Gwynedd Football League history
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s football administrators continually attempted to persuade clubs in the area leagues to seek higher status in Division I of the Welsh League (Northern Section) but had little success.
Area Leagues such as Anglesey League, Caernarfon & District League and the Vale of Conway League were regarded as Division III of the Welsh League; there was no Division II. The Area Leagues were all financially sound, well administered, thriving competitive Leagues; successful clubs were happy to be “big fish in small pools” and were unwilling to venture into the higher League and its extra financial demands. Supporters were also content to have their club battling it out season after season against the same opponents with the N.W.C.F.A. Junior Cup being the top prize. This was the period when clubs such as Bethesda Athletic, Llanberis, Llanfairpwll, Llanrug United and Machno United dominated the area league football in Gwynedd.
In Clwyd the former Dyserth League and Halkyn League had amalgamated to form three divisions of a new Clwyd Football League. Having a similar set-up in Gwynedd had proved unacceptable to the area leagues, but their management committees responded positively when the forming of a totally separate league as a Division II of the Welsh League was mooted.
A Steering Committee comprising representatives from the Welsh League (Northern Section) and all the area leagues in Gwynedd was formed and approaches were made to successful area league clubs with adequate facilities, but few were interested in membership of the proposed league. An open invitation to all clubs in Gwynedd proved to be more successful, and steering committee meetings were held in April and May 1983, which resulted in the Management committee of the Welsh League (Northern Section) deciding to form a Gwynedd League.
The Steering Committee proceeded to hold a meeting at the Menai Bridge Tigers Sports and Recreation Club, Wood Street, Menai Bridge on Tuesday, 23rd June 1983, and the Gwynedd Football League was born. Admitted into the membership were Benllech & District, Bethesda Athletic, Conwy United, Llandudno Amateurs, Llanfairpwll, Menai Bridge Tigers, Porthmadog and Y Felinheli. Robert Owen of Llanddoged (Chairman of the Vale of Conwy League) was elected chairman of the new league and requested to form a Management Committee and elect administration officers as soon as possible. The first Management Committee of the Gwynedd League was held at the board room of Bangor City F.C. on Tuesday, 19th July 1983, and the club representatives appointed R. Brian Jones (Penygroes) as Secretary, J. 0. Hughes (Rhostrehwfa) as Treasurer and Robert Edwards (Llangefni) as Registration Secretary.
Gwyn Pierce Owen (Pentraeth) was to be responsible for appointing referees.
League fixtures commenced on Saturday 20th August, 1983, but internal problems at Portmadog led to the club withdrawing from the League without playing a single match. When the students returned to College in October, Bangor University accepted an invitation to replace Portmadog as founder members of the League.
The League’s founder President, Mr Trevor Owen of Bangor donated a league championship trophy which was won in the League’s opening season by Y Felinheli, who withstood the challenge of Llanfairpwll to take the title by the smallest possible margin, one single goal.
The N.W.C.F.A. invited the League to field a representative team in the revived Tucker Shield competition staged at The Oval, Llandudno, on Saturday, 24th March, 1984. Mr Bryan Owen of Llanfairpwll F.C. was appointed team manager and after thrilling matches with the Clwyd League and the Anglesey Area, the magnificent shield was won by the Gwynedd League.
At the end-of-season presentation evening much satisfaction was expressed with the standard of the league and the following season was anticipated with relish. But it was not to be. The standards set proved to be too high and the anticipated flood of membership applications did not materialize. Area League clubs felt unable to compete with the clubs in membership. Menai Bridge Tigers resigned because of financial difficulties.
The Welsh League (Northern Section) endeavoured to form a new Welsh Alliance League to include clubs from North East Wales and Central Wales, but failed to attract sufficient clubs. Realising the Gwynedd League would be unable to provide enough matches, champions Y Felinheli and runners-up Llanfairpwll opted for the new Welsh Alliance League. Bangor University, Bethesda Athletic and Conwy United followed suit once they realised there was no hope of attracting ample clubs to the Gwynedd League, but all five clubs participated in a limited League programme and in the Cwpan Gwynedd and Eryri Shield competitions.
Although the League organised no competitions during season 1985-86 the League Management Committee continued to make plans for the following season, and with a much less demanding ground criteria nine clubs were attracted into membership. Locomotive Llanberis emerged as champions with the other clubs finishing in this order:- Llanrug United, Coleg Normal, Machno United, Harlech Town, Llanerchymedd, Bangor University, Llanfairpwll and Conwy United.
The League continued to grow in successive seasons but it was still Division II of the Welsh Alliance League, the umbrella body for all Leagues in the area of the N.W.C.F.A. All rule amendments had to be confirmed by the A.G.M. of the Alliance League all appeals against League Management Committee decisions were made to the Alliance League.
At an historic A.G.M. at Penmachno in July 1988 the Gwynedd League clubs supported a Management Committee decision to break away from the Welsh Alliance League and become independent. But the change of rules had to be sanctioned by the N.W.C.F.A. The Association deferred a decision several times, but on 21st September 1988, on the casting vote of the President, the N.W.C.F.A. Council refused to even consider the ratification of Gwynedd League Rule Amendments, despite a plea from the league’s representative that certain amendments had no bearing on the league’s decision to be independent.
An appeal was made to the F.A.W. whose commission had to sit twice before ruling that the Gwynedd League had acted perfectly properly in breaking away from their parent body, the Welsh Alliance League - and they could stay independent. This decision justified the stand made by the Gwynedd League Management Committee.
The F.A.W. ruled that “The leagues in the N.W.C.F.A. area shall register only with the area associated and shall not affiliate to any other league.”
This gave the all clear to the remaining leagues - Clwyd, Anglesey, Caernarfon & District and the Vale of Conwy - to break their links with the Welsh Alliance and they too became independent leagues, able to manage their own affairs without having to be answerable to another league.
With a stable management committee, now Presided over by the irrepressible Gwyn Pierce Owen, the League has now established itself in the fourth level of the Welsh pyramid system. Champions regularly move up into the Welsh Alliance whilst the Anglesey and Caernarfon & District League are well respected feeder leagues from below.
In 2003 the Gwynedd League accepted the clubs from the wound-up Vale of Conwy League as a second division the remnants of whom were absorbed into the top division in 2004.

Source: Article provided by Gwynedd League Chairman Bob Owen for "A Coast of Soccer Memories 1894-1994" by Gareth M Davies.
Additional material: Mel Thomas