The passion for the history and the birth of the FAW

There is something in the past that captures the imagination of generations.

The appetite for knowing the who, where and why of things is immense, and no more so in our own communities.

The Leader’s ‘Local Bygones’ Facebook page is proof of this, and among our articles and photos, members share their own images and memories.

Today we meet a member, who has a great passion for local history, and the first in a series of his features.

A love story began for 37-year-old Richard Jones at school.

Richard, born and raised in Ruabon but now in Gwersyllt, said: “I love all types of history, Vikings, medieval, ancient history.

“But locally a lot of it is first-hand. I’m here, I can go to the areas that have changed.

“I think it was thanks to my history teacher, Ms Bellis at Ysgol Rhiwabon, that I got into this.

“She was very passionate about it, and I was sold! My imagination was getting lost with it all when she spoke.”

Richard, who has a whole collection of history books, says his family loves finding out about him, seeing photos and reading articles, but he admits they’re probably not as interested as he is.

Here, in his first article for the Leader, Richard begins with Llewelyn Kenrick, Football Association of Wales and Ruabon Druids…

Druids of Ruabon.

• Samuel Llewelyn Kenrick was born in Ruabon, Wrexham in 1847, and into the dynasty of Kenrick landowners and industrialists of Wynn Hall, Ruabon.

He was the son of William Kenrick (1798-1865) who founded the Wynn Hall colliery, and a descendant of the Wynn family.

He attended high school in Ruabon and upon graduation continued his education to become a lawyer and practiced in Ruabon.

A keen footballer, two of Kenrick’s first teams he played for were Priorslee FC and Shropshire Wanderers, both from Shropshire.

With Shropshire Wanderers, Kenrick reached the FA Cup semi-final, losing 1-0 to Old Etonians.

Did you miss? The Flintshire footballer had his head set for success

With his love for football, Kenrick turned his attentions locally. In 1872 he helped brothers David and George Thomson merge the Ruabon-based club Plas Madoc with two other Ruabon clubs, Ruabon Rovers and Ruabon Volunteers, to form the Ruabon Druids.

The newly created club played their home matches at Plas Madoc Park in Rhosymedre, before a new ground was created at Wynn’s neighboring family estate at Wynnstay.

At this time there was no organized league system and the Druids played friendly matches against other local clubs, although they sometimes ventured further afield to play in England and Scotland.

In 1876 Kenrick saw an advertisement in Field newspaper about a Welshman named G. Clay-Thomas proposing that a Welsh team be formed to play rugby against Scotland or Ireland.

Kenrick saw the ad but decided the international game should be association football.

He said Field North Wales footballers accepted the challenge and he announced players.

Kenrick said players had to be born in Wales or have sufficient residence in the Principality to be selected.

Although he corresponded with several Welsh clubs and universities in order to form a team, Kenrick was criticized for allegedly neglecting southern players.

He attended a meeting on 2 February 1876 at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Wrexham, initially to formalize arrangements for the next game against Scotland and to discuss an arrangement to create some sort of Welsh football organisation.

In May 1876 a further meeting was called, in the ballroom of the same name Wynnstay Arms Hotel in Ruabon, where the name was agreed as the ‘Football Association of Wales’, and the constitution was drawn up.

Gallery of past teams across Wrexham and Flintshire

After Kenrick succeeded in his campaign to set up a Football Association of Wales (FAW), he was now its chairman and at this time he was still helping his brothers locally with the birth of Ruabon Druids.

1876 ​​looked to be a good year for Kenrick, seeing Ruabon Druids become the first Welsh club to compete in the newly organized English FA Cup.

Drawn against Shropshire Wanderers in the first round, the Druids withdrew before the match was played.

The following year the Druids entered the FA Cup again, again being drawn against Shropshire Wanderers in the first round.

They progressed to the third round where they were beaten 8-0 by eventual finalists, the Royal Engineers.

1877 saw the inaugural season of the FAW Challenge Cup competition, which would be run on similar lines to the English FA Cup.

The Druids entered, playing at Newtown in the competition’s very first game and eventually reaching the final, played at Acton Park, Wrexham, where they lost to Wrexham 1-0.

In the early 1900s the Ruabon Druids were a successful Welsh football team, unfortunately the pitch at Wynnstay Park Ground was rapidly becoming unsuitable and as the estate did not allow for improvement on the site the Druids began to suffer financially.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, football in the country ceased until 1920, which prevented the Druids from becoming anything more than a footnote in Welsh football history.

After the war, the Druids left Wynnstay Park and joined forces with Rhosymedre FC to form Rhosymedre Druids FC, which played on the church grounds in Rhosymedre.

Despite this new pairing, Druids still faced financial problems and merged again in 1923 with Acrefair United FC, to form the new club Druids United.

They continued to ply their trade in the area and they too merged with Cefn Albion FC in 1992 to form Cefn Druids FC, which still carries the name and success of the former club as Cefn Druids in the Cymru Premier.

  • To find out more about Richard, you can check out the Facebook Group – Historical Interest in Wrexham and Area