Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and it had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2. Wales has over 1,680 miles of coastline and is mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon. The country lies within the temperate zone and has a changeable. Welsh national identity emerged among the Celtic Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, Llywelyn ap Gruffudds death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of Englands conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr briefly restored independence to Wales in the early 15th century. The whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh Liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism, Welsh national feeling grew over the century, Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 and the Welsh Language Society in 1962. Established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly for Wales holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, two-thirds of the population live in south Wales, mainly in and around Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, and in the nearby valleys. Now that the countrys traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, Wales economy depends on the sector, light and service industries. Wales 2010 gross value added was £45.5 billion, over 560,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, and the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the land of song, Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness. The Old English-speaking Anglo-Saxons came to use the term Wælisc when referring to the Celtic Britons in particular, the modern names for some Continental European lands and peoples have a similar etymology. The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales and these words are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning fellow-countrymen. The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the location in the post-Roman Era of the Welsh people in modern Wales as well as in northern England and southern Scotland. It emphasised that the Welsh in modern Wales and in the Hen Ogledd were one people, in particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage, culture, and language to the Welsh. The word came into use as a self-description probably before the 7th century and it is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan c. 633. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh, until c.1560 the word was spelt Kymry or Cymry, regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland. The Latinised forms of names, Cambrian, Cambric and Cambria, survive as lesser-used alternative names for Wales, Welsh
Swansea City A.F.C.
Swansea City Association Football Club is a Welsh professional football club based in Swansea, Wales, that plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. Swansea City represent England when playing in European competitions, although they have represented Wales in the past, the club was founded in 1912 as Swansea Town and joined the Football League in 1921. The club changed their name in 1969, when adopted the name Swansea City to reflect Swanseas new status as a city. Swansea have played their matches at the Liberty Stadium since 2005. In 1981, the club was promoted to the original Football League First Division and it was during the following season they came close to winning the league title, but a decline then set near the seasons end before finishing sixth, although a club record. The clubs subsequent climb from the division of English football to the top division is chronicled in the 2014 film. In 2011, Swansea were promoted to the Premier League, following the lead of many other South Wales sides, joined the second division of the Southern League for the following season. J. W. Thorpe was the clubs first chairman, a site owned by Swansea Gaslight Co. called Vetch Field due to the vegetables that grew there, was rented to be the clubs ground. The clubs first professional match was a 1–1 draw at the Vetch Field against Cardiff City on 7 September 1912. During that first season the Welsh Cup was won for the first time, before the game Bradshaw had scored with thirty-six consecutive spot kicks. Remarkably, the Swans played most of the half with ten men. The Swans drew at another First Division side, Newcastle United, in the next round, following the First World War the Southern League dropped its second division, and with many clubs dropping out due to financial difficulties, the Swans were placed in the first division. After just four seasons in the Southern League, Swansea Town became founder members of the new Third Division of The Football League in 1920, the side had remained unbeaten at home in the league all season – something the next promotion team would emulate over twenty years later. Sadly for the Swans, an experienced Bolton side won the game 3–0, Swans record their highest average attendance during the season of 16,118 for pre-war league games. During the 1926–27 season they beat Real Madrid 3–0 on tour, during the 1931–32 season they finished 1st and went out in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. However they won the Welsh Cup after beating Wrexham 2–0 away after a replay and it was not until the 1933–34 season that Wilfred Milne scored his first goal for Swansea at Lincoln City after 501 appearances without a goal. After just one back from wartime football, the Swans finished 21st in the Second Division. The following season was one of consolidation, however in 1948–1949 the Swans stormed their way to winning the division for the second time
English Football League
