ALMOST 18 years ago, another small mid-Wales village side enjoyed a European adventure in a UEFA competition.

In 2002, Caersws FC, representing a village of around 1,500 but a Welsh Premier side, qualified for the Inter-Toto Cup, a summer competition which carried what would now be a Europa League qualification spot.

They were drawn against Bulgarian side FC Marek Dunpica and on June 22, while many were engrossed in the 2002 World Cup, the Bluebirds, and a small band of a few dozen loyal supporters travelling on two coaches, headed east of the old iron curtain, to the Bonchuk Stadium.

Among the supporters was Gwilym Lewis, from Caersws, and also a UEFA referee, while photographer Phil Blagg was at both games taking pictures.

Caersws, a side mainly drawn of local, part-time players, lost the first leg 2- 0, to a brace of goals from Vladislav Vladov in front of a crowd of 1,500 in Bulgaria.

But a superb home leg display which was played at Aberystwyth Town’s Park Avenue in front of more than 1,200 supporters saw them draw 1- 1 and go out 3-1 on aggregate to the full-time Bulgarian professionals.

Graham Evans, son of manager Mickey Evans, headed Caersws into an early lead on his way to becoming a club legend, but the Bluebirds were pegged back by a Rumen Shankulov volley.

The Caersws side featured the likes of Graham Evans, Graham Jones, Colin Reynolds. Andrew Thomas, Andy Davies, former County Times sports editor David Williams and Antony Griffiths.

Graham Evans followed his father as manager at the Recreation Ground and is now an FAW Councillor for mid Wales.

Andy Davies went on to become a marathon runner and competed in the Glasgow Commonwealth games, and finished 26th in last years London Marathon, just 10 minutes behind Mo Farah.

Despite spending 17 years in the top flight following its formation in 1992, Caersws were relegated in 2010 and now play in the Mid Wales Football League.