Welsh Football in 2018: The year’s most memorable Welsh football moments
It’s been quite the year for Welsh football, with so much to celebrate from all levels of the pyramid system.
All around Wales, there were plenty of stories from the Welsh domestic scene.
We’ve compiled a list of reminders of what 2018 gave to Welsh football and what we can celebrate.
Cambrian & Clydach shock the kings of Welsh football
They had been in the final and won the last competition for the last four years. But a proud Rhondda club upset the odds to stop a fifth.
Cambrian & Clydach Vale defeated three Welsh Premier League clubs to reach the semi-final of the competition and thanks to goals in extra-time from Andre Griffiths and Mark Crutch, they booked their place in next month’s Nathaniel MG Cup Final.
The Wales C team returns
It may not have been the result that everybody wanted, but it was great to see the return of the Wales semi-professional side.
Mark Jones, assisted by former professional player Owain Tudor-Jones, put together a Welsh Premier League all-stars team, to compete against England C, who have been around for a number of years.
Welsh Premier League veterans Chris Venables and Mark Jones were on the scoresheet but it was Connell Rawlinson who benefited the most from it by earning a move to the Football League.
The New Saints defender moved to Port Vale, where he has been a rock in the Valiants defence, making 26 appearances in total. England’s hat-trick hero Fejiri Okenabirhie also bagged a move to Football League side Shrewsbury Town where he’s more than held his own.
The Welsh League promotion race
The final few weeks of Division Two and Division Three promotion race in the Welsh League was something special.
Four teams were eligible for promotion in Division Two, with Ammanford, Llantwit Major and Pontypridd Town the eventual promotion winners.
Llantwit were the first team to confirm their promotion before later on in the day Pontypridd beat Ammanford to confirm their promotion.
Pontypridd then beat Ammanford as they competed with Llantwit for the Division Two title. Llantwit though replied with a win in their final game of the season over STM Sports, who needed a win themselves to win promotion.
Llantwit won the title, Pontypridd claimed second and it was eventually Ammanford who claimed the third promotion spot.
In Division Three, it was a three-way race between Bridgend Street, Swansea University and Trefelin Boys & Girls Club.
New boys Swansea University won Division Three in the first time of asking, beating Caerau to win promotion and the title.
Bridgend Street needed 12 wins out of 12 to achieve promotion following a backlog of fixtures.
But having already won the title, Swansea Uni lost to the chasing pack Trefelin. Trefelin then won 6-1 against Panteg to finish their season on 74 points. Just four days before their Welsh Football League Cup final against Division One winners Llanelli Town.
Bridgend Street went on to beat Pontyclun, before beating already promoted Division Three side Swansea University to achieve promotion, winning their 12th game in a row.
A year for Cup runs
Penydarren BGC reached the Quarter-Finals of the Welsh Cup this year, after beating Pontypridd Town at the USW Sport Park.
They may have lost heavily against Bangor City who finished second in the Welsh Premier League at the end of the season, but it was a reason to remember for Kerry Mullins side.
Trefelin BGC won the Welsh Football League Cup against the much fancied Llanelli Town and are on track to retain their Cup, having reached the Quarter-Finals of the competition.
Ynysddu Welfare was also part of numerous Cup runs. They reached Round Three of the competition, before losing to Welsh Premier League outfit Cefn Druids.
Their run in the FAW Youth Cup brought national attention after they entered the competition by accident. Ynysddu didn’t even have a youth team, but having put together a makeshift side, they beat Briton Ferry, before losing to Llanelli Town.
The return of Caernarfon and Llanelli
Having had a decade of exile from the Welsh Premier League, the top flight of Welsh football was able to welcome back the Cofis after their dominant Cymru Alliance title win.
They had finished first in the 2015/2016 season but failed to obtain the Tier One licence. Caernarfon lost their manager Ian Williams midway through the season but Sean Eardley maintained the standards and delivered promotion at The Oval.
Changing from Llanelli to Llanelli Town AFC following the original club being wound-up by the HM Revenue and Customs in April, the former Welsh Premier League winners had to start life in the fourth tier in 2013.
But just four years later, Steboneath Park would host Welsh Premier League football again. Andy Hill delivered two consecutive promotions and a Welsh Football League Cup in his first two seasons.
The Reds have found life in the Welsh Premier League tough and sit second from bottom.
Bangor City’s demotion
One of the biggest talking points from this season was the demotion of Bangor City.
Having not played in the second tier of Welsh football since the formation of the Welsh Premier League, Bangor found themselves in the Cymru Alliance at the start of August, following their failure to obtain the Tier One licence.
The Citizens finished second in the JD Welsh Premier League, their second-best finish since winning the title, under Kevin Nicholson.
They were taken over by Craig Harrison in the summer but he left to join the coaching staff of the Connah’s Quay Nomads. They are now managed by Football League veteran Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)