The Football Association of Wales’ latest idea to ‘sell’ the Welsh Cup to the public hardly does it any favours.
Last night we were told introducing a seeding system into Wales’ premier knockout would “generate more David v Goliath clashes as well as regional rivalries which will hopefully spark considerable local interest for the clubs involved and for the competition in general.”
That’s one way of looking at it.
Another is to question whether the FAW’s aim is to ensure as much of the prize money as possible ends up in the coffers of the ‘elite’ Cymru Premier clubs.
Making it likely that by the quarter-final stage, only top-flight teams will remain……
In other words, another put down for grassroots football.
If the National Cup Board insisted on keeping the 12 seeded Cymru Premier clubs apart in round two, then at least ensuring they were all drawn away would have levelled up the playing field a little.
But no…..10 of the 12 got home draws, the exceptions being Caernarfon Town and Cardiff Met University.
Part of the romance of cup competitions is generated through the open draw aspect, the chance of anyone getting anyone. Like from the FA Cup third round onwards.
In my opinion, Connah’s Quay Nomads being paired with The New Saints, or Bala Town landing a meeting with Flint Town United would have been good for the competition, as it would have meant a big gun or two exiting early, opening up more opportunities for the lower-ranked teams.
What many of us grassroots fans want is another Holywell Town. A club from tier 3 (or even lower) getting to the semis again, as the Wellmen did in 2013/14.
Very little chance of that if you are introducing seeding.
So, what did Monday’s draw bring us?
One of the second round ties sure to capture the imagination is Denbigh Town of tier 3 Ardal North West at home to Cymru Premier giants Caernarfon Town.
This game will revive memories of 1991/92, when a Denbigh side in the then Welsh fourth-tier Clwyd League Division One took on HFS Loans Northern Premier League semi-pro outfit Caernarfon at Central Park.
Denbigh were not given a prayer, but amazingly defeated the Canaries 1-0 to record one of the greatest wins in the club’s history – and one of the all-time shocks in North Wales.
The Vale of Clwyd side have been no strangers to giant-killing since, having reached the Word Cup final in 2015-16, eliminating three Welsh Premier teams before losing to The New Saints in the showpiece.
Another of the David versus Goliath battles the NCB were no doubt dreaming of is Flint Town United v Penrhyndeudraeth – tier 1 hosts tier 4.
Penrhyn are managed by former Caernarfon and Llandudno boss Iwan Williams, who will know how to prepare and get the best out of his players for the trip to the Essity Stadium.
Llanrwst United of tier 3 Ardal North West’s visit to seven-time Welsh Cup winners The New Saints is another eye-catcher.
Saints have occasionally had a tricky time seeing off lower league opponents in the past.
Cymru North hopefuls Holyhead Hotspur might fancy their chances of a higher league scalp when they travel to Cefn Druids, while Llandudno Albion cannot be without a decent shout when they welcome tier 2 early pace-setters Guilsfield to Maesdu Park.
Romance is everywhere. How about Ricky Evans visiting old haunt Bala Town with his new club Brymbo?
And as for a real big favourite v rank outsider contest. look no further than Cymru Premier champions Connah’s Quay Nomads at home to newly-formed tier 4 club CPD Y Rhyl 1879, a team which emerged from the demise of the much-missed Rhyl FC.
Certainly a good draw in parts, but if the form book has its way we can expect plenty of Goliaths going forward to the last 32 and numerous farewells to aspiring upset merchants.
Seeds are good for the garden, but not in my opinion for the Welsh Cup.
NORTHERN SECTION ROUND TWO DRAW
(ties to be played weekend of September 3-5)
Bala Town v Brymbo
Bodedern Athletic v Ruthin Town
Buckley Town v Porthmadog
Cefn Druids v Holyhead Hotspur
Connah’s Quay Nomads v CPD Y Rhyl 1879
Conwy Borough v Cefn Albion
Denbigh Town v Caernarfon Town
Flint Town United v Penrhyndeudraeth
Gresford Athletic v Colwyn Bay
Llandudno Albion v Guilsfield
Llandudno v Airbus UK Broughton
Llanidloes Town v Bangor City
Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant v Saltney Town
Newtown v Berriew
Prestatyn Town v Rhostyllen
The New Saints v Llanrwst United
How does the 2021-22 Welsh Cup work?
Round two, drawn on Monday, August 16, features the 64 clubs left in the competition.
There are 36 winners from round one, the 12 Cymru Premier clubs, plus 16 more teams, made up of the Cymru North and Cymru South top eights from 2019-20.
32 clubs are seeded (16 north and 16 south) with the same number unseeded.