WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

First-ever goal

The first-ever goal in the League of Wales was scored by Duncan Andrew of Caersws in a 3-2 defeat at Aberystwyth, but the fastest goal on opening day was scored by Mitch Patton in a 2-1 Afan Lido win over Connah's Quay Nomads, a game which kicked-off 30 minutes later on 15 August 1992.

Highest attendance

Highest-ever attendance at a Welsh Premier game is the 2,746 who watched Barry Town play Caernarfon Town at Jenner Park on Boxing Day 1997.

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Bangor City won the league twice in its early days.

THE first national football league to encompass teams from the whole of the principality, the League of Wales was formed in 1992.
It was a long-standing dream of the Football Association of Wales to have its own national league and many would agree that its formation was long overdue.
However, better late than never, 19 clubs embarked on the inaugural campaign on 15 August 1992, sponsored by Konica Peter Llewellyn Limited of Swansea.

Barry Town
Barry Town dominated the league until their relegation in 2004.

After a very exciting championship race, Cwmbran Town, managed by Tony Wilcox, pipped Inter Cardiff for the title and became the first League of Wales club to play in Europe when they took on Cork City in the Uefa Champions Cup in August 1993.
The Crows won the first leg at home 3-2, but lost 2-1 in Cork and were eliminated on the away goals rule.
Bangor City won the title for the next two seasons in 1993/1994, Inter Cardiff being again runners-up. That title was decided when City won their final league match 2-0 at Porthmadog in front of a then record crowd of 2,400.
Afan Lido finished runners-up the following season, having made an impact on the league by winning the cup competition in 1992/1993 and 1993/1994. The Aberavon-based outfit were unfortunately relegated at the end of 1995/1996, only to gain promotion back into the league two years later.
The next four campaigns were dominated by Barry Town, who won the championship on four consecutive occasions and the League Cup, by then sponsored by James Gilbert Limited.
Three times the Dragons, under the guidance of player/coach Gary Barnett, were almost unbeatable domestically. They also enjoyed an excellent European campaign in 1996, beating FC Dinaburg from Latvia and Visutas Budapest from Hungary, before going down 6-4 on aggregate to Aberdeen. Over 6,000 people attended the second leg at Jenner Park.
League runners-up during the four years of Barry Town dominance included Newtown in 1995/96 and 1997/1998 and Inter Cable Tel in 1996/1997 and 1998/1999.
Barry's long reign as champions came to an end at the close of the 1999/2000 campaign when they lost 2-0 at Connah's Quay, making Total Network Solutions (formerly Llansantffraid FC) only the fourth club to win the coveted league title.
In the summer of 2001 Barry became the first League of Wales club to win a UEFA Champions League tie when they defeated FC Shamkir from Azerbaijan.
The Dragons regained the league crown the following season and retained it for the next two years, before dramatically being relegated in 2003/4, when Rhyl were crowned champions for the first time and also won the Loosemores Challenge Cup.
Total Network Solutions won the title (and the Welsh Cup) the following season and went on to play reigning champions Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League, while Carmarthen Town and Rhyl both won first qualifying round Uefa Cup ties.
TNS retained the league title in 2006, adding the Challenge Cup to complete the double, and were again crowned champions in 2007 (as The New Saints) when they became only the second domestic league club (after Barry Town) to win the FAW Premier Cup.
Llanelli claimed the title for the first time in 2008 after going full-time, with Rhyl claiming the trophy for the second time a year later.
The league has seen numerous players move into English competitions over the years, notably Mark Delaney from Carmarthen Town to Aston Villa via Cardiff City, Andy Cooke (Newtown to Burnley), Lee Trundle (Rhyl to Swansea via Wrexham), Eifion Williams (Barry to Torquay), Owain Tudor Jones (Bangor to the Swans) and Gary Roberts (Welshpool to Rochdale). More recently, Steve Evans made the transition from TNS to Wrexham and the full Welsh international squad.

Barry Town
Eifion Williams - a goal a game in the Welsh Premier.

Williams (pictured), who was a prolific goalscorer in the League of Wales, moved from Caernarfon to Barry for £25,000, and was unchallenged as the league's leading marksman until his move to the West Country, where he scored a hat-trick on his debut at Plainmoor.
Marc Lloyd Williams took over the mantle and became the first league player to score 300 goals in season 2008/9.
Only three clubs - Aberystwyth Town, Bangor City and Newtown - of the original membership have played in all 22 seasons, while four founder members - Afan Lido, Haverfordwest County, Llanelli and Porthmadog - have fought their way back after relegation at one time or another.
Colin Reynolds, who no longer plays in the league, currently holds the record for League appearances with more than 500.
The biggest shake-up of the league took place in 2010 when the membership was reduced from 18 to 12 clubs, which saw founder members Caersws and Connah's Quay relegated to the Cymru Alliance, along with Cefn Druids, Porthmadog, Rhyl and Welshpool.

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22 October 2017

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