Wales and the 58 year sleep...
(Posted on 13/06/16)
Wales; The land of song, sheep and crushing disappointment most years, but not in 2016 as the Welsh National Football Team dine with the big boys at Euro 2016.
A nation of three million people overshadowed by qualifications of it’s three British counterparts, Wales last qualified for a major tournament 58 years ago.
To put that in perspective, since then we’ve had the moon landings, ten British prime ministers, the Beatles were known as the Quarrymen and Brian Adams was born, rose to fame, topped the charts for eighteen consecutive weeks and then disappeared into the wilderness.
We’ve missed quite a lot, but now finally Wales are competing and winning in a major football tournament.
Rugby is the name of the game in the country as the national sport, however it seems for one summer at least that’s all changing.
Back in the summer of 1958 Wales reached the World Cup Quarter Final in Sweden, losing to Brazil where a little known attacker named Pele scored his first tournament goal, what ever happened to him?
Nobody thought it would be this long until Wales were back in the big time, but after a phenomenal qualification campaign including a win over then world number one ranked side Belgium in Cardiff, the Welsh could believe.
In true Welsh fashion they would secure qualification in Bosnia, with a 2-0 loss in the rain. Although it was their only loss it never mattered, as the referee blew his whistle men and woman all over the tiny nation were clicking ‘confirm booking’ on hotels and flights to France.
Here on Vintage Football Shirt, we are home to some of the best shirts throughout Welsh Football, including from the national side through Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay and even Merthyr Tydfyl!
The 2002-2004 Welsh home shirt was a simple Kappa design; the Italian sponsor was present for history for Wales as Mark Hughes’ side beat the kit providers home country of Italy in a Welsh win at the Millennium Stadium. However, it was also worn in dark times, as Wales lost a qualifier to Russia, missing out on the Euro’s in 2004 so closely.
Eventually the late great Gary Speed took the manager’s role as Umbro provided the strip. A classic design as Wales fell short of qualification to Euro 2012, but it spelt progress. Speed however wouldn’t take Wales forward following the shock news of his passing in 2011, yet will forever be the man who took over the ship and directed it on to the right course.
Chris Coleman came in, and Speed’s work was continued. In 2014 now with adidas and wearing the colours of red, white and green the Welsh strode on with wins over Andorra, Cyprus, Israel and the Belgians to eventually book their flight to the Euro’s.
With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams all donning the shirt and beating Slovakia in their first match, things are on the up for Welsh football.
As sport in Wales see’s focus on a round ball this year, the Welsh will hope to emulate the success of teams such as the Danish who won the competition in 1992 and that spirit of Leicester in the Premier League this year.
Stranger things have happened….