‘Football’s coming home’…to Wales with grassroots game at birthplace of Welsh FA
Welsh football will be ‘coming home’ this weekend with a cup game just yards away from the hotel where the Welsh FA took shape in 1876.
The Welsh Cup match between Ruabon Rovers and Saltney Town is being played at the village’s ‘Rec’ ground, which backs onto the Wynnstay Arms Hotel.
It’s in this building, in May of 1876, that the name ‘Football Association of Wales’ was agreed upon at a meeting called by Ruabon solicitor and first FAW president, Llewellyn Kenrick.
It was at this meeting that a constitution for the new governing body was agreed with heated discussions lasting so long into the night that a local constable is said to have intervened.
Ruabon Rovers is a newly formed team that brings football back to the north-east Wales village after the previous team, Ruabon Villa, fizzled out some 15 years ago.
Despite having a population of only around 2,400, the village of Ruabon has played a prominent role in the history of Welsh football, producing one of the most successful teams in Druids FC.
A report on the club by David Collins of Welsh Football magazine says: “The whole vicinity is steeped in football history: just to the south-east, Wynnstay Park, where the original Druids of Ruabon had their home ground from the 1880s; 100 yards away, the Wynnstay Arms where the FAW met to draw up its first rules and regulations, and the one where the Welsh Cup competition was initiated.
“Across the road, the site of the courthouse, where Kenrick presided as a magistrate; further up the High Street, the grammar school he had attended (his footsteps later followed by another Welsh football great, Mark Hughes).”
Llewellyn Kenrick has become known as ‘the father of Welsh football’ having helped launch the Welsh FA and organise the first international match that took place against Scotland in 1876.
The role of Kenrick and the pivotal Ruabon meeting was featured in BBC Wales’ recent Football Nation documentary series by Elis James, telling the story of the game from a fan’s perspective.
Confusingly, the initial idea to form a Welsh FA also took place at a Wynnstay Arms but this meeting occurred two months previously at the similarly named premises in the nearby town of Wrexham.
Ruabon Rovers has produced a special commemorative programme to mark the ‘coming home’ of Welsh football. The Welsh Cup match against Saltney Town kicks off at 2pm on Saturday, July 10 at the Recreation Ground, Ruabon.
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Good to see that Wrexham Maelor is commemorating this important event in the history of Welsh football. It’s thanks to Kenrick and his colleagues that we have a Welsh FA and a Welsh national football team.
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