Hometown Heroes: Growing The Glory
Passion. Drive. Confidence. These are the qualities which have propelled the Welsh national football team into the global sporting spotlight and in to the hearts of football fans and non football fans alike. Exactly where are the Welsh places which have helped to create the legends of Welsh football? Find out how Cardiff, Caerphilly, Narberth, Anglesey and Ruthin have created some of the UK’s finest footballing talent, inspiring a nation and making Wales stronger together.
Cardiff: Gareth Bale, David Cotterill & Joe Ledley.
Gareth Bale may be Wales’ most famous export but his early roots as a sporting legend within the Cardiff community of Whitchurch helped to carve his future as a footballing pro. Young Bale even played football against international rugby captain Sam Warburton while still at school. There must be something in the water in Cardiff, which is also the birthplace of Bale’s team mates David Cotterill and Joe Ledley. How can a place so compact produce so much raw talent? Cardiff has a population of just 350,000, but the city’s cricket stadium, multiple playing fields and green spaces, national pool and city centre rugby/football stadium all play a massive part in the city’s lively atmosphere and sporting success.
Narberth: Joe Allen
Hometown to the almighty and popular Joe Allen, Narberth in Pembrokeshire is a cool and classy market town close to popular West Wales seaside towns of Tenby and Saundersfoot. Evidently the fresh air and relaxed vibe did wonders for Joe. Narberth is a must-visit spot for visitors to West Wales and the town’s food festival in September is a major draw for foodies. The pretty spot is home to plenty of independent shops and boutiques. The town is an ideal spot for a break on the way to Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, while romantic couples can soak up the luxurious and blissful surroundings at The Grove, winner of the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award 2016 and a clutch of other awards. The luxury hotel’s proximity to the world renowned Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is the icing on the cake.
Anglesey: Wayne Hennessey
Home to Bangor-born Crystal Palace goal keeper Wayne Hennessey, Anglesey is Wales’ biggest island, connected to the mainland by the Menai Suspension Bridge. Hennessey himself was raised in Beaumaris, which plays host to one of Edward I's UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘iron ring’ of castles. The castle sits among rolling green hills and seascape scenery. Visitors to Anglesey can explore the legend of St Dwynwen by visiting Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn) to experience the holy well, historic buildings, dunes and rocky outcrops. For romantic getaways, visit Chateau Rhianfa or Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel & Spa. Other highlights include Llanfair PG or ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ as it is otherwise known.
Ruthin: Neil Taylor
Born in St. Asaph among the rolling countryside of the Vale of Clwyd, Neil Taylor was raised in the nearby market town of Ruthin. Ruthin Craft Centre offers studio space, numerous galleries and a restaurant. The start of the town’s art trail is located at the craft centre, giving a flavour of the history and folklore of Ruthin. The town is impressive for its Arthurian links. Ruthin’s Maen Huail stone ‘chopping block’ in the city centre is said to be where King Arthur beheaded Huail (supposedly his love rival). If you’re up for more grisly tales, Ruthin Gaol is a great place to stop and explore. Treat yourself to a lunch or supper in Ruthin Castle Hotel and Spa – a retreat fit for a king.
Caerphilly: Aaron Ramsey
Caerphilly Castle, South Wales Valleys
A true superstar from humble roots in Caerphilly, Aaron was born just 8 miles from the Welsh capital. Caerphilly is most famous for its impressive castle – Wales’ largest and second only in size in the UK to Windsor castle. Caerphilly's other famous export is Caerphilly cheese. The crumbly, lovely cheese is held in such high regard, Caerphilly town has even named a festival after it; The Big Cheese festival is held in and around the castle each summer. At Llancaiach Fawr Manor, day trippers can mingle with living history (and perhaps take part in a ghost hunt after hours).
There really is no place like home.
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