The Druids and their part in Welsh football history

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Gary Pritchard

Gary Pritchard

Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 19:34

This Saturday, Cefn Druids will walk out in a Welsh Cup final for the first time in 108 years.

Despute the fact that their opponents, The New Saints, will be clear favourites at the final in Nantporth Stadium, Bangor, there was a time that the Druids were kings of Welsh football.

The Druids, from the village of Ruabon, ruled the Welsh footballing world at the turn of the 19th century and it’s impossible to emphasise the importance of the club when discussing the history of football in Wales especially when one considers the club was formed as Plasmadoc FC in 1869, seven yeras before the formation of the Football Association of Wales.

But the Druids had a helping hand in that too as the founding father of the FAW, Llewelyn Kenrick, was a tricky defender for the Druids!

When Wales played their first ever international match against Scotland in 1876, six of the team who took to the field in Glasgow came from the Druids club.

And the Druids were pioneers when it came to looking over Offah’s Dyke for sterner opposition too and in 1876 became the first Welsh club to compete in the FA Cup and in 1883 they reached the quarter finals before losing to eventual winners, Blackburn Olympic.

When the FAW, under Kenrick’s tutelage, set up a similar competition to the FA Cup in Wales, the Druids, along with Wrexham and Chirk were the teams to beat.

Druids appeared in 13 final between 1878 and 1904 and lifted the famous trophy on eight occasions but the football world has changed completely since they last appeared in a final when beating Aberdare 3-2 at Wrexham’s Racecourse in 1904.

Back then it was a cause for celebration to have a south Walian club enter the Welsh Cup, let alone reach the final.

In 1877, Swansea applied to compete in the inaugural competition, but having come out of the hat to face Aberystwyth, the club scratched from the competition on realising it was a football competition and not a rugby competition!

There was a 12 year wait before another club to the south of Welshpool made an application to the FAW.

By 1889, association football was getting a foothold over the rugby school version of the game in south east Wales with Aberdare and Rogerstone blazing a trail for the round ball. But the difference in standard between south Wales teams and the more established clubs was apparent when Aberdare were thrashed 15-0 by Shrewsbury in the first round in 1899!

Whilst the rise of south Wales clubs since 1904 has been huge, the fall of the Druids is almost as incredible.

As a club full of gentlemen, the Druids were completely opposed to the rise of professionalism in football and so lost a lot of their best players to clubs who were willing to pay a pretty penny.

At the same time, their Wynnstay Park home was beginning to fall into disrepair and the Druids began to suffer finacially in the years leading up to the First World War.

Following the Great War, Druids tried to solve their financial problems by merging and moving in eith Rhosymedre to form the Rhosymedre Druids but their problems continued and in 1923 they merged again, this time with Acrefair United to form Druids United based in the village of Cefn Mawr.

The club spent the next 70 years knocking about the Wrexham Area Leagues without much success until the villagers of Cefn Mawr decided it would make more sense for the village’s two clubs to merge o try and become more successful.

So, in 1991, Druids United and Cefn Albion formed the present day Cefn Druids.

This present club may not be as powerful and famous as their forefathers’ club of 100 years ago, but the lineage is clear and to have their names etched onto the famous trophy for a ninth time would be some story!

Picture thanks to the kindness of www.wfda.co.uk