The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football and it was the top-level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League. The league has 72 clubs evenly divided into three divisions, which are known as the Championship, League One and League Two, with 24 clubs in each division, the Football League has been associated with a title sponsor between 1983 and 2016. As this sponsor changed over the years the league too has been known by various names, the English Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition, and this body also organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The operations centre of the Football League is in Preston, while its commercial office is in London, the commercial office was formerly based in Lytham St Annes, after its original spell in Preston. The Football League consists of 70 professional association football clubs in England and 2 in Wales and it runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It also organises two knockout cup competitions, the Football League Cup and Football League Trophy, the Football League was founded in 1888 by then Aston Villa director William McGregor, originally with 12 member clubs. Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant that by 1950 the League had 92 clubs, the Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total,136 teams have played in the Football League up to 2013, the Football Leagues 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions, the Football League Championship, Football League One, and Football League Two. Each division has 24 clubs, and in any season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium. This makes for a total of 46 games played each season, clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the higher division. At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from the Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places, reserve teams of Football League clubs usually play in the Central League or the Football Combination. Since the 2004–05 season, penalties have existed for clubs entering financial administration during the season and it is also required that a club exiting administration agree a Creditors Voluntary Agreement, and pay in full any other footballing creditors. Failure to do either of these result in a second. The other main situation in which is a club may lose points is by fielding an improperly registered or otherwise ineligible player. If a club is found to have done this, then any points earned from any match that player participated in will be deducted, the EFL organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The EFL Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all EFL and Premier League clubs, the EFL Trophy is for clubs belonging to EFL League One and EFL League Two
Wrexham Association Football Club is a professional association football club based in Wrexham, Wales. Based on the clubs recorded formation date of 1864, they are the oldest club in Wales, since August 2011 Wrexham have been a supporter-owned football club. As of May 2015, the club has 4,129 adult members, Wrexham are perhaps most notable for an FA Cup upset over reigning English Champions Arsenal in 1992 and a 1–0 victory over FC Porto in 1984 in the European Cup Winners Cup. Wrexhams home stadium, the Racecourse Ground, is the worlds oldest international stadium that still continues to host international games, the record attendance at the ground was set in 1957, when Wrexham hosted a match against Manchester United in front of 36,445 spectators. Their first game was played on 22 October 1864 at the Denbigh County Cricket Ground against the Prince of Wales Fire Brigade, as the rules of football were still somewhat fluid at the time, early matches featured teams with up to 17 players on each side. In these early years Wrexham were leaders of the campaign to restrict teams to having just 11 players on the pitch at any one time. C, in the 1877–78 season the FAW inaugurated the Welsh Cup competition, to run on similar lines to the English FA Cup. The first Welsh Cup Final was played at Acton Park, Wrexham got to the final of the inaugural competition, where they defeated Druids F. C. 1–0, with James Davies being credited with the goal. Because of a lack of money at the fledgling FAW, Wrexham did not receive their trophy until the next year. 1883 also saw Wrexhams first appearance in the FA Cup, when receiving a bye to the second round of the competition they were defeated 3–4 at home by Oswestry. Crowd trouble at the game led to the club being expelled from the Football Association, Olympic was dropped from this clubs name in 1888. In 1890 Wrexham joined The Combination league, playing their first game against Gorton Villa on 6 September 1890, Lea played for the club despite only having one arm as did playing colleague James Roberts. Wrexham finished the second from bottom in eighth place in the first season. Wrexham played in the Combination for four years before an increase in costs resulted in the club joining the Welsh League in the 1894–95 season. The club then remained in the Combination league until 1905, by time they had managed to win the league four times. After several unsuccessful attempts Wrexham were finally elected to the Birmingham, Wrexhams first ever match in this league was at home against Kidderminster Harriers at the Racecourse, and two thousand spectators witnessed Wrexham win the match 2–1. Wrexham finished sixth in their first season in this league, during their time in the Birmingham and District League, Wrexham won the Welsh Cup six times, in 1908–09, 1909–10, 1910–11, 1913–14, 1914–15, and 1920–21. They also reached the First Round proper of the FA Cup for a time in the 1908–09 season before losing a replay 1–2 to Exeter City after extra time. In 1921 Wrexham were elected to the newly formed Third Division North of the Football League and their first League game was against Hartlepool United at the Racecourse in front of 8,000 spectators
