Clwb Pêl Droed Tref Caernarfon / Caernarfon Town Football Club
- Town: Caernarfon, Gwynedd
- Founded: 1937
- Ground: The Oval (3,000)
- Nicknames: The Canaries; Cofis
- Colours: Yellow shirts with green trim, green shorts, and yellow socks.
- 2022-23 League: Cymru Premier
- Club Website: https://www.caernarfontownfc.co.uk/
- Club Twitter: @CaernarfonTown
- Club Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaernarfonTownFC
- Club Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/caernarfontown/
- Best League Finish: 4th in the League of Wales / Welsh Premier League / Cymru Premier (3 times)
- Best Welsh Cup Finish: Semi-Finals (4 times)
- Cymru Alliance
- Champions (3): 2000-01, 2015-16, 2017-18
- Cymru Alliance League Cup
- Winners (4): 2000-01, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17
- FAW Trophy
- Winners (2): 1977-78, 2012-13
- Welsh League North / Welsh Alliance League Division One
- Champions (6): 1939-40, 1946-47, 1965-66, 1977-78, 1978-79, 2012-13
- Cookson Cup
- Winners (1): 2012-13
- Lancashire Combination
- Champions (1): 1981-82
- Lancashire Combination Cup
- Winners (1): 1980-81
Caernarfon Town Football Club / Clwb Pêl-Droed Tref Caernarfon is a supporters-owned North Welsh club that currently plays in the Cymru Premier, the national top-tier league in the Welsh football pyramid. They are based in the historic castle town of Caernarfon (historically spelt Caernarvon or Carnarvon), located on the northern coast of the northwestern county of Gwynedd. Situated next to the Afon Seiont, and at the crucially strategic point of the western entrance to the Menai Strait, as well as overlooking Ynys Môn / Isle of Anglesey, the town was archaically the site of the Roman fort of Segontium before becoming an important location as part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Following the English invasion of Gwynedd in the late 13th century, the imposing Caernarfon Castle was constructed and became the seat of royal power in North Wales. Today, the ruins of the castle remain and are a major tourist attraction, becoming part of the “Castles and Town Wales in Gwynedd” UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Caernarfon is also a hugely important cultural town in Wales by having the highest percentage of fluent Welsh speakers of any town in the country (having a population of just under 10k), with people from the town called “Cofis” and having their own Cymraeg dialect. The town is also considered one of the strongholds for modern Welsh identity and the quickly growing independence movement.
Caernarfon Town currently plays its home games at the 3,000-capacity, 600-seater Oval ground which is located in the south of the town and near the ruins of the Segontium Roman fort. Caernarfon Town has played at The Oval since their foundation in 1937 with football being played on the ground since the late 19th century. Caernarvon Wanderers started playing at the site as early as 1888 before Carnarvon Ironopolis, Caernavon Celts, Caernarvon Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Carnarvon United, and Caernarvon Athletic all used the ground as their home prior to the current Caernarfon club becoming The Oval’s owners in the late interwar period.
As mentioned previously, Caernarfon Town was founded in 1937 by local football enthusiasts who wanted to bring football back to the northwestern town following the demise of Caernarvon Athletic a few years previously. They entered the Welsh League North that year and would spend the next 39 years competing in the regional northern league, winning two of their three league titles either side of the Second World War with their third coming in the 1965-66 season. Internal problems meant they had to resign from the league in 1976 but soon returned the following season to then amazingly win the next two consecutive titles, as well as picking up the 1978 FAW Intermediate Cup (now the FAW Trophy) after being Llanidloes Town 1-0. However, by the start of the 1980s, Caernarfon were granted permission to compete in the English system and moved across to play in the Lancashire Combination, before eventually progressing to the North West Counties League and then the Northern Premier League (the then sixth-tier of English football). The highlight of their time in the English system was the 1986-87 FA Cup run which saw the club reach the Third Round proper. After progressing through four qualifying rounds, the Cofis defeated Football League sides Stockport County and York City (following a replay) in the First and Second Rounds respectively before facing Second Division Barnsley in the next round. They managed a goalless draw at The Oval but lost the away replay by a single goal to end their memorial cup campaign.
