If all else fails… try Wales!

Helo pawb! yn y wers hon byddwn yn dysgu sut i siarad Cymraeg am un diwrnod ac yn dysgu popeth sydd angen i chi ei wybod i oroesi diwrnod yn Wrecsam.

Perhaps the first thing to know is that the Welsh certainly have a sense of humour. After all, people do live there.

And anyone who has seen the movie Twin Town (simply my favourite movie ever) will spot that this post’s title is a nod to that. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, here’s one of the many great scenes…

You never know, one day we might play in Swansea!

Back to the language then, which won’t be so much of an issue if you are, like me, going there for a day out and not making use of a whole weekend.

One of the great mysteries and suspicions of non-Welsh aliens is why such looooong fucking words and why are there no vowels?

We contacted the Welsh Tourist Board who were pleased to give us this. Which should help. A bit.

Why don’t you have any vowels?

Whoah! Straight in with the big one! It’s a myth, actually. We have more vowels than English, thanks for asking. English has a, e, i, o, u. We’ve got a, e, i, o, u, w, y. English also uses ‘y’ as a vowel. Why? (No, that’s an example: ‘why’.) Also the word, ‘myth’, appropriately.

Okay, the double-L thing. What’s that all about?

The double-L sound – as in Llan – doesn’t appear in English, but does crop up a lot in Welsh (and in dozens of other languages, including Navajo, Greenlandic and Zulu). Technically, it’s called a ‘voiceless alveolar lateral fricative’. It’s not that hard to pronounce: go to say the letter L, then move your tongue fractionally back and up, and blow. Easy.

Are there really no Welsh swearwords?

Another myth! People think that Welsh relies on religious curse-words (Duw meaning God; Diawl meaning devil, etc). In fact, modern Welsh has a vastly inventive lexicon of sexual swearing, which we’re much too polite to list here.

Is it true that you were speaking English before we walked into the pub?

No. We were actually speaking Xhosa, the Bantu language of Southern Africa. We switched to Welsh when you walked in, just to mess with your head.

Really?

No. We were speaking Welsh, probably. But maybe English, too. Or both, at the same time. It’s common to mix the two up in the same sentence. Half rice, half chips, depending on context – what we’re talking about, who we’re talking to, and how much beer we’ve had.

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What’s the Welsh for microwave?

It’s not really popty-ping, if that’s what you’re getting at. [Popty means ‘oven’, so it’s an oven that goes ping. It’s a joke.] The proper name is microdon  – the don bit means ‘wave’.

So basically, you just nick English words…

Micro is from the Greek word mikros, meaning small. We got it from the same place as English did – the Greek. Languages evolve. English takes words from everywhere – it’s what makes it such a brilliantly successful language. Modern Welsh does the same. No big deal.

Are there any Welsh words in English?

Lots of British place names and geographical features have Welsh roots, but surprisingly few Welsh words have made it into everyday English vocabulary, actually. They include ‘bard’, ‘corgi’, ‘flannel’ – and maybe ‘penguin’, oddly. The most common is ‘dad’, from the Welsh tad.

Why so few?

Probably because for most of the last 500 years, there were determined efforts to stop people speaking Welsh. It’s a pity, really, because some things sound soooo much better in Welsh.

So, how many people actually speak Welsh now?

Depends what you mean. Everyone uses Welsh words, every day, if you include things like place names.  But according to the latest statistics (2011 census), around 562,000 people speak Welsh – that’s around a fifth of the population. Actual usage varies a good deal by region, and also by age. For instance, around 90% of children in Gwynedd speak Welsh, but less than 23% in Merthyr. And while most pensioners speak Welsh in Caernarfon, hardly any do in Newport. All children learn Welsh in school now, so the stats should rise in future.

So it’s being kept alive artificially, then?

Well, you could argue that any intervention, whether it’s support or persecution, is ‘artificial’ in some sense. Welsh has been suppressed (the ‘Welsh not’, used to discourage 19th century schoolchildren from speaking Welsh, is an infamous example). But other things, like the huge population shifts of the Industrial Revolution, knocked the language, too. It’s only really in the last 50 years that there’s been active support. And that’s a good thing, surely. 