Wrexham is the largest town in north Wales and an administrative, commercial, retail and educational centre. Wrexham is situated between the Welsh mountains and the lower Dee Valley alongside the border with England, historically part of Denbighshire, the town became part of Clwyd in 1974 and since 1996 has been the centre of the Wrexham County Borough. At the 2011 Census, Wrexham had a population of 61,603, human activity in the Wrexham area dates back to the Mesolithic period. By the early Middle Bronze Age the area had developed into a centre for an innovative metalworking industry, a Roman civilian settlement was located in the Plas Coch area of Wrexham and excavations have revealed evidence of agriculture and trade with the wider Roman world. By the end of the 6th century AD, the area was being contested between the Celtic-speaking inhabitants and the English-speaking invaders advancing from the east, the origins of the name Wrexham may possibly be traced back to this period. Renewed Welsh and Viking attacks led to a reduction in Anglo-Saxon power in north Wales from the early 10th century, following the Welsh reconquest of the area during the 11th century, Wrexham formed part of the native Welsh lordship of Maelor. During the 12th century the lordship was disputed between the Welsh and the English. The first recorded reference to the town in 1161 is to a Norman motte and bailey castle at Wristlesham which was founded in the Erddig area around 1150 by Hugh de Avranches. However, by the early 13th century Wrexham was undisputedly in the hands of the Welsh house of Powys Fadog, stability under the princes of Powys enabled Wrexham to develop as a trading town and administrative centre of one of the two commotes making up the Lordship. Following the loss of Welsh independence on the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282, Wrexham became part of the semi-independent Marcher lordship of Bromfield and Yale. From 1327 onwards, the town is referred to as a villa mercatoria and by 1391 Wrexham was wealthy enough for a bard, jester, juggler, dancer and goldsmith to earn their living there. At the beginning of the 15th century, the local gentry, local poet Glyn Gutor Glyn wrote of Sion ap Madog, the great-nephew of Owain Glyndŵr, as Alecsander i Wrecsam. In the mid 15th century, the church was gutted by fire. The main part of the current church was built in the late 15th, the Acts of Union passed during the reign of Henry VIII brought the lordship into the full system of English administration and law. It became part of the new shire of Denbighshire in 1536, the economic character remained predominantly agricultural into the 17th century but there were workshops of weavers, smiths, nailers as well as dye houses. A grammar school was established in 1603 by Alderman Valentine Broughton of Chester, during the English Civil War, Wrexham was on the side of the Royalists, as most Welsh gentry supported the King, but local landowner Sir Thomas Myddelton, owner of Chirk Castle, supported Parliament. The Industrial Revolution began in Wrexham in 1762 when the entrepreneur John Wilkinson, known as Iron Mad Wilkinson, wilkinsons steam engines enabled a peak of production at Minera Lead Mines on the outskirts of Wrexham. Wrexham was also known for its industry, by the 18th century there were a number of skinners and tanners in the town
Swansea, officially known as the City and County of Swansea, is a coastal city and county in Wales. It is the second largest city in Wales after Cardiff, Swansea lies within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan and the ancient Welsh commote of Gŵyr. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county includes the Gower Peninsula. According to its council, the City and County of Swansea had a population of 241,300 in 2014. During its 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was a key centre of the copper industry, archaeological finds are mostly confined to the Gower Peninsula, and include items from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. The Romans reached the area, as did the Norsemen, Swansea is thought to have developed as a Viking trading post. Its English name may be derived from Sveinns island – the reference to an island may refer to a bank at the mouth of the river Tawe, an alternative explanation is that the name derives from the Norse name Sweyn and ey, which can mean inlet. This explanation supports the tradition that the city was founded by the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard, the name is pronounced Swans-y /ˈswɒnzi/), not Swan-sea. The charter gave Swansea the status of a borough, granting the townsmen, a second charter was granted in 1215 by King John. In this charter, the name appears as Sweyneshe, the town seal which is believed to date from this period names the town as Sweyse. Following the Norman Conquest, a marcher lordship was created under the title of Gower and it included land around Swansea Bay as far as the River Tawe, the manor of Kilvey beyond the Tawe, and the peninsula itself. Swansea was designated chief town of the lordship and received a borough charter some time between 1158 and 1184, the port of Swansea initially traded in wine, hides, wool, cloth and later in coal. Smelters were operating by 1720 and proliferated, following this, more coal mines were opened and smelters were opened and flourished. Over the next century and a half, works were established to process arsenic, zinc and tin and to create tinplate, the city expanded rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries, and was termed Copperopolis. However, the census understated Swanseas true size, as much of the area lay outside the contemporary boundaries of the borough. Swanseas population was overtaken by Merthyr in 1821 and by Cardiff in 1881. Through the 20th century, heavy industries in the town declined, leaving the Lower Swansea Valley filled with derelict works, the Lower Swansea Valley Scheme reclaimed much of the land. The present Enterprise Zone was the result and, of the original docks, only those outside the city continue to work as docks, North Dock is now Parc Tawe
Cardiff City F.C.
