In the third installment of a new series where we focus on clubs currently struggling but with an encouraging past they are looking to replicate, we turn the spotlight on CPD PORTHMADOG
After finishing third in the Cymru Alliance last season – their highest placing since returning to the tier-two league in 2011-12 – it has all gone badly wrong for Porthmadog this campaign.
Presently third-from-bottom in the newly-named Cymru North, Port face the prospect of ending up in their lowest final league position for many a year.
Last summer saw Craig Papirnyk go out in fine style after five seasons as manager, with the Traeth men completing 2018-19 in third spot.
Optimism was high when Sion Eifion Jones was appointed Papirnyk’s successor.
Jones had just led the all-conquering Porthmadog Reserves through a record-breaking season and with Sion Tudor and Ceri James alongside, the success looked well-set to continue for Port this term.
While the likes of Gruff John Williams, Julian Williams and Sion Edwards left the club, established names such as Mel McGinness and John Littlemore replaced them.
However, no wins in their opening eight league games (one draw, seven losses) got 2019-20 off on a disastrous note.
Tudor stepped down as assistant in September and took over as boss of Corwen the following month.
Papirnyk returned to the Traeth to assist Jones, who resigned himself in November due to the club’s low league position. Soon after Papirnyk was reappointed manager.
Although results have improved at times over the past four months, overall the season has been a big disappointment to date.
It must be pointed out, however, Port have had the cruelest of luck in the injuries department.
The current gloomy situation is largely unfamiliar to Porthmadog’s amazing fan base.
Since becoming founder members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990-91, the club has only operated in Wales’ top two leagues, spending 13 seasons in the Welsh Premier and they are now in their 17th campaign in the CAL/Cymru North. They have generally always held their own at both levels.
The history of CPD Porthmadog is very impressive.
Founded in 1884, Port were North Wales League champions in 1902/03 and reached the final of the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1905-06, but had to wait until 1937-38 before they gained another championship.
The 1950s, ’60s and ’70s were highly successful decades for Port. The Welsh Amateur Cup was won in 1955/56 and 1956/57.
The arrival in 1965 of the versatile Mel Charles, following a glittering career with Wales, Swansea Town, Arsenal and Cardiff City, heralded more success.
Port became Welsh League North champions in three successive seasons between 1966 and 1969.
Also in 1966, they played against Swansea in the Welsh Cup at the Vetch, before a crowd of 10,941.
They were crowned Welsh League North champions again in 1974-75 and 1975-76 and topped the Welsh Alliance in 1989-90.
Port won the Cymru Alliance title in 2002-03, while their highest League of Wales finish was ninth in 1992-93 – their first-ever top-flight season.
This was largely thanks to prolific striker Dave Taylor, who went on, in his second season, to become the league’s top scorer as well as Europe’s highest.
During his spell at the club, he scored 62 goals in 66 games.
Port had a habit of fielding great strikers in their League of Wales days.
Marc Lloyd Williams, the league’s all-time leading marksman with 319 goals, and Paul Roberts, in the WPL top 10 hitmen and later to join Wrexham for £10,000, both starred for the Traeth club.
The Cymru Premier seems a long way away right now for Porthmadog.
At this present time, they would probably be more than happy just to remain in the Cymru North.
They have a good set of players capable of so much better than what has been produced this season, but there has been a lot of disruption and changes to endure for the club on and off the field.
The return of Shaun Cavanagh in January – six goals in four games – offers Port hope, but others need to step up to the plate.
Lots of big tests to come, but all is far from lost for one of North Wales’ finest clubs.