What’s the point, though? You can all speak English…

True, and good job too. Makes it easier to order a beer in, say, Los Angeles or Amsterdam. It’s great knowing how to speak a global language like English, but that doesn’t mean that you abandon all other languages. That’d be boring. Also, our history and culture is totally entwined with the Welsh language. We’re a bilingual country, always have been, and we like it that way.

Big knees up at the Ponderosa later then… bring the missus!

And with the language issue sorted (and you can rest assured I’m putting this all together Caerphilly), let’s turn our attentions to where we are going… Wrexham.

I’ve already visited the Racecourse Ground but it wasn’t with Shots. It must have been the mid-to-late eighties and I had been persuaded / handcuffed to go there with some Pompey-supporting friends. I have no idea what the score was but I do remember that I got out of Wrexham safely once my passport had been stamped for the final time.

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Mentioning the eighties, there was a lager beer I was very fond of… Lowenbrau (or Laughing Brew) which was actually brewed under licence in Wrexham. It had a lovely yeasty taste and I’ve no idea if you can buy this beer anymore in the UK though I remember spotting it in a Morrisons somewhere a few years back.

WRECSAM

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Situated between the lower Dee valley and the Welsh mountains, Wrexham is the largest town in North Wales and has a population of over 42,000 according to recent survey. The wider County Borough of Wrexham has a population of over 140,000 , including the above figure.

The town is well-known for its strong history of being a market town. Currently the town has four markets; three of which are indoors, and the weekly outdoor Monday market which takes place on Queen’s Square.

Alongside the town’s market traditions, Wrexham town centre is built up of a mixture of independent retailers and big name brands. Just outside of the main town centre is Eagles Meadow Shopping Complex, which was built-in 2008. We have created a sub section to give further details on Eagles Meadow and its associated shops and services.

Otuside the town centre is the Wrexham Industrial Estate, which is one of the largest industrial estates in Europe, which is situated on the Eastern outskirts of the town. The site is home to around 300 businesses and employs roughly 7000 people.

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In the last few years Wrexham has been transformed into a shoppers paradise whilst still retaining the charm of the older streets, arcades and markets – The Monday market is the largest in North Wales.

Less able people are well catered for with much of the Wrexham Town Centre being pedestrianised and all Wrexham County Borough Car Parks are free for blue (orange) badge holders.

Wrexham enjoys a very privileged location. Within twenty minutes travel you can lose yourself in the Welsh hills, be fascinated by the Roman remains in Chester or view the rich historical past within Wrexham County Borough.

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A short drive from Wrexham town centre you can find and enjoy a number of historical sites which remind us of the local way of life over hundreds of years. Add to this excellent road links to North Wales, the North West and beyond and you can understand why Wrexham is a very popular place to visit and stay.

Car parking is easy and ample with short stay Car Parks very close to the town centre and long stay parking within a couple of minutes walk. Wrexham also has two railway stations.

Speaking of the railway stations, the Racecourse Ground, home of Wrexham Football Club is nearest to the General Station and just upon the right in the Mold Road.

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A brief history of Wrexham FC

The Wrexham story begins in September 1872, when a meeting at the Turf Hotel of members from the local cricket club was held ‘for the purpose of starting a football club for the ensuing season.

The club was formed in September 1872, when a meeting at the Turf Hotel of members from the local cricket club was held ‘for the purpose of starting a football club for the ensuing season.’

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The initial match was played in October 1872, a friendly between two sides made up of players from the new club. Two weeks later they played Grove Park School and won 2-0 in a 12-a-side game. There were few rules in those days and line-ups often included 17 players on either side.

In 1876, with interest in football growing, Wrexham members were instrumental in forming the Cambrian Football Association, which within weeks had changed its name to the Football Association of Wales. In that same year, Wales played their first international, a match against Scotland at the Racecourse. A year later a new club competition was inaugurated, with Wrexham being the first ever winner of the Welsh Cup, a trophy the club has proudly won a record 23 times.

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Wrexham joined the Combination League in 1890 and apart from two seasons in the Welsh League, have always played their league football over the border. A switch to the Birmingham League in 1905 lifted the standards at the Racecourse and led to election to the new Football League Third Division (North) in 1921.

