A crowd of just under 2,000 for a modern-day tier-three of the Welsh pyramid Barritt Cup quarter-final tie – it had to be a very special occasion!
And it was indeed, as a huge turnout crammed into The Oval on a Friday night for a thrilling first derby clash between the illustrious Caernarfon Town and new kids on the block Caernarfon Wanderers back in the 2010-11 season.
No less than 1,927 spectators ensured Town’s famous ground attracted the second highest gate of any football match in Wales that weekend, and dwarfed the crowds at flagship Welsh Premier games.
Town were coping with a difficult stage in their history, having dropped down to level-three Welsh Alliance Division One after being relegated from the Welsh Premier League two seasons previously.
Ambitious Wanderers had won the Caernarfon and District League Division Two and Division One titles back-to-back before gaining promotion from the Gwynedd League in 2009/10, rising to Welsh Alliance Division Two, of which they were also to finish champions at the end of 2010-11.
So here we were on Friday, March 18, 2011, for one of Caernarfon’s biggest football nights in years.
Cup fever had well and truly gripped the town.
Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes to allow fans into the ground, and it was the lower league Wanderers who were first out of the blocks.
The Welsh Alliance Division Two side grabbed two goals in the first 10 minutes through Jonathan Sadler and Dylan Peters.
As the first half wore on, though, the Canaries’ brand of passing football started to gain a foothold, and they were rewarded with goals in quick succession from Geraint Mitchell and Craig Green.
With The Oval turnout at its highest since the glory days of John King’s FA Cup heroes of 1986/87, Town forged into the lead with a Kevin Lloyd strike.
And just on the stroke of half time Gareth Roberts netted the fourth for the hosts to end a breathless first 45.
The second half was a calmer affair, the Canaries becoming increasingly dominant in possession, and squeezing the Wanderers in their own half.
The visitors were restricted to only sporadic breaks as fitness and size of the pitch took their toll on Wanderers’ committed style of play.
Despite some close calls, no further goals were scored, with Town gaining the bragging rights from a memorable evening.
Canaries then-chairman Arfon Jones said after the game: “I’m absolutely delighted for the committee of this great club to get such a fantastic turnout for this game.
“I also thank both teams for playing the game in a manner fitting the occasion and would like to wish Caernarfon Wanderers all the best for the rest of the season, and hope to welcome them back at The Oval next year.”
Caernarfon Town went on to win the Barritt Cup, beating Nefyn in the final, but remained in Division One.
Wanderers lifted the Division Two crown by a point from Bodedern to set up two town derbies the following 2011/12 season.
Town won them both, 2-0 at The Oval and 4-0 away, finishing fourth in Division One, while Wanderers ended up bottom and disbanded.
In 2012/13, Town went on to land a treble under Lee Dixon of Welsh Alliance title, Cookson Cup and FAW Trophy, beginning a glorious path back to the Welsh Premier this term.
- Massive thanks to author and keen football historian Alex Philp for his assistance with this article