heartbreaking for this writer, I can tell you…
2019-20 Cymru North Teams
Here are the teams for the 2019-20 season:
- Stadium: Nantporth Stadium, Bangor
- Nickname: The Citizens
- Colours: All royal blue kit
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 4th
- Twitter: @bangorcityfc
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/bangorcityfc
Based in the north-western ecclesiastical and academical city of Bangor, Bangor City are one of the oldest, and most famous names within Welsh football. Historically having a large and partisan supporter base, the Citizens have had great success within the English football pyramid, where they became founding members of the English Alliance League (now the National League National, the fifth tier of English football), and achieved many historical matches and results in European competitions, which are widely celebrated, such as games against European giants such as Napoli and Atlético Madrid.
Initially one of the Irate Eight, they became founding members of the League of Wales in 1992, where they won the second and third editions of the league, and won a third league title in 2011. In addition, they were prolific Welsh Cup winners during this period, winning five finals (with three of them consecutive) and being finalists another four times. Overall they were considered one of the strongest teams within Wales, and were constant qualifiers for Europe. Alas that all changed at the end of the 2017-18 season, when they denied a Welsh Premier League (WPL) license due to financial issues, despite finishing as runners-up in the WPL that season.
They have played in the second-tier since then, and have the distinction of being managed by a World Cup winner, in the form of Argentinian Pedro Pasculli. Sadly the 1986 World Cup winner could not stop the schism in the club’s support, with a majority of the original Bangor City supporters switching their allegiance to Bangor 1876. The Gwynedd League club was founded in 2019 by disgruntled supporters, who were upset and appalled with how the Bangor City was being ran by their previous owners.
- Stadium: Globe Way, Buckley
- Nicknames: The Bucks, Trotters, The Claymen
- Colours: All red kit with white trim
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 8th
- Twitter: @BTFCofficial77
- Website: https://buckleytownfootballclub.co.uk/
Buckley Town, based in south-eastern Flintshire, were formed in the summer of 1977 when two Welsh National League sides, Buckley Wanderers and Buckley Rovers, merged together to form a Buckley-based “super club”. The Claymen (a nickname derived from the pottery and brick industries that originated in Buckley as a result of the unique clay in the locality) currently play at the fantastic Globe Way stadium, and they enjoy a healthy local rivalry with Mold Alexandra (who currently play in the Welsh National League Premier Division).
Buckley Town were one of the ‘mainstays’ of the old Cymru Alliance, spending twenty-four consecutive years in the northern second-tier league, and actually winning the league in the 2004-05 season, but ultimately refused promotion to the Welsh Premier League on financial grounds. They continued to compete in the Cymru Alliance until they sadly suffered relegation to the third tier for a season in 2017, but quickly returned to the second-tier as the champions of the 2017-18 Welsh National League Premier Division. Last season, the promoted side finished in a respectable eighth position.
Most recently, in order to raise needed capital and increase attendances, the club initiated season tickets for just £20. A superb idea, which has seen the club’s home crowds and local interest in the club increase.
- Stadium: Llanelian Road, Old Colwyn
- Nicknames: The Seagulls, The Bay
- Colours: Claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, sky blue shorts, claret socks
- 2018-19: English Northern Premier League Division One West – 11th
- Twitter: @ColwynBayFC
- Website: https://www.colwynbayfc.co.uk/
Colwyn Bay FC, currently play at the superb venue of Llanelian Road, situated just outside of Colwyn Bay, in the town of Old Colwyn. Positioned on the northern coast, it is centrally positioned in northern Wales, with great infrastructural links via the A55 Expressway and North Wales railway coastline. Due to their coastal location, they are unsurprisingly nicknamed ‘The Seagulls’, and have a seagull on their badge. The origins of the club date back to 1881, making them one of the older teams in Welsh league football.
Another one of the clubs who were part of the Irate Eight, they continued their participation within the English football pyramid unlike many of the other ‘irate’ clubs. The Seagulls reached as high as the Conference North (the sixth tier of English football), spending four seasons at Step 2 of the lower-league pyramid, before quickly descending back down the leagues. At the end of the 2018-19 season, the club was struggling financially in the lower English leagues, which made the status quo untenable. Thus the club’s supporters voted to move back into the Welsh football system for the first time since 1984, with the club hoping to achieve promotion to the Cymru Premier in the near future.
Controversially, they were placed into the Cymru North by the FAW and not the third tier (as some expected), thus resulting in the odd number of teams (17 teams) within the league this season.
