billsportsmaps.com

November 30, 2015

2015-16 FA Cup, Second Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances./ Plus: a short article and an illustration about the biggest 1st-round-upset (Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham United).

Filed under: 2015-16 FA Cup — admin @ 2:34 pm

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2015-16 FA Cup, Second Round Proper: location-map with current average attendances




By Bill Turianski on 30 November 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
Links…
2015/16 FA Cup 1st Round Review (facupfactfile.wordpress.com).
Brief article on 1st Round upsets…FA Cup first-round round-up: Chesham’s Ryan Blake stuns Bristol Rovers (Press Association article at theguardian.com/football).
The competition…2015-16 FA Cup (en.wikipedia.org).
2nd Round fixtures…2015-16 FA CUP 2ND ROUND (soccerway.com).
BBC’s FA Cup page…FA Cup (bbc.com/sport/football/fa-cup).

    The Biggest Upset in the 2015/-6 FA Cup 1st Round: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham Utd
    (Chesham were placed 75 league places & 3 divisions below Bristol Rovers)…

Chesham (pronounced “Chess-um”) is a town of around 21,000 located just north-west of Greater London, in the low-rolling-hills of southern Buckinghamshire. Chesham is 40 km (or 25 mi) by road from central London. In the last half-century or so Chesham has increasingly become a commuter-town, and in fact Chesham is the last stop on the Metropolitan line of the London tube {see it on a map at en.wikipedia, here}. Chesham United are a 7th-Level/Southern Premier side. Established in 1917, Chesham wear claret-and-sky-blue and feature a crest with a rook and a green-&-white chessboard (a reference to the first syllable in their name). Their nickname is the Generals. The reason for that is in the club’s founding…as this excerpt from the club’s website says, …”[Chesham United] was formed in 1917 following the merger of Chesham Town FC (who were founder members of the Southern League in 1894 when still known as just Chesham FC) and Chesham Generals (who took their name from the General Baptist Church in Chesham Broadway) {excerpt from History – A Brief Overview of Chesham United at cheshamunited.co.uk}. Chesham United are managed by Andy Leese, who has been at the helm since the summer of 2007 {from the Chesham Utd website, Andy Leese profile, here}.

Chesham United currently average 276 per game (and were the sixth-lowest-drawing of the 80 clubs to have qualified for the 2015-16 FA Cup 1st Round). The last time Chesham qualified for the FA Cup 1st Round was in 1994-95, and their best Cup run was in 1979-80, when they went to the 3rd Round. This season, in the 1st round, Chesham drew a tough away match versus 4th-division (League 2) side Bristol Rovers. At kickoff, Chesham Utd were placed 75 league places and 3 leagues below Bristol Rovers (Chesham sat 17th in the Southern Prem/ they currently sit 19th, 4 points above the relegation-zone.)

5,181 were in attendance there (on Sunday the 8th of November 2015), at the Rovers’ Memorial Stadium in Horfield, on the northern edge of the city of Bristol. That gate included a solid and more-than-twice-their-home-crowd-size 573-strong traveling support for Chesham United (see some of the traveling fans in photo below). Meanwhile, many if not most of the Bristol Rovers supporters there at the Memorial Stadium that day were happy to see the return of one of their favorites, the ex-Bristol Rovers Striker Barry Hayles, who, at 43 years old, is now a player/coach of Chesham United. (Barry Hayles had netted 32 goals in 64 League matches [excellent 50% strike-rate there] for Bristol Rovers in the 1997-to-1999 time-frame. Then Hayles moved on up 2 divisions to Fulham, where he helped them get promoted to the Premier League in 2001; then Hayles scored 13 Premier League goals for the Cottagers in three seasons, before moving on again, back to the 2nd division, playing for Sheffield Utd, Millwall, Plymouth Argyle, and Leicester City, among others.)

