Welsh Premier League supporters preview the 2017/2018 season
Welsh Premier League fans have been on hand to voice their opinions and expectations ahead of the 25th season of Welsh Premier League football.
On Friday evening, three whistles will be blown simultaneously as Bala Town host Newtown, Bangor City host The New Saints and newboys Prestatyn Town host Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Wales’ top flight had plenty of surprising moments last season, like the remarkable story of Cardiff Metropolitan University being just ninety-minutes away from European football.
Long-serving Aberystwyth Town being in a relegation battle and Bangor City having an ex English Premier League as their care-taker.
But this season is now a clean slate and come Friday 11th, it will all start over again with fans hopeful of seeing their team succeed.
We didn’t fare well despite the challenges that we faced through having to play away until October and losing the likes of Chris Venables and Stuart Jones. I always thought the first priority was to stay up given the circumstances but we should have done better. We were too easy to beat and lacked leadership on too many occasions. I’m very pleased by Nev’s appointment and I’m sure him, the new signings and those who will come will provide the qualities we lacked last year.
We’ve signed very well. Declan Walker in particular stands out but the others and those we’ll sign later in the window will prove their worth too. I agree with Nev that we need WPL experience and leaders – that’s what we’ll get. It was a shame to see Mark Jones and Dan Alfei go but no-one can deny a player (in Dan’s case) the chance to play in the Football League and I wish the best of luck to those who have left, including Bish and Tony Pennock.
With Nev, Wayne Jones, the new signings and the support of our fans, I think we can challenge for the top 6. That’s got to be our aim along with doing as well as we can in the cups. We’ll have a better season with plenty of fun on the way.
One to watch: Declan Walker
Declan Walker for his quality and nous. Jon Owen is a player with pace and goals in him and I think could be big for us. And I think this could be a season when we see more of Jack Rimmer. I’m sure he’ll get chances to make his mark for us – likewise Sion Ewart.
Opposition player you’d most like in your team: Chris Venables
Chris Venables – goal machine as we all know. Stuart Jones – excellent defender and an Aber boy too. I’d also include Henry Jones from Bangor as a talented young Ceredigion-born midfielder, even though he’s left the WPL now.
Alex McDonald – @amcdonald2203
We feel disappointed that we failed to secure 2nd, but extremely overwhelmed that we won the welsh cup! The expectation was to get to Europe, and we achieved that.
We really have strengthened our squad and we’re very happy with the new signings! It’s been good so far!
Our aims are to finish second or win the league, also we’re aiming to win some silverware! The most important thing is to qualify for Europe!
One to watch: Andrai Jones
Andrai Jones will be a hand full to any defender, he’s been very impressive in pre-season! Mike Hayes will also be a danger man!
One opposition player you’d like in your team: Scott Quigley
No one, we are very happy with our squad and we haven’t got much weaknesses but there’s a couple of players we’d love to see in a Bala shirt one being Quigley.
Bala Town Fans – @BTFCFans
Bangor City FC
Expectations were high after the significant investment promised by the new board. I expected European qualification based on the spend which was achieved. We were able to compete with the best teams in the league for the first time in years. All things considered it was a good season to be a Bangor fan.
Although we have lost key players in Gary Roberts and Henry Jones the replacements look capable to step into the void. However I feel we need a strong powerful direct centre forward to take us to the next level.
I would expect us to be challenging towards the top of the league however I believe winning the league might be slightly beyond us. Finishing second and qualifying for Europe as well as the Irn Bru cup I think is realistically in the club’s capability.
Daniel Dogan – @DanDogan
One to watch: Luke Wall
From watching most of the pre season the player that has most impressed myself is Luke Wall. Direct with pace adds excitement and I think he will be a fan favourite.
Opposition player you’d most like to have in your team: Shane Sutton
The player I most admired over the past years has recently left the league and that is Shane Sutton. A commanding centre half who was consistently Newtowns star man for me.
Barry Town United
Anything could have happened last season when we were in Division 1. It was a quest to get back where we belonged and where we once made a name for ourselves.
I knew that we were going to get back into the WPL but to do it in great fashion was incredible. To support Barry at time like this, I couldn’t be more proud of the players and management.
The summer transfer has been great for Barry and especially re-signing majority of the players who have been with club from day one and the recent signings of Kayne McLaggon and Ryan Newman. I believe Gavin has got a few more players to bring in but we will have to wait and see.
I expect nothing but the best out of Barry. I mean, I can see doing exceptionally well in the league but it comes down to the players delivering on the field.
