Badminton Wales History

Formed in 1928, Badminton Wales has a long and illustrious history. Open Championships (our treasured Welsh International!) were held that very year, and international matches within the British Isles started just two years later. Always hungry for a challenge, Wales challenged Denmark in 1935. In 1938 Denmark had their revenge on us, with Danish player Tage Madsen winning the Welsh Open singles title. Madsen will always be remember as a friend of Badminton Wales, as he had the foresight to bury the trophy in his garden for the duration of WWII. When the Championships were revived, Madsen returned the trophy to us in perfect condition.

Whilst all of this excitement was going on, Badminton Wales (Welsh Badminton Union, as we were known then) was a founding member of the International Badminton Federation (now the Badminton World Federation) in 1934. We then joined the European Badminton Union in 1968.

Performance, History, Badminton Wales

The History of Welsh Badminton – the highlights.

1900 – 1920: Reports suggest that Badminton was being played in North Wales around the early 1900’s. Llangollen Badminton Club is mentioned as early as 1902 along with the Craigside Hydro Club in Llandudno in 1905. The Craigside Hydro would become a key venue in the development of Badminton Wales for years to come. The first recorded event took place at the Hydro on Nov 1st, 1905, in the Tennis Hall. Later in 1905, badminton was being organised by the Cardiff & District League, with them keen to add more clubs from the area. In 1910, the North Wales Badminton Union was formed, with Lord Mostyn as President. There were 9 clubs affiliated. In January 1912 the first North Wales Badminton Union Open championships took place at the Hydro. An article on the event appears in the Badminton Gazette later that year. In 1920 Mr. E. Trevor-Williams formed the Llandudno Badminton club. Mr. Trevor-Williams (2 caps)was to become a key figure in the development of badminton and the Welsh Badminton Union.

1920 – 1930: It was reported that Penarth Badminton Club (still in operation today), were meeting on a Thursday evening from 1922. With activity increasing across Wales over the following years, on January 7th, 1928, the Welsh Badminton Union was formed with 30 North Wales clubs and 9 from South Wales. Lord Mostyn was President with Mr. Trevor-Williams becoming Hon Sec and Treasurer. Later that year the first Welsh Badminton Union Open was staged in Wrexham from February 10th – 14th. In January 1929, Wales played its first International match against Scotland at the Hydro and the Welsh Open moved to the Craigside Hydro where it would remain for many years. Wales also played their 2nd International v Ireland later in the year.

1930 – 1940: In 1932 Wales played its first International match against England, again at the Hydro, unfortunately loosing 9-0. A special presentation was made to Mr. Trevor-Williams during the match by Sir George Thomas (Thomas Cup fame) for his contribution to badminton. Later that year a combination team from Wales, Scotland and Ireland took on England in Glasgow, losing 7-2. The Welsh Open in 1932 was a very historic event, with players from 6 countries entering, including, for the first time, two teams from overseas, namely, the Netherlands and Denmark. In 1934, along with matches against Scotland and England, Wales played its first International against Denmark, losing 4-1 at the Hydro. On July 5th, 1934, another major milestone in the development of the game took place with the formation of the International Badminton Federation (IBF), with Wales one of 9 founding members. At this time, a North Wales and a South Wales team was competing successfully in the English Inter County Championships. Wales travelled to Denmark later that year, losing 3-2 in front of The Prince Axel of Denmark and a crowd of 1500 spectators. In 1936, Wales again travelled to Copenhagen, winning its first and only ever victory over Denmark at any level (to date)3-2.   It was also during this period that Mr. Trevor-Williams took a group of players known as the “Welsh rarebits” into Sweden and Denmark (Odense 1937). Welsh Badminton could now boast 2500 affiliated members, and International matches and the Open continued as the sport developed. The first Welsh Nationals took place at the Hydro during the 1937-38 season with only mixed being played. F.P. Griffiths and Mrs. W. Griffiths were the inaugural winners. In December 1938 Tage Madsen, Danish No.1 became the first ‘foreigner’ to win a title at the Welsh Open. After taking the cups home, Mr. Madsen buried them in his garden, for safety during the War, to be returned in perfect condition afterwards. What a legend. In 1938, Welsh Badminton suspended all activity until 1951.

