Soccer and Society: South Wales, 1900-1939

By Martin Johnes | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

WALES TRIUMPHANT IN THE WEMBLEY CUP FINAL
… Then, 30 minutes after the restart came the deciding goal.
FERGUSON, from close in, drove hard, and [Dan] Lewis was brought to
his knees. Len Davies rushed up, and in turning over to avoid the Welsh
forward, Lewis lost his grip on the ball, which rolled slowly into the net.

South Wales News, 25 April 1927

NINETEEN-TWENTY-SEVEN-the year Cardiff City first won the
Cup’. That is how Welsh football history and, perhaps, some other history
too, will come to be dated in the future.

Western Mail, 25 April 1927

And so, with a shot from a Scottish centre forward that slipped through the hands of an Arsenal goalkeeper from the Rhondda, Cardiff City won the FA Cup. The irony of the professional football labour market was not lost on contemporaries, some of whom even insinuated that Lewis’s apparent error was rooted in some kind of national sympathy with the Cardiff team. Yet the goal was enough to win the cup, and Wales united in jubilation. Two days later a crowd, estimated at 100,000, turned out to welcome the victorious team home to Cardiff. For those on the streets that day, and for the rest of Wales, it was a rare triumph during a period of economic depression. Four months earlier, the miners of south Wales had returned to work defeated after a long and bitter strike. Others were less fortunate and unemployment was at an unprecedented level as south Wales was engulfed by an economic blizzard. For the people enduring that storm, Cardiff City’s victory was a brief moment of sunshine.


SPORT IN WALES

In the late nineteenth century, south Wales experienced its own industrial revolution. The rapidly expanding coal industry imposed economic, environmental and social transformations on

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