One to watch: The Squad
Not one player. All of them need to be watched. It’s a team sport and Barry have worked as a team for the past 4 years. 3 championships in 4 seasons? Now that is team work and that is what people need to watch.
Opposition player you’d most like in your team: N/A
To be perfectly honest with you, I never looked at any WPL players who would be good for us because whatever player Gavin brings in, from whatever division they always delivered.
I mean, two players I would like to see play for us but I doubt is Lee Trundle and Darcy Blake. Trundle is a big name is football and delivers goals like a shopkeeper selling sweets but he is happy at Llanelli.
Darcy Blake would be a great signing but after leaving Aberbargoed Buds, I don’t know if we need him or if he would fit in.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
Cardiff Met more than met my expectations last season. Obviously it was our first season in the WPL so we didn’t know what to expect apart from it was a big step up.
All I was looking for was survival. The fact we ended up top 6 especially with the start we had meant that we were guaranteed survival in mid January rather than April or May so took a lot of pressure of the supporters.
Transfer wise is difficult being a student club and i’m so glad that they stick by there principals of only signing Met students. We have signed two defenders in Joel Edwards and Dylan Rees this pre- season who look extremely good and can only strengthen what was already a strong defence.
I’ve watched them both in friendlies and in training and they have looked the full package. We are limited as we can’t offer any money like the rest of the clubs in the league can but I think the club have found a couple of gems.
This season I just want to see an improvement from last season. Obviously the play-off final was a target that we didn’t expect last season so was a bonus but league position wise last season we were 6th but I would definitely like to see that improved upon and maybe chase for a European spot.
We had two major blips last season so if we can iron those out and stay steady all season I don’t see why we can’t.
One to watch: Emlyn Lewis
Emlyn is our central defender got players, supporters and coaches player of the year last season and I feel he has improved. The two new defenders though will be good to watch.
Opposition player you’d most like at your club:Scott Quigley
If Scott Quigley wanted to study at Cardiff Met and didn’t mind not getting paid for playing I would have him at the club.
Ian Campbell – @ArchersFan2
I thought Carmarthen faired very well. We went into the season with a bigger squad than the season before and it showed when we had injuries and suspensions we were able to rely on players who were as good as the ones missing.
I predicted a 7th place finish for the Old Gold last season and we made the top 6, finishing 5th after phase 1. That was an excellent achievement.
I will admit we have lost several players who would have made the starting line-up last season, Dwaine Bailey, Declan Carroll and Kyle Bassett are going to be a big loss to us however the signings the club have made have been very good in pre-season and I look forward to seeing how they do when the league kicks off this week.
Our home form has not been the greatest over the last few years, mainly down to the poor playing surface at Richmond Park, however with the impending move to a 4G pitch I expect us to be able to play a very good brand of football that the team play when we go away.
The team is much suited to playing on a 4G pitch than on a muddy pitch, so I see Carmarthen having a much improved home record and hopefully maintain our level of away performances we have achieved over the last few years. Last season we took points off every team in the league and if we can do that again I can see us finishing in the top 6 again.
One to watch: Liam Thomas
Liam Thomas has been looking very sharp in pre-season and I expect him to be in the goals again this season. I’d also like to mention a new young player Carmarthen have signed, Tyler Brock, keep an eye out for him.
Opposition player you’d most like in your team: Ryan Brobbel
It’s hard to look beyond a TNS player, they have so many good players for this standard of football, I saw Ryan Brobbel at Richmond Park twice last season and although we beat TNS on one occasion he was a constant threat in both games.
Jason Hopkins – @JasonHopkins14
Overall last season we went past original expectations in not only surviving relegation but also finishing eighth. Notably the second half of the season where we had only lost the one game in 10 which was to an inform and rampant Newtown at the time was a particular highlight.
It showed what we were truly capable of in the league with our best squad out.
I believe that this summer has gone brilliantly! We have successfully managed to maintain almost everyone of that crucial core of players that were the reason to last season’s success and we have built upon it!
With the likes of experienced midfielder Lewis Buckley from Llandudno is my personal summer signing with a wealth of ability and experience to consolidate the midfield. We’ve also been making some good signings bringing in the likes of youngsters Ben Burrows and Ilan Ap Gareth and not to mention Neil Ashton.
I can see us finishing relatively in the same position as last year, however if we can make a push for the top six and make it competitive so we come in with a chance of finishing top six on the last day of phase one then I’ll be content with that however I’ll never pleased to be in and around the top of the bottom six.
One to watch: Lewis Buckley
I think as we’ve already seen last season at Llandudno what he is capable of doing but I can see Lewis Buckley going from strength to strength and making a huge impact for the Ancients this season hopefully he’s that midfield catalyst we’ve been looking for.
