Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 11:24 UK

Medieval football writers studied

The Black Book of Carmarthen. National Library of Wales (NLW)
The Black Book of Carmarthen dates back to the 13th Century

While football has been written about for a century, there are claims the beautiful game was mentioned in Welsh literature nearly 1,000 years ago.

An S4C programme based on Aberystwyth University research details references to 10th Century forms of the game.

The 13th Century Black Book of Carmarthen, the earliest manuscript written in Welsh, also referred to versions of the sport.

The programme is partly based on research by journalist Lowri Roberts.

Ms Roberts, from Cardiff, made her discoveries while studying for a doctorate at Aberystwyth.

She told S4C's Sioe Gelf (The Arts Show) there was evidence that Welsh poets and authors had written about football long before the advent of back page journalism.

There are surprisingly quite a few references to ball games in early Welsh poetry
Lowri Roberts

In the programme, former Newcastle United and Wales footballer Malcolm Allen travels from Deiniolen near Caernarfon, via Old Trafford and Ninian Park, to Salzburg in Austria, to learn more about the influence of football on the arts.

'Welsh poetry'

Ms Roberts said references to early forms of the game were made between 942 and 950AD in the Book of Taliesin, where soldiers kicked the heads of defeated soldiers.

But it was not until 1575 that the term "football" was used, added Ms Roberts.

This appeared in work by Denbighshire poet William Midleton, at least 350 years before the sport developed into a global phenomenon.

"The references here (by Midleton) were not positive", said Ms Roberts.

"Midleton was complaining about the negative effects of football, the physical injuries resulting from the sport".

"Similar references appear in the works of Edmwnd Prys and Gruffydd Hiraethog from the same period.

"There are surprisingly quite a few references to ball games in early Welsh poetry."




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