So, the old FA Cup magic was certainly in the air (but not, alas, for the Gas faithful), when Barry Hayles came on as a 72nd-minute substitute to a warm ovation. And 5 minutes later, fed by a Hayles pass down the left-midfield-flank, Chesham FW Ryan Blake dribbled forward about 20 yards and then unleashed a low and powerful 25-yard strike that beat the Rovers goalkeeper, to put Chesham on the scoreboard {that goal can be seen at 0:55 of the video at the first link in the next paragraph). Then the Chesham defense held the lead for 20 minutes, and at around 90+7, the ref blew the whistle and Chesham United had just stolen an improbable road victory. Improbable, for sure, when you look at the vast gulf that separates the pro 4th division from the amateur 7th level. And also improbable when you look at the shots-&-corner-kicks totals: Bristol Rovers had 25 shots (and 17 corner kicks) versus Chesham Utd, who had just 6 shots (and 4 corner kicks). A special mention must go out to Chesham captain Toby Little, who, in the first half, on a Rovers’ corner kick, saved a goal at the line by heading away a definitely-going-in-shot (seen at 0:30 in the video linked to below). And a special mention also goes to Chesham ‘keeper Shane Gore, who made some crucial saves down the stretch, as Chesham held on. Now Chesham United have drawn an even larger club away in the 2nd Round…versus Bradford City, who are a 3rd-division side who regularly draw above 18 K for their League 1 matches. Chesham will travel up to West Yorkshire to play Bradford at Valley Parade on Sunday the 6th of December 2015 (at 2 pm Greenwich Time/9 am Eastern Time).

{Youtube.com video of Ryan Blake’s goal (seen at 0:55 in the video)Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham United – Emirates FA Cup 2015/16 | Goal & Highlights (1:42 video uploaded by FATV at youtube.com).}
{Article on Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham Utd, at BBC’s FA CCup page, here.}

Below, the biggest upset in the 2015-16 FA Cup 1st Round…Bristol Rovers 0-1 Chesham Utd (75 places and 3 leagues separated the clubs…)
chesham-utd_fa-cup_1st-round_8-nov-2015_chesham-75-places-below_-bristol-rovers_0-1_chesham-utd_barry-hayles_ryan-blake_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Main Stand at Chesham Utd’s The Meadow, photo by agroundhoppersdiary.blogspot.com at agroundhoppersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/04/chesham-united-meadow-park. Kits illustration from Chesham United F.C. (en.wikipedia.org). Chesham Utd traveling fans, photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Chesham Utd’s Brad Wadkins is fouled by Bristol Rovers’ Tom Lockyer, leading to a missed penalty (28th minute), photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Photo of Barry Hayles scoring for Bristol Rovers circa 1997, unattributed at bristolpost.co.uk. Photo of the 43-year-old Barry Hayles entering the game, photo by Trevor Hyde at cheshamunited.co.uk/news/the-fa-cup-in-pictures;-chesham-win-away-at-bristol-rovers. Photo of Ryan Blake after scoring, photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Photo of the Chesham squad celebrating with traveling Chesham fans after the big upset victory, photo by Trevor Hyde at cheshamunited.co.uk/news/the-fa-cup-in-pictures;-chesham-win-away-at-bristol-rovers.

___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Contributors at 2015-16 FA Cup (en.wikipedia.org).
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Blank relief map of Greater Manchester, by Nilfanion (using Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater Manchester UK relief location map.jpg.

-Current average attendance figures from Soccerway.com.
-Current average attendance for lower Non-League clubs (7th and 8th Levels), at non-league-matters.co.uk.

-Thanks to Chesham United official site for club history and Cup-run information, cheshamunited.co.uk.

November 18, 2015

NFL, 1988 season: map with helmets./+ an illustration for Super Bowl XXIII [23] champions the San Francisco 49ers./+ top-3-leaders in 1988 Offensive stats (QB Rating, Rushing Yds, Receiving Yds)/+ a brief history of the oldest team in the NFL – the Cardinals (who moved to Phoenix, AZ in 1988).

Filed under: NFL>1988 helmet map,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 8:00 pm

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NFL, 1988 season: map with helmets


    NFL, 1988…

By Bill Turianski on 18 November 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

The 1988 NFL season & Super Bowl XXIII (23)…
-NFL 1988 standings, etc, here, 1988 NFL_season/Final standings (en.wikipedia.org).
The NFL was coming off a 1987 season which saw a 24-day player-strike that shortened the season by one game [to 15 games]. Reigning champions in 1988 were Washington.

