Football: Nomads prepare for journey to land of the giants - Non-League Notebook

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The Independent Online
IN RURAL Montgomeryshire tomorrow, Llanidloes Town entertain Haverfordwest County with both clubs - and 18 others that launch the new League of Wales - sharing a dream: a tie against one of the giants of European football next year, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Abergavenny Thursdays against Milan, Connah's Quay Nomads against Bayern Munich: such fairy-tale ties are possible now that the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has won Uefa approval to enter the winners and runners-up from its new league in the European Cup and the Uefa Cup from 1993-94 onwards.

However, the League of Wales may have earned Uefa's approval, but it does not have the elite of Wales. Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham remain in the Football League, and Merthyr Tydfil in the GM Vauhall Conference. They, at least, have kept their grounds and they still have a route to Europe, via the Welsh Cup.

Not so lucky are four Welsh clubs who have been driven into exile in order to stay in the English pyramid of non-League football. All four have been banished from the FAW and the Welsh Cup, and must share grounds with English clubs this season.

Barry Town - now known as Barri - will share with Worcester. Also in the Beazer Homes League, Newport AFC will play at Gloucester; while, in the HFS Loans League, Colwyn Bay will move in with Northwich Victoria, and Caernarfon Town will stage their home games in Manchester, at Curzon Ashton.

Apart from the League clubs and Merthyr, the FAW refused to allow any of its clubs to belong to English leagues from this season because, it claimed, the acceptance of the League of Wales by Uefa would be jeopardised.

However, the four exiles have been told recently by Uefa that their presence in the English pyramid would not have been a problem for the new league - but an appeal to the FAW to allow them to return home has been denied. 'They certainly won't be allowed back to their own grounds this year,' Alun Evans, the FAW secretary, said yesterday. 'We will look at it again when we see how the new league fares.'

For the exiles, though, the fight goes on. 'We are determined not to give in,' Dr Emrys Price-Jones, the chairman of Caernarfon, said. 'The FAW have been most unfair. They have treated the League clubs one way and the rest of us another way, with a heavy hand.' For the gang of four, there will be two campaigns this term, one on the pitch and one that may reach the courts.