Why ex Football League pros are joining the Welsh Leagues
Over the last few seasons, the Welsh Premier League has seen an influx of Football League players, with Bangor City the most active in achieving such transfers this summer under the leadership of Kevin Nicholson and his player-coach Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Bangor City have been key players in the market this summer and have used their resources in order to scour the English pyramid to secure their transfer targets. However they’re not the only ones using the Football League to secure targets.
Whilst some players have experienced relative success with their club sides in England, others have had to drop into the non-league after their pro careers faltered out.
As the Welsh Football season is now underway once more, here is a look at some of the professionals who have made the move from England in order to make a big impact in Wales’ footballing scene.
The 32 year-old from Bury made the switch from non-league AFC Fylde to JD Welsh Premier League title chasers Bangor City. He signed for Bangor following an excellent season at Fylde, in which the team achieved promotion.
Kennedy’s career started for his hometown club, Bury, a club for whom he went on to make 143 appearances for. Following his lengthy stint at Bury, he moved to pastures new at Rochdale, where he quickly established himself as a regular at left-back.
Whilst impressing for the Dale, Leicester came knocking, and he earned a move to the championship. After a disappointing experience at Leicester, Kennedy had stints and Peterborough, Barnsley and short returns to both Rochdale and Bury. With Kennedy likely to be first choice left-back for Bangor, he could play a vital role in the Citizens attempt to be crowned WPL champions and to dethrone TNS.
The ex-Swansea striker took Welsh League Division 2 by storm last season, scoring 42 goals in just 20 games, leading Llanelli to promotion. Trundle will be looking to emulate that form this season in Welsh League Division 1, and after scoring a brace in the first game of the season against Taffs Well, he’s off to a good start. Trundle has played most of his career in Wales, playing at Rhyl and Wrexham in the early 2000s, then making himself a household name at Swansea.
More recently, Trundle appeared for the now defunct Neath in the WPL, scoring 26 goals in 59 games. With Llanelli likely to be pushing for promotion back to the WPL this season, Trundle could be the man that scores the goals to get them there.
The veteran Taylor-Fletcher is one of very few ex-Premier League players to grace the Welsh Football Pyramid. Despite being a journeyman, his most famous stint was at Blackpool, where he was a member of the team that achieved promotion to the Premier League.
Now, seven years after scoring Blackpool’s first ever goal in the Premier League, he plays a key role for Bangor both on and off the field.
Simultaneously aiding Kevin Nicholson behind the scenes and in front of goal, he will be heavily involved in Bangor’s attempt to snatch the title from TNS.
Another journeyman now playing for Bangor is the former Manchester United trainee, Daniel Nardiello.
With his most prolific spells being at Barnsley, Exeter and Rotherham United, Nardiello will be looking to repeat his impressive scoring record in his second season at Bangor. The 34 year-old scored 13 goals for the Citizens last season and with signings like Anderson Cayola, Brayden Shaw and Tom Kennedy.
Nardiello will be looking to provide more goalscoring prowess to help Bangor’s title challenge.
The 32 year-old full-back from Merseyside will be playing in the WPL for the first time this season as he pulls on the Cefn Druids jersey.
Playing over a century of games for Shrewsbury Town, Ashton has a wealth of experience in the Football League. Most recently of Southport, Ashton also played over 200 games for Wrexham. With Cefn Druids conceding 48 goals last year, it’s hoped that Ashton can provide solidity in what has been a leaky defence in the past.
These five could prove to be key for their respective clubs, and 25 years on from the inaugural Welsh Premier League season, one thing is for sure, fans will be hoping the league can continue to grow to see former Premier League players grace the holy turf of the Welsh Premier League.
(Featured Image: EventPhotoWales)