This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers.

Association Football and Rugby in Wales

Despite the title 'Fun and Footer', this column refers to rugby football and not association football, which Americans call soccer, although it is normally the latter that is called 'footer'. Rugby as we now know it reached Wales in 1850, when the Reverend Professor Rowland Williams brought the game with him from Cambridge to St. David's College, Lampeter. The Football Association of Wales was founded in 1876.

The position of rugby in Wales is very difficult to summarise briefly, and impossible in the context of a piece probably written by an Englishman. Briefly, rugby tends to be “classier” than association football in England because of its association with many of the top public schools. In Wales, on the other hand, it is historically the most popular sport among coalminers. —— David Skilton

Decorated initial I

do not play at football myself, so I may be said to approach the subject with a mind entirely free from bias. And yet I have formed some strong views on the game, which, at this period of the year, and until the approach of the poet-maligned spring, will be a subject of more than ordinary interest to thousands of my misguided fellows.

Before the Game

Concretely described, football may be said to be a game in which thirty men try so kick a ball over a bar. I know I shall be told by those who know, or think they know, all about the 'science of the game' that my definition is bald and inaccurate, but, in the face of this contemptuous expression of opinion, I stick to mv guns.

When a lot of boys attempt to play football they are, in all probability, laughed at for their pains, but when thirty full-grown men proceed to do the same thing they are applauded to the echo, made small gods of by their partisans, and watched with eagerness by thousands of their fellow men and women.

This is one of the peculiarities of the English race. What in a boy is a wrong thing to do, in a man becomes a right thing, and in the case of football it is regarded as a thing of national importance, and is looked upon as a thoroughly English pastime and a national and representative game.

After the Game

I take it for granted that as thousands of people watch it — and hundreds of full-grown and rational men play it — that there are advantages in the game of football that there are not apparent to the novice, but up to the present I have been entirely unable to ascertain their nature. But, as I said before, I am not a player. To me the principal results of the game seem. to be torn jerseys, bruised shins, and broken collar-bones, with a sensation of glory at remote intervals in the shape of the cheers of satisfied spectators. Spectators, by the way, are people who have to be seriously considered in connection with the game of football.

If they are pleased, nothing is too good for the team that pleases them. If they are annoyed they have, as the frequent and unpleasant appeals to County Committees show, a matter-of-fact and emphatic way of showing their displeasure.

As a rule they vent their ire upon the players, umpires, and referees by throwing sods or other handy material at them, and, if they happen to be over-exasperated, they take the law into their own hands, and break into the space set aside for play, 'going' for anyone who may come within range of their mutilating hands or feet.

Which proves that football is not 'all beer and skittles,' and that those who play do not do so free from risks apart from the contingencies of the actual game itself.

The umpires in a football match are people not to be envied. They are in the peculiar position that one of them is bound to offend the partisans of one of the clubs.

Which is a state of things not to be desired by the pluckiest or most hardened of men. Yet, in spite of all these drawbacks, football is the most popular of English games, and has more adherents than cricket, tennis, or golf. Therefore, as I said before, there must be more in the game than meets the eye of the common or garden spectator like my humble self.

There is one phase of the football-playing community that is worthy of all praise. and that is the readiness with which they lay themselves out to do a turn for charity. For this object they risk broken limbs, lumbago, and other kindred ills, and gather in gates the like of which could not be obtained from any other pastime. Take it in all for all, football could ill be dispensed with. Long may it flourish.

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Last modified 2 May 2022