The biggest change in the NFL in 1988 was, of course, the franchise shift that saw the NFL’s oldest team – the Cardinals – move from St. Louis, Missouri to Greater Phoenix, Arizona {see the short article at the foot of this post}. The Cardinals remained in the [NFC] East Division (finishing 7-9). (The Cardinals became part of the re-vamped NFC West in 2002.)

The playoff races in the NFL in 1988 were very tight in several divisions, with a 3-way/10-6 tie for first place in the NFC West going to the San Francisco 49ers, via the tiebreakers; and with a 2-way/10-6 tie for first place in the NFC East going to the Philadelphia Eagles, also via the tiebreakers. (The New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants both went 10-6, yet failed to make it to the postseason.) And in the AFC West, the Seattle Seahawks won their last 2 games to eke out a divisional title (by going 9-7). To round out the playoff teams, in the AFC, along with Seattle, it was Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland (wild-card), and Houston (wild-card). In the NFC, along with San Francisco and Philly, it was Chicago, Minnesota (wild-card), and the LA Rams (wild-card).

Cincinnati and Buffalo shared the best record in the AFC at 12-4, and the two would meet in the AFC Championship game, with QB (and 1988 NFL MVP) Boomer Esiason leading the Bengals over Jim Kelly’s Bills, 21-10. In the NFC, the Bears had the best record at 12-4, with their divisional rival the Minnesota Vikings posting the second-best record in the conference as an 11-5 wild-card team. In the NFC Championship game, the Bears fell 28-3 to the 49ers. San Francisco (who went 10-6) were led on offense by then-10-year-veteran Joe Montana (QB, and 2000 HoF inductee), third-year WR Jerry Rice (a 2010 HoF inductee), and then-6-year-veteran and 1988 Offensive Player of the Year-winner Roger Craig (RB). And the 49ers featured an effective-yet-actually-only-8th-best defense, spearheaded by DE/LB Charles Haley (in his third year then, and a 2015 HoF inductee) and DB Ronnie Lott (a then-8th-year-veteran, and a 2000 HoF inductee).

Head coach Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers might only have had the 8th-best Defense in 1988, and the Niners might have only had the 7th-best Offense in ’88, but their championship caliber was quite evident when they coasted through the playoffs (beating the Vikes 34-9, and then the Bears 28-3). So in Super Bowl XXIII (23), in Miami, on January 22, 1989, San Francisco faced Cincinnati, in a re-match of Super Bowl XVI, which had been played seven years earlier in 1982. Once again, San Francisco beat the Bengals, this time by the score of 20-16. Here is an excerpt from Super Bowl XXIII (en.wikipedia.org)…”The game is best remembered for the 49ers’ fourth-quarter game-winning drive. Down 16–13, San Francisco got the ball on their own eight-yard line with 3:10 on the clock and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.”

Super Bowl XXIII (23): San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16…
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/san-francisco-49ers_super-bowl-xxiii_jerry-rice_roger-craig_joe-montana_john-taylor_bill-walsh_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Jerry Rice, one-handed-grab from 1st quarter, photo by Lennox McLendon/AP via timelines.latimes.com/nfl-super-bowl-timeline-history. Roger Craig with 40-yard gain to start 4th quarter, photo by Getty Images via wcpo.com/sports/sports-photo-gallery/a-look-back-at-the-bengals-last-super-bowl-25-years-later. Montana in the pocket, set to throw in the 4th quarter on the 92-yard game-winning drive, photo by Richard Mackson/SI via siphotos.tumblr.com. John Taylor catching the winning pass with 34 seconds left, photo unattributed at mirror.co.uk. Bill Walsh being carried off the field by players, photo by AP via 49erscast.blogspot.com/2012/07/Bill Walsh: Noviembre 30, 1931 – Julio 30, 2007. Joe Montana, photo by Focus On Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

This was the 49ers’ 3rd Super Bowl title
This was the 49ers’ 3rd Super Bowl title. Bill Walsh retired after the win, and the pioneering offensive strategist (the father of the West Coast Offense) was inducted into the Pro Football HoF in 1993. Under new head coach George Seifert, the Niners would repeat as champions the following season [1989]. The 49ers currently [2015] have won 5 Super Bowl titles, which is second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 6 Super Bowl titles, and puts them tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the second-most Super Bowl titles {see this, List of Super Bowl champions/Super Bowl appearances by team (en.wikipedia.org).