Cardiff City Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Cardiff, Wales that competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A. F. C. before changing its name to Cardiff City in 1908 and they play their home games at the Cardiff City Stadium, after moving from Ninian Park in 2009. The club reverted to their traditional blue in January 2015 and they have long-standing rivalries with nearby clubs Swansea City, known as the South Wales derby, and Bristol City, known as the Severnside derby. The club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A. F. C and their first season saw them playing friendlies against local sides at their Sophia Gardens ground, but in 1900 they joined the Cardiff & District League for their first competitive season. To combat this they arranged to join the South Wales Amateur League in 1907, with the club growing in stature, they were forced to turn down the opportunity to join the newly formed Southern League Second Division due to the lack of facilities at their Sophia Gardens ground. The club eventually secured land to build their own stadium, moving into Ninian Park, the club made its first signing the following year with the acquisition of Jack Evans from fellow Welsh club Cwmparc. With the new ground in place, Cardiff joined the Southern League Second Division, and appointed their first manager in Davy McDougall, who became player-manager. They went on to finish in place in their first year in the league but the board decided to replace McDougall with Fred Stewart. In 1920, the club submitted an application to join the Football League and were placed into the Second Division for the 1920–21 season. Stewart brought in players with Football League experience, breaking the clubs transfer record on two occasions to sign Jimmy Gill and later Jimmy Blair from The Wednesday. In the 74th minute, after collecting a throw George MacLachlan, dan Lewis, the Arsenal goalkeeper, appeared to collect the ball but, under pressure from the advancing Len Davies, clumsily allowed the ball to roll through his grasp. In a further attempt to retrieve the ball Lewis only succeeded in knocking the ball with his elbow into his own net, captain Fred Keenor received the FA Cup trophy from King George V only seven years after Cardiff City had entered the Football League. However, he was unable to turn the fortunes around by the end of the season. McCandless left the club soon after and was replaced by Cyril Spiers who led the club to promotion the in 1951–52 season, however, despite spending five seasons in the First Division, the club continually struggled in the bottom half of the table and were eventually relegated in 1957. They returned to the First Division for two seasons between 1960 and 1962 before again suffering relegation, during the 1960s, Cardiff began qualifying for European competition for the first time as a result of winning the Welsh Cup. They went on to reach the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Real Zaragoza, despite their exploits in Europe, the club were still struggling in league competition under the stewardship of Jimmy Scoular, finishing in 20th position in the Second Division. After a 1–1 draw in the first leg, just over 43,000 fans turned out at Ninian Park to watch Hamburg win 3–2, during the 1970–71 season, Cardiff reached the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners Cup where they faced Spanish side Real Madrid. The first leg of the tie was held at Ninian Park where 47,000 fans watched one of the most famous victories in the history when Brian Clark headed in to give Cardiff a 1–0 win
Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales and the eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media. The unitary authority areas mid-2011 population was estimated to be 346,100, the Cardiff metropolitan area makes up over a third of the total population of Wales, with a mid-2011 population estimate of about 1,100,000 people. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographics alternative tourist destinations, the city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan. Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities, the Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city. Cardiff was made a city in 1905, and proclaimed the capital of Wales in 1955, since the 1980s, Cardiff has seen significant development. A new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay contains the Senedd building, home to the Welsh Assembly, sporting venues in the city include the Millennium Stadium, SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff International Sports Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park. The city was awarded the title of European City of Sport twice, due to its role in hosting major sporting events, first in 2009. The Millennium Stadium hosted 11 football matches as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics, including the opening event. Caerdydd derives from the earlier Welsh form Caerdyf, the change from -dyf to -dydd shows the colloquial alteration of Welsh f and dd, and was perhaps also driven by folk etymology. This sound change had probably first occurred in the Middle Ages, Caerdyf has its origins in post-Roman Brythonic words meaning the fort of the Taff. The fort probably refers to that established by the Romans, the anglicised form Cardiff is derived from Caerdyf, with the Welsh f borrowed as ff /f/, as also happens in Taff and Llandaff. As English does not have the vowel the final vowel has been borrowed as /ɪ/, although some sources repeat this theory, it has been rejected on linguistic grounds by modern scholars such as Professor Gwynedd Pierce. A group of five Bronze Age tumuli is at the summit of The Garth, four Iron Age hill fort and enclosure sites have been identified within Cardiffs present-day county boundaries, including Caerau Hillfort, an enclosed area of 5.1 hectares. The fort was one of a series of military outposts associated with Isca Augusta that acted as border defences, the fort may have been abandoned in the early 2nd century as the area had been subdued. However, by this time a settlement, or vicus, was established
Chester City F.C.
