As Wales prepare to kick off their first game in a World Cup for 64 years, the Wales Arts Review team has been taking a look back at some of our favourite football-themed pieces in a bid to get us warmed up and ready for evening of shouting at the TV.
In the immediate excitement of the news that Wales would be heading to the Quatar in November 2022, Esyllt Sears offered up a snapshot of the moment Wales secured their place in the tournament finals. In this personal reflection on Wales’ qualification for a first World Cup finals tournament in 64 years, Esyllt Sears considered what it took for players… and fans… to get there, asking what it might mean for our sense of national identity and pride.
Nick Davies reviews Nick Burnell’s Trailing Clouds of Glory, published by Y Lolfa – an unabashedly nostalgic story that shines a light on Welsh football’s forgotten heroes of the 1970s. In this review, Nick Davies enjoys the story of the Wales team of the mid-seventies which, with lower-league journeymen lining up alongside a smattering of top division talent, became the first Welsh side to top its qualifying group, eventually reaching the quarter-finals of the 1976 European Championships.
In this piece, written during the Women’s World Cup in 2019, Charlotte Maas questions why, in an age when the drama of other sports are frequently utilised for stage and screen, football is the world’s most popular sport, but is yet to feature in the golden age of television?
Back in the summer, as Wales celebrated qualification for the World Cup finals, we marked the occasion with Mace the Great’s World Cup remix of ‘Brave’ featuring as our Video of the Week. A short rap that celebrates Wales’ achievement, ‘Brave’ was originally released back in July 2020 and is a track from Mace the Great who, in honour of Wales qualifying, remixed and re-released the song with a new video where he can be seen sporting a Welsh football kit.
Jon Gower introduces a Library of Wales collection featuring some of the finest writing on Welsh sport by some of our most acclaimed authors, novelists, short-story writers, journalists, historians and poets.
Its wide-ranging selection of fiction, non-fiction and verse reminds us that sport, like literature, is not only about itself but also about life, and sometimes death, and the human meaning of both.
With Premier League football and major tournaments suspended during 2020 as part of the Covid-19 lockdown, many of our television channels – including BBC Cymru Wales – made the most of the opportunity to fill the football-shaped gap with classic matches from decades gone by. Here, Nick Davies took a dive into the misty-eyed nostalgia of retro football and pondered what this yearning for past glories said about a society in crisis.
As the delayed European Championships finally got underway in June 2021, Gary Raymond previewed the tournament with a look ahead to Wales in Europe and a reflection on why the politics should be very much kept in the football. With the tournament held while the world was still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a change in tone from previous tournaments, meaning Wales didn’t “go into the tournament with the carefree all-embracing cuddly cwtchy light skip so commonly associated with Association Football fandom”.
With more than 500 players, representing 50 countries, travelling to Cardiff for the 17th edition of the Homeless World Cup in 2019, Wales Arts Review featured the tournament’s official anthem from Welsh band Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, “Daffodil Hill”. Inspired by the week-long festival of football, which took place in Bute Park, guitarist and front man, Tom Rees, described how the band wanted to “create a song that encapsulated those feelings of positivity, while also conveying a sense of Welsh nationality. So, through channeling a bit of divine power from personal heroes Wizzard, along with some guidance from our famed national flower, we arrive at Daffodil Hill”.