1988 NFL Offensive Leaders (Regular season, top 3 of: QB Rating, Rushing-Yards, Receiving-Yards)…
[Note: you can click on image below to see it in a separate page.]
nfl_1988-season_passing-rushing-receiving-leaders_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
QBs:
Boomer Esiason (Cincinnati), photo unattributed at djgourdoux.files.wordpress.com; Dave Krieg (Seattle), photo unattributed at cbstampa.files.wordpress.com; Wade Wilson (Minnesota), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com.
RBs:
Eric Dickerson (Indianapolis), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com; Herschel Walker (Dallas), photo unattributed at rodswp.files.wordpress.com; Roger Craig (San Francisco), photo by George Rose/Getty Image via bleacherreport.com.
WRs:
Henry Ellard, photo by USA Today via spokeo.com. Jerry Rice, photo unattributed at rankopedia.com; Eddie Brown (Cincinnati), photo by USA Today via spokeo.com.

A brief history of the oldest team in the NFL – the Cardinals, who moved to Arizona in 1988…
The Cardinals (est. 1918 as the Racine Cardinals [of Racine Street in Chicago]), were a founding member of the NFL [APFA] in 1920, when they were located on the South Side of Chicago. A year later, in 1921, Chicago had another pro football team, with the arrival of the Decatur Staleys/Chicago Staleys/Chicago Bears’ franchise (who played on the North Side of Chicago at Wrigley Field). This permanently hobbled the Cardinals. The presence of the Bears in the Windy City ensured that the under-capitalized and poorer-half-of-Chicago-based Cardinals were always playing second fiddle, with a fraction of the media attention and eventually a fraction of the fan support that the Bears enjoyed. It sure didn’t help that the Staleys [Bears], upon arrival in Chicago, were winners…the Chicago Staleys were voted the 1921 APFA title-winners [the title was disputed by the Buffalo All-Americans, who were tied with the Chicago Staleys in the 1921 APFA final standings, and should have been voted co-champions/ see this, 1921 NFL Championship controversy (en.wikipedia.org)].

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were a competitive team in the 1920s, but were a basement-dweller all through the 1930s, and in fact through most of their 40 years in Chicago. In the pre-Super Bowl era of the NFL (1920-65), the Cardinals were the second worst of any team [formed before 1960], with one disputed title (in 1925/ title disputed by the Pottsville Maroons), and one outright title (in 1947, over the Philadelphia Eagles). Back in the first 46 years of the NFL, only the then-title-less Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers were a worse NFL team than the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals.

By the late 1950s, it was inevitable that the Chicago Cardinals would have to move the franchise to survive, and after “trying out” Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota as a potential franchise-site in 1959 (when they played their last two home games in Bloomington, MN [at the future home of the Minnesota Vikings and the MLB's Twins]), the Cardinals franchise moved to St. Louis in 1960. The NFL was actually very satisfied with this franchise-shift, and only too happy to see the Cardinals leave Chicago, because it helped block the brand-new rival-league the AFL (of 1960-69) from trying to place a team in St. Louis.

Right upon moving to St. Louis, the Cardinals debuted their stunning white-with-large-frowning-Cardinal-head helmet {see illustrations below; also see this, 1960 St. Louis Cardinals [helmets & uniforms] (gridiron-uniforms.com)}. In their 28 years in St. Louis, the St. Louis football Cardinals played at the same venues as the St. Louis baseball Cardinals – first in Sportsman’s Park, then, from 1966 to 1987 at the multi-purpose concrete doughnut that was Busch Memorial Stadium (II). Under the 15-year-long leadership of QB Jim Hart, and later in the mid-1970s, led by the innovative offensive tactician and head coach Don Coryell, the St. Louis football Cardinals were often a very competitive team, with three 9-win seasons in the mid-1960s, and three 10-or-11-win-seasons in the mid-1970s. But they either folded in the playoffs, or just came short of qualifying for the playoffs. The St. Louis football Cardinals were hampered by playing in very tough divisions (stuck with the NY Giants and Cleveland and Philadelphia in the 1960s, and stuck with Dallas and Washington in the 1970s). The Cardinals failed to make the playoffs despite posting a winning percentage above .600 on six different occasions (in 1963, in 1964, in 1966, in 1968, in 1970, and in 1976). The Cards did make the playoffs in 1974 and ’75, losing in the first round both times.