- Stadium: Y Morfa, Conwy
- Nicknames: The Tangerines, The Musselmen
- Colours: All tangerine kit with white trim
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 11th
- Twitter: @ConwyBoroughFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/conwyunitedfc/
Football has been played in the historic castle-town of Conwy since the 1870’s, although this current Conwy team was founded in 1977 when Conwy Town and Conwy Royal British Legion amalgamated to create Conwy United. The club would become founding members of the Welsh Alliance, Cymru Alliance and League of Wales during their history, with the club enjoying league and cup success in the 1980’s, and being one of the more competitive teams in the League of Wales during early 1990’s. The Tangerines achieved achieved a third-placed finish in the LoW at the end of the 1995-96 season, which ensured the club played in the group stage of the (now defunct) UEFA Intertoto Cup. Alas the turn of the new millennium would signal the start of Conwy United’s sad fall from grace. Maintaining their top-flight status had become a financial burden to the club, and implementing considerable cost-cutting measures, it meant Conwy slipped from the top tier to the third tier by 2001. It would be ten years until Conwy were finally able to start rising back up the football ladder when they finally won the Welsh Alliance League.
The club changed its name to their current name at the start of the 2012-13 season, and it would coincide with a short period of success for the team. A third placed finish and a Cymru Alliance League Cup victory, was followed-up by a runners-up spot at the end of the 2013-14 season. Sadly the Tangerines were unable to maintain their promotion challenge and they suffered relegation to the Welsh Alliance League at the end of the 2016-17 season. Their exile away from the second tier lasted only one season, as they returned to the Cymru Alliance as the 2017-18 Welsh Alliance League winners, Cookson Cup winners and FAW Trophy winners to achieve an historic treble-winning season!
Last season, Conwy Borough maintained their Cymru Alliance place by finishing in eleventh once again – their third eleventh-place finish in five seasons! In addition, their Y Morfa ground has been upgraded these past few seasons, making it one of the best venues in the league.
- Stadium: War Memorial Ground, Corwen
- Nicknames: N/A
- Colours: Red shirts with black trim, black shorts, red and black hooped socks
- 2018-19: Welsh National League Premier Division – 1st PROMOTED
- Twitter: @CorwenFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/corwenfc/
Football has been played in the Dee Valley town of Corwen since the game was first introduced into Wales’ football heartland, way back in the 1870’s. The earliest mention of football being played in Corwen was in the inaugural Welsh Cup competition way back in 1877. The current incarnation of the club appeared in the 1966-67 season as ‘Corwen Amateurs’ when they appeared in the Third Division of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area). They have been stalwarts of the WNL system ever since, fluctuating between the various WNL leagues during their existence. The highlight of this time being crowned WNL Premier champions in the 1998-99 season and gaining promotion to the Cymru Alliance. Alas their debut appearance at the second level of the pyramid was only a brief one, as they returned back to the WNL after just one season.
Following their relegation from the Cymru Alliance, the following season the club dropped the suffix “Amateurs” from their name reverting to the name they currently possess. Corwen played in the WNL system since their relegation from the Cymru Alliance in 1999, where they have played in the Premier Division for all but one season throughout the 21st century. In recent times, the Dee Rossoneri have been one of the stronger teams within the third tier, regularly finishing in the top half of the table, and finishing in the top four positions for the last three seasons. Their good form eventually saw the club challenge for the league title and promotion to the second-tier, and they finally achieved their goals at the end of last season when FC Queen’s Park were deducted three points, handing the title to Corwen. This season is only the southern Denbighshire club’s second season at the second-tier level of Welsh football.
The War Memorial Ground is one of the most picturesque grounds in the league. Situated within the upper Dee Valley, the ground is located within a loop of the meandering River Dee.
Flint Town United
- Stadium: Cae-y-Castell, Flint
- Nickname: The Silkmen
- Colours: Black and white vertical striped shirts, black shorts, black socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – Runners-Up
- Twitter: @FlintTownFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/flinttownunited
Football has been played in the historic castle town of Flint since the 1880’s, with the town being one of the first places in the county to establish a football team. The current club was created after the Second World War when a merger between Flint Town and Flint Athletic took place to create Flint Town United. The combined might of the teams resulted in some of the greatest results in the town’s history, with the zenith being the club’s 1954 Welsh Cup victory. The club would enjoy a renaissance in the early 1990’s, when they became founding members of the Cymru Alliance, winning the inaugural league in the 1990-91 season, and becoming the de-facto best Welsh league team as they beat double (South) Welsh League winners, Abergavenny Thursdays to become Wales’ first national champions via this ‘playoff’. Naturally, Flint Town United would become one of the founding members of the League of Wales in 1992.
