OVER the past few months I have been doing my bit (or trying at least) to promote the world of Welsh football, through writing for both my blog and the well-respected and popular Y Clwb Pel Droed blog too.
I have interviewed players and some managers and given you, the readers, the lowdown on some of the teams around the areas as well as some of the history behind those clubs and the leagues that they’re involved in.
I have enjoyed travelling around some of the grounds in Wales and getting to know various people, who I have become good friends with. I can’t wait to continue to do so throughout this season and beyond.
This time around on AFEFootballNews, I’ve decided to shift my focus on from the Welsh Premier League and the Huws Gray Alliance and take a look at a league that is much closer to home for me, the Anglesey League.
Not many seem to know too much about the division as it is very rarely documented on sites or social media and there are very few journalists out there who promote it regularly (although I do know one or two that do!).
The Anglesey League itself was originally formed in 1985 and it is the sixth division of the Welsh football system we have here in North Wales. The Champions of the league are promoted to the Gwynedd League.
Many struggles have been apparent within the league in recent years, with teams opting to join other, more “competitive” leagues or just dropping all together for a various number of reasons. So whilst the league has in the past hosted 12 teams at a time, this year it is currently down to nine.
It could be argued that the interest in the division has dropped immensely from football fans on the island, as well as local footballers and managers and that is why the league has struggle to maintain itself year on year.
In terms of champions, here are the list of clubs that have won the Anglesey League in its recent history and runners-up in brackets.
2000–01 Gwalchmai (Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic). 2001–02. Beaumaris Town (Amlwch Town Reserves). 2002–03 Llangefni & Glantraeth Reserves (Amlwch Town Reserves). 2003–04 Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic (Gaerwen). 2004–05 Gaerwen (Amlwch Town). 2005–06 Amlwch Town (Pentraeth).
2006–07 Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic (Bodedern Reserves). 2007–08 Gwalchmai (Bro Goronwy). 2008–09 Pentraeth Nurseries (Bro Goronwy). 2009–10 Bro Goronwy (Trearddur Bay United). 2011–12 Morawelon (Llanerchymedd). 2012–13 Pentraeth (Morawelon).
2013–14 Menai Bridge Tigers (Morawelon). 2014–15 Valley F.C (Cemaes Bay). 2015-16 Bro Goronwy (Llanfairpwll Reserves). 2016-17 Holyhead Town (Llangoed & District).
Gwalchmai have won the League the most times (5) since its inception and were a dominant side during the 90’s/early 2000’s.
Anyway, history aside, it’s time to look at how the league looks like in 2017/18.
Early front runners, Mynydd Tigers, are expected to be champions come the end of the season and are unbeaten so far, having played five matches. The likes of Caergybi, Valley Athletic and Bryngwran Bulls will be looking to stop them in their tracks though.
Here’s the lowdown on all of this years teams and what to expect from them …
Arriva Bangor FC
Manager: Kevin Jones
Last season: N/A
Having previously been a Sunday League side playing in the Rhyl & District Sunday League set up, Arriva pulled out of that competition last year and have now returned to action as a Saturday league club.
They recently became the ninth team to join the league and as such not much is currently known about them (as they are still busy assembling a side according to their Facebook page).
The one thing I do know is that they won the League Cup in 2016 and so if they still have a few members of that squad left in their ranks, then they could be a decent side.
I’m sure we’ll find out more about this Bangor-based side as the season goes on. They play their first match against Valley Athletic this weekend.
Manager: Dave Webster
Home ground: Cae Cob, Malltraeth.
Last season: 7th (out of 8).
Like last season, Bodorgan will once again be one of the unfancied sides playing in the Anglesey League.
Despite that fact though, you could argue that they are not the worst side in the league and have a bit of experience under their belts now too.
Bizarrely, the Malltraeth-based club garnered a bit of fame over in the Maldives last season, when one of the Asian country’s internationally-capped players, Ibrahim Fazeel, decided to join them.
The 35-year-old midfielder had 49 caps for his country when he put pen to paper on a short term deal with the club after impressing during training sessions. He signed as he was spending around two months in North Wales visiting a relative at Bangor University.
That unique incident however was one of the very few bright sparks that Bodorgan were able to enjoy last season in a campaign that saw them finish 7th out of eight teams in the league (Bethesda who no longer play in the league were beneath them), having won just two matches.
There is hope that this season will see some improvements. Their 3-1 defeat at home to Caergybi may look bad on paper, but they looked stronger at times in that match than they did for several parts of last season.
With new faces coming at Cae Cob and and even newer teams being introduced into the league system, Bodorgan may just fancy their chances of doing quite well this year.
Manager: Richard Owen.
Last season: 3rd.
The Bulls will be aiming to finish around the top of the table by the end of the campaign and should challenge for the title.
Manager: Dale Moffat.
Home ground: Millbank, Holyhead.
Last season: N/A
Caergybi FC are based in the Town of Holyhead and will be aiming to replicate the success of their fellow Townies, Holyhead Town who won the Anglesey League last season and were subsequently promoted to the Gwynedd League.
Despite being new to the league, they’ll be quietly fancied as one of the outsiders to push for the title this year as they have some top players in their squad, with the likes of Elliot Patterson, Dewi Thomas, Scott Pettersen and Kurt Harris all shining in their opening few games of the campaign.
