Who are the North Wales football club of the decade? There are many contenders…..

Caernarfon Town players celebrate winning the 2017-18 Huws Gray Alliance League title. Picture: CTFC website

Grassroots North Wales club of the Decade 2010-19: Caernarfon Town

At the start of the decade they almost folded, but at the end of it they are in their best shape for many a year.

The past 10 seasons have seen a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of Caernarfon Town Football Club.

From dropping into the third-tier Welsh Alliance League in 2010-11 to flying high in the top flight Cymru Premier in 2019-20 – the Canaries are an emphatic choice as Grassroots North Wales’ Club of the Decade.

Back in early 2010 things looked very grim at The Oval.

Languishing near the bottom of the Cymru Alliance, having lost their Welsh Premier status the previous season, Town were suspended from playing in all competitions for non-payment of fines to the Football Association of Wales.

It was feared the club was a mere week away from folding before a fans’ group – Friends of Caernarfon Town – stepped in with a rescue package and the Cofis saw out the season, albeit it ending with relegation to the Welsh Alliance.

The 2010-11 campaign saw Caernarfon begin the long road back to glory in the third-tier of Welsh football. Under new managers Steve Smith, Colin Saynor and Steven Bee, the Cofis finished third in the Welsh Alliance League and lifted the Barritt Cup, beating Nefyn United 2-1 in the final at Conwy.

Unfortunately, the Canaries failed to build on the previous season’s success and despite being regarded by many as favourites for the Welsh Alliance title in 2011/12, they eventually finished fourth.

Things were to change drastically in 2012-13 after Lee Dixon, who had led Llangefni Town to the Cymru Alliance championship in 2009-10, took charge at The Oval.

A treble-winning campaign saw Caernarfon win the Welsh Alliance title, Cookson Cup and the national FAW Trophy, where they recorded the biggest ever win in a final of 6-0 over South Walians Kilvey Fords.

Caernarfon Town were a joyous bunch after beating Bangor City in the 2013-14 NWCFA Challenge Cup final. Picture: CTFC website

On their return to the now named second-tier Huws Gray Alliance League, Caernarfon finished third in the table and also lifted the Huws Gray Cup and NWCFA Challenge Cup, beating Bangor City in the final.

Dixon scooped the Huws Gray Alliance Manager of the Season award after making it five trophies in two seasons in charge.

The 2014-15 season saw the Cofis finish runners-up in the Huws Gray Alliance. In a thrilling Welsh Cup tie at The Oval, Town led Welsh Premier champions The New Saints 2-0 only to end up 3-2 losers. The highlight of the tie was a wonder goal from Darren Thomas which six years on was named S4C Sgorio’s Goal of the Decade.

Dixon stepped down as manager at the end of the season to concentrate on work and family life.

Caernarfon continued to progress. Former Porthmadog and Llandudno player Iwan Williams was appointed manager and his first season at the helm was a roaring success as the Canaries won the 2015-16 Huws Gray Alliance League and Cup double.

Unfortunately, it ended in tears as due to their failure to secure a Domestic Licence, Town were unable to move up back to the Welsh Premier League.

In 2016-17, Williams stayed in charge at The Oval, but Caernarfon had to settle for runners-up in the HGA, finishing 16 points behind champions Prestatyn Town.

Another league cup success for Caernarfon Town. Picture: CTFC website

Nonetheless, the Cofis won the League Cup for the third time in four seasons and reached their first Welsh Cup semi-final since 1988, losing to Welsh Premier side Bala.

Caernarfon kicked off 2017-18 brilliantly, but manager Williams surprisingly departed in November 2017 to take over at Welsh Premier Llandudno.

Sean Eardley took charge at The Oval and the transition proved ultra smooth.

On April 14, 2018, the Canaries clinched promotion back to the Welsh Premier – this time having secured the mandatory Domestic Licence. 

A win at Llandudno Junction sealed the Cofis a second title CAL in three seasons – and a record third in all for the league since it was launched in 1990-91.

Eardley remained unbeaten in league games from the day he took charge.

Caernarfon line up after winning the 2017-18 Huws Gray Alliance championship. Picture: CTFC website

August 2018 saw Caernarfon play their first match in the Welsh Premier League after a 10-season absence since being relegated in 2008-09. The game delivered a 1-0 win over Cefn Druids.

