North Wales football’s greatest stories: No3 Caernarfon Town – 1986/87 FA Cup glory
Caernarfon Town’s 1986-87 FA Cup squad along with manager John King and officials.

It was back in 1986/87 that Caernarfon Town put North Wales well and truly in the spotlight by reaching the third round of the FA Cup, knocking out two Football League clubs and pushing another to the very limit along the way.

Under the managership of John King, the Canaries defeated Stockport County of the Fourth Division 1-0 at The Oval in the first round, Austin Salmon scoring the only goal.

Then after drawing 0-0 at home with Third Division York City in round two, the Cofis celebrated a famous 2-1 victory at Bootham Crescent in the replay, Salmon again and Steve Craven on target.

The third round brought a tie with Second Division mid-table outfit Barnsley and again the Canaries upset the form book by holding the Tykes 0-0 at The Oval before narrowly losing the replay 1-0 at Oakwell.

Just to get to the first round proper Caernarfon, who finished third in the Northern Premier League Premier Division that season, had to progress through four qualifying stages.

It all began on September 13, 1986, with a 2-0 home triumph over fellow NPL club Marine in a first round qualifier and this was followed by a 3-1 success at Winsford United.

On October 11, 1986, the Canaries convincingly won 4-1 at Eastwood Town in the third qualifying stage and a place in the first round proper was booked with a 3-2 result at Chester-le-Street Town.

Included in the Caernarfon squad this season was Ray Woods, who went on to play for Coventry in the top tier of English football, the Sky Blues paying £200,000 to sign him, and also turned out for Wigan Athletic, Tranmere Rovers and a host of non-league clubs.

Craven, who netted in all four qualifying rounds, bagged seven goals in the competition as a whole, while strike partner Salmon hit five.

Caernarfon’s feat was magnificent, but as for North Wales non-league teams progressing furthest in the FA Cup, Rhyl went one better by advancing to the fourth round in 1956/57.

Caernarfon Town’s path to the FA Cup third round proper 1986-87

First qualifying round – Sep 13, 1986

Caernarfon Town 2 (Austin Salmon, Steve Craven) Marine 0

Second qualifying round – Sep 27, 1986

Winsford United 1 Caernarfon Town 3 (Salmon, Craven, Stuart Clynch)

Third qualifying round – Oct 11, 1986

Eastwood Town 1 Caernarfon Town 4 (Craven 2, Salmon, Phil Wilson)

Fourth qualifying round – Oct 25, 1986

Chester-le-Street Town 2 Caernarfon Town 3 (Craven 2, Kenny Jones)

First round proper – Nov 11, 1986

Caernarfon Town 1 (Austin Salmon) Stockport County 0

Team: Russ Hughes, Dave Higgins, Glyn Griffiths, Kenny Jones, Huw Williams, Dave Martindale, Dave Wignall, Ray Woods, Robyn Jones, Steve Craven, Austin Salmon. Subs: Stuart Clynch, Ian Cockbain.

Second round proper – Dec 6, 1986

Caernarfon Town 0 York City 0

Team: Russ Hughes, Dave Higgins, Glyn Griffiths, Kenny Jones, Huw Williams, Dave Martindale, Dave Wignall, Ray Woods, Phil Wilson, Steve Craven, Austin Salmon. Subs: Robyn Jones, Stuart Clynch.

Replay – Dec 9, 1986

York City 1 Caernarfon Town 2 (Austin Salmon, Steve Craven)

Team: Russ Hughes, Dave Higgins, Glyn Griffiths, Kenny Jones, Huw Williams, Dave Martindale, Dave Wignall, Ray Woods, Robyn Jones, Steve Craven, Austin Salmon. Subs: Phil Wilson, Ian Cockbain.

Third round proper – Jan 10, 1987

Caernarfon Town 0 Barnsley 0

Team:  Russ Hughes, Robyn Jones, Glyn Griffiths, Dave Higgins, Kenny Jones, Dave Martindale, Bobby Tynan, Ray Woods, Phil Wilson, Steve Craven, Austin Salmon. Subs: Stuart Clynch, Ian Cockbain.

Replay – Jan 26, 1987

Barnsley 1 Caernarfon Town 0

Team: Russ Hughes, Dave Higgins, Glyn Griffiths, Kenny Jones, Huw Williams, Bobby Tynan, Dave Wignall, Ray Woods, Phil Wilson, Steve Craven, Austin Salmon. Sub: Robyn Jones.

  • Many thanks again to Alex Philp for his help with this article and all-things Caernarfon Town. You can read much more about this FA Cup run in Alex’s book C’mon the Town – twelve memorable seasons which is available from the club.
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