Date: Mon 16 Apr 2018

Caernarfon Town is back where it belongs, says captain Craig

They’re back! Caernarfon Town confirmed their return to the JD Welsh Premier League on Saturday to much fanfare from across Welsh football.

WPL.Cymru caught up with club captain Nathan Craig to get his thoughts on the side’s achievement.

"It is a massive achievement for the club, not just a result of the work that we’ve done on the pitch in recent times but more so of the efforts put in by everyone over the last eight years or so, going back to the times when Caernarfon Town nearly had to close their gates for good.

"Luckily, at that time we had a bunch of local lads who decided to play for their hometown just to keep it going in the lower leagues and giving us time to rebuild again, then fast forward eight years and here we are.

"We’ve got academy sides, ladies teams, a girls’ academy, a community programme, and now we’ve managed to secure promotion to the JD Welsh Premier League too, we’re all so excited for the challenge ahead and so happy for Caernarfon Town, as the club is back where it belongs!"

’We haven’t looked out of place against JDWPL sides.’

You only have to look at this season, in particular when Caernarfon Town knocked out Europa League Playoff hopefuls Barry Town United in the JD Welsh Cup Third Round to see that the Cofis aren’t afraid of the challenge of JDWPL standard sides.

Over recent years, Caernarfon have faced a number of outfits who at the time occupied positions in the top flight and performed very well on each occasion, and Craig noted how much hard work his side will be doing to get ready to compete every week at the highest level.

"When we’ve played Welsh Premier League teams over the last few years, whether it be in friendlies, cup games or whatever, we haven’t looked out of place against such a standard of opposition.

"We’ve shown we’re good enough to play at that level, but there’s a lot of hard work to be done now to show we’re not there just to make the numbers up, we’re ready to compete every week.

"I think with Rhyl and Airbus coming down into the Huws Gray Alliance last year, not many outside the club thought we’d overcome those two sides and secure promotion, but we have and now we’ve got to get ready for the challenge ahead, which we’re more than capable of meeting."

’The support is going to go through the roof.’

The above is quite a statement from the former Everton player given that Caernarfon are widely acknowledged as one of the best-supported sides in the country, but the allure of JD Welsh Premier League football and the possibility of qualifying for Europe is undoubtedly hugely attractive.

Craig has lived and breathed the club since his youth, and – whilst acknowledging the important of the entire fanbase for the Cofis – he singled out the younger fans for particular praise.

"We do post-match interviews with our media officer every week and I’m always saying how incredibly important the fans are, and I think the younger generation, in particular, that we have coming to the Oval now to watch our side play are a credit to themselves.

"They travel home and away to games and they came all the way to Caersws on Saturday on the bus, fair play to them, and we’re very thankful to everyone for their support.

"I remember being in the shoes of those youngsters when I was eight years old as a ball boy for the club; they weren’t in the top flight, but I remember looking at the pitch, thinking how good it was, how much I always wanted to play for my hometown club.

"I’m very fortunate to be working for my club as well in a community role, but I’m so pleased for those youngsters who have been on this journey with us to promotion, it is going to be massive for them as young aspiring footballers. The support is going to go through the roof, I think – everyone knows there will be cameras there every game, we’re going to have live games, all of these great experiences, even though the fanbase is huge already!"

’#UnClwbUnCymuned’

It feels like a long time away until the 2018/19 JDWPL season gets underway, with the present season still ongoing – albeit in the closing stages of what has been an outstanding regular season – but the JDWPL bow will soon be here for Craig and his teammates.

Honing in on the community feel of the club, the Caernarfon captain detailed how important a facet that is of what the Canaries do, and what he thinks the club will add to the League both on and off the pitch.

"All together we have about 20 teams representing Caernarfon at different levels and different genders, and when we have had these live games it is amazing to see all of the kids turning up in their Caernarfon Town tracksuits, and it just shows that this hashtag we use #UnClwbUnCymuned ( #OneClubOneCommunity ) is completely true.

"It has always been as a I remember it as a kid, it has always been a footballing town. It is about time we got back to this level, I think we’ll add an awful lot to the league – we know we’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us, but we will be competitive and hard to beat week in, week out.

"We’re all very excited, we’ve got to make sure that we prepare ourselves correctly in pre-season, got to have a Plan B, Plan C, etc. We’re not going to steamroll teams as we have done at times in the last few years, we’re expecting a huge challenge where every game will be difficult but we’ve got enough in our squad to step up and be competitive at the highest level."

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