The opening rounds of qualifying for Europe’s major competitions (The Champions League and The UEFA Cup) produced some very positive results for Welsh clubs. Often the whipping boys of these competitions are these the signs that Welsh clubs are about to impose themselves on this stage? We certainly hope so.
Traditionally we have witnessed some very encouraging results from Welsh clubs competing in European competition. Back in the days before the League Of Wales was established the route to Europe’s top tables was through winning the Welsh Cup and subsequent qualification into the European Cup Winners Cup. At these times all of the Principalities clubs competed in the English pyramid system meaning that welsh footballing giants Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham were the often representatives. Swansea were the first to venture into the Cup Winners Cup losing 7-3 on aggregate to FC Jenna. In 1968 Cardiff City shocked the continent’s best teams by reaching the Semi Final, their team containing current national team manager John Toshack as striker were narrowly defeated 4-3 on aggregate to SV Hamburg of Germany. The 1970’s was Wrexham’s ear in European football. 1976 was their flagship year with a run to the quarter final ended by Belgians Anderlecht, a 2-1 win to the Belgians over two legs enough to seal their fate.
Since the inception of the League of Wales in the early 1990’s Cardiff, Wrexham and Swansea have not been admitted into European competition due to their refusal to enter the national league, choosing instead to stay in the English Pyramid system. This left European qualification, now for the Champions League, UEFA Cup ufabet เข้าสู่ระบบทางเข้า and Cup Winners Cup (which would later be merged into the UEFA Cup) down to those teams in the Welsh league alone. Things did not start well, in 1994 all Welsh representatives failed to win a tie. Bangor City and Inter Cardiff lost in the preliminary round of the UEFA Cup and Barry Town lost 7-0 on aggregate to Zalgiris Vilnius in the Cup Winners Cup. Results like these unfortunately became common practice through the 1990’s and start of the next century.
However, there are signs of recovery for Welsh clubs in Europe. In July 2010 Bangor City rose to their greatest triumph in many years with a Cup Winners Cup two legged victory over Finnish side FC Honka earning themselves a tie against FC Martimo of Portugal. The New Saints (formerly TNS LLantsanfraid) also tasted success in Europe this year with an excellent victory over Irish champions Bohemians. The test ahead for The New Saints is significant with European Giants Anderlecht set to visit Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground before the Saints visit the two time European Cup Winners Cup Champions and former UEFA Cup winners in Belgium.