Welsh Clubs in English Football

Although Wales has the third oldest Football Association in the world and has always enjoyed a separate national identity in the game, there has always been some 'across the border' football activity between Welsh and English clubs.
Several English clubs were in fact members of the Welsh FA, and the cradle of Welsh football, the industrial north east, is very close to the midlands and Lancashire, where professional football developed most rapidly in the 1880's and 90's.
Here we will look at the involvement of Welsh clubs in the two great footballing institutions of England, the Football League and the FA Cup, and the boom which saw the Southern League develop a separate Welsh Division.
In the early years the FA Cup was not limited to English teams. Teams from Scotland, Wales and Ireland entered in the 1880's.
Similarly the Football League, since it's inception in 1888, has never been the 'English' league. Clubs from Scotland and Wales were eligible to apply for membership, although none did so until the expansion of the league in the 1920's.


The first Welsh club to compete in the FA Cup was Druids.They entered in 1876–77 , but didn't actually play. The following season they were knocked out 8-0 by Royal Engineers . Druids next appeared in the cup in 1882-83 when they were  beaten in the 5th round by Blackburn Olympic having earlier eliminated Bolton Wanderers.
Druids later played in The  Birmingham & District League (founded in 1889), one of the strongest leagues outside the Football League itself.

The 1882-83 and 1883-84 seasons saw FA Cup appearances by two clubs who were members of the Football Association of Wales despite being English - Oswestry Town and Davenham.

1883 also saw Wrexham's first involvement in the FA Cup, under the name Wrexham Olympic. They were also founder members of the Combination in 1890, and later played in the Birmingham and District League (1905)
In 1921 Wrexham were elected to the newly formed Third Division North of the Football League.

Chirk AAA- 1894- Billy Meredith far left middle.

Chirk AAA  played in the1885-86 FA Cup. They were also later to become members of the Combination.

Llangollen Town participated in the  FA Cup in 1887-1888.

Aberdare Athletic

Aberdare (Athletic)Founded in 1893, they joined the Southern League in 1920-21  and the  Football League Third Division South in 1921–22. They played in the FA Cup for the first time in 1922-23 and as  Aberdare & Aberaman Athletic rejoined the Southern League in1927. 

Cardiff City 

Cardiff (City)formed in 1899, in 1910 they joined  the Southern League Second Division. When they joined the expanding  Football League in 1920 Cardiff were put straight into Division 2. They played in the First Division from 1921–29 and from 1931 onward.  First entering the  FA cup in 1912-13, Cardiff were  runners up in 1924-25, and winners in 1926-27.

Merthyr Town

Merthyr Town was  founded in 1909 joining the second division of the Southern League. Elected to Division 3 of the Football League in 1920, they made their FA Cup debut in 1920-21.

The 1909-20 period saw many Welsh clubs joining the Southern League

Ton Pentre joined the second division of the Southern League in 1909, and Treharris Athletic Western F.C in 1910.
In 1911-12 they were joined by Cwm AlbionMardy, and  Pontypridd, with Llanelly (who would repeatedly try, without success to join the Football League) and  Mid Rhondda joining in 1912-13.

Newport County-founded in 1912 they joined the  Southern League that year and made their FA Cup debut in the 1913-14 season. They were elected to the new Football League Division 3 in 1920.

Swansea Town - founded in 1912 they joined the Southern League that year and were elected to the new   Football league Div 3 in 1920. They made their FA Cup debut in 1920-1921, making the semi finals in 1925-1926.

In the 1913-14 season AbertilleryBarry and Caerphilly joined the Southern League, followed by Ebbw Vale.
When the Southern League resumed in 1919-20 the 11 club second tier was exclusively Welsh, with  Porth Athletic and Aberaman Athletic being the new faces. This Welsh section continued until the 
1923–24 season. 
Lovell's Athletic F.C. - a works team from a sweet factory in Newport, joined the  Southern League  in 1928.
By 1937–38 season  Barry and Newport County reserves were the  only remaining Welsh sides in the Southern League.