The Silkmen played in the first six seasons of the LoW, finishing in fourth position in 1994. Eventually a lack of financial income restricted the abilities of the club to maintain their top flight tenure, and inevitably got relegated to the Cymru Alliance in the 1997-98 season. Since their relegation from the top flight, Flint Town United have continually played in the Cymru Alliance and are one of the longest serving teams in the league, with the 2019-20 season being their twenty-second continuous season playing in the second tier. The majority of their finishes have been in the mid-table although they have achieved a second place finish in the 2009-10 season, and repeated the feat last season finishing as runners-up to the league champions, Airbus UK Broughton. However they did manage to claim the Cymru Alliance League Cup last season.
Flint’s traditional rivals are fellow Flintshire sides, Holywell Town and Connah’s Quay Nomads. A rivalry has existing between Flint and Holywell teams since 1880 (something I dub the Flintshire Classic), whilst the Flint-Connah’s Quay rivalry has increased over the years, resulting in the Deeside Derby. They also have one of the best grounds in the area, which has seen the Nomads discuss a potential ground-share with them in the near future.
- Stadium: Clappers Lane, Gresford
- Nickname: The Colliers
- Colours: Red shirts with black sleeves, black shorts, red socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 10th
- Twitter: @GresfordFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/gresfordathletic/
One of the founding members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990, Gresford Athletic are based in the traditional mining village of Gresford, located north of Wrexham. Because of the village’s immense (and also tragic) coal-mining history, the club are nicknamed The Colliers. They also display the bells of the village’s All Saints’ Church on their badge, which was regarded as another of the Seven Wonders of Wales.
Traditionally, one of the strongest teams in the Wrexham area, with a vast majority of their past players coming from the nearby collieries, they have won numerous trophies within the Welsh National League system throughout their illustrious history. Throughout the past thirty years, the club has played in either the Cymru Alliance or the WNL Premier Division. After being promoted to the second-tier as the 2014-15 WNL Premier Division league champions, Gresford are playing in their fifth consecutive season in the second tier of Welsh football. They massively overachieved in 2016-17, finishing in third position within the league, achieving their highest ever league placing, despite having one of the lower squad budgets in the league. Despite a good start to last season, a poor finish to the season saw the club finish in tenth position in the league, but maintained their tenure in the northern league.
The club shares the fantastically named Clappers Lane, with the village’s cricket club. The football field takes up a portion of the extremities of the cricket pitch during the winter months.
- Stadium: Clos Mytton, Guilsfield
- Nickname: The Guils
- Colours: Red and black vertical striped shirt, black shorts, black socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 6th
- Twitter: @GUILS1957
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/guilsfieldfc
Guilsfield are based in the small village of the same name, which is situated about three miles north of the market town of Welshpool, in northern Powys. Founded in 1957, they spent the majority of their history competing within the local Montgomeryshire Amateur League, before gaining promotion to the Mid Wales League in 1995 as Montgomeryshire champions. There they spent six solid seasons at the third-tier, before their application to join the Cymru Alliance (after the merger of CA clubs Llangefni Town and Glantraeth resulted in an extra league spot becoming available) was accepted in 2001.
The Guils have continued to compete within the Cymru Alliance since their admission in 2001, with this season being their 19th season in a row at this level. Despite coming from a small village, the side has consistently outperformed its limited resources, and have always been consistent performers within the league. They have finished in the top half of the table for the past seven seasons, reaching an incredible league high of third place in the 2014-15 season, and finishing fourth on two other occasions. Last season, Guilsfield finished in a very creditable sixth position in the final Cymru Alliance table, to take their place in the Cymru North.
- Stadium: Maesdu Park, Llandudno
- Nicknames: The Seasiders, Tudno
- Colours: White and black vertical striped shirt, white shorts, white socks
- 2018-19: Welsh Premier League – 11th RELEGATED
- Twitter: @LlandudnoFC
- Website: https://www.llandudnofc.co.uk/
Football has been played at the famous Victorian-designed seaside resort of Llandudno since football first arrived in northern Wales in the 1870’s, with teams such as Gloddaeth Rovers, Llandudno Swifts and Llandudno Amateurs all representing the town throughout the years. Even a full international match between Wales and Ireland was played at the town in 1898. However despite football being embedded into the town’s history, this current club re-formed as late as 1988, and moving into their Maesdu Park home in 1991.