Chester City Football Club was an English football team from Chester which played in a variety of leagues between 1885 and 2010. The club, which was founded as Chester F. C. joined the Football League in 1931, over the next eight decades, the club spent most of its time competing in the lower divisions playing its home games at Sealand Road. In 1983 it was renamed Chester City, the club moved to the Deva Stadium in 1992 after playing two seasons of home games at Macclesfield Towns Moss Rose. In 2004 Chester won the Conference National, their league title. However, halfway through the 2009–10 Conference season, HM Revenue & Customs served a winding-up order on the club in January 2010, the Conference National subsequently suspended Chester – which had been put up for sale – for breaching its financial rules and for cancelling matches. A month after the winding up order was served it was dismissed from the league with all results annulled, in March 2010 Chester was formally wound up after unsuccessfully trying to join the Welsh Premier League. With the official winding up of Chester City, supporters immediately began forming a new club, Chester F. C. was officially established in May 2010. Chester F. C. was founded in 1885 as an amalgamation of Chester Rovers and Old Kings Scholars F. C. after a few years of playing only friendly and occasional cup matches, Chester joined The Combination League in 1890. In 1898 the club moved to The Old Showground, but were forced to leave a year later when the ground was destroyed to make way for housing, leaving the club temporarily disbanded. In 1901, however, they moved to Whipcord Lane, again their stay was only brief and their new stadium on Sealand Road, called simply The Stadium became their first long-term home and provided them with their first league success, as they won the Combination League in 1909. In 1910, Chester moved to the Lancashire Combination League and stayed there until after World War I, charlie Hewitt was appointed manager in 1930, and in 1931 he guided Chester City to the Football League, in place of Nelson F. C. Throughout the 1930s Chester never finished outside of the top ten in Division Three North, during this period Chester recorded their biggest win in the FA Cup, beating Fulham 5–0 in 1933, and in 1936, they recorded their highest league victory, beating York City 12–0. The period also saw Chester win the Welsh Cup for the time after beating growing rivals Wrexham at Sealand Road in May 1933. Unfortunately, the side was to be split up by the outbreak of the Second World War, although the 1946–47 brought a third-place finish and another Welsh Cup triumph, grim times lay ahead. No top half placings would be achieved until the divisions were merged in 1958. They would still have to wait six years until they finished above halfway in a league table. Chesters fortunes began to take a turn for the better after the appointment of South African Peter Hauser as manager in 1963 who put Chester in contention for promotion from Division Four. In 1964–65 all five forwards managed 20 goals – a unique achievement – as Chester scored 119 in Football League games alone, apart from missing out on promotion by just a point in 1970–71 the next few years were largely uneventful
Merthyr Tydfil F.C.
