Legendary Caernarfon Town manager John King would have been 86 this week

Johnny King (furthest right, fully in view) with the Caernarfon Town FA Cup heroes of 1986-87. Picture by kind permission of Alex Philp

Regarded by many as Caernarfon Town’s greatest-ever manager, yesterday marked what would have been the 86th birthday of the legendary John King.

It was back in 1986/87 that the Canaries 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 Mr King, Town 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, beating Marine (2-0), Winsford United (3-1), Eastwood Town (4-1) and Chester-le-Street Town (3-2).

Included in the Cofis 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.

While he will be celebrated forever for his feats at The Oval, Mr King, who was born on April 15, 1938, made a bigger impact at Football League club Tranmere Rovers.

After retiring as a player, he took the reins on two separate occasions at Prenton Park, between 1975-1980 and 1987-1996.

During his second spell, Mr King was responsible for the greatest era in the Birkenhead club’s history, guiding Rovers on what he liked to call “a trip to the moon” as the side posted multiple Wembley appearances in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, taking the club from the Fourth Division to the brink of promotion to the Premier League.

Under the great man, Rovers saw success in the Leyland Daf Trophy in 1990 beating Bristol Rovers 2-1 whilst the following year beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 to earn promotion via the Play Off Final into the then Division One.

In the mid-1990’s Rovers also reached the Division One play-offs in three successive seasons (1993 to 1995) but on each occasion falling short of a place in the Premier League.

As well as being affectionately remembered at Tranmere, Mr King also managed non-league sides Northwich Victoria (1981-1984), as well as the aforementioned Caernarfon Town (1985-1987).

He died on March 30, 2016, aged 77. Remembered forever, never to be forgotten.

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