The club started its days within the Welsh Alliance, before moving into the Cymru Alliance for the start of the 1993-94 season. There the Seasiders became one of the consistently competitive teams within the league, often finishing in the top half of the table, and even finishing runners-up in 2003. However after 22 years in the CA, they finally claimed the championship and gained promotion to the Welsh Premier League for the very first time. They would have one of the best debut seasons in WPL history when they finished in third position and qualified for the Europa League, playing Swedish giants IFK Göteborg in the first qualifying round.
Sadly the fairy-tale story (which former resident, Lewis Carroll, would have been proud of) soon ended, and for the next three seasons in the top flight, they would fight against relegation. Ninth and tenth positions followed before finally their luck ran out, and they were comfortably relegated last season in eleventh position. A bit of a shock considering they had a good team on paper, but just couldn’t find any consistency or form throughout the season.
- Stadium: Mount Field, Llanfair Caereinion
- Nicknames: N/A
- Colours: Navy blue kits with white trim
- 2018-19: Mid Wales League Division One – 1st PROMOTED
- Twitter: @LlanfairUtdFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/llanfairutd/
Llanfair United are the most southern-based team of the Powys teams within the league, being based in the small, picturesque northern Powys town of Llanfair Caereinion. Llanfair Caereinion is located on the River Banwy, and about eight miles west of Welshpool, in the Montgomeryshire section of the largest Welsh county. Football has been played in the town since the 1890’s, with Llanfair Caereinion FC being the town’s most successful representative, winning numerous local titles and cups within the Montgomeryshire area.
The current side was created in 2001 when Llanfair Caereinion FC and Llanfair Wanderers merged to create Llanfair United. Initially the ‘super club’ competed in the Montgomeryshire Amateur League, but would soon join the Mid Wales League Division Two in 2010. Since then, their rise through the pyramid has been outstanding, finding themselves in the Cymru Alliance in 2015 after winning both divisions of the Mid Wales League in just three seasons. They competed in the second tier for two seasons before suffering relegation for the first time in 2017. However after just two seasons away, they have returned to the second level as Mid Wales League Division One champions once again.
Mount Field is one of the league’s most pleasant grounds, with views of the town, church and Banwy Valley being seen from the top of the main stand.
- Stadium: Cae Bob Parry, Llangefni
- Nicknames: The Town, Cefni
- Colours: All blue kit with white trim
- 2018-19: Welsh Alliance League Division One – 1st PROMOTED
- Twitter: @LlangefniTownFC
- Website: http://www.llangefnifc.co.uk/
Llangefni Town are the only side from Ynys Môn/Anglesey in the Cymru North this season, and are thus the most western-based team in the league. They come from the town of Llangefni, which is the second largest town on the island, and located roughly centrally on the Isle. Historically playing at Isgraig for the vast majority of their history, they moved to their current ground in 2000. Their ground was used in last year’s Island Games football tournament, which saw the Anglesey men’s team claim the gold medal, and the ladies’ team claim the silver medal.
Cefni have always been one of the stronger teams on the island since they were founded in 1897. They were certainly the strongest in north-western Wales during the 1990’s, winning the Welsh Alliance League on four occasions before finally advancing to the Cymru Alliance in 1999. They tried a failed merger with fellow Môn side, Glantraeth, but the clubs soon split apart again after two seasons. Nonetheless, Llangefni continued to aim for the Welsh Premier League, and achieved their goal in 2007 by winning the Cymru Alliance championship. Sadly their stay in the top flight lasted a single season, as they finished bottom of the WPL table.
Despite winning the CA league again in 2010, the club’s finances were not in a great state, and after suffering two relegations in as many seasons in 2012 and 2013, the club decided to restart back at the bottom again, and re-consolidate in the regional leagues. After a couple of seasons in the Anglesey and Gwynedd Leagues, they soon returned back to the Welsh Alliance Division Two, where they gained promotion to Division One on their first attempt. For the following four seasons, the club continued to be one of the title challengers, finishing third twice and then runners-up, before finally winning the Welsh Alliance Division One title, and returning to the second tier of Welsh football.
