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How a Wales bucket hat ended up in an exhibition at the FIFA Museum

29 Dec 2022 4 minute read
The bucket hat at the exhibition at the FIFA Museum in Switzerland (Credit: FIFA)

When the 211 Cultures. One Game exhibition opened at the FIFA museum last month it contained one very special Welsh bucket hat.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a display of 211 objects, each telling a story from one of the 211 FIFA member associations. Many of the objects were provided directly by the associations, while others were collected through personal exchanges with fans around the globe.

And it’s through one particularly well known Wales fan that the bucket hat has found its way into a display cabinet at FIFA HQ in Zurich.

Since diehard Wales football fan Tim Williams launched the Spirit of 58 label in 2010, it has dovetailed perfectly with the reinvention of Welsh international football.

The Bala-based company has created a whole range of clothing linked to Welsh football. However, it’s the bucket hat that remains Spirit of 58’s most popular item.

And with Wales qualifying for two European Championships and now a World Cup, the SO58 hats have now become a trademark of Welsh football culture.

After being contacted by the Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Football Museum in Wrexham, Tim offered the original bucket hat he himself wore to the Euro 2016 Championships in France.

Signed by many of the players who appeared in that groundbreaking tournament for Wales, Tim said he was more than happy to donate it to the exhibition.

The bucket in the Fans and Icons case at the FIFA Museum (Credit: FIFA)

“It’s the bucket hat I wore in France in 2016, so it means a lot to me, but when the Welsh football museum in Wrexham got in touch I was happy to see it appear. It’s an honour to have it in the exhibition and a sign of just how far Welsh fan culture has evolved.”

The objects at the FIFA exhibition relate to both the men’s and women’s games and range from jerseys to tickets, to photos and pieces of pop culture, such as the original trophies from the Marianas Cup or an Aya Huma mask, which is a colourful merging of football and Ecuadorian culture.

However, with its brilliant red, green and yellow design, the Wales bucket hat is certainly one of the standout items at the museum.

The popularity of Welsh football in recent times has caused a boom in bucket hat sales, with the original Spirit of 58 bucket hats changing hands for hundreds of pounds on eBay.

The hats popularised by the Welsh clothing brand have become synonymous with the Wales football team and the Red Wall.

The original Spirit Of 58 bucket hats, that usually retail for less than £20, have morphed into many different versions over the years, but it’s testimony to Tim’s love of music and The Stone Roses in particular that it exists at all.

“In the late ‘80s and ‘90s me and my mates from Bala were all into the Roses,” he says. “A gang of us went to Spike Island. (Stone Roses drummer) Reni wore a bucket hat and introduced the world to it. He and the Roses had a big influence on a lot of people back then and the style of clothing they wore.

“We were into music and clothes and it’s stayed with me all these years later. Local people probably looked at us back then and thought ‘what the hell do they look like?’ But we didn’t care. It was a lot of fun going to gigs, getting into the car and driving to gigs in Manchester and Liverpool.

“I started supporting Wrexham when my dad took me to my first match aged nine, and music, football and fashion have always gone hand in hand.

“But I took a chance with the bucket hat and luckily for me it worked.”

Find out more about the 211 Cultures: One Game exhibition HERE

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