Caernarfon Town have hired Huw Griffiths as their new first team manager, just hours after he was sacked by Cefn Druids.
In a shock move, Griffiths was unveiled by the Cofis on Friday night, after the Ancients’ decision to terminate his contract earlier in the day.
It means Sean Eardley has been replaced at the top for the second time in less than a year, following the short-lived tenure of Allan Bickerstaff, but he will stay at The Oval as assistant manager.
Griffiths’ first game in charge will be a televised Gwynedd derby at home to Bala Town next Friday (7th February) – when the run-in to the Cymru Premier season begins.
He said: ”I’m really looking forward to working with Eards. He’s a great bloke and we know each other well. I also know Richard (Davies – assistant) and I’m certain we’ll work well as a team.”
Griffiths, who was on his second spell with the Druids, was named the Welsh Premier’s manager of the season in 2018 after guiding them into the Europa League.
Since last November, he has been the sporting director at The Rock, but the club missed out on a place in the Championship Conference for the second half of this season.
On Friday morning, the Druids, citing ”a very serious incident…in a non-footballing matter”, said it immediately terminated Griffiths’ contract, after taking advice in the FAW.
In a statement issued later, the club said: ”We are very disappointed in having to take this action but the club has a duty of care to its players, staff and general public.
”Jayson Starkey will take over as caretaker manager whilst the club looks for a replacement. We will not be making any further comment.”
Whatever the circumstances that led to his abrupt dismissal, Griffiths is set to face his former club at the end of the month, when they visit Caernarfon for the quarter finals of the Welsh Cup.
But for the moment, the Canaries’ number one priority is qualifying for the Europa League for the first time in their history, having narrowly missed out on reaching last season’s play-off final.
Going into the second phase of the Cymru Premier campaign, they lost their last five league games, although the barren run was broken by last weekend’s cup win at Ammanford.
Interim chairman Paul Evans said the new appointment fitted but not only the club’s management team but its policy of ”giving the best local talent an opportunity to play at the highest level”.
He added: ”We’re all excited by Huw’s arrival and want to make it clear that the appointment was made with the full blessing of Sean Eardley, who has, and will continue to be, a major figure in the club.”
”Huw will bring added experience to the management team and will work within our remit of securing that the best local players wear the yellow shirt. We are all looking forward to working with Huw and welcome him to the Oval.”
But Griffiths’ arrival brings an abrupt end to fans favourite Eardley’s second spell in charge as manager, despite leading Caernarfon to another top six finish in their second season back in the top flight.
His first reign ended in similar fashion last April when the club brought in former Rhyl and Connah’s Quay boss Allan Bickerstaff, as part of a shake-up at management level.
In the event, he took charge for just three games – including the play-off semi final defeat to Cardiff Met. Barely four months later, Bickerstaff quit the club, blaming work commitments for his decision.
Despite losing his managerial duties again, Eardley insists the new arrival is what the management team needed as they turn their thoughts to another crack at European qualifying.
He said on Friday: ”To be working alongside Huw is a boost that myself and the management team needed. He’s a great guy off the field, and since our very first game against Druids back in the top flight, we’ve kept in touch on different football matters.”
”He now adds experience and knowledge to what is already a strong management team. The players are buzzing to embrace a new voice and are looking forward to some different ideas.”
”We can’t wait for the next eleven matches now, including the Welsh Cup, which will have that element of spice now. As long as he doesn’t nick my song, I’m happy!”