The Cardinals’ stadium situation deteriorated as the 1980s wore on, and when it became obvious that there was no solution in sight and that the city of St. Louis was refusing to build or co-fund a stadium for the football team, the owners – the Bidwill family – decided it was time to move on again. In Chicago, the Cardinals were ignored because of the Bears; in St. Louis, despite a solid-and-fervent-fanbase, they wore out their welcome. Attendance was dwindling, but that was perhaps thanks to the team perpetually coming up short, and because of the rightfully-enduring popularity of the baseball Cardinals. But it also was because of the fact that the essentially-absentee-owner Bill Bidwill did various things which resulted in alienating much of the fanbase. The team was continually at the bottom of the payroll scale in the league, and the Bidwill family acted like aloof lords who refused to deign the fan-base-rabble with so much as an acknowledgement-of-their-existence. That would not change in the early days of the franchise’s tenure in Phoenix, where Bidwill price-gouged NFL-starved Arizonans, with league-high ticket prices. In 1988 and into the early 1990s, the Phoenix Cardinals under the Bidwill family were charging the highest average-ticket price in the NFL, for an inferior product, in a bad venue. (It was supposed to be a temporary situation at Sun Devil Stadium for the Cardinals, but the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980s derailed any progress on a new venue, and the team was stuck playing in that decrepit stadium for 18 years.)

[Below, old-content-disclaimer: the images below first appeared here, NFL, NFC West: map, with brief team and league history, and titles list.]
Arizona Cardinals Helmet History -
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Arizona Cardinals Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/cardinals.

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Above: Helmet illustrations and shoulder patch illustration from: gridiron-uniforms.com/

The Cardinals in the state of Arizona have actually never played in the city of Phoenix – for their first 18 seasons (1988 to 2005), the Phoenix Cardinals played in nearby Tempe, AZ at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium. (Tempe, AZ is adjacent to, and is just east of, Phoenix.) The Cardinals changed their name to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. Then in 2006, they moved to another suburb [9 miles NW of downtown Phoenix] – Glendale, AZ, and into the futuristic movable-roofed University of Phoenix Stadium (cap. 68,000-to-78,000), which was site of Super Bowl XLIX (49) in Feb. 2015. The best season the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals have had was in 2008, when, led by an aging-but-still-effective QB Kurt Warmer and by WR Larry Fitzgerald, the 9-7 Cards caught fire in the playoffs and secured the franchises’ first trip to the Super Bowl. But in Super Bowl XLIII (43) on Feb.1 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, the Cardinals came just short of glory, in a thrilling 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

___
Thanks to Wapcaplet & Angr, for the blank map of USA, at File:Map of USA without state names.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to the now-defunct misterhabs.com/Helmets, aka Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site. At that site I got most of the helmet illustrations on the 1988 map; some helmet illustrations I found at each team’s page at en.wikipedia.org… ‘National Football League‘.
Thanks to MG’s Helmets, for the helmet illustrations of the 2 Super Bowl teams (Cincinnati & San Francisco).
Thanks to Pro-football-reference.com, at 1988 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards.
Thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing billsportsmaps.com use of their NFL uniforms illustrations.
Thanks to the contributors at 1988 NFL season (en.wikipedia.org).

November 10, 2015

Wales national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales [match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament].) 17 players + coach are profiled.

Filed under: Wales — admin @ 2:12 pm

Links…
-Squad chart.
-Article on Wales clinching… Joy in Bosnia defeat as Wales make history to qualify for Euro 2016 (by Stuart James at guardian.com on 10 Oct. 2015).
-Team (current squad info)…Wales national football team/Current squad (en.wikipedia.org).
-Team, with schedule, etc…WALES (soccerway.com).
-Country…Wales (en.wikipedia.org).
-The UEFA Euros tournament in France in June 2016…UEFA Euro 2016 (en.wikipedia.org).