- Stadium: The Recreation Field, Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant
- Nickname: The Waterfallmen
- Colours: All blue kit with white trim
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 12th
- Twitter: @LlanrhaeadrYMFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/llanrhaeadr
Historically, more famous for its picturesque waterfall, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Wales, the club is located in the small village of the same name, situated in the Tanat Valley. The village is situated in the very far north of Powys, just nine miles west of the English border town of Oswestry. They currently play at the Recreation Field, which has been given the amusing nickname of the ‘Theatre of Trees’, due to its rural location.
Spending the majority of their history in the Mid Wales League system, the Waterfallmen first appeared in the Cymru Alliance in the 2011-12 season, where they spent three seasons in the second tier and finishing in the bottom three spots on each occasion. After a four year tenure in the Mid Wales Division One, they returned to the Cymru Alliance as Division One league champions in the 2017-18 season. Despite being one of the favourites for relegation, and having to play their home games at Llansantffraid for the season, the club overachieved expectations and finished in twelfth position last season. This season they have returned back to their iconic home for their league games.
- Stadium: Cae Baker, Penrhyn-coch
- Nickname: The Roosters
- Colours: Blood red shirts with black top and sleeves, black shorts, black socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 13th
- Twitter: @PenrhynCochFC
- Website: [[Website Under Construction]]
Another club who were founding members of the Cymru Alliance, Penrhyncoch are the most southern-based club in this season’s league. Based in northern Ceredigion, the village of Penrhyn-coch is 4,5 miles north-east of the West Welsh seaside and academic town of Aberystwyth, and enjoy a good relationship with the Cymru Premier side. A number of ex-Aberystwyth players having played or are currently playing for the club. Alas, because of their south-western location, the Roosters are also some distance away from the remainder of the teams in the league.
The club was founded in 1965, and has fluctuated between the Cymru Alliance and Mid Wales League since 1990. During this time, they have spent twenty-two seasons in the second tier, with their highest league placement being fifth position in 2010 and 2012. This season is Penrhyncoch’s fourth consecutive season at this level after winning the 2015-16 Mid Wales Division One title and gaining promotion. Despite looking certainties for relegation earlier in the season, they sensationally survived relegation on the last day of the final CA season by winning three and drawing one of their final five league games. Coming from 1-2 down against Conwy Borough with ten minutes remaining, the Roosters won the game 3-2 to finish in thirteenth position, thus maintaining their spot in the league for another season.
- Stadium: Y Traeth, Porthmadog
- Nickname: Port
- Colours: Red shirts with black sleeves, black shorts, black socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 3rd
- Twitter: @CPDPorthmadogFC
- Website: http://www.porthmadogfc.com/index.htm
Porthmadog are one of the oldest and most respected names within Welsh football. Founded in 1884, they are founding members of both the Cymru Alliance and the League of Wales, playing in the first six seasons of the LoW before being relegated at the end of the 1997-98 season. They returned to the top flight in 2003, after winning the Cymru Alliance championship and scoring over 100 goals. Port continuously finished in the bottom half of the table for the seven seasons they were in the WPL, before being relegated in 2010, when the WPL was reduced from 18 teams to 12 teams. Since then, they have been one of the more competitive teams in the Cymru Alliance, continuously finishing in the upper echelons of the league. They had their best season last season under Craig Papirnyk, when they finished in a superb third position.
The side are based in the coastal and tourist-friendly port town of Porthmadog, which is located on the north-western coast of Wales, and near to Snowdonia National Park. Porthmadog are one of the most westerly-based sides in the league this season, with fellow Arfon side, Bangor City, being their nearest local rivals in the league, but 28,5 miles north of the town.
One of the club’s most famous managers was former FAW Technical Director, and now Moroccan FA Technical Director, Osian Roberts, who managed the club between 1999 and 2007 before taking on his role at the FAW. In addition, David Taylor won the European Golden Shoe with Porthmadog in the 1993-94 season, when he scored 43 goals in the season – the most of anyone in Europe that season!
- Stadium: Bastion Gardens, Prestatyn
- Nickname: The Seasiders
- Colours: Red shirts with black trim, black shorts, black socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 9th
- Twitter: @ptfcseasiders
- Website: http://prestatyn.sportbox.co/
Prestatyn Town, based in the coastal resort of Prestatyn, are another club who have experienced Welsh Premier League and European football recently. The Seasiders first appeared in the top flight in 2008-09, where spent the next seven seasons, reaching a league position high of fifth in 2011 and 2013. 2013 would be the club’s best season, as they managed to win their first ever Welsh Cup, beating Bangor City 3-1 in the final. This meant the club played in Europe for the first time, where they beat the Latvian side, Liepājas Metalurgs in the first qualifying round of the 2013-14 Europa League, before being eliminated by Croatian side, Rijeka in the next round.
