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Ken Aston Referee Society ~ Football Encyclopedia Bible
Encyclopedia of British Football
~ Welsh International Football ~
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Charles W. Alcock, the secretary of the Football Association, and Arthur Kinnaird, his friend from Cambridge University, who had been born in Scotland, arranged the first international football game to be played on the 30th November, 1872.

Alcock took a team of English born players to play against a team from Scotland. The match, played in Glasgow, ended in a 0-0 draw. The main objective was to publicize the game of football in Scotland. It had the desired effect and the following year the Scottish Football Association was formed and the England-Scotland match became an annual fixture.

In 1876 Wales established its own Football Association. Later that year Wales played Scotland. The more experienced Scottish side won 4-0.

The Irish Football Association was formed in 1880. They played their first game in 1882 when they were beaten 13-0 by England. The following year the British International Championship was established. Each country met the other three over the course of the season. Scotland won the initial championship by beating England (1-0), Wales (4-1) and Ireland (5-0).

In 1895 Billy Meredith, an extremely talented outside right, won his first international cap for Wales. However, he continued to work underground during the week until 1896, when his club finally insisted that he give up his colliery job. The fans loved the skills of Meredith and was dubbed the "Welsh Wizard" by his admirers.

Five years later another amazing player was awarded his first international cap for Wales. Leigh Roose was considered the best goalkeeper in Britain.

The Welsh team that played against England on 18th March, 1901.
Leigh Roose is wearing the goalkeeper's jersey.
The Captain, Billy Meredith is holding the ball.
On 3rd March, 1902, Leigh Roose played in the Welsh team that drew 0-0 with England. He was therefore the first Welsh goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against England since 1881 - a run of twenty consecutive games.

Roose continued to play in goal for Wales and in March 1906 he was appointed captain of the side. He told one journalist: "To play for one's country is an honor, no matter how many times one is selected to appear. To captain one's country is however the honor of honors, generating the kind of pride within a man that is difficult to define in words."

Leigh Roose also played in the next game against Ireland at Wrexham. The match was filmed by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon (included in Edwardian Sports). Approximately two-and-a-half minutes of the footage survives today and it is believed to be the oldest anywhere in the world featuring an international football match.

The Welsh team walking out against Ireland (March, 1906)
In 1907 the Welsh team beat Ireland (3-2) and Scotland (1-0). They clinched their first Home Nations Championship with a 1-1 draw with England. This was a fantastic achievement as in none of the three games had Wales managed to field the side originally selected. The main reason for this was that Football League clubs often refused to allow Welsh players to represent their country in international fixtures. As Billy Meredith pointed out: "In those days, Wales was never really sure of a first team and there used to be a sigh of relief when the party trickled up in twos or threes. Reserves were usually standing by, but a reserve goalkeeper was not thought of when Dick (Leigh) Roose was holding down the position."

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