    Wales national team: starting line-up (Best XI), from match which clinched their qualification
    (Chart of Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales: 17 players + coach are profiled.)
    [The Group B match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament in France].

By Bill Turianski on 10 November 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Demographics of Wales
Size of Wales:
20,779 km-squared (or 8,022 square miles). Wales is about 86% of the size-by-area as the island of Cyprus (which would include the de-facto-state of Northern Cyprus), or about 92% of the size of the state of New Jersey in the USA. This is [about the equivalent of] the ~165th-largest country by area, placing them between Cyprus and Brunei (that is, if Wales were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]).
{Sources: Wales;
List of countries and dependencies by area;
List of U.S. states and territories by area (en.wikipedia.org).}

Population of Wales:
Wales has a population of around 3.0 million {2011 census}. Wales is [about the equivalent of] the ~141st-most-populous country, placing them between Armenia and Lithuania (that is, if Wales were an independent nation, as opposed to what they are [a constituent state of the United Kingdom]).
{Sources: Wales;
List of countries and dependencies by population (en.wikipedia.org).}

Capital & largest city:
Cardiff, city population: about 346,000. Greater Cardiff metro-area population.: about 1.0 million {2011 census figures}.

Wales were in a qualifying group (Group B) with Belgium, Bosnia, Israel, Cyprus, and Andorra…
On 12 June 2015, in matchday 6 (of 10), before a full-capacity crowd of 33,000 at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales stunned the heavy favorites Belgium with a 1-0 win {see first photo in the illustration below}. That upset win came from an unusual goal scored by their talisman, Christian Bale, in the 25th minute, from a Wales corner-kick. The bizarre play saw no less than 4 consecutive headers (3 by Belgian players/ the last header an error by Belgian MF Radja Nainggolan as he tried to head the goal back to the Belgian goalkeeper). The finish was a skillful swiveled volley after a chest-trap, from short range, by Bale. The ball never touched the ground after the corner-kick and those 4 headers…until Bale intercepted that errant fourth header, and deftly slotted the ball, on the volley, straight through Belgian ‘keeper Thibault Courtois’ legs. Here is that ultimately crucial goal for Wales, via a 36-second youtube video, Wales v Belgium bale winning goal 12/6/15 (uploaded by gavin drobach at youtube.com).

The upset win that day in Cardiff was then sealed by the solid Wales defense (led by captain Ashley Williams), which held the potent Belgian offense scoreless – this despite the fact that Belgium had 61% of the possession that game. {See this article for a report on that match, Wales go clear as Bale strike defeats Belgium (uefa.com).} That result in June put the no-longer-hapless Wales in the driver’s seat for the second automatic clinching spot, which they sealed 4 months later (see next paragraph).

Fast-forward to 10th October 2015, before Group-matchday 9 (of 10), when Wales were scheduled to play Bosnia away (in Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina). At that point, Wales were 5 points ahead of Israel and 6 points ahead of Bosnia for the coveted second-spot. But 2 hours later, after a tough 2-0 defeat at the hands of a capable Bosnian side, the Welsh squad stood dejected on the pitch, with their heads down. Then suddenly, a huge cheer erupted from a corner of the Bilino Polje Stadium there in Zenica…because the 600-strong traveling Wales fans, to their joy, had just learned (via their hand-held devices) that another result had gone their way (Israel 1-2 Cyprus), and Wales had just mathematically clinched second place. So Wales were in, and the squad reacted accordingly {see second photo below}. For the first time in 58 years, Wales had qualified for a major tournament. So Wales will be joining England, and another home country – Northern Ireland – in France next June. And, as Gareth Bale says in the following article, this is just the beginning for Wales on the international stage.

From the Guardian, from 14 October 2015, by Stuart James, Gareth Bale: Wales qualification is ‘surreal, special – an incredible feeling’

Below: two photos from Wales’ successful 2016 Euros qualifying campaign…
wales_1-0_belgium_12-june-2015_2016-uefa-euros-q_christian-bale_b.gif
Photo credits above – photo of Bale celebrating v Belgium by Reuters via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football. Photo of Wales squad in Bosnia after learning they had clinched the 2016 Euros, tossing coach Chris Coleman in the air in celebration, photo by Reuters via mirror.co.uk/sport/football.