The club has since become a bit of a yo-yo club, alternating between the top two tiers of Welsh football. They first got relegated from the WPL in 2015, before regaining their top flight status as Cymru Alliance champions in 2017. However their stay back in the WPL was the briefest of appearance when they finished bottom of the WPL table in the 2017-18 season. Last season, they finished in ninth position in the Cymru Alliance. After a horrendous start to the season, the Seasiders had a superb second half of the season after a takeover, which saw them finish the season as one of the league’s in-form clubs.
The fixture between themselves and nearby Rhyl has become one of the most frenetic and popular games of the season, with the game attracting the league’s highest attendances.
- Stadium: Belle Vue, Rhyl
- Nickname: The Lilywhites
- Colours: White shirts with black trim, black shorts, white socks
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 5th
- Twitter: @rhylfc
- Website: https://www.rhylfc.co.uk/
Rhyl FC is another former Welsh Premier League champion and Welsh Cup winner, who have found themselves languishing in the Cymru North. Originally a member of the Irate Eight, they spent a majority of their history within the English football system before reluctantly moving over to Welsh football in 1992. They started off in the Cymru Alliance, before finally reaching the League of Wales in 1994 as CA champions.
After a few years of uneventful performances, a takeover in the early 2000’s saw an upturn in fortunes for the coastal club, culminating in the zenith of a quadruple-winning season in 2004. Claiming the Welsh Premier League title, the Welsh Cup, the League Cup and the North Wales FA Challenge Cup. The Lilywhites would add another Welsh Cup in 2006, before winning their second WPL title in the 2008-09 season. Sadly the following season would see them forcibly demoted as they failed to acquire a WPL licence due to ‘financial issues’. Since then the club has fluctuated between the two leagues. They won the 2013 Cymru Alliance title in an unbeaten season, but returned after four seasons in the WPL, being relegated in the 2016-17 season.
This season is Rhyl’s third consecutive season in the second tier, with the club desperate to reach the top flight once again. They will renew their rivalries with Prestatyn Town, and Bangor City (the North Wales Derby originally being one of the most competitive and fiercesome derbies in Welsh football). In addition, Rhyl probably have the best ground in all of North Wales, with Belle Vue often being used for cup finals, and is also capable of hosting European matches.
- Stadium: Memorial Playing Fields, Ruthin
- Nickname: The Town
- Colours: All royal blue kit with white trim
- 2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 7th
- Twitter: @RuthinTownFC
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/ruthintown/
Ruthin Town are based in the old castle town of Ruthin/Rhuthun, which is the county town of Denbighshire. They are the fourth Denbighshire-based team in this season’s league, located in the middle of the county, it is situated in the upper part of the scenic Vale of Clwyd. They are one of the oldest clubs in northern Wales, having reached the 1880 Welsh Cup final, as well as contributing a number of players to the Welsh international team between 1880 and 1895. They enjoy a healthy local rivalry with fellow Vale of Clwyd team, Denbigh Town, who were relegated from the Cymru Alliance last season.
The team spent a majority of its illustrious history within the Welsh National League set-up, ascended up to the Cymru Alliance in 1992. From there, the club played in twenty-one consecutive seasons in the second-tier, becoming one of the ‘mainstays’ of the league. Their best ever league finish during this period was finishing in third place in the 2003-04 season. After finishing bottom of the table in 2013, they returned to the WNL for three seasons, before finally regaining their position in the Cymru Alliance. Despite finishing as runners-up to FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay in 2016, the Flintshire side were unable to gain promotion due to their ground situation, and thus Ruthin gained promotion instead.
This season will be their fourth season at the second rung of the Welsh football ladder. They won the NEWFA Cup in 2018 against Holywell Town, and finished in seventh position last season – their best league finish in nine years! This was aided by the league’s top scorer, Llyr Morris.
A big thank you for reading this blog on the founding of the Cymru North, as well as the history of the Cymru Alliance. If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series so far, and who are your favourite Cymru North team, or if you have subsequently chosen one!
Finally, I am currently in the depths of doing a charity challenge of staying sober for the entirety of 2020! It’s not easy but I am hoping to raise a lot of money for the mental health charity, MIND. So if you would like to see how I am progressing in my challenge, or even be kind enough to add a donation, the link is here: