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Welsh football in good voice

The Football Association of Wales was founded in Wrexham in February 1876 by a group of businessmen who wanted a representative team to play against Scotland.
Welsh football in good voice
Gareth Bale celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid CF ©Getty Images

Welsh football in good voice

The Football Association of Wales was founded in Wrexham in February 1876 by a group of businessmen who wanted a representative team to play against Scotland.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) was founded in Wrexham in February 1876 by a group of businessmen who wanted a representative team to play against Scotland. They wished to emulate the matches between the Scots and the English that had begun four years before.

The game against Scotland eventually took place in Glasgow in March 1876. The Welsh side, comprising ten players with connections in north Wales and a solitary player from the south, lost 4-0. The return match the next year in Wrexham ended in a 2-0 defeat.

Football in Wales would be dominated by the north in the early years of the FAW, as clubs such as Wrexham AFC, Oswestry Town FC and Chirk AAA FC rose to prominence. In 1877/78 the Welsh Cup was introduced with the initial aim of finding players of international calibre. Wrexham were the competition's first winners and soon the tournament became a force in itself, though it was not until 1912 that a side from south Wales, Cardiff City FC, lifted the trophy.

The game finally started to take hold in south Wales in the 1890s, and in 1902 the Welsh Football League was formed. At the same time, however, many Welsh teams began to join the English leagues in search of a higher standard of opponent.

When football resumed after the First World War, then FAW secretary Ted Robbins tried to single-handedly revolutionise the way the sport was run in the country. The difficulties were immense as most top Welsh players were with English clubs and their release and availability for international matches never guaranteed. Nonetheless, Wales won the British Championship in 1907, with subsequent triumphs in 1920, 1924, 1928, 1933, 1934 and 1937.

Wales entered FIFA World Cup qualifying for the first time in the 1950s, and it was during this period that Herbert Powell, the FAW secretary, emerged as an influential figure with the fledgling UEFA organisation. However, the nation's sole success to date in reaching a World Cup final round came in Sweden in 1958, with the 1960s proving uneventful in comparison.

In 1976 Wales got to the quarter-finals of the UEFA European Championship under manager Mike Smith, and over the following years they developed into one of Europe's most improved sides, under first Mike England and then Terry Yorath. However, a second qualification for a major finals was to remain an elusive quest.

Some great Welsh players have performed with distinction on the world stage, including John Charles, who became an idol in Italy; Ian Rush, a feared goalscorer for Liverpool FC; Neville Southall, the Everton FC goalkeeper; and Ryan Giggs, who won the UEFA Champions League with Manchester United FC in 1999 and 2008.

Wales also came agonisingly close to qualifying for UEFA EURO 2004, losing to Russia in the play-offs, and with a new crop of talented youngsters having emerged – foremost among them the planet's most expensive footballer Gareth Bale – there is considerable optimism that Welsh football will be on the rise again. 

In 2013 Wales successfully hosted the finals of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship and this was followed in 2014 with the staging of the UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff.

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Trefor Lloyd Hughes

Trefor Lloyd Hughes

Nationality: Welsh
Date of birth: 11 December 1947
Association president since: August 2012

• A lifetime's association with football began for Trefor Lloyd Hughes with his local village team Bodedern FC on the island of Anglesey, and he went on to hold a host of administrative posts with the club before graduating to become an official with local and regional leagues. A former mechanic, he worked for the ambulance service for 34 years.

• Hughes was elected to the Football Association of Wales (FAW) in 1989 and was previously its treasurer and senior vice-president. He was also the North Wales Coast FA area association representative for many years. Away from football, he is a county councillor and has served as chairman of Anglesey Council and mayor of Holyhead.

• As one of the smaller nations, Wales faces particular challenges both on and off the pitch but Hughes believes they are able to punch above their weight. “We are a very progressive association under chief executive Jonathan Ford and we want to push Wales to the forefront as much as we possibly can," he said. "Anybody who dismisses Wales as a little country does so at their peril."

General secretary


Jonathan Ford

Jonathan Ford

Nationality: British
Date of birth: 9 June 1968
Association CEO since: 2010

• Jonathan Ford joined the Football Association of Wales (FAW) – the third oldest association in the world – as chief executive in 2009, succeeding general secretary David Collins. In 2010, the FAW launched a new strategic plan, designed to realign the association with its motto, Gorau chwarae cyd chwarae (best play team play) and to build successes at all levels.

• Ford has spent over 20 years working in and around sport, first in television working in the buying and selling, production and syndication of rights and programmes. Then, for the last ten years, he worked in senior management positions with global brand Coca-Cola, dealing with international business building programmes utilising sports properties including the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships, to achieve business objectives.

• Football has been through a rapid transformation and modernisation programme over the last few years with many notable key successes, including the FAW hosting its first UEFA final tournament, the European Women's Under 19 Championship in 2013, and the UEFA Super Cup one year later in Cardiff.

Association info

  • Founded: 1876
  • UEFA affiliation: 1954
  • FIFA affiliation: 1910
  • Address: 11/12 Neptune Court Vanguard Way CF24 5PJ CARDIFF
  • Telephone: +44 29 2043 5830
  • Fax: +44 29 2049 6953

Association club coefficients

47Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland0/43.625
Last updated: 26/05/2014 06:59 CET

Honours by National Teams

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