Wales’ coach & captain…
Coach of Wales…
Chris Coleman. Chris Coleman (footballer). Age 45. Born 10 June 1970, in Swansea, Wales.
CV: – As a player (DF) (1986-2002): Manchester City, Swansea City, Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham. Retired as player in 2002.
-As manager/coach: Fulham (2003-07), Real Sociedad (2007-08), Coventry City (2008-10), Larissa [Greece] (2011-12).
-Hired as coach of Wales in January 2012. -2015: Secured qualification to a major tournament for Wales for the first time in 58 years. (Wales secured Q to the 2016 Euros on 10 Oct. 2015.)

Squad captain…
Ashley Williams. Ashley Williams (footballer).
Ashley Williams is a 31-year-old Central Defender who plays his club football for Welsh side Swansea City of the Premier League. (Williams also captains the Swansea squad.) While born in the West Midlands in Wolverhampton, Williams qualified to play for Wales via his maternal grandmother. As of 10 November 2015, he has 55 caps for Wales (and 1 goal).

(Please note: you can click on the illustration below to place it in an easier-to-read and enlargeable separate page.)

Below – Wales national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France
(Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales [match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament].)
(Plus 6 other player-options for the squad/ 17 Wales players profiled below…)
wales_national-team_2015-uefa-euros-q_2016-uefa-euros_chris-coleman_g-bale_s_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Blank map of United Kingdom, by Daniel Dalet at d-maps.com. Blank map of Wales by Demis.nl at Demis Web Map Server. Map caption (Cambrian Mountains) from welt-atlas.de/map_of_wales. Small illustration of Wales 2015 kits from en.wikipedia.org. Wales 2015 home jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com.
Chris Coleman talking tactics with Gareth Bale and David Edwards, photo by Stu Forster at gettyimages.com. Wales 2015 jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com.
Goalkeeper, Wayne Robert Hennessey, GK (Crystal Palace), photo unattributed at skysports.com.
Defenders, Chris Gunter, RB/LB/RMF (Reading), photo by Catherine Ivill at gettyimages.co.uk. Ashley Williams, CB (Swansea City), photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Ben Davies, LB (Tottenham Hotspur), photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Midfielders/Wingers, Ashley ‘Jazz’ Richards, RB/LB/RMF (Fulham), photo by Stu Forster at gettyimages.com. Joe Allen, CMF/AMF/DMF (Liverpool), photo unattributed at thisisanfield.com. Joe Ledley, CMF/AMF/DMF (Crystal Palace), photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Neil Taylor, LB/LMF (Swansea City), photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Forwards/Attacking Wingers, Aaron Ramsey, CMF/AMF/RW (Arsenal), photo unattributed at mirror.co.uk. Hal Robson-Kanu, LW/RW/FW (Reading), photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Gareth Bale, RW/LW/FW/ (Real Madrid), photo unattributed at skysports.com.
Other player-options, David Vaughan, MF/DMF/RMF (Nottingham Forest), photo by Laurence Griffiths at gettyimages.com. David Edwards, AMF/RM/CM (Wolves), photo by Catherine Ivill/AMA at gettyimages.com. Sam Vokes, FW (Burnley), photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Simon Church, FW/W (Milton Keynes), photo by Catherine Ivill/AMA at gettyimages.com. James Chester, CB/RB (West Bromwich Albion), photo by Matthew Ashton at gettyimages.co.uk. Jonathan Williams, AMF/R&LMF (Crystal Palace/ on loan to Nottingham Forest), photo from nottinghamforest.co.uk.
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Thanks to all at the following links -
Wales national team (en.wikipedia.org).
Thanks to Demis of the Netherlands for the blank map of Wales, at Demis Web Map Server (demis.nl).
Thanks to Stuart James at Guardian/football for the two fine articles.
Special thanks to the very excellent site called transfermkt.com – for their unerring ability to describe most any footballers’ position(s). Transfermkt.com.

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