It’s going to be hard for them to win the league in their first attempt but I do think they’ll certainly make a good go of it. They seem to have a large squad and good cover in each position and that bodes well for any team that is trying to be successful.
A strong start to the campaign has put them in third place, three points ahead of Bryngwran Bulls, who were the more fancied side heading into the season.
Manager: Jordan Love
Home ground: Lon Ty Newydd, Llandegfan.
Last season: N/A
Having been without a team for four years (since the days of Llandegfan Antelope in 2013/14), the village side has assembled a team to make their return to the league this season, with players from across Anglesey and Gwynedd joining together.
Having seen their pitch and equipment vandalised by mindless thugs, the club has slowly began to rebuild the foundations which it once stood on and they are aiming to get back to where they belong.
Once upon a time, Llandegfan was seen as the hub for young talent on the island to progress as footballers and were known as a truly formidable side at certain age levels with some of the best players around turning out for them.
Manager Jordan Love has been working really hard in trying to get a decent squad together in recent weeks and it now looks as though it is starting to take shape.
Despite suffering very heavy losses in their opening games of the campaign, including 14-0, 15-0 and 16-0 defeats to some of the leagues more established sides, there is hope that the club can establish a strong squad in the coming weeks and at the very least, challenge their fellow newcomer sides.
Their realistic aim will be to avoid finishing bottom of the league this year by pulling some results out of the bag. This Saturday’s home fixture against Llangoed and District Reserves is a CRUCIAL one for the club.
Llangoed and District Reserves
Manager: Dewi Williams.
Last season: N/A
Llangoed & District’s first team played in the Anglesey League last season and finished as runners-up, just four points behind Holyhead Town, losing just two of their 14 matches in the league.
This year, it is their reserves side’s turn to have a go at competing in the league and it will be interesting to see which of their players will be playing well enough to push through into the LL & D first team.
So far though, it’s been a tough introduction to the division for the club having lost all three of their opening games to date.
However, their match against fellow newcomers Llandegfan this Saturday will be a key one in their season, as, arguably, whoever wins that fixture will be put in good stead to not finish bottom of the table.
If Llangoed do come away with the win, then it could be the push they need to spark some good form.
Manager: Mark Hughes.
Last season: N/A
After an impressive and undefeated start to the 2017/18 campaign, Mynydd Tigers are now seen as the favourites to go on and win the league come the end of the season.
Their recruitment process over the summer has mirrored their results in terms of success.
They managed to bring in the talented attacking midfielder Herbie Hofsteede from Caernarfon Town who marked his debut with two goals. They followed this signing up by capturing striker Adam Evans from Bangor City, who played a key part in the Welsh Alliance Reserve League and Welsh Premier Development League winning sides of 2016/17.
These two signings alone will no doubt put them at a significantly higher level than most of the teams in the league and if those two can perform week in, week out, then arguably they could go the whole season unbeaten, just as 2016/17 champions Holyhead Town managed to do.
They may be new to the league, but they already look as though they can go on and dominate it. Their match away to Bryngwran Bulls this weekend will give us a clearer insight into whether they can win the title or not.
Manager: Justin Gallagher.
Last season: 6th.
Pentraeth’s first team play in the Welsh Alliance Division Two league having fired themselves up the divisions over the years. Their second string however are heading into their third consecutive season in the Anglesey League.
During their time playing in the division, they have always finished nearer to the bottom of the table than they have to the top. However, I suppose the main goal for them is to give the younger players and those who aren’t playing for the first team a chance to play a full game or make a substitute appearance and so in that respect it’s good to see.
With new teams being introduced into the league and them having played their for two seasons prior to this one, you could argue that they may just have the upper hand over some of the other clubs around them.
It will be interesting to see how they get on this season and whether or not any of their players will make a case for breaking through into Pentraeth’s first team.
Manager: Barry Rowlands
Home Ground: Cae Mad, Valley.
Last season: 5th.
Valley are another side who should be battling at the top of the table come the end of the season.
By now, they have established themselves as regulars in the league and they even finished as champions back in 2014-15. Since then, they’ve finished 4th and 5th in the seasons that have followed and I believe that this time around they’ll fancy their chances even more, given that so many of the other teams around them are new to the league.
Valley are yet another Anglesey side who have enjoyed great success over the years, with their most recent triumph coming last may, when they lifted the Elias Cup.
Their prolific and talented trio of Williams’ (Justin, Mike and Liam) are the ones who often run the show for them, as well as Marc Wilson and Jerome Sillence. Their attack is a force to be reckoned with and I think we’ll see that shine through quite often this season.
Valley are currently sitting in second place behind Mynydd Tigers and they’ll be looking to push them all the way for that title come the end of the season.
It looks as though the table will be a tale of two halves this season as whilst the likes of Mynydd Tigers, Valley Athletic, Bryngwran Bulls and Caergybi should be battling it out at the top, the rest: Llandegfan, Bodorgan, Pentraeth Reserves, Llangoed & Dist. Reserves and Arriva Bangor will be left to fill in the gaps behind them.
It should be an interesting campaign either way!
(All pics and club badges in this article belong to the football clubs above).
Keep reading AFEFootballNews for more Anglesey League articles as the season goes on!