In January 1876 Llewellyn Kenrick responded to a challenge printed in The Field, to raise a Welsh football team to play a representative side from Ireland or Scotland in either the association or rugby code. Kenrick faced down his critics from South Wales who argued that Wales' representative team should play rugby football and in February 1876 at a meeting held in the Wynnstay Arms, Wrexham, he formed the FA of Wales (Cymdeithas Bêl-droed Cymru).
The Welsh team of the Edwardian era is associated with the brilliant Billy Meredith, a miner from Chirk who went on to play for both Manchester City and Manchester United, became involved in a bribery scandal, fell out with his managers on a regular basis and won 48 caps for his country. (He would have won more but his clubs refused to release him for 23 internationals.)
A clear distinction developed between South Wales, where rugby union was firmly established as the game of the working class and the more sparsely populated North Wales, where association football was more popular.
Wales joined the other British associations by leaving FIFA in 1928. In 1932, Wales played host to the Republic of Ireland, the first time they had played a team from outside the home nations. The following May they played France in Paris, the first time Wales had traveled outside the British Isles.
Various knickers worn
Recorded as crimson & white
Shirt colour not confirmed
Wales' first game was played in Partick, Glasgow against Scotland, who won 4-0. A programme was printed for the match which, curiously, does not give details of the team's colours but does describe the caps and/or stockings worn by the players so spectators could distinguish one from another. The Welsh goalkeeper, for example wore "pale yellow and purple" (whether as a cap or socks is not clear) while the Scotch (sic) left-back wore brown stockings.
Dylan Jones has established that in the return fixture in 1877, Wales wore white shirts with the Welsh emblem (confirmed by Darren Foss as being the three feathers of the Prince of Wales) and (navy) blue knickers. Players provided their own socks. In the game with England in February 1881 both sides wore white shirts, with the Welsh players sporting a "sash of ribbon" (colour not recorded) on their belts to distinguish them. In the corresponding 1883 fixture Wales wore "crimson and white." It now appears that the cash strapped FA of Wales bought whatever shirts they could afford at least until 1895 and the team wore a variety of shirts in the interim. HFK hopes to have details of these in late 2012.
It was not until they played Ireland for the first time on 25 February 1882 that the Welsh recorded their first win, a crushing 7-1 victory followed by a 5-3 win against England.
The following season the British Home Championship was inaugurated. Home games were normally played at Y Cae Raes (Racecourse Ground) in Wrexham although in February 1894, Wales met Ireland in Swansea, in the heartland of rugby union. Two years later Wales played England at Cardiff Arms Park and were thrashed 1-9.
It was previously thought that in 1905 the FA of Wales (FAW) decided to drop their green and white halved shirts in favour of red shirts and white knickers, the colours associated with the Welsh Rugby Union side. Simon (Shakey) Shakeshaft, a collector of match worn Welsh international tops, has discovered that the team wore red jerseys in 1901. It is unclear if the old green and white tops were then retired and HFK awaits further information on the period 1902-1905. The crest of the FAW was not always worn. After 1910 fixtures were shared between north Wales (usually Wrexham) and the south (usually Cardiff).
Although Wales joined FIFA in 1906, they continued to play fixtures exclusively with the other three British teams so no change kit was required. Players wore their club stockings. In 1907, with Meredith in great form, Wales won the Home Championship for the first time.
Designer: St Margrets
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Welsh teams continued to play in red shirts with lace-up collars until 1930. More modern collars were introduced in 1931. A change kit was not required in this period and players continued to wear their club stockings until at least 1931 and possibly later. Home games were now played at the grounds of Cardiff City, Swansea Town and Wrexham.
Kits were manufactured by St Margrets who were a pre curser to Marks & Spencers' St Michael's brand.
: Wales 1946-1963>