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New role for Welsh football icon as Gŵyl Wal Goch returns for 2024

30 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Wal Goch Festival 2024

Gŵyl Wal Goch returns to Wrexham, the spiritual home of football in Wales, with a Welsh football legend throwing his influential support behind the festival.

Everton and Wales star Neville Southall is taking on the role of patron of football’s answer to the Hay Festival, which will be held between 31st May – 2nd June.

Southall said: “I was a guest for the World Cup edition of the festival in 2022 and was bowled over by the atmosphere at the event and the way the team brought together an outstanding programme of events and international guests for three days in Wrexham.

“We all need to hear more about the positive impact football can have in effecting social change in areas such as men’s mental health and female empowerment and I’m very happy to do all in my power to support the festival in doing so.”

Now in its fourth year there’s a stellar list of guests at this year’s festival, including Chelsea, Everton and Scotland hero Pat Nevin, The Guardian writer David Conn, Carrie Dunn, Rebecca Watson and poet Evrah Rose. There will be music, screenings, exhibitions and some football, of course.

As we look forward to the Euros in Germany (sadly without Wales this time), David Conn joins an international panel on football writing with journalist Kit Holden from Berlin and Thomas Morris from Wales. David will also be interviewing the former Cheslea, Everton and Scotland player and 5 Live pundit Pat Nevin.

There will be a Welsh premiere of the Chilean film Historicas, directed by Javiera Court and Grace Lazcano, which tells the tale of how the country’s female players took matters into their own hands as the national team became increasingly inactive.

The festival will consider how football memories can help people with dementia and other forms of memory loss, and will be looking specifically at the women’s game and some of the hot topics affecting the future of women’s football, including how we can maximise performance and avoid injuries which particularly affect girls and women.

Gŵyl Wal Goch will also discuss transitioning from professional football into the post-playing career – and the toll this can take on mental health – with the former Hereford player and Welsh Cup winner Ian Benbow.

Welsh author Leon Barton talks to the ‘Little Wonder’ Brian Flynn as he celebrates his 50th anniversary in football. Meanwhile, Peris Hatton owns more than 300 football shirts. He’s written a book about them and joins the festival line-up to tell all.

Festival co-founder Russell Todd will tell the little known tale of the remarkable life of Phil Woosnam, the physics graduate from Caersws who won international honours with Wales, before becoming the ‘Father of professional football in the USA’ where he played no small part in luring the likes of Pele, Cruyff, Best and Beckenbauer to the North American Soccer League.

There will also be plenty of local Wrexham talent on show, including Evrah Rose, Mark Coverdale and Lisa O’Hare. Live music is always a staple part of the festival with past performers including Gallops, Gruff Rhys, Adwaith and Sage Todz. This year, Cwlwm Tystion will be playing Ty Pawb on the Friday night of the festival, with Larynx Entertainment curating an evening of music of black origin on Saturday.

Wal Goch Festival 2024

Dave Evans from the Festival team said: “We have another amazing lineup this year. Gŵyl Wal Goch has got something for everyone – films, talks and exhibitions. If you care about our national game, the arts and the power of football then you really need to be there.”

He added: “No-one who listened at last year’s festival to former Wales international George Berry could fail to have been moved by his stories of the racism he faced in the 1970s and 1980s. Likewise, former Golden Boot winner and Croatia, Real Madrid and Arsenal player Davor Suker talking about how important football was to his small Balkan nation after the Yugoslav Civil War.”

David Conn who was a speaker in 2022 and will be back for #WalGoch24, said: “2022 was an amazing programme of football and culture. There were books, a talk on the prison football team Prescoed FC and the power of football to help people psychologically as well as physically.

“There were also some remarkable films showing football’s cherished status in difficult places all over the world. The whole festival brought home to me how much their national men’s team means to Welsh people; it has the feel and passion of supporting a club. I’m looking forward to returning to Wrexham this year.”

The full programme and ticket link are available at, with a special offer for Focus Wales wristband holders available during the weekend of the festival. Under 16s go free to Gwyl Wal Goch as do the registered carers of disabled festival attendees.

Follow Gŵyl Wal Goch on X (formerly Twitter): @gwylwalgoch; or on Instagram: @walgochfest

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