Following the creation of the League of Wales in 1992, Caernarfon Town were one of the “Irate Eight” who refused to kowtow to FAW demands for their mandatory return to the Welsh pyramid and suffered an unlawful exile placed upon them as a result. However, following mediocre performances in the Northern Premier League during the early 1990s, they decided to return to Welsh football in 1995 and joined the League of Wales. Initially, the move back to Wales seemed promising with the club achieving a sixth-place finish in their debut season before a league-high fourth position in the 1996-97 campaign. Sadly, by the end of the decade, Caernarfon’s fortunes and finances suffered badly as they experienced relegation in 2000 after finishing bottom of the table with just one league win all season. They soon returned back to the top flight after just one season as Cymru Alliance champions and continued to compete in the Welsh Premier League for the next eight seasons albeit without much success. The highest league placement during this period was a ninth-place placement in the 2003-04 season.
Unfortunately, financial problems reoccurred towards the end of the 2000s as the club’s fate became very precarious. Caernarfon experienced back-to-back relegations as they slumped from the WPL to the Welsh Alliance League Division 1 but were crucially saved from extinction when a group of club officials and supporters took control of the club and secured their future. The Canaries consolidated their position in the third tier for three seasons, building together a squad of talented local players, before the resurrection of the club commenced. They achieved a treble-winning season by clinching the Welsh Alliance Division One title in the 2012-13 season, as well as winning the Cookson Cup and their second FAW Trophy (comprehensively beating Kilvey Fords 6-0 at Newtown) to return back to the Cymru Alliance. Having returned back to the second tier, the club became one of the strongest in the league finishing no lower than third place in their five-season stay at that level. Caernarfon initially won the Cymru Alliance title in 2016 but had their promotion denied after having their Tier 1 licence application rejected by the FAW. Thankfully, their long-awaited return to the top tier was granted in 2018 when the club won their third Cymru Alliance title and acquired a Tier 1 licence to return back to the top flight after a nine-season hiatus.
Since their promotion in 2018, Caernarfon Town have constantly exceeded expectations in the Cymru Premier by finishing in the top six in their first four seasons of their tenure, and equalling their best league placement of fourth spot on two occasions (most recently in the 2021-22 season). Alas, despite their high league finishes, the Cofis have been unable to qualify for European competition by often failing in the end-of-season European playoffs. They lost 2-3 at home to Cardiff Met University in the 2019 semi-finals, and 1-3 to Barry Town United in the 2021 semi-finals, whilst missing out on a European place in 2020 via the points-per-game ratio as the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caernarfon finally managed to win the playoffs in 2022 after beating Cardiff Met in the semis, and then Flint Town United in the final, but they would not be qualifying for Europe as Wales had only three European spots that season. That meant the playoff winner would play in the following year’s Scottish Challenge Cup as one of the two Welsh guest teams.
The 2022-23 season for Caernarfon Town has probably been their toughest yet since their return to the top tier of Welsh football. They lost 0-1 to Clyde FC in the Scottish Challenge Cup Third Round and finished outside of the top six for the first time since returning in 2018, battling against potential relegation towards the end of the season and eventually finished in ninth position, just four points safe of the drop. Despite having one of the biggest partisan fanbases in Welsh football, Caernarfon Town will have one of the smaller budgets in the league as they go into their sixth consecutive season in the Cymru Premier. However, under newly-appointed and popular manager Richard “Fish” Davies, the Cofis will be hoping to exceed the pundits’ predictions once again going into the 2023-24 schedule.
To talk about one of the best-supported sides within the Cymru Premier which has been a superb addition to the top flight since their promotion in 2018, we spoke to the very excellent Cofi Army Twitter account. They are an unofficial multi-log-in fan account that provides the Cofi fans’ own opinions of everything going on at Caernarfon Town. To find out more about them, you can find their social media channels in the links below:
- Twitter: @Cofiarmy
Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Caernarfon Town?
