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Our Overlooked Past

We're often described as a nation that is "passionate" and proud of our sporting heritage. But it sometimes seems that the passion and pride are reserved for a fairly limited view of Wales's sporting past. Especially when it comes to football.

The national team is of course the primary focus: the World Cup finals in 1958; Euro 2016; John Charles, Ivor Allchurch, Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale... Rightly so, for the national team is the most high-profile representation of the country in a truly global sport. It's fun speculating on the value of top current Welsh players - and using a football index referral code to back up your judgement in the marketplace. 

But what else? Often, the other aspects of our football past that seem to be most remembered and inspire the most pride are firmly entrenched in English football. Players who have shone in the English leagues. Clubs that have achieved success in English competition, like Cardiff City's FA Cup win in 1927 and numerous giant-killings by Wrexham, Newport County etc.

Most people have little or no awareness of the wider history of football in Wales. A prime example is the pioneering days of the 19th century founders of the FAW, which - rather remarkably for its time - asserted Wales as a distinct nation in football from England. Granted, the FAW then spent a century doing nothing to capitalise on that status, to the point where the idea of Wales having its own national league was subversive and open to ridicule.

Talk about the early days of football in Cardiff and it's unlikely that the conversation will get much further than Cardiff City. But they didn't really appear until the start of the 20th century, and the true pioneers of football in the city have been forgotten.

Then there are the famous stadia that have hosted cup finals and big games, but have since been forgotten: Taff Vale Park, the Mid-Rhondda Athletic Ground etc. Not even a plaque or information board to remind us.

At Welsh Football magazine, we strive to balance those narrow, Anglo-centric perceptions by focusing equally on the forgotten stories. And in our forthcoming issue, no. 211, we'll be telling the story of the first Cardiff football club to win any sort of honour, all of 125 years ago. A vivid reminder of that club, and one of the men who played for it, has just come unexpectedly to light, hundreds of miles away.

Don't miss out - for your chance to journey back to Cardiff in the 1890s, pre-order your copy of Welsh Football 211, published at the end of January.

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