BBC Sport anchor Jason Mohammad has revealed his secret ambition to present televised international football matches from Wrexham’s Racecourse.
The stadium was the scene of one of Wales’s most famous goals when Mark Hughes scored a scissors kick screamer in a memorable 3-0 victory against Spain in 1985 – but there haven’t been any full internationals there for many years.
The Racecourse will take its place in a new TV series alongside Mexico’s mighty Azteca, Beijing’s incredible Bird’s Nest and closer to home, Welsh rugby’s cathedral, the Principality Stadium, the football fortress of Anfield, Spurs’ palatial White Hart Lane and homely Craven Cottage alongside the Thames.
The three-part series, Stadiymau’r Byd: gyda Jason Mohammad (Stadiums of the World: with Jason Mohammad), is a collaboration between Caernarfon-based production company Cwmni Da and broadcasters from around the world.
It will be presented by Jason, the man who holds together BBC’s Saturday afternoon results show Final Score, visiting iconic grounds in the British Isles – and around the world including the Azteca where Pele and Diego Maradona lifted World Cups.
The programme goes out on S4C on Thursdays at 9pm in Welsh with English subtitles with the first of the three programmes on April 6.
The Racecourse is the world’s oldest international football ground, hosting its first Wales game against Scotland in March, 1877 – the Scots won 2-0 – 146 years ago this month and work has started to bring it back onto the international stage.
It was also the venue for first surviving film of an international match, featuring Wales and Ireland in 1906 which ended in a 4-4 draw.
The Kop at the ground has been closed since 2008 but the arrival of new owners in Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has revitalised the club which sits on top of the Vanarama National League and is eyeing a return to the Football League.
International football could also be back soon with work starting on a £16 million 5,500 capacity stand on the old Kop and the ground will be featured in the third and final part of the series which kicks off on Thursday, April 6, on S4C (English subtitles) at 9pm.
It gives sports fan and Welsh speaker Jason the chance to revisit his own special sporting place, Ninian Park, where his Bluebirds heroes, Cardiff City played and where as an 11-year-old boy, in 1984, he was a mascot at a game.
Jason, whose sporting CV includes Final Score; Match of the Day 2, the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, said: “Cardiff City’s old Ninian Park ground, long gone now, always holds special memories for me as a local boy, especially as I was once a match mascot there for the Bluebirds.
“No-one forgets the first time they go through the turnstiles at a match and experience that thrill but there are stadiums that really are special and in Wales we are lucky to have the Cardiff City Stadium and of course, the Principality Stadium with its unique atmosphere right in the heart of the capital.
“We also have the world’s oldest international football stadium in Wrexham’s Racecourse where work has started on rebuilding the long derelict Kop which could see Wales return to play there.
“That would be a special day for football in North Wales and it’s a game I’d love to present from the ground.
“I have been lucky enough to visit so many other wonderful grounds in my career and for this series including the Azteca in Mexico.
“Viewers will love this show – which really captures the amazing atmosphere generated at places from Beijing’s futuristic Bird’s Nest to homely Craven Cottage by the Thames at Fulham.”
The series is produced and directed by Cwmni Da’s Euros Wyn and is a collaboration with China, Korea, Ireland and Wales distributed by TVF Media with each partner providing three or four stadia.
Euros said: “The series for S4C is fronted by Jason who pops up at The Racecourse and The Principality in Wales, at Anfield and also down in London at Craven Cottage and White Hart Lane as well as Gaelic football’s Croke Park in Dublin and of course, the iconic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
“The stadiums and sporting arenas we visited all have something special about them – and they included The Curragh racecourse in Ireland and more quirky grounds in Croatia and Norway where one stands on a rocky outcrop in the North Atlantic.
“It means we’ve been to some pretty stunning stadiums and one that means a lot to Jason, the site of Cardiff City’s old Ninian Park ground, long gone now.
“Jason also visits the fantastic new Tottenham Hotspur stadium where he meets Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, the man who masterminded the £1 billion build.
“We will also be showing one of the most famous goals in Wales’s footballing history – Sparky’s incredible scissors kick during the unforgettable 3-0 win over Spain in 1985.”
The theme for Programme Two is History and Identity and takes in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff where historian Martin Johnes explains its relationship to Devolution and Anfield where Jason speaks to long-time Kopite Rob Jones who first stood on the famous terrace in the 1940s.
The final part of the series covers the matchday experience and features The Racecourse, where Wrexham’s quest to rejoin the Football League has been given some Hollywood turbocharge and also the Brandywell Stadium, home of Derry City FC, exiled from the Northern Ireland League at the height of the who were resurrected 13 years later when they joined the Irish National League.
They also experience the chilli-hot atmosphere of the Azteca when Club America battle out a 2-2 draw with Toledo and Euros added: “We have really enjoyed making this series and Jason has absolutely loved it too.
“It’s been unforgettable going to places like the Azteca and Anfield and Croke Park for an All-Ireland Gaelic Football semi-final and bringing it all back here to Caernarfon to be edited.
“Sports fans should lap it up but it should appeal to a broad audience as well and it’s subtitled so it should attract an English-speaking audience as well.
“Jason is a great presenter too and gets on so well with people so it was brilliant to work with him on this.”
Cwmni Da was founded in 1997 and has developed into one of Wales’s leading television and film companies whose national and international productions include factual, children’s, comedy, entertainment, drama, events and sport programmes.
The employee-owned company is an important maker of programmes for S4C, creates content for BBC and Channel 4, and has enjoyed success in the international co-production marketplace.
Cwmni Da, which works in Welsh and English, has won numerous BAFTA Cymru, Celtic Media and One-World media prizes and the Jules Verne Adventure award and produces corporate, educational and promotional videos.
For more information go to https://www.cwmnida.cymru/en/.
Stadiymau’r Byd – Stadiums of the World goes out on S4C on Thursdays at 9pm in Welsh with English subtitles with the first of the three programmes on April 6.