1950 – 1960: In  November 1951 a meeting was held in Newtown, Powys to re-start the Welsh Badminton Union. Mr. E.Trevor-Williams continued in his role as Hon Sec / Treasurer. On March 29th, 1952, the Welsh Badminton Union re-joined the IBF.  Also, in March teams from North and South Wales competed for the first E-Trevor-Williams bowl, with North Wales winning 9-6.  In 1953 Mr. Barry E Fletcher (North Wales – 6 caps) wins the All-England Junior Boys Doubles as well as runner-up in the Mixed, clearly showing that there was developing talent within Wales. Wales were also on the look out for players to play internationally, advertising this in the Badminton Gazette. Wales resumed battle with Denmark in 1954 in their first fixture in the Thomas Cup. A fixture played in Cardiff at the Sophia Gardens Pavilion in front of 1500 spectators. Wales losing this fixture 9-0. South Wales entered a 2nd team into the English ICC. In 1955, further individual success was achieved by Mr. G.E. Rowlands (5 caps), qualified and won his 1st round match at the All-England Championships, before losing to the great Eddie Choong (Malay). Further milestones were created in 1955 when the Bryn Estyn Badminton hall was opened in North Wales. On Nov 30th – Dec 3rd the Welsh Open returned after a 16-year gap. In 1956 qualification for the Welsh Nationals was split between North and South Wales events, with the winners playing the finals during that years Welsh Open, and it was on Nov 29th-30th in 1957 that the Welsh International was first played in South Wales, split between West Aberthaw Badminton Centre and Barry Memorial Hall.

1960 – 1970: In 1960 Doubles was added to the Welsh Nationals with Singles being added in 1961, Mr. G. E. Rowlands and J. Warwick being the first Men’s and Ladies singles winners. In 1962 Peter E. Seaman (15 caps) repeats the feat of Barry Fletcher (1953) by winning the All-England junior Boys Doubles. In February 1962, Angela Davies (46 caps) starts her impressive title run, winning the Senior National  treble. Junior development continued with the first South Wales junior Championships taking place. In 1963 a first for Wales as a televised match between Waddell and Quiddington (Eng) and Peter Seaman and G.E. Rowlands took place in Cardiff. Yet more junior success in 1964 as Brian E. Jones (40 caps) also wins the All-England junior Boys Doubles a feat he would repeat the following year.  Wales also had success at the All-England vets, with Pat Davis (6 caps), winning the Men’s Doubles. He would go on to reach 11 finals over the coming years. 1965 saw South Wales change to Glamorgan in the English Inter-County Championship (EICC) and in 1968 they added a 3rd team as the sport continued to grow. 1966 saw the return of the Welsh Open, after a 7-year gap, at the Afan Lido, Port Talbot. An international milestone took place in 1967 when the European Badminton Union (EBU) was formed. Wales and Scotland indicated their support, joining a year later in 1968. In March that year, Wales played it’s first international against West Germany, losing 7-0 in Newport. The 1st European Championships took place in West Germany that year, with Wales represented by Howard Jennings (34 caps), Peter Seaman, Mrs. Angela Dickson (nee Davies) and Bettie Fisher (14 caps). Wales also staged their first Welsh Junior Open in Port Talbot in Sept 1968.  The following year Wales returned to the International stage by competing in the Helvetia Cup in Prague finishing 5th out of 8 teams. In 1970, Wales stepped up to support the EBU and staged the 2nd European senior Championships at The Afam Lido, Port Talbot, the venue becoming a key feature in the WBU’s calendar of events. Wales were also represented for the first time at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, with Howard Jennings, David Colmer (51 caps) and Steve Gully (21 caps) representing their country.

