ARTICLE by Tomos Wyn Jones.
PICTURE by Aled Jones
Glantraeth, over the years, have been on a roller-coaster journey, and the 2016/17 season certainly proved that, with many ups in their season, as well as downs at the start of the season. In this article, I will be looking back at the season where Glantraeth well and truly put themselves back on the North Wales footballing map.
After enduring a difficult pre-season, including a heavy defeat at the hands of newly crowned Cymru alliance champions Caernarfon Town, Glantraeth knew they were in for a tough campaign. With captain Gareth Owen retiring from the game, there was a big hole in Traeth’s defence, and with many different players playing in the defence, stability was seemed far away for the Anglesey side.
Here’s a look at their 2016/17 campaign in full …
Glantraeth’s first game of the 2016/17 Welsh Alliance Division One season was at home against CPD Penrhyndeudraeth, who beat Traeth 4-1 in the 2016 Mawddach challenge cup final at Nantporth, Bangor. And the hosts fell to another defeat to Penrhyn, this time to a 3-2 scoreline, with Meilir Williams scoring a brace for the Eifionydd-based side.
And Warren Gibbs’ men looked down and out in their second game of the season too, as they conceded another three goals, this time against 2015/16 league champions Trearddur Bay United, with local boy Jamie Roberts scoring a consolation for Glan.
The club’s luck looked like it had turned a corner by the third game of the campaign though with the return of club legend Ben Heald back in between the nets. Glan’s first win of the season was a 4-1 thumping of local rival Llangefni Town at Cae Trefdraeth, with club debutants Marvin Pritchard and Sam Faulkner on the scoresheet. And they made it two wins on the bounce just three days later, as Craig Whelan scored the decisive winner in the 82nd minute away at Nantlle Vale.
September didn’t get off to the best start for Glan, as they fell to a heavy 5-2 defeat at the Arriva Ground, as Llandudno Junction ran riot over the Anglesey side. This proved to be Connor Hughes’ final game in between the sticks for Glan, with Ben Heald making a full time return in goal.
The next week, Glan were in action in the Welsh Cup, and this time dug real deep to earn a place in the next round by beating Trearddur Bay United 1-0 at Lôn Isallt. This looked like the turning point in the season for the Bodorgan side, and on September 15, huge news came from the club that they had signed Caernarfon Town’s goal scoring machine Corrig McGonigle.
The forward, now at Conwy Borough in the Cymru North division, didn’t disappoint, scoring a brace off the bench in his first game as Glantraeth hammered Pwllheli 5-0. Glan then made it four wins on the bounce in the league, as they beat a stubborn St Asaph City 2-0, with vice-captain Kieren Jeffreys getting on the score-sheet.
Glantraeth yet again conceded five goals in their first game of the month, as they fell to a 5-3 defeat at home to Division Two side Mynydd Llandygai. However, McGonigle was really beginning to make a big impact for Glan, and scored in every game he played in the month of October, including a hat-trick against Abergele Town in a 4-2 home victory.
The club won another two games in the month of October, including a 3-1 victory over title rivals Llandudno Junction and a 2-0 win against Penygroes-based side Nantlle Vale.
Glan’s curse of not winning their first game of the month continued in the month of November, as they drew 1-1 to Denbighshire based Llandyrnog United, with Harry Galeotti scoring the 77th minute equaliser.
No game took place on the following weekend (November 12) due to the football internationals, but the weekend break looked like a positive thing for Glan, as they produced a slick performance against Llanrug Utd at Cae Trefdraeth the week after, with captain Matthew Lock scoring his first goal of the league campaign. Gethin Maxwell also made his debut for Glan against Llanrug, the club he will have seen as an arch rival due to his affiliation with Llanberis in the past.
Glantraeth and Llangefni Town faced off for the second time on November 26, as Glan looked to kick-start their defence of the Cookson Cup, which they had won in the 2015/16 season following a 3-0 victory over Llanberis. And they took a step closer to defending their trophy, by beating their main rivals 2-0 and ensuring they remained unbeaten against Cefni since their return to Division One.
The curse was finally over! Glantraeth won their opening game of the month, in a hard-fought 3-2 victory away to Penrhyndeudraeth in the first round of the Mawddach Challenge Cup. This was no doubt a bit of revenge for Glan, as Penrhyn denied the Bodorgan side a domestic cup double in 2015/16.
And from a tight game to demolition we move into the next fixture, as Glan thumped Llanrwst United 8-0 at Cae Gwydir, recording their largest victory of the season, with the prolific McGonigle scoring half of the goals that day. Another thrashing soon followed, as Glan looked unstoppable towards the end of the year, with Trearddur Bay United becoming 6-1 victims at Cae Trefdraeth. Even goalkeeper Ben Heald got in with the action, as he scored a 60-yard free kick from his own half, becoming the first goalkeeper to score for Glantraeth in the 2010’s decade.
