This coming weekend witnesses a break in domestic league football in Wales, for sixteen teams at least, as the Welsh Cup dominates the fixture list.
Wales’ most coveted knock-out trophy dates back to the nineteenth century – 1877 to be precise – thus making it one of the world’s oldest football competitions. As is the case across the footballing spectrum in recent years, there is sponsorship and the official title is now the JD Welsh Cup.
Apart from the two World Wars, the competition has run every season since its inception. Due to the late birth of a national league in Wales (1992/1993) plus the close relationship in many ways between the two nations, both English clubs and Welsh teams playing across the border have featured.
In fact, the podium of cup wins is occupied by Wrexham, Cardiff City and Swansea City with the trio enjoying success on 23, 22 and 10 times respectively. The highest placed Welsh-based team in terms of playing their football in the country is Bangor City, who have lifted the trophy on ten occasions, having reached the final eighteen times.
The current dominant force in Welsh domestic football, The New Saints of Oswestry Town, have six wins from ten appearances. Oswestry itself is represented in name courtesy of Oswestry United and Oswestry White Stars, who have both been in the final on two occasions.
Just the latter have lifted the trophy though and for that solitary achievement you have to go back to 1885.
Although it is a competition that is currently only open to Welsh teams playing in the domestic system, historically it has been much more flexible.
That’s why you get the likes of Hednesford Town, Kidderminster Harriers and Stourbridge bringing Staffordshire and Worcestershire representation over the years.
The New Saints are in action this evening (Friday, January 26) with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off at Caernarfon Town. Unlike their near-neighbours and close rivals, Bangor City, the Canaries have never reached the final of the Welsh Cup.
Tonight’s winners, along with the others from the weekend, go into the quarter-final draw as eight teams will then battle it out, hoping to be the ultimate winner lifting the trophy come May.