I remember going as a boy to the (English) F.A. Cup games of 86/87- Caernarfon had a great run [reaching the third round by beating Football League sides Stockport County and York City en route before losing a replay to Barnsley 0-1], so I guess it started from there. A lot of the lads carried on following Town through the ‘exile’ years, and then we joined the ‘League Of Wales’. Safe to say there’s been a lot of ups and downs being a Cofi football supporter!
Q. From your time following the club, who has been your favourite player, and what is the reasoning behind your choice?
Obviously, there have been a lot of great players, too many to single out, so I’ll say that every player that stayed and played for the Town when we were at the point of folding will be my favourites. Without them, we wouldn’t have a ‘Caernarfon Town’ to support. They gave us time to reset and push on to where we are now!
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?
Dion Donohue [29-year-old left back/midfielder and captain of the club] is like a ‘Rolls-Royce’ when he’s fit, I’ve always seen Noah Edwards [26-year-old central midfielder] as an adopted Cofi, who works his socks off for the badge, Josh Tibbets [24-years-old] is a brilliant keeper who made some important saves this season. We’ve not really got a ‘best player’, we just like the ones that show up and give 100% for the club!
Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
Most definitely, Osian Evans [16-year-old centre forward], we hope we get to see more of him and a few other talents from the U-19s in the near future. It was great seeing our ex-player Gwion Dafydd [18-year-old centre forward who left Caernarfon in the summer of 2022] succeeding on his journey with The New Saints!
Q. Who would you regard as Caernarfon’s biggest or historical rivals?
Bangor and Bangor.
Q. What would you say has been the best game, result, or performance from your time following the club?
God, there’s been so much! The away games against Rhayader Town and Airbus UK Broughton from our promotion season to the Welsh Premier League. We were down to 10 or 9 men against Rhayader and losing 1-0, but came back to win the game 2-1. I think Jay Gibbs scored the winner. At Airbus away, we were down 3-0 at half-time but came back to draw 3-3 in Sean Eardley’s first game as manager. Our Welsh Cup runs have been great too; T.N.S (the wall), Rhyl – injury-time winner, the Semi Final against Bala Town (robbed!)… there’s been a fair few good games!
Q. What do you think of the situation in Welsh league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?
I think everyone agrees that the format is not working! Crowds are significantly larger in Tier 2 and 3, and that really shouldn’t be the case. People say to try a summer league, open the league to more teams, split the league into North / South regional Premier Leagues with the winners and runners-up playing in playoffs for Europe! Not sure to be honest, we’ll just have to see what happens from the meetings that have been going on!!
Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this season has gone so far?
Let’s be honest, we haven’t had the best of seasons. I think we are struggling financially to keep up with other clubs. Our board and volunteers do a fantastic job but we’d do anything for a ‘Rob and Ryan’ to take an interest in the club. It’s the same clubs getting the European money every season so the gap from the top six to the bottom six is getting bigger. Supporter-ran clubs will struggle in this league nowadays. If you’d be honest, we’ve punched far above our weight, we have been many pundits’ favourites to go down from the start!
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?
The many, many, many ups and downs every season, it ages you terribly!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Caernarfon Town?
My hopes are that we find some financial backers that can push this club forward and help the board get the players we need to stay in this league, improve the facilities at the club, and start looking after the younger generation of supporters coming through the gate. Caernarfon Town is an integral part of our Town and culture, and we are going to have one of our toughest seasons this year, especially with Barry Town United and Colwyn Bay coming up into the Premier. They’re two strong teams that are well-backed and look to have some financial clout behind them. One thing is for sure, we’ll back the Fish [manager Richard Davies] and his team 100%! Up the Town!
A massive thank you to the Cofi Army for answering our questions on the Cymru Premier side Caernarfon Town. Remember you can find their social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.
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