The history of Mid Wales football contains no more stirring a story of struggles against adversity and triumphs over great odds than that of the famous old Newtown White Star club.

The club was born at the town’s Greyhound Inn, the site of Iceland on the High Street, in 1873.

A Montgomeryshire Express report from 1935 recounted the history of the club said the pub had been chosen ‘in preference to other public houses because it was then kept by that noted sportsman and huntsman, the late Mr John Rowley Jones.

Players played in jerseys different in colour from those of their team-mates and so to distinguish one another the players of the newly formed club pinned a piece of white material, cut into the shape of a star, on their breasts.

The club immediately won the hearts of Newtown townspeople as the working men’s club.

The club motto of ‘Never Despair’ and supporters chant of ‘Boys, they’re making fun’ reflected the players working class background with the players losing “half a day’s work and pooled resources to reach venues of their matches.”

However during the club’s early years the leadership of captain Ed Gittins earned the club the reputation as the ‘doughtiest cup fighters in all Wales.’

The club clashed with Newtown Football Club on and off the pitch after the latter was formed in 1875.

A letter to the Montgomeryshire Express in January 1876 reminded all “there is more than than one Newtown Football Club”.

The editor clarified “White Star is a Newtown club and that there are two football clubs in the town” to end the debate.

White Star were one of three Newtown clubs to contest the first edition of the Welsh Cup in 1877 alongside Newtown and the 23rd RWF Newtown side.

George Woosnam scored in a 1-1 draw in the quarter-finals against Druids.

White Star inflicted the first defeat on Druids in four years in the replay only for the Football Association of Wales (FAW) to overrule the result with Druids progressing 3-0 in the rematch

By now White Stars were adored in Newtown.

The Montgomeryshire Express reported in February 1878: ‘During the last three weeks the proceedings of this little but certainly spirited club has been all the rage and ‘White Star on the brain’ appears to be the latest development of disease in Newtown and the neighbourhood.

‘It is wonderful how many of our sober minded and respectable inhabitants have been affected by it.’

The White Stars reputation as the ‘plucky little club’ was known across North Wales and their treatment at the hands of the FAW in the inaugural Welsh Cup would not be forgotten.

The club called for the establishment of a Montgomeryshire Cup to be ‘independent of the Wrexham committee’ in 1878.

The following season would prove the club’s most successful while the end of year dinner confirmed the club had transcended its working class roots.

The Montgomeryshire Express reported: “The deep feelings are not confined to the lower order but a large number of the well to do classes have White Star on the brain or, as it was perhaps more appropriately described, White Star in the heart.’

The club’s finest hour arrived on March 29, 1879.

Having beaten Newtown 3-1 in a semi-final replay the White Stars beat holders Wrexham in the Welsh Cup final in Oswestry.

The match became legendary with David Rees scoring the only goal of the game to bring the trophy back to Mid Wales for the first time.

The Montgomeryshire Express reported: ‘Three trains brought Wrexham supporters to Oswestry but few Newtonians made the journey because it was thought Wrexham would win easily.

‘The crowd engaged in leg pulling at the expense of the White Stars so much so that Mr Gittins called his team together and said ‘Bring the cup back to us, you know what Newtown said.’

So well did the White Stars respond that they created the biggest sensation of the day by winning 1-0.

The White Stars winning team was FH Morgan, David Jones, George Thomas, Edward Gittins, Tom Jones, T Davies, T Pryce, Jimmy Davies, David Rees, Bill Andrew, Ed Morgan, George Woosnam and George Mumford.

The FAW secretary Evan Morris said at the presentation: “I don’t want to appear as saying anything too fulsome, or in any way derogatory to other clubs, but on an occasion like this I don’t think I should hold back one iota of praise, but give the Star Club all the praise I can.

“There are many points in the White Star Club which deserve great praise. You have not the wealth, position, or means of practising and playing at football which many other clubs have. But you have what is better than all this. A combined energy, thoroughness, and desire for success.

‘You have had many rebuffs and many disappointments. You have gone on saying, ‘We will win this cup’. The cup now stands here, and you are in the proud position of being the owners.

“I don’t think any club has made such great sacrifices as you have, and no club can so thoroughly deserve it.’

Despite growing calls to merge with Newtown Excelsior the White Stars continued as an independent club, even making a second cup final in 1881.

Fittingly a 2-0 final defeat at the hands of Druids was followed by an unsuccessful appeal to the FAW by the Newtown club which proved the final act in their brief but glorious existence.