1970 – 1980: In 1971, the 21st Welsh Open was staged at the National Sports Centre for Wales, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, which became its home until this day. In 1972 Wales took part in the first European Team championships in Karlskrone finishing 10th out of 12 teams entered. 1973 saw the WBU ‘employ’ its first Development Officer, Mr. Cedric Pushong (1973-75). In 1973 regional development continued as Pembrokeshire entered the English ICC followed by Gwent in 1974, Radnorshire, West Clwyd & East Gwynedd,(taking over from North Wales) in 1976 and East Clwyd joined in 1978. In South Wales Carmarthenshire joined the English ICC in 1979 making 7 Welsh counties competing in the English ICC . Junior development continued and in 1974 the Welsh Schools Badminton Association was formed to take control of development in Wales. That year, David Colmer became the first Welsh player to reach 50 caps at a match against Ireland on Anglesey.  In October 1975, Steve Ellis achieved another first when he became the first Welsh player to win a title at the Welsh Junior Open. The Welsh International, sponsored by Vicort that year had a total prize fund of £650.  Gillian Gilks (Eng) took home the Ladies Singles title and a cheque for £100. The 1976 the 26th edition of the Welsh Nationals saw Sue Brimble (Gwent – 63 caps – first lady to reach 50 caps) end Angela Dickson’s run of 14 straight singles titles. However, Mrs. Dickson returned to win it a further two occasions. In February 1976 the Welsh Juniors finally joined England, Scotland, and Ireland, creating the Home Nations Schools Quadrangular Championships. Philip Sutton (87 caps) winning Wales first match. Notably the WBU employed Maureen Hybart as part-time administrator. Maureen went on to become full-time Development Officer and help change the structure of the sport in Wales. The Welsh International prize fund hit a new high of £1000. Welsh affiliation was also on the up, with membership fees of 35p for senior players, 15p for Juniors and £5 for clubs! In 1978 it was Wales turn to stage the Schools Quadrangular in Cardiff. The speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon George Thomas, 1st Viscount of Tonypandy attended, and when Wales won its first match beating Scotland 5-4. Philip Sutton winning 5 out of 6 matches. Sutton also went on to win the Junior National treble that year.  1976 Yonex first sponsored the Welsh Open and the prize money soared to £4000. At the 1979 U18 Nationals, future stars, Mark Richards (39 caps) and Sian Williams (79 caps) won trebles, and at U15 level Lyndon Williams (62 caps) and Angela Nelson ( 9 caps) achieved the same feat.

1980 – 1990: Another notable first and historic result saw Wales U18 win the 1981 Schools Quadrangular Championships in Aberdeen, beating England, at any level, for the very first time. That same year the team also won promotion to Group B of the Junior European championships beating Russia 3-2. In May, Badminton England allowed Wales to host a prestigious match between England and China at the National Sports Centre for Wales (NSCW) in front of 1500 spectators. Phil Sutton reaches the highest position by any Welsh player by achieving No.12 on the British rankings. 1983 Wales were improving on the international stage and achieved 2nd place at the Helvetia Cup in Basle. In March 1983, Philip Sutton stunned the badminton world by beating Chinese No.8 seed Li Yongbo at the All England Championships in Wembley before finally losing to Danish legend Morten Frost in the quarter finals,. This was televised live on BBC with Barry Davies commentating. Later that year on April 2nd, another historic event occurred when Lyndon Williams & Chris Rees ( 128 caps) won the Junior European Boys Doubles GOLD in Helsinki, Finland, without dropping a set. Success continued in 83 when Wales finally registered their first victory over the Irish at senior level, in Dublin, winning 4-3. Also, that year at the Welsh Open, every match had umpires and service judges for the first time as well as all matches played on portable hova courts. Philip Sutton also reached 13th on the IBF World Grand Prix rankings. In 1985 the WBU launched the Welsh Inter-County championships (WICC), with 2 divisions and with Gwent winning the inaugural competition. In 1986, Wales entered the women’s Uber Cup for the first time. The following year the WBU moved into their new offices on the top floor of the Football Association of Wales, 3. Westgate street. (86 steps up!) The senior team celebrated the move with an historic victory, 6-1 over the Scottish team at Swansea University in front of a packed 750 strong crowd. WBU Development Officer Maureen Hybart retired, and Jane Clough took over the role at the new offices. The 1980’s provided yet another first as Williams & Rees won Wales first senior European medal when they took Bronze in Kristinsand, Norway.  Another first happened when The Welsh Umpires Association received its first official invite to work at the All-England Championships, showing progress across all aspects of the Union. This decade also saw Gordon Pine and Hilton Brown (former Chairs) receive Meritorious awards from the IBF.

