Cefn Druids Preview
Despite only a second place finish last season in the Huws Gray Alliance, Cefn Druids gained promotion, due to Caernarfon Town not gaining the appropriate licences to play in the Welsh Premier League. A swift return to Wales’ elite league after only being out of the Premier League for one season was the best possible outcome for the Wrexham based outfit. Now with the new season almost upon us, it’s evident that the club’s experience and knowledge of playing in the top flight is going to prove invaluable to them, but there’s no hiding from the fact that Druids are going to find this one long season for the new boys.
Huw Griffiths is now in his second season of his second spell in charge at Druids, with his first spell bringing notable success like clinching a title and promotion to the WPL from the Cymru Alliance as well as a Welsh cup final appearance in 2012, losing out to TNS. But their run to the final included famously taking some big scalps along the way, the likes of Prestatyn Town, Aberystwyth Town and Airbus were defeated en route to their first Welsh cup final in 108 years. Despite the loss, TNS had already qualified for the Champions League and therefore a spot in the Europa League opened up and in 2012 Cefn played their first and only (to date) European tie against Finnish side MyPA-47. A respectable 0-0 at the Racecourse Ground sadly led to a 5-0 thumping in Finland but it goes without saying that this is still ranked as one Cefn’s best acheievements, despite still being a second tier side. More success followed with promotion to the WPL and a NEWFA cup win in 2014 emulating the same double done in 1999. Griffiths’ achievements did not go unnoticed and that summer he parted company with Cefn and was appointed manager of Bala Town, a testimony to his management of the Druids. However one year later he was back in charge at The Rock, again helping his beloved local club to gain yet another promotion to be back amongst the elite.
His management style is no nonsense whilst having the wonderful ability to get that little bit more out of a player. He wears his heart on his sleeve and the passion and enthusiasm you see on the touchline from him can be reverberated around the club. He’s not the kind of boss that will hit the panic button too soon, something that may prove invaluable this season.
New Signings and Current Squad
Cefn have bolstered their squad with a few new signings in the pre season, notably capturing the permanent signature of young midfielder Fisnik Hajdari, who spent last season on loan at The Ancients from The New Saints. Boss Huw Griffiths was impressed with a number excellent performances from the Kosovan whilst in the Huws Gray Alliance, citing this as one of the main reasons as to why he was keen to snap him up on a permanent move. As well as Hajdari, Griffiths has also brought in defender Klye Parle from Northern Premier League Division one side Witton Albion and striker Aaron Bowen who played for part of the 2015/16 season at Welsh Premier League outfit Rhyl. Bowen was on the brink of signing for Bala in January but due to `paper work’ complications the move was blocked. All three will add a much needed presence within the squad but I’m sure Griffiths will be keen to add one or two more names at The Rock, preferably those with good experience of WPL football.
It’s going to be a long hard season for Cefn Druids. With all due respect, I think it’s fair to say that they do not have the strongest squad in the WPL, but saying that, behind the scenes they will be desperate to stay in the league and cement their place for many seasons to come. Certainly they will most likely spend much of the season struggling to get out of the bottom three or four and many of the top teams will be probably look at this fixture as a potential to gain maximum points. But, as I mentioned Griffiths is absolutely aware of the challenges he faces, meeting him a week after they had gained promotion, I congratulated him and he said `The hard work starts now’. If safety is guaranteed at the end of the season, the big man should be given freedom of Cefn. It will be a big `if’ if they stay up but certainly not impossible, the passion and drive from top to bottom will be felt throughout and if that spirit is shown on the pitch… well you never know, nobody expected Leicester to win the Premier League.