THE border between Wales and England has always been porous when it comes to football.

Even today four Welsh clubs ply their trade in the English league system while Oswestry based TNS and several other Shropshire border clubs compete in the Welsh football pyramid.

The practise is almost as old as the game itself.

At the turn of the 19th century clubs on both sides of the border had sought more competitive football and the first leagues were established.

Druids in 1898. Picture: WFDA.

Druids in 1898. Picture: WFDA.

Druids Football Club in 1898, Picture: WFDA

Since its inception in 1877, clubs from North and Mid Wales had been competing in the Welsh Cup with a growing entry from clubs across the border.

Cheshire based Northwich Victoria had been the first in 1877 and during the next decade Crewe Alexandra and Davenham competed in the Welsh Cup while Shropshire clubs Trefonen, Ellesmere, Wem White Stars and Wellington St George also crossed the Welsh border.

The Shropshire towns of Oswestry and Shrewsbury had been represented in the Welsh Cup by six clubs before the first leagues were formed across North and Mid Wales and Shropshire.

The year had been 1890.

Three leagues were formed across the region - the Welsh Senior League, the Cheshire and Lancashire Combination and the Shropshire League.

Chirk FC in 1890.

Chirk FC in 1890.

Chirk Football Club in the 1890s. Picture: WFDA

The founding of the Welsh Senior League had been fraught with problems and founded with

eight clubs from the Wrexham area having failed in its original intent to form the first national league.

Wrexham rejected membership in favour of joining the Lancashire Combination and joined by Chirk the following year.

Newtown had cited travel demands behind their decision not to enter the Welsh Senior League and two years later crossed the border to become the first Welsh club to join the Shropshire League.

Oswestry United had been founder members but resigned at the end of the inaugural Shropshire League campaign.

Aberystwyth Town.

Aberystwyth Town.

Oswestry United. Picture: WFDA

Newtown won the title in their debut season in a league comprising Ironbridge, Wellington St George, Shrewsbury Town, Wellington Town, Hereford Town, Stafford Rangers, Newport and Whitchurch.

The Welsh Senior League was boosted by the membership of Chirk in 1894 and Wrexham the following year though the latter stayed only two seasons before returning to the Lancashire Combination.

In that same season the Welsh Senior League had also included Mid Wales clubs for a solitary campaign as Aberystwyth Town and Welshpool Town joined while Newtown and Oswestry United joined from the Shropshire League.

However Newtown and Oswestry United returned to the Shropshire League in 1897 and champions Druids had joined Chirk in resigning from the Welsh Senior League to join Wrexham in the Lancashire Combination.

Oswestry United joined the Lancashire Combination the following season - their third league in as many years.

Aberystwyth Town in 1900.

Aberystwyth Town in 1900.

Aberystwyth Town in 1899. Picture: WFDA

The Welsh Senior League finally disbanded two years later - bringing an end to a league which had aspired to be the first national league of Wales though undermined by the lure of the English leagues.

Bangor and Rhyl joined the Combination in 1898 and Llandudno Swifts in 1899.

Both Aberystwyth Town and Newtown joined in following seasons though the Mid Wales clubs’ spells, like Llandudno, had been limited to a season, while Druids had resigned in 1900.

Newtown Football Club in 1895.

Newtown Football Club in 1895.

Newtown Football Club in 1895. Picture: WFDA

Welshpool Town joined the Shropshire League where they remained until 1900 when the league disbanded after inaugural champions Ironbridge won their third and last title in the league’s 10 year history.

Of the three leagues founded a decade earlier now only one remained and it would be one dominated by Welsh clubs after Chirk became the first Welsh champions of the Lancashire Combination in 1900.

Wrexham lifted four titles by 1905 as the Combination became home to several clubs from Wales and Shropshire as well several from Lancashire and Cheshire who would go on to become football league clubs.

Chirk in 1900.

Chirk in 1900.

Chirk Football Club in 1900.

However Wrexham joined the Birmingham League after their fourth title.

In 1906 a league containing Tranmere Rovers, Chester and Wigan Town was won by Whitchurch Alport, the first of two successive titles for the Reds in a league which included a growing cast of Welsh clubs.

Buckley and Broughton United came and went while Druids returned before Connah’s Quay Nomads and Welshpool Town joined in 1907, Saltney in 1908 and Brymbo Victoria and Denbigh United joined in 1909.

Flint became the final Welsh club to compete in the last season of the Lancashire Combination which had been won by Whitchurch Alport in 1911 with the league disbanded the same year.