Ground: The Recreation Ground
Capacity: 2500 (300 seated)
Nickname: The Bluebirds
Admission: £5 adults, £3 OAP, £1 children
Caersws is a village sitting on the River Severn in mid Wales. It has a railway station on the Cambrian Line from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury.
The name Caersws means ‘fort of Sws’, from the Welsh ‘Caer’ meaning fort. It is also the believed site of the Roman Fort Mediomanum, “The Central Fist”. This may be the fort referred to in the name of the village.
How to Get There
From Newtown take the A489; after six miles turn right A470 Caersws. After 400 metres the ground is down a lane on the left.
map to Caersws Recreation Ground
Parking: Ample car parking but restricted height access for 4x4s.
Nearest railway station: Caersws (0.3 miles)
Rivals: Newtown, TNS, Barry, Bangor, Welshpool
For many years, Caersws played under the title of Caersws Amateurs, although the suffix was used only to make a point to their professional rivals from Newtown and Llanidloes towards the end of the 19th century. The term Amateurs was dropped in 1974 upon the official cessation of amateurism. It is believed that the first Caersws Football Club was founded over one hundred and twenty years ago, there being reference to Caersws Red Rose playing Newtown Blue Stars in December 1877.
By the start of the 20th century, Caersws had already produced two Welsh internationals. Ernie Watkins went on to play for Leicester Fosse, Aston Villa and Millwall while brother Martin turned out for Stoke City, Aston Villa and Sunderland.
The name Caersws appears in the Montgomeryshire and District League for the season 1909/10 but thereafter moved to the junior Welshpool & District League until 1928/29 when the club’s name re-appears in the Welsh National League (Mid-Wales Section). When the National League disbanded in 1930, its successor was the present-day Mid-Wales League, of which Caersws F.C. remained a member until the mid-1930s.
A return to the local Montgomeryshire League followed in 1937 before The Bluebirds made a permanent move back to the Mid-Wales League in 1948.
Making Their Mark
Up to this point little, if any, notable success had been achieved and it was not until the 1960s that Caersws began to make their mark on football in their environs and at national level. They won successive Mid-Wales League championships in 1959/60 (dropping only six points all season) and 1960/61 and another in 1962/63.
During this period, Caersws also appeared in three Welsh Amateur Cup finals, though success only came their way in one, when they defeated Buckley Wanderers 4-2 at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in 1960/61. The team of that particular era included prolific goalscorer Gareth Davies, the Stephens’s brothers and veteran centre-half Glyn Jones.
The Bluebirds’ cup exploits continued as they held the Central Wales F.A.Cup on four occasions and the Mid-Wales League Cup a similar number of times. The club regained the Welsh Amateur Cup, by then renamed the Welsh Intermediate Cup, in 1988/89 beating Aberystwyth Town 3-2 at Llanidloes, having been runners-up to Welshpool five years earlier (losing 1-nil in a replay).
As far as cups go, their record in the Montgomeryshire Cup is outstanding, for Caersws have triumphed in this competition on 23 occasions, including twelve successive wins up to 1995.
Waning and Waxing
The club’s fortunes waned during the late 1960s and early 1970s until, in 1978, Caersws once more lifted the Mid-Wales League championship, pipping Welshpool and Llanidloes Town at the post. Four further titles, in 1983, 1986, 1989 and again the following year, meant that Caersws entered the newly formed Cymru Alliance (sponsored by MANWEB) as one of the favourites to win the first championship.
Caersws clinched the runners-up spot behind Flint Town United that season, but, in 1991/92, Caersws went one better winning the title by two points from Llansantffraid and were obvious candidates for membership of the new League of Wales in August 1992.
League Cup Winners
Since then, however, playing fortunes have levelled out particularly in the league where the Bluebirds have attained finishing positions of 11th, 17th, 14th, 9th, 14th, 11th, 10th, 12th and 5th before gaining 4th spot last season. In 1992/93 they were desperately unlucky not to win the League Cup, losing out in the final to Afan Lido in a penalty shoot-out. In May 2001, however, The Bluebirds defeated Barry Town 2-0 to win the League Cup final, successfully.
Success on the field during the past decade or so has been equally matched by impressive improvements off the field at their Recreation Ground home. Over £250,000 has been spent on spacious modern dressing rooms, a 150-seater stand, covered standing accommodation and floodlighting. The access road into the ground, along with the parking area, has been finished to a high standard and the whole place is a credit to the club.
Caersws can boast several Welsh internationals including present-manager Mickey Evans, who won two Welsh Under-23 caps during a Football League career with Wrexham, for whom he made 383 Football League appearances and scored 19 goals.
Probably the club’s most famous player of all was Phil Woosnam, who was born in Caersws in December 1932. Phil made his name in the Football League with Leyton Orient, West Ham United and Aston Villa, totalling 353 league games and scoring 69 times. He also won 17 full Welsh international caps, before playing a major part in the setting up of the USA’s first soccer league.
More recently, Kevin Lloyd (87 LoW appearances for the Bluebirds) went on to play in the Football League with Hereford United and Cardiff City, whilst older supporters will remember two amateur caps, Gareth Davies and Melvin Jones, who both enjoyed tremendous success at Caersws.
The New Millenium
After a surprisingly poor start to the 2001/2 season, Caersws put together a marvellous run in the league and secured a European place in the InterToto Cup competition. The club could only finish eighth in the WP in 2002/3, but came close to European qualification again with a fifth place in the two following seasons.
UEFA Intertoto entrants: 2002
League of Wales Cup winners: 2000-01, 2001-02
League of Wales runners up: 1992-93
Central Wales Challenge Cup: 1977-78, 1988-89, 1990-91, 1991-92
Mid-Wales League: 1959-60, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1977-78, 1982-83, 1985-86, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1996-97 (Res.)
The Recreation Ground, Caersws. Powys, SY17 5SF
telephone 01686 688753