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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wrexham first

Congratulations to the Racecourse, home of Wrexham Football Club, which has been officially recognised as the oldest football stadium in the world still hosting international games.

The stadium has a 200-year history as a sporting venue, an acolade that will be recognised when a certificate from Guinness World records will be presented at the ground at the Wales v Romania under-21 game on Wednesday.

The BBC tell us that "the aptly-named Racecourse was initially known as a horse racing venue, and staged its first contest - the Town Purse - in 1807.

At the time it offered a prize of 20 guineas, worth about £3,600 today.

After about 50 years, the races were stopped amid concerns that they encouraged crowd trouble, including drunkenness.

In the 1860s, the venue began to be used for autumn sports, including donkey races and cycle races.

As well as horse racing, the Racecourse was also used by Wrexham Cricket Club, and it was the club's members who formed Wrexham Football Club in 1872 as a way of keeping active during the winter months.

Research shows the football club was formed in the now famous Turf Hotel, which stands just outside the ground and where historians say players used to change for matches.

The first international football match was held five years later in 1877, when Wales lost 2-0 to Scotland.

The following year, however, Wrexham FC won the first ever Welsh cup."

Wrexham AM and lifelong football fan, Lesley Griffiths (pictured at the ground) has already tabled a statement of opinion in the Assembly congratulating local historian, Glyn Davies on his detective work and persistence in achieving this recognition.

Lesley is still smarting over my claim that the First Minister implied in the chamber that she is a bit of an anorak. Whether he did or not, she has a myriad of useless facts at her disposal and I am surprised that she has not been boasting previously about The Racecourse's pre-eminence as an International football venue.
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