1990 – 2000: In 1990 Sarah Williams (nee Doody – 112 caps) became Wales most capped woman surpassing Sue Brimble’s 63 caps. The Union now boasted 237 clubs, 3,624 senior and 787 junior affiliated players. Mr. Richard Fifield (former Chair) also received the IBF Meritorious award. With development continuing, in 1992 the U14 Welsh team created another piece of history by winning the U14 Quadrangular Championships at Inverclyde, Scotland. 1994 Chris Rees became the first Welsh player to reach 100caps and in 1996 saw future star, Richard Vaughan (86 caps)  won the U16 National treble. The Union reached 4500 members. The WBU staged the European U16 Polonia Cup in Cardiff before Wales new golden girl, Kelly Morgan (130 caps) was selected for Team GB to represent Britain at the 1996 Atlanta, Olympic Games, where she notched up GB’s first win of the event. Together with Richard Vaughan, they were to feature strongly in Welsh and British badminton for years to come. In 1996 the WBU employed Chris Rees as first full time National coach and Kelly Morgan won the Welsh Open Championships. In 1997 Richard Vaughan achieved Wales second European Junior medal when he won Silver in the Boys Singles. Sarah Williams became Wales 2nd player to reach 100 caps and Kelly Morgan achieved another first by winning a Silver medal at the Senior European Championships in Sofia, reaching World No.9.  It was at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia where Kelly achieved the greatest result for Welsh badminton to date by winning the Ladies Singles GOLD medal, beating Indian player, Apana Popat. Kelly also reached 100 caps for her country. On the officials side, Bill Simpson of Anglesey was awarded the IBF Meritorious award becoming Wales 4th recipient.

2000 – 2023: 2000 was yet another successful year with Kelly and Richard both winning Senior European Bronze medals in Glasgow and Kelly reaching a career high of World No.5 and Richard World No.7, with both players being selected for Team GB for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and both reaching the last 16. 2002 saw the 50th edition of the Welsh Nationals take place at the Afan Lido, Port Talbot.  The Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 saw Richard win a Bronze medal in the Men’s Singles. Kelly Morgan is awarded an MBE for service to Sport in the Community. Continuing to develop its range of opportunities the WBU staged the World Disability Badminton Championships and would go on to become a driving force in the development of Disability Badminton. In 2004 Kelly continues her success by reaching the last 16 of the Athens Olympics. There was also continued European Junior Success when in 2009 Jamie Van Hooijdonk (8 caps) repeats Richard Vaughans success of a Silver medal in the Boys Singles. This was closely followed by Georgie Hughes and Oliver Gwilt (6 caps) winning a Mixed Bronze medal at the U 17 European Juniors in Slovenia. That year Matthew Hughes (101 caps) became Wales 4th player to reach 100th cap milestone.  Jim MacKay (North Wales) received Wales first BWF distinguished service award for his work with disability badminton. In 2018 Kelly Morgan was inducted into the Welsh Sport Hall of Fame. The 70th Edition of the Welsh International Championships (now changed from Open) were cancelled due to covid-19.  Yet another European junior success was achieved by Saffron Morris (Mid Glam) who won the U17 Junior European Bronze in Girls Singles in Lithuania to cap off the WBU / Badminton Wales 95th year.

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