Eminent Victorians (Wales)
The geography of Wales is such that the counties in the north-east and eastern borders have closer transport, economic and social ties with the neighbouring English counties than they do with the industrial heartlands of South Wales. So in the late 19th century, when rugby became the sport of working people in the industrialised south-east of Wales, Association Football was becoming established in and around Wrexham, Flint, Chirk and Ruabon, which had links with the emerging industrial towns of Lancashire and the Midlands.
Teams also sprang up around the north-west coast but travelling proved such a challenge that a short-lived North Wales Coast League was formed in 1895 although this folded seven years later.
There was a cetain fluidity to the affiliation of teams on the borders. Oswestry (which is in England) affiliated to the FA of Wales but later competed in league competitions in England. Wrexham (Wales' oldest club) affiliated to the (English) FA and, aside from two seasons spent in the Welsh League (1894-96), have competed in English leagues ever since. The Welsh Cup, created in 1877, a year after the FA of Wales was formed, frequently featured English teams from the border counties until 1996 since when entry has been restricted to Welsh sides.
Sources: Charles Alcock's Football Annuals 1873, 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881 researched by Robin Horton, Welsh Football Data Archive.
Photograph courtesy of the Welsh Football Data Archive.