Looking back at better times for Druids

Druids celebrate their Europa League qualification in 2018. Picture: MIKE PLUNKETT

Do not mention April 30 to Cefn Druids.

Five years ago on that date, the Ancients were thrashed 7-0 at home by Cymru Alliance title rivals and eventual champions Caernarfon Town.

And last night, history repeated itself as Druids collapsed by the same score at The Rock against a ruthless Newtown in the Welsh Premier Play-Off Conference.

Things are looking grim for Cefn – six straight league defeats and rock bottom of the Welsh Premier.

But as a considerable consolation, there is no relegation from the top flight this season.

Current interim manager Jayson Starkey has been given time by chairman Des Williams to build something more promising. We wish him the best of luck.

At this time, perhaps it would be good to reflect on some great past events for Druids – they have had many in recent years.

So here are five major highlights for the club from the 2007-2018 period.

Airbus 1 (Griffiths 51)
Cefn Druids 4 (Cann 25, Holmes OG 38, Swarbrick 55 & 80)
Welsh Cup semi-final – March 31, 2012

Tony Cann (left) and Andy Swarbrick rejoice over a Cefn goal

Druids not only reached the Welsh Cup final for the first time since 1904, they also secured a first-ever qualification for Europe.

With opponents in the final The New Saints winning the Welsh Premier, Cefn advanced to the Europa League automatically.

And what a way to do it as Huw Griffiths’ Cymru Alliance side whipped Welsh Premier Airbus 4-1 in the semi at neutral Rhyl.

Cefn grabbed the lead on 25 minutes when Tony Cann timed his leap to perfection and headed a Warren Duckett cross into the net.

Druids defended heroically then doubled the pain on 38 minutes when a through ball from Joe Price appeared to be stabbed in by Andrew Swarbrick, but it went down as an own goal by Airmen defender Tommy Holmes.

Six minutes into the second period there was huge controversy when Airbus were awarded a goal.

Neville Thompson won an aerial challenge and referee Bryan James blew his whistle for an apparent infringement before Marc Griffiths hit the ball against his own player Adam Hesp and it looped over keeper Chris Mullock into the net.

Official James signalled a goal, much to the fury of the Druids players and bench as they argued play had been stopped before the ball entered the net.

Far from discouraged, however, Cefn rallied and made it 3-1 on 55 minutes when Duckett headed on a free-kick into the box and Swarbrick volleyed home.

Swarbrick added a fourth 10 minutes from time.

DRUIDS: Chris Mullock, Mark Harris, Joe Price, Adam Hesp, Nathan Peate, George Hughes, Andrew Swarbrick (Paul Speed 83), Tom McElmeel, Tony Cann, Marc Griffiths, Warren Duckett.

Rhyl 3 (Stones 43, N Roberts 60, Horan 83)
Cefn Druids 4 (Stewart 29 & 47, Evans 61, Holsgrove 70)
Welsh Premier League – Dec 12, 2008

In a season where they stormed to the Welsh Premier title, Rhyl unexpectedly came a cropper to a fired-up Druids in a Friday night thriller at Belle Vue.

The Lilywhites had lost just one of their first 15 league matches and were coming off the back of a 3-0 victory at TNS.

No-one gave the Ancients a prayer, but they started positively and took a 29th minute lead through Mark Stewart.

Greg Stones levelled just before the break, but two minutes into the second period Stewart made it a double.

Neil Roberts made it all-square on the hour, but the visitors would not be denied, Ricky Evans putting them 3-2 up a minute later.

Kevin Holsgrove added a fourth for Cefn on 70, and despite a late consolation from George Horan, the hosts were forced to admit defeat.

It was to be the last time Rhyl lost in the league that season before breezing to the title.

Cefn Druids 0
My-Pa 0
Europa League first qualifying round first leg – July 5, 2012

What a night as Cefn Druids marked their European debut by holding Finland’s MyPa to a goalless draw at Wrexham’s Racecourse.

The Cymru Alliance side put up an impressive and organised performance in the Europa League first qualifying round.

Huw Griffiths’ men qualified as Welsh Cup runners-up and became the first team from Welsh football’s second tier to play in Europe.

Druids had the best chance of the first half when following Rees Darlington’s cross George Hughes saw his header hit the post before the follow-up from Steve Jones was cleared off the line.

MyPa were restricted to long range efforts which failed to trouble home keeper Chris Mullock while a Steve Jones free-kick was saved by Antti Kuismala.

The home side had the better chances in the second half with Mark Harris’ 25-yard effort forcing Kuismala into a save.

And with 13 minutes remaining Quinn’s snapshot volley from 12 yards went past the post as the Druids defence held firm.

Cefn lost the away leg 5-0.

Cefn Druids: Chris Mullock, Mark Harris, Adam Hesp, Robbie James, Rees Darlington, Gareth Edwards, George Hughes, Kieran Quinn, Josh Dures, Mike Burke, Steve Jones. Subs: Richard Ackerley, Marc Griffiths, Jack Edwards, Tom McElmeel, Warren Duckett, Joe Price, Tony Cann.

Cefn Druids 1 (Evans 78)
The New Saints 0
Welsh Premier League – August 17, 2007

Match-winner Ricky Evans

Druids’ new management team of Waynne Phillips and Lee Jones could not have made a better start to their tenure as they toppled the champions on the opening night of the 2007-08 season.

The Ancients did not have the best of records against Saints, who four months earlier had won 3-2 at Plaskynaston to clinch their third successive title.

This time, the injury-hit Saints were not marching in as they were sunk by a Ricky Evans strike 12 minutes from the end.

The Druids hero atoned for a penalty miss in the 17th minute when he blasted his spot kick wide of the target.

Cefn Druids 1 (Davies 16)
Cardiff Met University 0
Europa League play-off final – May 20, 2018

An amazing season for Druids under Huw Griffiths was rounded off with victory over Met in the Europa League play-off final.

Having finished a highest-ever fifth in the Welsh Premier, the Ancients completed the job by reaching Europe for only the second time.

After a campaign in which they started as one of the relegation favourites, Cefn well and truly confounded the doubters. Griffiths was fittingly named Welsh Premier Manager of the Season.

Former Druids manager Huw Griffiths has been at the forefront of most of the club’s major successes

A 16th minute strike from James Davies proved enough to seal a famous victory in a sweltering play-off final at The Rock.

Although the Students enjoyed plenty of second-half possession they struggled to find a way through the resolute Ancients, expertly marshalled by man-of-the-match Neil Ashton.

Druids’ early efforts were rewarded on 16 minutes when Arek Piskorski crossed low into the goalmouth and Davies volleyed home at the second attempt.

The lively Davies had a great chance to make it two when denied by Will Fuller’s legs.

Met also had their chances with Rhydian Morgan’s angled drive well saved low down by Michael Jones, while Eliot Evans blazed over three minutes before half time with the goal beckoning.

The visitors enjoyed far more possession after the break, but were kept at bay by a well-organised Cefn.

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