Big changes have been announced to the women’s football system at Caernarfon Town.
Junior section chairman Dei Pritchard is also taking over administration of the women’s senior and under-19’s teams, which will be integrated into the men’s set up at The Oval.
This means the end of Keith Fearns and Tania Jones’ long-standing management of the women’s and U19 sides.
Fearns has managed women’s teams for more than 30 years, formerly being in charge of a Bangor City side which won three Welsh Cups and played in Europe between 1996-97 and 2001-02.
When the Citizens disbanded and re-emerged as Caernarfon Town in 2003, Fearns remained manager as the Canaries made their mark in the Northern Combination.
They later won the Welsh Premier Women’s League northern conference twice, then the North Wales Women’s League title in 2016-17 along with numerous cups.
Wales international Tania Jones played under Fearns at Bangor City, then later at Caernarfon before becoming part of his management team.
After Caernarfon returned to the Welsh Premier in 2017-18 it marked the start of a grim period of game losses and low league positions.
Town resigned from the WPWL in 2018-19 and struggled badly on their return to the North Wales League.
Most senior players departed, leaving Jones and Fearns with a very young and inexperienced group and after playing just one match this term the team resigned from the league a few weeks later.
New man at the helm, Dei Pritchard, has a tremendous record with girls’ youth football in the Caernarfon area.
He and Gwynfor Evans managed the Under-16 team which won the quadruple of Welsh Cup, North Wales League title, league cup and Darwin Cup in 2013-14.
Further successes followed under Pritchard, including the North Wales League Shield in 2017-18.
Caernarfon Town FC made the following statement on the forthcoming changes
“Caernarfon Town Football Club wishes to announce that we will be changing the set up of the ladies team next season.
“Following the recent news that the seniors team is no longer taking part in their league and the strong possibility that the under 19’s team will follow suit after failing to fulfil their fixtures, the Board has decided that a change in our strategy is required and both sides will now be integrated into the men’s set up.
“The chairman of the juniors section, Mr David Pritchard, will be responsible for both sides in the future and he will work directly with the Board to secure a pathway from the club’s junior teams up to and including the senior side.
“The club also hopes to welcome two new full members from the ladies’ set-up onto our Board.
“We will be inviting interested parties to apply for the posts of senior team and under 19’s team managers and coaches in due course.
“We wish to place on record our heartfelt thanks to Keith Fearns and Tania Jones for their hard work on behalf of the club for a number of years and acknowledge that the ladies’ game is in a much better position as a result of their efforts. Tania will be continuing with us in her role as coach of the under 16’s team for the remainder of the season.”
Statement from club chairman Paul Evans
“The first thing we have to make clear is that we are indebted to Keith and Tania for their hard work over the past few years. They had great success with the club initially and took the senior side into the Welsh Premier League, which was a fantastic achievement.
“However, things have not worked out since then, and this season especially has been disappointing. Due to their history at the club, it has been a difficult decision but, as the season has progressed, it became clear to us that we would have to change things in the under 19’s and senior groups.
“The junior set up is extremely successful and so, rather than having two separate entities as in the past for the juniors and adults teams, our plan is bring all the teams under the juniors’ chairman, Dei, and we will work closely with him to ensure there is an obvious pathway from the earliest age groups to the seniors side.
“We have made difficult decisions in the past, most of which have worked out, some of which haven’t, but we always take our time to look at all our options and do what we think is best for the club.
“We firmly believe that what we are doing now will benefit the future of the ladies’ game in Caernarfon and the local vicinity and we aim to become the best, and biggest club in North Wales for ladies of all ages to play football.“