02/04/1906 Wrexham Wales 4-4 Jimmy Maxwell (2), Harold Sloan (2)
Fred McKee, George Willis, Johnny Darling, Jack Wright, Bob Milne, Joe Ledwidge, Andy Hunter, Jimmy Maxwell, Charlie O’Hagan, Harold Sloan, Jack Kirwan
Football film was world first in Wales
THE earliest surviving footage of an international football match will be marked by a plaque at a North Wales soccer stadium.
When Wales took on Ireland on April 2, 1906 at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground the moment was caught on camera by film pioneers Mitchell and Kenyon.
In 2006, on the centenary of the 4-4 draw, a plaque will be unveiled at the Mold Road stadium as part of the North Wales Film and Television Trail created by the Wales Screen Commission.
Organisers say the timing is particularly appropriate as the World Cup 2006 kick off will be just weeks away.
Mitchell and Kenyon’s silent black and white film, which lasts for 2 minutes 10 seconds, is now lodged for safe keeping with Aberystwyth’s National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.
It was, by all accounts, an eventful match – the ball burst just before half time – watched by a crowd of up to 6,000 fans.
Three of Wales’ goals were scored by Notts County player Williams Green from Aberystwyth.
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, part of the long-running campaign to save the Dragons, said:
“Wrexham is the birthplace of football in Wales. The Welsh FA was set up here, we have an excellent football museum – this is a huge football area by tradition. I think it’s a tremendous thing for us to be able to commemorate this historic landmark in World Cup year.
People right across the world will be fascinated by this. These films by Mitchell and Kenyon record history that we can see re-lived and I’m really excited about it. It’s a source of great pride to me, the club and the town that this pioneering event happened in Wrexham. The fact that we have a record of it because somebody took the trouble to do something entirely new is tremendous.”
Mr Lucas said: “It’s a very important year coming up for Wrexham because I think we can establish a firm footing for the club.”
Wrexham council deputy leader Bob Dutton said: “The plaque will serve as a permanent reminder of the importance of sport to Wrexham and the national significance we have played in Wales’ football history.”
The match between Wales and Ireland in the British Home Championship took place at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham in good conditions. The attendance was estimated to be around 5,000 spectators.
Ireland had made three changes to their team from the original squad announcement. Jimmy Maxwell (Belfast Celtic) took teammate Tom Mulholland’s (Belfast Celtic) position at inside-right.
In the 25 previous meetings between the sides Wales had the better record winning 11, losing 9 and drawing 5. The previous meeting in 1905 ended in a 2-2 draw in Belfast while Ireland won 1-0 in Wales in 1904.
Wales began the match more brightly than their hosts but Ireland were the first to score on 10 minutes, a throw-in from the right with Harold Sloan (Bohemians) forcing the ball past Leigh Roose (Stoke City).
Wales were not to go into their shells and soon equalised on 13 minutes. William Green (Notts County) passing to Robert Evans (Wrexham) who rushed in and squared the ball back for Green to score.
Wales grew in confidence as their wing-halfs supported their forward line. Wales’ second goal came on 20 minutes again from Green. A long range shot which should have been saved by Irish goalkeeper Fred McKee (Cliftonville) but he could not hold onto the leather and it slipped into the net.
Ireland this time fought for the equaliser from the restart. Jimmy Maxwell passed to Charlie O’Hagan (Tottenham Hotspur) after good wing work from the Irish left-wing. Sloan smashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar and into the net. The goal coming in the 25th minute.
The next goal followed the pattern of the game so far in the early stages in that one side scored and the other scored soon after. Wales retook the lead only 3 minutes later in the 28th minute. The Welsh centre-half dribbled the ball and could have had a shot on goal himself however, he passed to Green who shot from long range to score his hat-trick goal and Wales’ third.
Ireland had chances to equalise prior to half-time but the Welsh defender Edwin Hughes (Wrexham) cleared the ball after an attack from O’Hagan. Hunter (Distillery), Maxwell and O’Hagan continued to be the focus of Ireland’s attacking play but Wales counter attacked and on one occasion should have scored through Jones but his shot hit Irish goalkeeper McKee.
The score at half-time was Wales 3 Ireland 2.
Wales came out in the second half aggressively and searching for the killer goal. This came on 55 minutes after a cross across the Irish goalmouth from Jones. Bob Milne (Linfield) did not clear the ball a great distance and it went straight to Hugh Morgan-Owen (Oxford University) who hit a long shot into the net.
Ireland never game up and pulled a goal back on 72 minutes. Sloan ran on goal only for Welsh goalkeeper Roose to leave his area to attempt to clear the ball. Sloan passed to Maxwell who had the easy task of scoring into the empty net.
Ireland of course pressed hard for the equaliser and it duly came only 2 minutes later straight from the restart. A team attack on the Welsh goal allowed Sloan to score his own hat-trick and bring the scores level at 4-4. This is how the match finished with Ireland probably being the happier of the two sides with the result.
The press were critical of Ireland’s goalkeeper Fred McKee for his inability to deal with speculative long shots at his goal with The Glasgow Herald describing him as appearing “weak.” Johnny Darling (Linfield) was praised for working hard and Jack Wright (Cliftonville) was the “most affective” Irish defender while Charles O’Hagan “proved a smart centre.” Irish hat-trick hero Harold Sloan “deserved every credit for the goals he scored.”
Wales’ players were also given mixed ratings. Welsh goalkeeper Leigh Roose “did not reach his usual standard of excellence.” Ralph Stanley Jones (Millwall) was “smart and tricky”, Arthur Green was “always a source of danger” while Morgan-Owen was “a worker”.
* Trivia –
Welsh goalkeeper Leigh Roose was killed during the Battle of The Somme, aged 38, in October 1916 and he was the sole reason that The FA changed the laws of the game which meant that goalkeepers could only carry the ball in their own penalty area.