Various manners of kicking a ball for sport or fun have existed for thousands of years, with perhaps the first recorded form dating back to the Han Dynasty of 200BC. Modern football cites England as the birth nation of this beautiful game, as public schools began codification in the mid-19th century. By the 1860s and 70s, many industrial hubs in the North and Midlands had embraced the new rules and were establishing their own local clubs. Whilst the south of Wales were busy playing rugby, the country’s northern towns decided to follow their English neighbours in setting up games and eventually, creating a league of their own.
Laying the Foundations
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) was established in 1876 by the aptly named ‘Father of Welsh Football’, local solicitor Llewelyn Kenrick. A few months later, he succeeded in organising the first international game between the newly assembled Wales team and Scotland, which they went on to lose 4-0. The same year also witnessed the creation of the Welsh Cup, which kicked off with 17 clubs and still runs to this day, with a current participation of 135 teams.
Born in Wrexham
The birthplace of Welsh football is accredited to Wrexham, which spawned the nation’s first official club in 1869 at Plas Madoc in Ruabon. Local Wrexham cricketers soon followed suit, initiating a second team at The Racecourse in 1872. During the first ever domestic cup campaign, the climax saw both teams in the final, attended by 1,500 spectators and resulting in a fiercely fought 1-0 win for Wrexham over their Druid derby rivals.
The pinnacle of professional football in Wales is found in the Premier League, which began life in 1992 and presently hosts 12 clubs. Teams in lower divisions are split geographically, with the North accommodating the Cymru Alliance and the South home to the Welsh National League.