Continuous membership of this division ended with reorganisation in 1958, when the Robins scrapped into the new national Third Division.

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A series of promotions followed between the two lower divisions, although in 1962, the club did record the highest ever league score, beating Hartlepools United 10-1, a game that included three different hat-trick scorers!

In 1966 Wrexham hit rock bottom finishing 92nd and having to apply for re-election. This was to prove a turning point though, as Alvan Williams took over and brought with him a bright young coach named John Neal.

Neal’s influence on the Racecourse can never under estimated. He initiated a youth policy that was to reap great rewards and he also completely rebuilt the club on the field.

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Promotion from the Fourth followed in 1970, with the club then constantly near the top of the Third in the race for another step up. But it was cup football which brought national and international attention to Wrexham.

The ECWC of 1972/3 saw a victory over FC Zurich and then defeat on away goals to Hadjuk Split, before the 1975/6 run to the quarterfinals. Success against Djurgardens (Swe) and Stal Rzeszow (Pol) before Belgium giants Anderlecht squeezed through 2-1 on aggregate and went onto lift the trophy.

Promotion to Division Two was missed on the last day of 1976/7, but the following season Wrexham bounced back in style.

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Arfon Griffiths had now taken over the reigns and he guided the team to the championship, as well as the quarterfinals of both the FA Cup and League Cup. The Welsh Cup was also won, with over 25,000 fans watching the two-legged final against Bangor City.

Following four seasons in the Second Division relegation in 1983 heralded a low period for the club, as they then slipped into Division Four 12 months later and struggled for another five years.

Promotion under Dixie McNeil was snatched from their grasp just seven minutes from the end of the Play Off Final with Orient in 1989. McNeil left six months later and Brian Flynn took over, starting a tenure at the Racecourse which is now the longest of any manager in the club’s history.

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With money very tight, the former Welsh international enlisted the help of 1m man Kevin Reeves and local legend Joey Jones. Together the trio have used and developed the youth system to good effect, and after a close shave with demotion to the Conference struck back to beat league champions Arsenal in the FA Cup.

This was the spark that pointed the club towards promotion in 1993, together with a barrow load of goals from Gary Bennett.

Since then the club has lifted the Welsh Cup on the last occasion they were allowed to enter it and taken the FAW Premier Cup in two out of the three finals played.

OUR GAME

Given our respective positions in the league, this really is potentially the proverbial six-pinter… sorry, six-pointer (we’ll touch on the alehouses later).

Wrexham won at Eastleigh recently in a midweek fixture but have continually struggled and lost 0-2 at Maidenhead last time out, a place where so many teams this season have come away with something.

After we beat them at The Rec, Wrexham have changed manager’s and currently at the helm is Bryan Hughes.

During a recent rare victory, JJ Hooper (sounds more like an Llanelli flanker eh boyo) scored two of their three goals against Chorley. He’s actually English however.

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How awesome would it be if we could come back with three points from this one? I’m certainly not going with any expectations so that should the unexpected happen, it will feel all the more greater.

The ticket prices for this game? At the time of writing there is nothing on our website or theirs so I’m guessing anything under £20 for terrace or seat. I think much will depend on the result New Year’s Day too – if we get three points off Eastleigh then it could add a few more to this trip.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Need to use Statto for this kind of data really but 11v11.com has, from a Wrexham perspective, 16 wins for them, 7 draws and 11 wins for Shots so really a mixed bag.

Who can forget this one!

Wrexham 3-0 Aldershot (15/08/2015)

The Shots were among the first visitors to the Racecourse for Gary Mills’ first full season in charge, with Wrexham keen to reignite the charge for promotion after an ultimately disappointing 2014/15 campaign. Away defeat to Bromley meant an inauspicious start to the new season, but Wrexham came from behind to beat Torquay on the following Tuesday night in the first of back-to-back home games.

The visit of Aldershot was the second of those, and the performance and result against the Shots ensured plenty of early-season optimism for the crowd of just less than 5,000. Wrexham had dominated the early proceedings, getting plenty of balls into the box, and Wes York headed in the opener on 20 minutes when Connor Jennings’ flicked Dom Vose’s corner on.

