The New Saints of Oswestry Town are celebrating their history all this month with a series of stories, competitions and events.
William Henry Davies was born in Oswestry in 1855 where he lived most of his life. After school, Davies worked in the office of the County Court Registrar before becoming a solicitors’ accounts clerk.
Later he became the part-time Registrar of Births and Deaths in Oswestry.
Davies was a pioneer of football in the town, and first played for Oswestry St Oswalds, the first football club established in the town, becoming team captain.
On 4 September 1875, he was present at a meeting at the Queen’s Hotel to form an association football club, as an off-shoot of the cricket club, to represent the town. This was the birth of the Oswestry town club, later to evolve as Oswestry Town.
Davies was one of the founder members and became the new club’s first secretary. At a meeting held on 2 February 1876 at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel in Wrexham, initially to formalise the arrangements for the forthcoming match against Scotland, Oswestry became one of the founder members of the Football
Association of Wales a rare achievement for an English club.
Later that month, Davies was selected to play in that first team to represent Wales on 25 March 1876 in
the match against Scotland at Hamilton Crescent, Partick. With Davies playing at outside right in a 2–2–6 formation, the Welsh were well defeated losing 4-0.
Davies was described as “equally at home as a forward or half back (who) could pass the ball accurately and possessed good dribbling skills”; he was also sometimes criticized for selfishness, although “his presence as a forward always meant danger for opposing defences.”
In 1879, local rival team Druids were without a ground and several of their players spent the season with Oswestry, so that for the first international match between Wales and England on 18 January 1879, 8 Oswestry players, including Davies, were selected to play for Wales. The match was played at a snow-covered Kennington Oval, London in atrocious weather conditions with the team captains agreeing to play only 30 minutes in each half. England scored twice in the first half, with Davies scoring his country’s first international goal, in the 47th minute. Wales lost 2-1.
In the 1883–84 season, Davies helped Oswestry to the final of the Welsh Cup where they defeated Druids 1–0 in a replay.
Davies was also a keen cricketer and played for Shropshire between 1882 and 1893, before the birth of the modern county club, making nearly 40 appearances for the county as wicket-keeper.
He died in Oswestry on 14 November 1916.
The culmination of the campaign will be a reunion event held at The Venue in February. Any ex-players or staff from Oswestry Town FC can get in touch with the club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve their place.