PICTURE by Llanelli Town shows seven time Golden Boot winner Rhys Griffiths.
THE League of Wales (also known as the Welsh Premier League and currently called the JD Cymru Premier) as we know it was formed back in 1992.
Since then, it has produced/showcased some top, top talent – a lot of which have gone on to play in the English pyramid system (including the Premier League) and four of which have conquered the European goal-scoring charts in their respective seasons (as my article yesterday detailed).
Bala Town’s Chris Venables (above), who was awarded the Golden Boot for a fourth time last season, is once again leading the pack this time around. With ten goals to his name so far, the Lakesiders skipper is the only player to reach double figures at this stage in the 2020/21 JD Cymru Premier campaign.
But who else has got their hands on the prestigious Welsh top flight Golden Boot in the past? Well, here’s a complete list to answer that question!
The very first person to win the accolade in the League of Wales’ debut season was Steve Woods, who bagged 29 goals in just 28 matches for Ebbw Vale. That tally included six of his side’s goals in a 10–0 victory over Briton Ferry Athletic on January 6 1993 – a scoreline which remained the league’s record victory until 1998.
A year later, Porthmadog’s Dave Taylor (above) came out on top with a very impressive 43 goals in 38 matches. This meant that the forward also scooped the European Golden Boot for his efforts – becoming the only Welsh top flight player ever to do so, and only the second Welshman ever after Liverpool’s Ian Rush had won it ten years earlier. Taylor had outscored English Premier League forward Andy Cole by nine goals that season but a rule change made by UEFA in 1997 meant that those in lower leagues haven’t been able to win the prize since, even if they outscore someone playing in a supposedly ‘bigger’ division.
After Taylor’s goal-scoring feat, Bangor City’s Frank Mottram was the next to secure the League of Wales Golden Boot by scoring 31 goals in 36 matches for the league champions in 1994/95. He was then followed by Conwy United’s Ken McKenna, whose 38 goals in 35 matches at the end of the 1995/96 season saw him fall two goals short of securing the European Golden Boot – losing out to Zviad Endeladze who had scored 40 in Georgia’s top flight. McKenna was also the first ‘foreigner’ to win the accolade in Wales’ top flight, with him being and ENGLISHMAN!
Then came Tony Bird’s 42 goals in 38 matches for title-winners Barry Town in the 1996/97 season followed by fellow Barry Town legend Eifion Williams (above), who secured two Golden Boots in a row in 1997/98 (40 goals in 37 matches) and 1998/99 ((28 in 22 matches) as the formidable Barry secured another two league titles.
The first player to secure the award this side of the millennium was Cwmbran Town forward Chris Summers, who scored 28 goals in 30 matches. At the end of the 2000/2001 season, Caersws’ Graham Evans (below) was the league top scorer with 25 goals in 32 matches.
2001/02 marked a record-breaking season as Marc Lloyd Williams hit a phenomenal 47 goals in just 33 matches for Bangor City. ‘Jiws’ as he’s known went on to become the division’s all-time top goalscorer with 319 goals in 467 appearances for Bangor, Porthmadog, TNS, Aberystwyth, Newtown, Rhyl and Airbus. His record from the 200/02 season still stands to this day too and is unlikely to be beaten any time soon.
The season after that, Graham Evans bounced back for Caersws once more as he scored 24 goals in 34 matches and then secured the Golden Boot for a second time running come the end of 2003/04 too – this time netting 24 in 30 for the same club.
In 2004/05, it was Marc Lloyd Williams’ (below) turn to reclaim the Golden Boot, scoring 34 times in 27 matches as Total Network Solutions (Now known as The New Saints) claimed the League of Wales title for a second time in their history.
The 2005/06 season was significant as it signalled the start of seven years of dominance by one serial Golden Boot winner. Rhys Griffiths first won the prize that season by scoring 28 goals in 32 matches for Port Talbot Town. Griffiths, now manager of JD Cymru Premier side Penybont, followed that up with 30 goals in 32 matches for Llanelli Town in 2006/07 before securing the Golden Boot for a third time with 40 goals in 31 matches for Llanelli again in 2007/08 as they won the league title. The lethal target man (below) would go on to secure four more consecutive Golden Boots whilst with Llanelli (31 goals in 28 matches in 2008/09), 30 in 33 in 2009/10, 25 in 28 in 2010/11 and 19 in 25 in 2011/12) to well and truly establish himself as a Welsh top flight legend and place him as the man with the most Golden Boots in its history so far.
2012/13 brought about a new winner once more as Michael Wilde, who now plays for Connah’s Quay Nomads, scored 25 goals in 30 matches for The New Saints as they won the division.
In 2013/14, Chris Venables first made himself known when he secured his first of three consecutive Golden Boot trophies as he hit 24 goals in 30 matches for Aberystwyth Town, whilst playing mainly as a midfielder. He followed that up with 28 in 27 in 2014/15 and 20 in 30 in 2015/16 for the same club as he made it a Golden Boot hat-trick.
Jason Oswell of Newtown was the winner come the end of the 2016/17 season. The English forward enjoyed a memorable campaign as he scored 22 goals in 31 outings. Such form earned him a move to Stockport County soon after, where he would continue his rich vein of form before his career dwindled somewhat upon moving to Morecambe and then Wrexham. However, Oswell seems to have recently resurrected his career by bagging two goals in as many matches for current club Telford United.
It was New Zealander Greg Draper’s (above on left) turn to win the Golden Boot in the 2017/18. The 31-year-old, who has seven goals for The New Saints so far this season, bagged 22 goals in 31 matches for the same club as they won the title for a twelfth time. A year later, Draper won the prize again after hitting 27 goals in just 29 matches.
The most recent winner was, as mentioned above, Bala Town captain Venables once more. After securing the Golden Boot three times in a row whilst with Aberystwyth, he managed it for a fourth time with the Lakesiders last year. Following a curtailed season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Venables had managed 22 goals in 25 matches. Nowadays, he plays in a more forward role under manager Colin Caton’s system and it evidently works well for him as he is once again leading the goal-scoring charts in the 2020/21 campaign.
Current top goalscorers in the JD Cymru Premier (2020/21):
|Chris Venables||Bala Town||10|
|Greg Draper||The New Saints||7|
|Louis Robles||The New Saints||7|
|Will Evans||Bala Town||6|
|Kayne McLaggon||Barry Town Utd||5|
Table of Wales top flight Golden Boot winners over the years:
|1992/93||Steve Woods||Ebbw Vale||29|
|1994/95||Frank Mottram||Bangor City||31|
|1995/96||Ken McKenna||Conwy United||38|
|1996/97||Tony Bird||Barry Town||42|
|1997/98||Eifion Williams||Barry Town||40|
|1998/99||Eifion Williams||Barry Town||28|
|1999/00||Chris Summers||Cwmbran Town||28|
|2001/02||Marc Lloyd Williams||Bangor City||47|
|2004/05||Marc Lloyd Williams||TNS||34|
|2005/06||Rhys Griffiths||Port Talbot||28|
|2019/20||Chris Venables||Bala Town||22|
Winners Golden Boot total:
Rhys Griffiths – Seven
Chris Venables – Four
Graham Evans – Three
Greg Draper – Two
Eifion Williams – Two
Marc Lloyd Williams – Two
Tony Bird – One
Ken McKenna – One
Frank Mottram – One
Jason Oswell – One
Chris Summers – One
David Taylor – One
Michael Wilde – One
Steve Woods – One