Richard Davies: Caernarfon Town will relish being underdogs on European debut

After countless near misses, Caernarfon Town are finally set to take their first steps in Europe on Thursday night.

The Cofis were founded back in 1937, and now, 87 years on, they are off on their first European tour, a memory that will last a lifetime for many a supporter.

For manager Richard Davies, he says reaching the promised land has always been a target, but for his team to be the first to achieve it is a special feeling.

“Getting into Europe has been our target every season,” Davies told the BBC. “We know it’s never easy to get there because there are many good teams in the JD Cymru Premier. 

“We’ve been close before. We’ve lost in the semi-finals, lost in a final, and we’ve even won a playoff, but the prize back then was to play in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

“To be the first Caernarfon team to qualify for Europe is a fantastic feeling.”

It’s no secret that Caernarfon are one of the best supported clubs in Wales, and that was evident in the playoff final against Penybont, when almost 2000 packed into The Oval to see the Cofis triumph.

You don’t need to push Davies too much to talk about that special day; a day that will remain with him forever.

“It was a fantastic day and an amazing achievement for us as a club – from the players to the board, and to the fans in particular. I think the celebrations at the end of the game between the younger lads and the older ones tells you everything about us as a club.

“We are a club that represents the community, and the support we had that day was incredible, and I would say it’s the best in the entire league. It was really nice to be able to give something back to the fans.”

And the reward for the players and fans of Caernarfon is a UEFA Conference League game against Crusaders of Northern Ireland. Crusaders are no stranger to European football and have faced off against some of the continent’s biggest names; Liverpool, Valencia, and FC Copenhagen to name just a few.

Davies is under no illusion over just how difficult the task in front of them will be but says he’s hoping his team can spring a surprise.

“They’re a good team and a team who are full-time. I’m expecting them to be a side of really high quality. We are always going to be underdogs, but we like to be an underdog, and we will rise up to that challenge.”

While the game won’t be played at The Oval, the Cofi Army will still be out in force, as they make the short trip over to Nantporth.

“It’s closer to home and it’s easier for everyone to get there and back. We know that we’ll be playing on a grass pitch there rather than a 4G one, and I think that will suit us better, especially as we play on grass at The Oval.

“There’s been a little bit of talk over the fact we’re playing there, but as a club, we think the reasons for playing there are right, as we want to give ourselves the best chance possible of being in the draw for the next round.”

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