Arolwg trylwyr o hanes cynnar pêl-droed yn Ne Cymru yn ystod y cyfnod 1900 hyd 1939, gyda sylw penodol i'r modd y datblygodd strwythur y gêm yng nghyd-destun hinsawdd cymdeithasol, economaidd a diwylliannol y cyfnod ac ymwybyddiaeth newydd o hunaniaeth cenedlaethol. 4 cartŵn du-a-gwyn.
A thorough survey of the early history of football in South Wales during the period 1900 to 1939, with particular reference to how the game structure developed in the context of the social, economic and cultural climate of the time and a new awareness of national identity. 4 black-and-white cartoons.
This well-researched book is the latest addition to the University of Wales Presss excellent series, Studies in Welsh History. Unusually for a history book, it offers a wealth of evidence for a contemporary debate much beloved of the Western Mail what is the national sport of Wales, rugby or soccer? Answers to the editor, please.
Soccer and Society focuses on the period 1900-39, traditionally regarded as locust years of economic decline and degeneration, social stagnation and political turmoil. Against this dark backcloth, Martin Johnes outlines how a game irredeemably English captured the hearts and imagination of a large portion of the South Walian populace. By the outbreak of the Second World War, football, "a mans game . . . a tough, rough, catch 'em young and hit 'em hard game", stood shoulder to shoulder with rugby union in the affections of the Welsh people.
The two games, despite the impetuous and imperious attitudes of Western Mail editors, had a lot in common. Both allowed people to play out some of their deepest aspirations, needs and fears. Rugby and soccer promote noble virtues self-respect and teamwork, but also the need for individual bravery and brilliance; respect for the rules but an instinctive awareness of when the rules can be broken; admiration for those more talented and empathy for those who struggle.
Above all, both sports had something peculiarly Welsh, the ability to turn a crushing defeat into a victory. In a sense, the heroes of this book are the uncelebrated players and supporters who, on damp and drizzly Saturdays, played for and supported teams in the church, chapel, railway, docks, train, civil service and colliery leagues. Untainted by success, such clubs were at the root of soccers survival in Wales.
If they were not a golden age, the years 1900-1939 were certainly the silver years of Welsh football. Silverware, for once, did appear in Welsh trophy cabinets. Cardiff City famously won the 1927 FA Cup Final, thanks to the blunder of Arsenals Welsh goalkeeper, whilst the national team were victorious in their campaign in the British home championship in 1907, the 1920s (3 times) and the 1930s (4 times).
Anyone who has walked alone on a wet and windy day to watch local lads stride out across the fields of praise will enjoy this excellent book.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.