The Art of the Wales Shirt – FAW Originals on Red Wall+

Join Robert Earnshaw as the former Cymru striker embarks on a journey of discovery about the history of the national team shirt.

“I remember at 21-years old being given my debut. I remember putting that red shirt on walking out in front of the fans, looking out, and the national anthem starts playing. It was a feeling like nothing else. The most, special, special gift. Every shirt has its own story. I want to explore the stories that represent our history, our culture, and our future.”

The former striker made 59 appearances for his country between 2002 and 2012, scoring 16 goals in the process, and his first port of call in this FAW Originals feature is the Adidas Headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany where he sits down with Senior Designer James Webb. Explaining the design process, Webb cannot hide his passion for Cymru as he details the challenge of turning his ideas into reality.

“We delve into the cultural insights that we take from our countries and clubs,” explains Webb, a proud Welshman himself who attended Swansea College of Art. “There’s a level of passion that goes into it and a lot of love as well. There’s also a bit of pressure because you want it to resonate back home. To get to design your national teams kit is surreal, but it’s something I grab with both hands.” 

The history of the Cymru shirt is as just fascinating as Earnshaw returns to Wales to meet with Wrexham Football Museum Officer Nick Davies as well as author and kit expert Neil Heard. The evolution of the shirt is displayed in the originals worn by greats such as Ivor Allchurch and John Charles, while Ian Walsh and Alan Curtis are also on hand to reflect on their experiences of wearing the dragon on their shirt. “The pride of wearing that shirt for the first time is something that never escapes you,” explains Curtis.

The story of the women’s game in Wales is also discussed through the different shirts worn through the ages as former internationals Lesley Judd and Gwennan Harries reflect on inheriting the second-hand shirts and training kit of the men’s team in those early years. It was a world away from the progress that has been made on and off the field but it is clear that the pride of wearing the red shirt of Cymru was always the overriding emotion. 

Earnshaw has the final word in the story as he reveals his favourite Cymru shirt and explains why the memories it generates make it so special. Like every Cymru fan, a shirt from a certain era will bring back special memories of defining moments in the history of the national team. Enjoy this FAW Original and discover the story behind the dragon on the shirt.

Click here to sign up to Red Wall+ for free