See Introduction to Part 2.
The expansion of hospital broadcasts throughout the 1950s extended to four locations in Wales with football commentary services starting at Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham. Regrettably practically nothing is known about the history of the football commentary services at Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.
The earliest reference to a sporting connection in Cardiff is found in a magazine issued by the Leeds Cricket and Football Hospitals Relay Association, which read: “On January 7th, 1956, Leeds United played Cardiff City in the first of their three successive meetings in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup at EIland Road. The commentaries on these three matches were also relayed to hospitals in South Wales, by arrangement with the Cardiff City Supporters’ Club”. It is known that all three clubs were approached in 1957 to join an association of (football) hospital broadcasters.
- Wrexham (August 1954)
The first football commentary to hospital patients in Wrexham was made by representatives of the Wrexham AFC Supporters’ Association and took place in August 1954. Ken Edwards and Bob Leslie were two of the three broadcasters in those early days with Bob continuing until the late 1970s. Jack Jones was brought into the commentary team after a season or two and was one of the commentators when Wrexham met the “Busby Babes” of Manchester United in 1957, a day still revered in the history of Wrexham FC. The Cost of broadcasting in that first season was £160.
Mark Williams, a member of the broadcasting team, recalled in 1986: “Our commentary position has been moved on many occasions since 1954. We now have our own box in the Mold Road stand of the Racecourse Ground, just beneath the BBC/ITV television gantry. Due to the disaster at Bradford the stand has been closed to all supporters, and indeed the number of people allowed into the stand for activities such as ours has also been limited. This, in truth, does not affect our broadcasting although the lack of atmosphere is at times rather eerie. The service broadcasts not only to the two local hospitals, but also to various other bodies around the locality including the Cheshire Homes in Dolywern, near Llangollen which is some 15 miles away. Nowadays our commentaries are carried by landline to the studios of Radio Maelor, the Hospital Radio Station in Wrexham. They then feed the broadcast through their system to patients in both the War Memorial and Maelor General Hospitals in Wrexham”.
- Other Locations
A Mr S Dent in Stockport, in a letter dated August 1958 proposing a National Association of Hospital Broadcasters (see Part 5.1), wrote: “The following is a list of the names and addresses of the people to contact in connection with the broadcasts of the clubs concerned”. The list included: Cardiff – N T Pryce, Canton, Cardiff. Swansea – Mrs Margaret Jones, Uplands, Swansea. A service at Newport was also mentioned.
NAHBO’s 1974 Directory of Hospital Broadcasting Organisations makes reference to:.Swansea – Swansea Hospitals Radio Service (Radio City), including a sports service, serving 2 hospitals.