Merthyr Tydfil Football Club was a Welsh football club based at the Penydarren Park ground in Merthyr Tydfil. In 2010 the club was liquidated and reformed under the name Merthyr Town, the club was formed in 1945, and joined the Welsh League. In their first season, they finished as runners-up, and joined the Southern League, the club were immensely successful in their first few seasons, winning the championship in 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1951–52 and 1953–54. In the 1947–48 championship-winning season, Merthyr only dropped one point at home, however, despite their success, the club failed to be elected to the Football League. The 1950–51 season ended with Merthyr winning the Southern League, the Welsh Cup, the Southern League Cup and this time, winning the championship meant promotion to the Football Conference, the fifth level of English football. The club finished ninth in their first two seasons, and then fourth, however, they then went into decline, and were relegated back to the Southern League in 1995, where they remained until reforming in 2010. They should have been relegated a season earlier, but were reprieved when Northern Premier League champions Marine failed to meet the criteria for the league. The clubs best FA Cup performance was reaching the second round, the only time the club managed to defeat a Football League club in the FA Cup was in the first round of the 1946–47 cup, when they beat Bristol Rovers 3–1. The club were more successful in the Welsh Cup, which they won on three occasions,1949,1951 and 1987. In addition, the finished as runners-up in 1947 and 1952. After winning the final in 1987, the club were allowed to enter the European Cup Winners Cup, in the first round, they were drawn against the Italian club Atalanta. The club managed a win in the first leg at home, however, the return leg was lost 2–0, and the club were out. Historically, the clubs biggest rivals are Gloucester City, the two clubs played over 120 times in their history, making it one of the most played Anglo-Welsh derbies in football. In the late 1990s and early 2000s Newport County were local rivals but the teams have not met in the same league for many years
Southern Football League
Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system. The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, the Premier Division is at step 3 of the National League System, and is a feeder division, mainly to the National League South but also to the National League North. Feeding the Premier Division are two divisions, Division One South & West and Division One Central, which are at step 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues, professional football developed more slowly in Southern England than in Northern England. Additionally, a league, the Southern Alliance was founded in 1892, with seven clubs from the region. Nonetheless, another attempt was made to form the Southern League, a competition for both professional and amateur clubs was founded in 1894 under the initiative of Millwall Athletic. Initially only one division was envisaged, but such was the enthusiasm, the sixteen founder members were, 2nd Scots Guards withdrew before the first season started and were replaced by Southampton St Marys. Woolwich Arsenal attempted to add their reserve side to the second division, the Southern League soon became the dominant competition below The Football League in Southern and Central England. By the turn of the century a few of the Southern League sides began to rival the Football League in the FA Cup, Two Southern League clubs, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the FA Cup around the turn of the century. Tottenham Hotspur are the club from below the 2nd level of English football to have won the FA Cup. The champions of the two leagues during this period met in the annual Charity Shield, in 1907, it accepted Bradford Park Avenue, a northern club, as a member, reflecting its senior position at the time. In 1920, virtually the top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that leagues new Third Division. A year later the Third Division was expanded and regionalised, the Third Division clubs from the previous season became the Third Division South, with the addition of the Third Division North. Of the original members, six – Gillingham, Luton Town, Millwall, Reading. For the next six decades, the Football League and Southern League would exchange a number of clubs as a result of the older leagues re-election process. From 1920 onward, the Southern Leagues status as a league was firmly established. In turn, the APL would eventually succeed in becoming a feeder to the Football League, the league lost more of its top clubs in 2004 when the Conference added two regional divisions below the existing National League, the Conference South and Conference North. The first sponsor of the Southern League was Beazer Homes who sponsored the league from 1987–96, the sponsors after Beazer Homes to the present day are, Dr Martens, British Gas, Zamaretto, Evo-Stik, Calor Gas, and Evo-Stik
The Welsh Cup is a knock-out football competition contested annually by teams in the Welsh football league system. The Football Association of Wales is the body of this competition. The winning team qualifies to play in the following seasons UEFA Europa League, until 1995, Welsh clubs playing in the Welsh or English leagues were invited to play in the Welsh Cup. On occasion some English clubs, mostly those from border areas such as Shrewsbury, Hereford, however, in the event of an English club winning the Welsh Cup, they were not allowed to progress to the European Cup Winners Cup. Instead, the best placed Welsh club in the Welsh Cup competition would take the European place, from 1996 to 2011, only clubs playing in the Welsh football league system were allowed to enter the Welsh Cup. This rule excluded the six Welsh clubs who played in the English football league system, Cardiff City, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil Town, Newport County, Swansea City and Wrexham. On 20 April 2011, the Football Association of Wales invited these six clubs to rejoin the Welsh Cup for the 2011–12 season, between the 1961–62 and 1984–85 seasons, the final was played as a two-leg match, originally on a points basis rather than aggregate score. In the 1985–86 season, it reverted to a game, to be decided by extra time. The last English winner of the Welsh Cup was Hereford United in 1990, for a list of Welsh Cup finals including venue and attendance information see List of Welsh Cup finals