The club ended the year on a high on New Year’s Eve, as they beat rivals Llangefni Town for a third time in the season, with McGonigle scoring a brace in a 3-2 victory at Cae Bob Parry.
Glan started the year of 2017 just as they left 2016, on a high, as they secured their spot in the 2016/17 final of the Cookson Cup, following a 3-1 win after extra time victory away at Llanrug United, with the in-form stand-in captain Jeffreys scoring from the half way line.
Elsewhere that month, the club continued to strengthen its position at the top of league table, as it thumped Barmouth & Dyffryn United 5-1 away from home, with McGonigle scoring yet another hat-trick.
January ended as it started, as Glan progressed through another stage in a cup competition, this time in the Mawddach Challenge Cup. They thrashed Division Two side Prestatyn Sports 6-0, and progressed into Round Three.
Glan slumped to their first defeat of 2017 on February 4, as they lost their first home game of the season since the opening day. Greenfield were victorious on the day, through a 38th minute winner from Liam Roberts.
But soon after, Glan redeemed themselves, as they took out all of their frustration against Abergele Town, with Corrig McGonigle producing a four-goal performance under the lights at the Maesdu Stadium.
The club wrapped up the month by securing a place in the next round of the Mawddach Challenge Cup, producing a convincing performance against Llanrwst United, winning by three goals to nil. The month of February also brought fan favourite Mark Bridge back home from Holywell Town, and this would add additional depth into the star side of Welsh Alliance One.
Glan were looking to wrap up the league title as soon as possible, and they edged closer to title glory with a 4-1 victory over strugglers Glan Conwy at Cae Trefdraeth. McGonigle hit yet another treble, and centre back Gerwyn Jones scored his first goal of the season.
And the Anglesey based side’s season only got better weeks later, when they secured their place in the 2016/17 Mawddach Challenge Cup final, as they completed back-to-back 6-1 victories against Trearddur Bay United in the season. Midfielder Dylan Williams put in a man of the match performance in the semi-final, and made a good case to cement his place in the starting XI during the season run-in.
Glan started April with a somewhat unconvincing victory over Barmouth & Dyffryn United, with Mark Bridge scoring his first goal for Glan on his return to the club in a 3-1 victory. Glan followed this up with crucial victories against Llanberis and Penrhyndeudraeth, and secured a valuable point at Eithin Duon against Llanrug United, edging them ever closer to title glory.
And the Easter weekend put Glan within touching distance of the title too, as they thumped Llandyrnog United 5-0 at home, and then confirmed Glan Conwy’s relegation with a late winner to secure a 3-2 away win.
A 5-1 home victory over Llanrwst United, with Llandudno Junction dropping points on the same weekend, meant Glantraeth could wrap up the title with victory over Llanberis. And after a closely fought opening 50 minutes, Mark Bridge scored one of the goals of the season, and produced wild celebrations from the bench and supporters. Tomos Clarke and Sam Faulkner then secured the 3-0 victory, as Glantraeth secured their third Welsh Alliance title in their history, and part one of 3 completed of their treble quest was complete.
Glantraeth followed up this victory with a last-gasp winner from veteran Neil Hughes, as he scored a beautiful outside of the box curler into the top scorer away to Greenfield, in a 2-1 win.
Glantraeth officially lifted the league title on the May 1, after their 2-0 victory over St Asaph City, with McGonigle, who inevitably ended up as top scorer of the league with 41 goals, scoring two penalties in the final 20 minutes.
The club concluded their 2016/17 Welsh Alliance Division One campaign with two draws against Llandudno Junction and Pwllheli, but all eyes were on both the domestic cups.
First up was the Mawddach Challenge Cup final, a trophy which Glan had never won in their history before, and unfortunately for them that trend continued, as they lost 7-6 on penalties to Llanrug United at Nantporth, following a 2-2 draw in original play.
Many sides’ heads would’ve gone down after this, but not Glantraeth, as they went on to retain the Cookson Cup, taking revenge on Penrhyndeudraeth with a 2-1 victory (after extra time) at Maes Dulyn, Nantlle Vale, with top scorer McGonigle scoring the decisive winner, after returning captain Matthew Lock scored the equaliser in the second half. Brilliant celebrations soon followed, but they took a sad twist as the club announced, just two days after completing the double, that they were not going to play in tier two of the welsh football pyramid, citing that claiming the cost of renovating their ground would be “absurd” as their official reason for not doing so.
As a result, manager Warren Gibbs left his post, with all players following suit, with many going on to join Conwy Borough in their successful 2017/18 Welsh Alliance Division 1 campaign.
Although former red Mike Lundstram became club manager briefly, Glan opted to not participate in the 2017/18 campaign, and instead re-joined the system in 2018/19, in the Gwynedd League. Glan will now look for happier days in the future, and with the emergence of forward Brad Bland from Bangor University and 17-year old Huw Griffith, most noted for his 85th minute winner versus Ogwen Tigers, the future certainly looks more brighter for the club than what it did in the summer of 2017.