64 Years On: How Wales Reached The 1958 World Cup

The nation is gearing up for vital World Cup play-offs in March, which we hope will end in Wales’s qualification for a first finals appearance since 1958.

Saturday 5 February marks the anniversary of the last time Wales qualified for a World Cup finals, some 64 years ago, with a unique set of circumstances helping them to Sweden.

Wales had finished second to Czechoslovakia in their qualifying group and were seemingly eliminated until FIFA handed them another chance. Israel had advanced from their qualification zone but without playing a match; several opponents withdrawing from the competition for political reasons.

FIFA introduced a rule that a team couldn’t qualify without playing a match and organised a play-off with Wales drawn (out of nine names) to play Israel, the winner progressing to the 1958 finals.

On 15 January, Wales travelled to Israel for the first leg and won 2-0, with goals in each half from Ivor Allchurch and Dave Bowen. The second leg at Ninian Park on 5 February saw a repeat of the score line, with late goals from Allchurch again and Cliff Jones securing a 4-0 overall victory and finals qualification.

The second leg is also noteworthy, coming as it did a day before the Munich Air Disaster.

The pictured shirt was worn by full back Alan Harrington in the second leg at Ninian Park. It was acquired when the Welsh Football Collection was first established at the museum in 2000.

Harrington is a Cardiff City legend who played his whole career at the club (348 appearances) and gained 11 Welsh caps.

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