Opposition player you’d secretly want in your team: Without a doubt it would have to be the return of Scott Quigley! An absolute dynamo of an attacker I always wanted Druids to have ever since he joined us on loan in 2013/14 season!
Connah’s Quay Nomads
Last year everyone had expected us to give TNS a run for there money with the squad we had put together and rightly so. However due to injuries we played the majority of the first half of the season without any centre-halves so what we achieved given the circumstances was as best as we could of hoped really.
The transfer business this summer has gone pretty well from what we can see. Joe Heath and jake Phillips both look like excellent signings. Rhys Williams the young keeper who has come in seems to have a lot of potential too. We have a sneaky feeling that however won’t be our last signing as we need another striker. Just to give us another dimension and option.
Every year Europe is the main aim and goal. However we would love it if we could push TNS for the title and give them a challenge.
One to watch: Callum Morris
I think will be Callum Morris, if he can stay fit that is, he had a tough time with injury last year but when he’s fit he is a real nightmare from Midfield. He’s quick can score goals and also has assists in him too. Declan Poole may surprise a few this year with him going full time and training a lot more.
Opposition player you’d most like in your team: Ryan Brobbel
We have to admit that Byan Brobel from The New Saints a brilliant player and would love to have him in our team.
Nomads Lads – @Nomads_Lads
We probably fell below of what we hoped to achieve after finishing 3rd the first season. Expectations were high after that and we went into the season expecting more of the same. Sometimes our performances didn’t reflect scorelines and a bit more luck in front of goal could have seen us pick more points up and made a claim to be in the top 6 at the split. We have another crack at the WPL season though and we look to progress and have a good go at it this time around.
We have made a couple of good signings. The standouts for me are Ryan Edwards who has had a really good pre-season and has offered a lot. Sam up front has looked lively when I have seen him pre season and comes with a lot of potential, I think we will see big things from these two this term.
I honestly think we are better than last seasons finish and we are capable of breaking into that top 6, I cant see any sides cracking the top 4 so every ones aim will be to get into the top half for the split and then who knows what can happen.
One to watch: Marc Williams
Marc Williams is going to be keen to show his worth this season, things didnt quite go for him last time out but he wasn’t always availalible due to injury and he played when he wasn’t 100% at times. In defence we look solid again and can only be stronger with Jake resigning for us after his spell at Sheffield United. Danny Hughes and Tom Dix have looked on top of their game pre season too and will be a strong pairing as always.
Opposition player you’d most like on your team: Ryan Brobbel
I personally like Ryan Brobbel at TNS, he always seems to do well when we play them and I think he would be an asset to any side in this division.
Iain Dyer – Llandudno FC Supporter
Certainly under par in the first half of the season, but after the split we showed what the team is about and we were probably the form team going in to the play-offs.
It is obviously hard to replace three of your best players, especially when they are the top scorer In the league, our captain and arguably one of the best young players in the league, but saying that I think the manager has signed a great mix of experience and youth.
I’m hoping for top six and a good cup run, but I think the league has gone up a notch again this season and who knows how Barry and Prestatyn will fair. Europe would be nice, I fancy another repeat of Malta.
One to watch: Jay Denny
There’s obviously Jamie Reed and Nicky Rushton, but I do like the look of our new midfielder Jay Deny.
Opposition player you’d most like in your team: Scott Quigley
I would have said Henry Jones before he left Bangor, but always liked Matty Williams when at TNS, but could pick a few, maybe Quigley at TNS
Simon Brennan – @sbrenn
I feel that we fared better than everyone expected last season, after finishing 8th the previous season everyone thought it was Caernarfon’s title to lose, however, the players seemed to take on another gear and find the consistency that was lacking the year before and it resulted in us finishing 16 points clear of Caernarfon, so I think we did do better than expected.
Despite bringing in the two Edwards brothers, the players that won us the league last season are deserving in getting the chance to step up and show they can do it in the WPL.
As many people have said, there’s eight teams fighting for two places in the top six, however, as long as we stay in the league and show everyone that we’re worthy of playing WPL football then i’m happy.
One to watch: James Stead
I think James Stead is one to watch next season, he’s already scored a hatrick against Aberystwyth in the Welsh Cup and I think that he’ll be one to watch out for next season.
Opposition player you’d most like on your team: Kai Edwards
If I had to pick any player to play for us then it’d have to be Kai Edwards as we would then have a whole family playing for us.
The New Saints
One to watch:
(Featured Image: EventPhotoWales)