Cefn Druids

Cefn DruidsFOLLOWING many years of argument and discussion, the inevitable amalgamation of Druids United and Cefn Albion took place in 1992. It had been apparent for a long time that the town of Cefn Mawr, to the south of Ruabon, simply wasn’t big enough to support two football clubs, both of whom were floundering in the lower reaches of the Welsh National League. With local rivalry at an end, an application was made to join the Cymru Alliance football league which had just lost eight of its teams to the newly-formed League of Wales.
The origins of soccer in the area can be traced as far back as 1869 when Plasmadoc Football Club was founded by the Thomson brothers. Three years later, Plasmadoc became Druids when the various colliery and quarry teams in the hills around Ruabon and Cefn Mawr were brought together under one banner. Six Druids players were in the first Welsh international side which played Scotland (in Glasgow) on 25th March 1876: the most from a single club ever to play for Wales. In addition to being the first Welsh club to play in the English F.A.Cup, Druids also played in the very first Welsh Cup game, when they opposed Newtown in 1877.
The death of founder David Thomson at the age of just 29, followed by the loss of their Plasmadoc Park ground in 1878 forced Druids to kick their heels for twelve months, until a new ground became available at Wynnstay Park, thanks to the powerful Williams-Wynn family. Seven times, between 1880 and 1904, Druids were Welsh Cup winners and runners-up on five other occasions. During this time, thirty Druids players were capped for Wales and a total of 44 internationals played for the club. The club joined the first Welsh League in 1890, recovered from the economic slump and the loss of the Williams-Wynn patronage, and rose again towards the end of the nineteenth century with more silverware.
Nevertheless, the game was changing and leaving Wales behind. Wynnstay Park was becoming increasingly unsuitable, being located in open countryside behind the grim chimneys of Wynnstay Colliery. It had no cover and the estate refused permission to improve the site. Financial troubles engulfed the club and the descent was halted only by the outbreak of war. In 1920, the club left Wynnstay Park and combined with Rhosymedre to become Rhosymedre Druids at the Church Field ground. This club merged with Acrefair United in 1923, becoming Druids United. Thereafter, United were perennial strugglers in the Welsh National League (North) until stepping down to the Wrexham & District League in 1930, moving to yet another new ground, this time in Acrefair. The fall from grace, it appeared, was complete.
During the 1950s, however, Druids built links with Monsanto, the chemicals conglomerate whose belching towers loomed over the town. A pitch was provided in the shadow of the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and, for a while, The Ancients were rejuvenated. League placings improved and, in 1957, Druids United reached the Welsh Amateur Cup final, losing to Porthmadog in a replay at Bangor. Profit from the cup run, however, enabled the club to fund the layout of a new ground in the heart of Cefn Mawr. Nevertheless, it took three years (until 1961) to prepare the pitch on the site of the former Plas Kynaston Colliery railway sidings, but enthusiasm had waned by the 1980s when Druids were being outstripped by arch rivals Cefn Albion.
The Rock
Cefn Druids moved to a new purpose-built stadium at The Rock in 2010.
Formed in 1967, Albion played initially at The Bont then at Rhostyllen, Ty Mawr and Church Field before settling back at Ty Mawr. A merger between the two clubs was resisted for years until former Chester manager Ken Roberts intervened to convince the rival factions that an amalgamation was in the best interests of everyone. Thus, in 1992, Cefn Druids F.C. was born, playing at Plaskynaston Lane and carrying the white and black colours of the original Plasmadoc club. In the meantime, the formation of the League of Wales meant that Wales, at last, had a structure which encouraged clubs to grow and, for the first time in more than sixty years, the club was able to compete at something above local level. Druids were on the march again.
Under manager Ian Williams, the club steadily consolidated in the Cymru Alliance, helped by a renewed youth policy. Increasingly assisted by Flexsys, the rubber company which occupied the Ruabon works after Monsanto left, Druids laid ambitious plans to reach the League of Wales. Former Lex XI manager, Gareth Powell joined the club as team manager in 1997 and, with Williams as general manager, steered the club to third place in the Alliance. In 1998, further investment, resulted in a five-year sponsorship agreement with Flexsys, which involved putting the company name in the team’s title in return for major ground improvements. Powell guided Cefn Druids to the 1998/99 Cymru Alliance championship, won in a canter with more than a century of goals, and the club’s ambitions had been realised.
The club’s first season in the League of Wales was, quite naturally, one of consolidation although they marked their entrance with a 1-0 win at Inter Cardiff, the previous year’s runners-up, in the very first game. Thereafter, Druids managed to inter-mingle wins and losses and had accrued thirty points before drawing their 26th match – one of only two drawn games in which the club featured that season.
The 2000/1 season followed a similar pattern and, at one stage, Flexsys were near the top of the league, but results fell away and the team eventually finished thirteenth in the league, exactly the same place as in 1999/2000.
Although the 2001/2 League of Wales campaign began badly for Druids, the team progressed into the quarter-finals of the League Cup competition, pipping both Connah’s Quay Nomads and Oswestry Town at the group stage, and reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup before going out to Bangor City.
But the next two seasons were not as successful, with league finishes of 12th and 13th resulting in the dismissal of manager Steve O'Shaughnessy in April 2004.
Season 2004/5 saw Alan Morgan move from Porthmadog to take the helm as player/manager, but after a string of poor results, a 7-0 mauling at Caersws led to his resignation. Former Wrexham favourite Dixie McNeil moved in with the club's commercial director 'Ossie' Jones and they were able to spark some improvement, but it failed to prevent the Ancients from finishing in the second relegation spot.
Druids' Welsh Premier status was again in danger in 2005/6, but the club staged a mini-revival in the final weeks of the season to breathe easy once again.
After several more seasons flirting with relegation, a delay in moving to a new ground in Rhosymedre left the Ancients unable to meet the requirements for the FAW domestic licence and they were relegated at the end of season 2009/10.
With their change of stadium finally completed, Druids reached the final of the Welsh Cup in 2012 and, after defeat at the hands of TNS, represented Wales in the Europa League.
After finishing as runners-up to Rhyl in 2013, they went one better in 2014, winning the Huws Gray Alliance title to clinch their return to the top flight.
But their first season back in the WPL after a five-year absence proved too difficult and they finished next-bottom and were relegated again.

Club histories and stats based on information compiled by David Rapson.