The origin of this domestic football series comes from a very straightforward question that was asked to me on Twitter by Aled Roberts (@capaled on Twitter):
“Who are the best Welsh clubs from each county?”
Not knowing the answer off-hand, I decided to do some research to discover who are currently the best performing clubs from each county in Wales in terms of their respective league position and placement during the current 2021-22 season, whilst also making some references into which teams were the most historically successful clubs in that county also.
I have decided to split the country up into several parts to make it more manageable for me to write up, especially considering I have been struggling with “writer’s block” recently. Therefore in this third part, I will only focus on the two large central counties of Wales, with the other counties of Wales coming in later blogs. To see the other parts of the County By County series, the links can be found below:
- Part 1 – The northeastern counties of Flintshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire, and Conwy.
- Part 2 – The northwestern counties of Ynys Môn and Gwynedd.
[NOTE: All positions mentioned below are defined as of 16th May 2022]
As Powys is the largest county within Wales, with many of its clubs playing in the various tiers of Welsh football, I have decided to divide it into the three former counties of the northern Montgomeryshire / Sir Drefaldwyn, central Radnorshire / Sir Faesyfed, and southern Brecknockshire / Sir Frycheiniog (making it easier for me to research and divide) to determine the best club from the three components of the large central county.
Montgomeryshire: Newtown AFC
Montgomeryshire or Sir Drefaldwyn is one of the cradles of Welsh football with a large number of its clubs being involved in the earliest editions of the Welsh Cup, and the historic county traditionally possessing the more successful clubs from Powys within its borders. One of those early pioneer clubs was Newtown (which was founded in 1875 as Newtown White Stars), who won their first of two Welsh Cups in 1879 when they beat Wrexham 1-0 in the second-ever Welsh Cup final. So it’s no surprise that the Robins from Latham Park continues to have great success in modern times and are Montgomeryshire’s and Powys’ best team in the 2021-22 season, as well as being the sole representative from Powys in the top tier of Welsh football.
Newtown finished the Cymru Premier season in an impressive third place in the table with 51 points, their highest league placement since they finished as League of Wales runners-up in the 1997-98 season. They also managed to qualify for European competition for the fourth time in their history by qualifying for the UEFA Europa Conference League as a result of The New Saints beating Penybont 3-2 in the final of the Welsh Cup, and ensuring the European spot was given to the third-placed team because of TNS already being Welsh league champions and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
As mentioned previously, Newtown was the only Powys-based side in the Cymru Premier, but there were three more Montgomeryshire-based sides in the second-tier Cymru North league; Guilsfield, Llanrhaeadr, and Llanidloes Town. Of the three teams, Guilsfield was the best-performing Montgomeryshire side having finished in third position in the league, whilst the other two sides battled against relegation. Llanidloes managed to maintain their position in the league with a twelfth-place finish, but Llanrhaeadr failed in their battle to avoid the drop by finishing bottom of the table and getting relegated to the Ardal Leagues for the following season.
Radnorshire: Llandrindod Wells
The sparsely-populated Radnorshire or Sir Faesyfed does not have any teams competing within the top two tiers of Welsh football, with their best-performing team being Llandrindod Wells who play in the third-tier Ardal South East league. The Spamen (named after the town’s history of being a spa town) have mainly played the majority of their recent history in Wales’ third tier, albeit with some occasional appearances at the second tier. They last played at the higher level in the 2014-15 season when they competed in the Cymru Alliance, although they finished in fifteenth position and were subsequently relegated.
For the 2021-22 season, Llandrindod finished comfortably in mid-table with 44 points accumulated from their thirty league games to conclude the Ardal SW season in eighth position in the league. They also finished ahead of their local county rivals Rhayader Town, who finished the season in fourteenth position in the Ardal SE league and occupied one of the three relegation spots.
Brecknockshire: Brecon Corries
Alas, there were no Sir Frycheiniog or Brecknockshire-based clubs competing in the top three tiers of the Welsh pyramid for the 2021-22 season. The highest level that teams from the historic county were playing at was in the fourth-tiered Mid Wales League East Division. In this regional league that covers the whole of Powys, two of Brecknockshire’s top clubs occupied the top two spots in the league and earned themselves promotion to the Ardal Leagues. Initially, it looked as if Builth Wells would take the league title after they managed to win 19 of their league games and scored an incredible 114 goals from their league campaign (an average of 4,75 goals per game).
However, in their final match of the season, Brecon Corinthians (more commonly known as Brecon Corries) overtook their title and county rivals to clinch the MWL East Division title with a 5-0 away victory over Llansantffraid Village. The Corries achieved 20 victories from their 24 league games to accumulate 62 points and win the league by 2 points ahead of Builth Wells.
Ceredigion: Aberystwyth Town
Unsurprisingly, Aberystwyth Town finished as Ceredigion’s highest-placed team in the Welsh pyramid with the Seasiders being the county’s sole representative once more in the Cymru Premier for the 2021-22 season. Historically, they are the central-west Welsh county’s strongest team with Aberystwyth being the only club from Ceredigion to have won the Welsh Cup way back in 1900 by beating Druids 3-0, and becoming the first club from mid-Wales to clinch Welsh football’s oldest competition. In addition, the Park Avenue club has played in European competitions on three separate occasions, most recently in the 2014-15 season when they played Derry City in the UEFA Europa League.
This season, the Green and Blacks initially endured a tough start to the campaign that saw the club threatened with a potential relegation from the top division for the first time in their history. However, a spirited fightback in the second phase of the season ensured that Aberystwyth Town maintained their ever-presence in the top flight by finishing in eighth position in the league, and just two points behind the seventh-placed side Cardiff Met University and missing out on the end of season playoffs.
The second-best performing side from the county is Penrhyncoch, who competed in the Cymru North for the 2021-22 season. The Roosters have played at this level for the past six seasons, often finishing either mid-table or lower half of the table, and this season they continued that trend when they finished in ninth position with a points tally of 35 points from their 28 league games.
So that completes the initial delve into finding out which clubs are currently the best teams from each of the two central counties of Wales. The next part of the series will look at the southwestern counties of Wales to find out which clubs are currently the most successful in those counties.