FAW National League Awards: Hear from the winners

At Saturday night’s FAW National League Awards, it was Sion Bradley who was crowned the JD Cymru Premier Player of the Season.

Bradley’s contributions helped guide Caernarfon into Europe for the first time in their history, and although he is now moving on to pastures new with The New Saints, this past season will remain a highlight for him and he was thankful to everyone at The Oval for their support over the years.

“It’s definitely the cherry on top of what has been a great season with Caernarfon,” Bradley said. “We achieved what we wanted to do at the start of the season, and people did write us off, but it’s amazing for the people of Caernarfon to get their European adventure. 

“I want to thank the Caernarfon fans more than anything. They’ve been great with me for the past six to seven years, and I’ve had nothing but lovely messages from them since I announced I was leaving, so thank you so much to them.”

In the JD Cymru North, Flint Town United forward Elliott Reeves took home the Player of the Season award. A staggering 30 goals in 29 games for the striker in his first season in Welsh football helped the Silkmen to a second-place finish. Reeves feels like he has adapted well to life over the border and is looking forward to seeing what the squad can do next year.

“I feel like I’ve adapted well to Welsh football having played in England my whole career prior to joining this season. Flint have had a great squad from the start of the campaign, and we took some time to get going and gel, but once we did, we went from strength to strength, followed Holywell all the way, and we’ve had a great season.”

Briton Ferry forward Luke Bowen claimed the Player of the Season award in the JD Cymru South, after a season where he scored 29 goals. Over his last three seasons, Bowen has found the net 71 times, a remarkable achievement for any forward. The veteran doesn’t believe there’s a secret to his success but praised his teammates for their hard work.

“I don’t know if there’s an actual secret to scoring goals, it’s just about looking after yourself more than anything. I’ve got a great team around me, some great players, because if they’re not passing the ball, you can’t score anything. It’s a mixture of Briton Ferry being a really good club and also a lot of luck and a little bit of skill!”

It’s been an unforgettable season for TNS, and the man who’s been at the helm for all of it has been Craig Harrison, who took home the JD Cymru Premier Manager of the Season award. An unbeaten season felt like a pipedream for Harrison not so long ago, but now having achieved it, he’s delighted for everyone involved with the club.

“Going unbeaten has been perfect, and the manner in which we’ve done it too is really impressive. We didn’t go and draw nine or ten games; we drew two and won 30 which is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved with the football club. 

“We went close the year before but lost to Cardiff Met, but if you look at it across the last 64 league games, we’ve only lost once. The consistency and the drive from myself, the staff, the players is all aligned. We all want to improve. For me personally, it’s a fantastic achievement, but the players deserve all the credit.”

Holywell Town had a season to remember as they lifted the JD Cymru North title, and it was their manager Johnny Haseldin who was awarded the Manager of the Season. A run of 18 wins in their final 19 league games was a sign of just how hard the Wellmen worked this campaign, and Haseldin is delighted all the work has paid off.

“We had a lot of momentum from the previous season, and so it’s been a real process where we’ve gradually got stronger over the last few campaigns. We felt if we could tighten up the start, then we could do something, because we’re always strong in the middle of the year and motor after new year. 

“The confidence grew, and a lot of credit has to go to the players. It was almost like autopilot in the second half of the season. The lads came in full of confidence, and not knowing what it felt like to get beat. They stayed hungry and got what they deserved in the end.”

In the JD Cymru South, it was Caerau Ely’s Dean Wheeler who was crowned Manager of the Season. After a shaky start, Wheeler turned things around and managed his young team to a superb fifth-place finish in their first season in the second tier. Wheeler knows the second season will be harder but is confident his side can push towards new levels.

“For us, we want to continue our upward trajectory. The team is going to get better. It will be only our second season in the Cymru South, and previously, teams have struggled when they go into that second season in the second tier. But equally, we’re hungry for success. 

“We’ve got a young squad who are highly motivated, and as a group of staff, we’re constantly looking to improve, and we want to challenge at the top end of the league. We have confidence in what we’re doing, and this season is just the start for us.”

To the Young Player of the Season awards now, and in the JD Cymru Premier, it was TNS’ Brad Young who won the prize.

Coming across from Aston Villa last season, Young wasted no time in making an impact on the league. His 22 league goals saw him win the Golden Boot award too, as he capped off a fine first season in Wales.

It was another TNS affiliated player who won the award in the JD Cymru North. Josh Lock spent the season on loan at Denbigh Town and really thrived for the newly promoted side. Lock, admittedly, didn’t know what to expect when he initially joined the club, but has credited the players and staff for his wonderful campaign.

“I didn’t really envisage having the season that I would go on to have with Denbigh. I wanted to go there and do the best that I can to try and kick them on in the league, especially as they got promoted last season. I wanted to do all I could to help Denbigh out, and it went from one step to the next. All the lads at Denbigh, the coaching staff, the fans have been really good, and I’ve really enjoyed my time there this season.”

Trefelin’s Roan Piper took home the Young Player of the Season award in the JD Cymru South. Piper scored six goals last year, but tripled his tally to 18 this season, as he finished fifth in the race for the golden boot. The striker made a point of wanting to work harder this year and is overjoyed to see that his efforts have paid off this campaign.

“A lot has to go down to the management of the club. I felt like it was a big jump this season, and I really knew I had to knuckle down and work hard. The commitment and hard work I put in, I knew it would pay off at some point, and I’m happy to see where it’s taken me this year. Next season now, I want to push on even more and see where it takes me.”

Learn more from FA Wales

Sign up to receive all things FAW, from team news, tickets, domestic, grassroots, to exclusive offers and prize draws.

We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting your personal data – view our privacy policy by clicking here.