Back on our screens this Sunday in a JD Welsh Premier League environment, these are hugely exciting times for all at the Oval as Caernarfon Town are set to make their JDWPL return against Cefn Druids live in front of the Sgorio cameras.
It must have felt like an age for the summer to pass for the Cofis, but now their moment is nearly here, and we’ve been talking to their manager Sean Eardley ahead of the club’s JDWPL return.
“We’ve kept our targets in house, of course, but for every new team in this league, however well you think you might be able to do with wat you’ve got, your first aim has to be surviving and looking to build, so if we finished 10th we’d take that and it would be absolutely fantastic.
“One thing I will say is that we have very ambitious lads in the changing room who are desperate to get going and eager to prove a point, so we’ll see where that ambition and that drive can take us, really.
“It is going to be difficult, of course, but we have a brilliant team here on and off the pitch, we have the best fans in the league, and who knows – you do dare to dream, and getting a top six spot would be absolutely fantastic, but we’re taking it one game at a time and maintaining our status as a Welsh Premier League side would certainly be a realistic aim.”
Of course, having now returned to the pinnacle of Welsh domestic football, the Cofis have to find a way to stay here in the midst of what is set to be another hugely competitive season.
With the anticipation over the summer months all building up to Sunday’s opener, how will Eardley’s men respond to their moment finally arriving and what will their mindset be going into the new season?
“We’re just really excited, we can’t wait to get going. The wait has actually gone quite quickly, to be fair, we had our final training session on Thursday and we feel like we’re ready to face the challenge head-on.
“Talk is cheap, really, and as a group now it is up to us to perform and put Caernarfon Town on the map again. We have to take everything as it comes, managing expectation is key for every team in the league whether you’re expecting Europe, chasing the top six or looking to survive, and I know what my group expects.
“We can only take things a game at a time, we just want to be competitive in every single game and see where it takes us. We’ve got great attacking options – plenty of dynamic players going forward and solid defensive players, too, but we’re looking forward to what lays ahead.”
For anyone who caught our season preview pieces over the last few days, we talked about the success the Cofis have had in previous years against JDWPL sides in cup competitions, and how that can be a source of encouragement going into the new season whilst also being mindful of the context of those fixtures.
This is an assessment the management concurred with, and noted what in particular his side have to wary of going into the new term.
“I think you can look at it from both perspectives really, because yes they were one-off results, however there are obviously elements within those performances which do give you hope and reasons for optimism that we can be more consistent at this level, really.
“Whenever you play a JD Welsh Premier League side as a Huws Gray Alliance side in the cup, it does give you that extra 10-20% of a performance level, but we managed to maintain that boosted performance throughout the league campaign last year.
“The trick this year will be to try and do the same week in, week out, against a better standard of opposition, because there will be no let-up, this can be a brutal year if things don’t go well for you. Motivation will not be a problem, we just really can’t wait to get going.”
This is the overriding emotion coming out of the club, without a doubt, that the Cofis are back where they belong, and Eardley spoke about how his side will deal with the nerves, emotions and expectations that will come with that, as well as what the club will offer the league.
“There will be nerves, of course, but we’ve got to use it in a positive way. Everyone at the club on and off the pitch has worked so hard to make this happen and get us ready to compete at JDWPL level, and we can’t wait to welcome all of the fans, the media, everyone through our gates because we’ve waited a long time for this experience and we want to make the most of it while we’re here.
“I’m so excited, my players and staff are too, we just can’t wait, because Caernarfon is back where it belongs. We’ve got a difficult start against four of last season’s top six in our first five games, but we need to embrace it, we need to look forward to it and enjoy it.
“We’ve wanted this experience, we wanted to be at this level and competing against this team, so now that we’re here we’ve got to deal with any nerves, control those emotions and channel them in the right way to help us perform as best we can.”
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