THIS WPL summer transfer window has been one of the most exciting ones to date, with quite a few professional players and promising youngsters, as well as experienced Welsh Prem players being transferred from one club to another.
So far, Bangor City have been the busiest club having brought nine players in, whilst Carmarthen Town are yet to sign anyone.
BUT, what about those players that graced the league last season (or before) who we won’t be seeing again this year? Who will we miss watching week in, week out?
In this article, AFEFootballNews picks out just five standout players who left the league this summer and how their moves away from their respective clubs will affect them.
Luke Sherbon (Aberystwyth Town to Caersws)
Sherbon is considered by many to be one of the Welsh Premier League’s finest talents over the past few seasons, so his move away from Aber will be a costly one.
The Birmingham-born midfielder first started off in the Welsh Premier League with Barry Town back in the 2003/04 season. He then joined Aberystwyth in that same season and stayed there until 2007/08, before moving on to Rhyl in 2008/09, where he lifted the Welsh Premier League title. He returned to Aberystwyth the following season and stayed at Park Avenue up until last month.
Over the years, the 31-year-old has made over 270 appearances in the WPL and has scored 62 goals.
His experience in the middle of the park will undoubtedly be greatly missed by Aberystwyth this season as they look to rebuild under Nev Powell. Caersws have certainly gained a great player to add to their ranks though.
Shane Sutton (Newtown to Telford United)
I for one am very sad to see man with “the best beard in the WPL” leaving us to cross the border.
Newtown’s long serving captain, Sutton, had been at Shrewsbury Town for a decade as a youngster. He then joined Newtown in 2007 (with brief spell at Presteigne St. Andrew’s in 2009) and was ever present in their side since 2010.
There is no doubt that they are losing a passionate leader and committed defender.
In total, the 28-year-old, racked up 228 starts for the Robins and scored 15 goals during a nine year stay that included everything from relegation battles to European success, which included playing in front of 42,000 fans in Copenhagen.
Speaking to the Shropshire Star ahead of his move to Telford, Sutton said: “I haven’t had a buzz since playing at Copenhagen and I’ve missed that.
“I’ve heard that when things are going right, there’s no place better than Telford.”
Known for his “hard man” look with his many tattoo’s and confident defensive presence at the back, Sutton will most certainly be missed, not only by Newtown, but by fans of the Welsh Premier League in general.
Henry Jones (Bangor City to AFC Fylde)
Probably one of the biggest losses of them all.
23-year-old midfielder Jones joined Bangor City in the summer of 2016 after becoming fed up of playing for the under 21’s at Premier League side, Swansea City. He wanted to break through into first team football and it’s fair to say that he certainly did much more than that whilst playing for the Citizens last year.
14 goals and 10 assists in 32 appearances for Bangor made him a standout player, so much so, that he went on to win the “WPL Young Player of the Season” and “Bangor Supporters Player of the Season” awards.
His mesmerising dribbling and unselfishness to set up team mates made him a true team player and I think he’ll shine once more in the National League with Fylde this year. In fact, I do honestly believe that he is good enough to play at a higher level than that, but time will tell if he goes on to do that.
Bangor fans have voiced their concerns over the departure of Jones and are worried about who will replace him. However, with the recent additions of Steven Hewitt, Luke Wall, Brayden Shaw and of course Anderson Cayola, it seems as though the management team are definitely prepared for life without him.
Jason Oswell (Newtown to Stockport)
As good as Jones is though, I think it will be Oswell’s departure that is the worst news for the Welsh Premier League.
In his debut WPL season with Newtown in 2014/15, he scored 18 goals, finishing second in the goal scoring charts and being nominated for the league’s “Player of the Season” award.
However, it was last season that the 25-year-old striker really stood amongst his peers. He scored 22 goals, won the golden boot in the process and was finally named “Welsh Premier League Player of the Season”.
His ability to grab a goal or two out of seemingly nothing and his willingness to get into those goal scoring positions made him look a class above the rest. He established himself as the best striker in the league during his three year stay with the Robins.
He leaves the Robins with an incredibly impressive record of 54 goals in 101 league appearances, so it is certainly no surprise to see a team from England swoop in and sign him.
It will be nearly impossible for the club to replace his goalscoring abilities. They have however bought in two experienced WPL strikers in the shape of Jamie Reed and Nick Rushton ahead of the 2017/18 campaign so they will put in a good shift.
Gary Roberts (Bangor City to Southport)
Okay, so we all know that this one came about thanks to his unprofessional behaviour and off the field antics, but I can’t help but feel that he will still be quite a loss to the Bangor starting eleven.
In a statement released by the club just before the second leg of their Europa League tie against Lyngby BK two weeks ago, it was announced that club captain Roberts would be leaving the club to join Southport FC. The National League North side had been trying to sign him for a couple of weeks prior to this and Bangor had seemingly become fed up of his behaviour due to their interest.
Known for his vision and ball-playing skills, the 30-year-old played predominantly at right back for the Citizens and became a vital part of their team of the past two seasons. He earned the captain’s armband mainly for his vocal presence on the field and his no-nonsense tackling and defending.
There’s no doubting that he’s a great player and he will be missed, but it is now and always has been his attitude that has been the problem. Crewe, Yeovil, Rotherham and Port Vale have all released him in the past as well, having cited “disciplinary problems” as the reason for doing so.
Many will disagree with me on the fact that he will turn out to be a loss, but I honestly do believe that no matter how unprofessional he was off the pitch, he was always very professional on it, forever wearing his heart on his sleeve.
The additions of Tom Kennedy and Danny Holmes to Bangor’s squad will probably mean that Roberts is quickly forgotten about but I for one won’t forget the way he contributed to the side, especially last season, when he helped guide them to the Europa League qualifiers.
Of course, these are big losses, but there are plenty of big additions being made to the WPL too. Make sure you keep an eye out over then next week or so on AFEFootballNews as we bring you the latest Welsh transfer news!