The pattern of the game had been set, and a long-range Dom Vose free-kick went close to doubling the lead before York hit the post after Omar Beckles’ poor clearance. In first-half stoppage time, James Gray headed in from Sean Newton’s free-kick, only for the offside flag to deny the Wrexham striker.

Six minutes into the second half, however, he was on the scoresheet – Javan Vidal turned Vose’ cross-shot goalwards and, when Phil Smith saved, Gray headed in the rebound. Still the home team dominated and, when Kayden Jackson was brought down in the area in stoppage time, Vose stroked the penalty home to cap a fine win.

Or this much better one!

Aldershot 2-0 Wrexham (13/08/2016)

The build-up to the game suggested the rub of the green might be with Wrexham – an injury in the warm-up meaning goalkeeper Mark Smith was drafted in at the last minute for the hosts. And yet Smith was largely untroubled as Wrexham fell behind early on and lacked the creativity and ideas to ever look like coming back into the game.

Just five minutes were on the clock when Matt McClure released Shamir Fenelon, who slotted past Chris Dunn to put the hosts 1-0 up. The subs had little impact on the game. John Rooney cleared off the line from from McClure on 53 minutes but Scott Rendell added a second goal five minutes later.

Wrexham’s first meaningful chance – Martin Riley heading at Mark Smith – did not arrive until the hour, as the Dragons slumped to defeat They would just four more times under Mills, before the former York City and Gateshead manager was relieved of his duties.

PUBS ‘N’ BARS

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The Fat Boar

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11 Yorke Street, LL13 8LW Wrexham

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The Nags Head

Mount Street, Wrexham, LL13 8DW

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Welcome to The Nag’s Head, the friendliest historic pub in Wrexham! Pop round any day or night of the week and you’ll find smiling staff, a lovely atmosphere, an outstanding drinks selection, and proper pub grub. We’ve got everything you could possibly want from a pub: gorgeous period features, a beautiful beer garden, drinks for every occasion, and food for all tastes. Where else can you have a cask ale and a burger for lunch, and a bottle of fizz and something spicier for dinner? Bring family, friends, and work colleagues in for everything from lunch to fun days and band nights. Whatever the reason and whenever you come, we’ll make sure you enjoy yourselves.

Fairfield Tavern

Erddig Road, Wrexham, LL13 7DW

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A good traditional local hidden away off the main road (A5152 to Ruabon, turn left at The Bowling Green pub) less than 10mins walk from Wrexham town centre. Real Ales were Jennings Bitter and Mansfield Cask on my visit but may change to other beers from the Marston range. I had the last pint of Jennings from the barrel but it was still excellent. The pub has a lounge and vault area connected by the single bar.

The Bowling Green Inn

43 Pen Y Bryn Wrexham LL13 7HU

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The Duke Of Wellington

Duke St, Ruabon, Wrexham LL14 6DE

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A small traditional, tidy, cosy and characterful two roomed local popular not least for its home cooked food. Nostalgists will enjoy a rare outside gents! In summer there’s a colourful floral display as well as a lawned garden with tractor.

Crown Inn

Llay Road, Llay, Wrexham LL12 0NT

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A large, open-plan, stereotypic Marston’s Two for One themed food pub. Decor includes some interesting artwork especially a large colliery mural. There is a children’s play area in the garden.

The Horse And Jockey

32 Hope St, Wrexham LL11 1BG

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This low building, with its thatched roof, looks incongruous at the heart of Wrexham’s busy commercial district. It is one of the oldest buildings in the town centre, possibly built in the 16th century as a hall house – a residence centred on a large room with no ceiling.

The pub was renamed the Horse and Jockey in honour of Fred Archer (1857-1886). The Cheltenham-born jockey rode at nearby Bangor-on-Dee, and at many other racecourses, before committing suicide aged 29, after the death of his first child and then the death of his wife while she gave birth to their second child.

There have been tales of a ghost called George at the Horse and Jockey. Landlord Geoff Williams says a spirit once saved a cleaner from injury by grabbing hold of her leg as she began to topple off the chair on which she was standing. The cleaner was shaken by the experience, and had to take the rest of the day off.

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