Town’s comeback season was a great success as they finished fourth in the table, narrowly missing out on a first venture into Europe. The Canaries also matched their best-ever top-flight finish.

The current season has seen Caernarfon again perform well and they look a good bet to secure back-to-back top six places for the second phase of the 2019-20 campaign.

All hail the Club of the Decade.

Caernarfon Town honours 2010-19

Barritt Cup winners 2010-11
Welsh Alliance League winners 2012-13
Cookson Cup winners 2012-13
FAW Trophy winners 2012-13
Huws Gray Cup winners 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17
NWCFA Challenge Cup winners 2013-14
Huws Gray Alliance League winners 2015-16, 2017-18
Trophies won: 10

And let’s not forget the ladies…….

Caernarfon Town Ladies were unstoppable when they lifted the North Wales Women’s League title in 2016/17 and doubled up by winning the Betty Pickering Cup, beating Pwllheli 5-1 in the final. Picture: Dai Sinclair

Other contenders for Club of the Decade

Holywell Town

In 2013-14, Holywell Town made history by becoming the first third-tier club ever to reach the Welsh Cup semi-finals.

En route to the last four, where they lost 3-1 to Welsh Premier side Aberystwyth Town after taking the lead, the Wellmen of the Welsh Alliance knocked out three Huws Gray Alliance teams and Newtown of the WPL.

Holywell also won the national FAW Trophy twice during the decade – in 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Other honours won between 2010-19

2013/14 Cookson Cup winners

2014/15 Welsh Alliance Division One champions

2014/15 Barritt Cup winners

Connah’s Quay Nomads

The highlight of the decade for Nomads was surely winning the Welsh Cup for the first time in their history in 2017-18.

However, the dynamic Deesiders have also finished Welsh Premier runners-up twice, in 2016-17 and 2018-19, and scooped back-to-back Huws Gray Alliance titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Under manager Andy Morrison, who took over at Deeside Stadium in November 2015, Quay have also won two Europa League ties at the expense of Stabaek of Norway and Scottish Premier League outfit Kilmarnock.

They also won the first leg of their 2017-18 meeting with crack Finnish side HJK Helsinki.

And Nomads became the first team from outside Scotland to reach the Scottish Challenge Cup final last season, where they led against Ross County but eventually were beaten 3-1.

Bala Town

Welsh Cup winners 2016-17

Cymru Premier runners-up 2014-15, 2015-16

Cymru Premier League Cup runners-up 2013/14, 2015/16

Europa League play-off winners 2013/14

Won three matches in Europe but yet to win a tie

Cefn Albion

North East Wales League champions
Premier Cup winners
Presidents Cup winners
Horace Wynne Cup winners

Welsh National League Division One champions

Welsh National League Premier Division Cup winners

Welsh National League Premier Division Cup winners
FAW Trophy winners

Eight trophies since forming five years ago.

Trearddur Bay United (nine trophies won during decade)

Dargie Cup winners
Elias Cup winners

Anglesey League champions
Dargie Cup winners
Megan Cup winners
Thomas and Williams Cup winners

Cwpan Gwynedd winners

Gwynedd League champions

Welsh Alliance Division One champions

Glantraeth (nine trophies won during decade)

Gwynedd League Cup winners
Gwynedd Shield winners
NWCFA Intermediate Cup winners

Welsh Alliance Div Two champions
Welsh Alliance Div Two League Cup winners

Cookson Cup winners

Welsh Alliance Div One champions
Cookson Cup winners

Gwynedd Safeflue Shield winners

FC Queen’s Park (NINE trophies won in decade)

Clwyd East League champions
President’s Cup winners
Horace Wynne Cup winners
Clwyd Cup winners
Welsh National League Division One champions
Welsh National League Division One cup winners
Welsh National League Premier Division champions
Presidents Cup winners
Presidents Cup winners

Bro Goronwy (12 trophies won in the decade)

Anglesey League champions
Megan Cup winners
Thomas & Williams Cup winners

Gwynedd League champions

Bwlch Car Boot Cup winners

Anglesey League champions
Bwlch Car Boot Cup winners
Megan Cup winners
Elias Cup winners

NWCFA Junior Cup winners

Bob Owen Memorial Shield winners

NWCFA Junior Cup winners

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