TAKING care of international caps, match-worn Welsh shirts and even a telegram sent by Juventus to release John Charles to play for Wales in the 1958 World Cup is part of Jonathon Gammond's day to day work.

The Wales Football Collection in Wrexham is home to more than 1,000 items from the past 100 years, with memorabilia from Wales stars including Billy Meredith, John Toshack and Ian Rush and, according to the museum's curator, there is no better place for it than where football in Wales was first established.

This week saw the nation's attention focused on Wrexham, with Wales facing Trinidad and Tobago at the Racecourse Ground on Wednesday.

It is hoped the return of the Welsh team to Wrexham could also be an additional spur to regenerate the stadium and develop the collection further by establishing a permanent national football museum in the town.

"Football is such an important part of our identity and it's a way of showcasing Wales as being our own nation on an international stage," says Jonathon. "At the museum, we have the shirt John Charles wore when he debuted against Northern Ireland and his items from the 1958 World Cup, including a programme and a telegram releasing him to play for Wales."

An award of £156,800 thanks to National Lottery players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund has helped the museum purchase objects and archival material relating to Wales's national team, Welsh teams and Welsh football players. The grants have prevented the artefacts from being split up and sold privately, keeping them in Wales. The collection is accessible to the public through temporary exhibitions and has enabled the museum to tell the story of Charles, regarded as one of Wales' greatest footballing heroes.

"The funding from the National Lottery has allowed us to purchase the collection from John's wife Glenda," continues Jonathon. "If the items had gone out to the open market, they could have ended up anywhere in the world, with collectors that wouldn't really have done anything with them. Welsh football started all those years ago in Rhiwabon, Wrexham, which makes this town the natural home for them to be showcased."

Last year, a feasibility study, commissioned by the Welsh Government, recommended that a new national museum for football should be created in Wrexham, with the plans building on the existing collection and adopting up to 1,400 artefacts which reside in a Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in Cardiff.

Just Solutions, authors of the national football museum report, estimate the cost of creating the site in Wrexham to be £4.4m and would involve redeveloping Wrexham Museum. It will also cost the Welsh Government approximately £144,500 per year to go towards running costs.

The leisure consultants believe that approximately 80,000 visitors would go to the museum each year and say that Wrexham was chosen due to it being the "spiritual home" of Welsh football.

It was back in February 1879, that the Football Association of Wales (FAW) was formed following a meeting in the town's Wynnstay Arms Hotel. It was a key moment in the principality's sporting history and triggered a debate within Wales about whether the nation should form a national football team, to play against a team from Scotland or Ireland, and if so, whether it should play association football or rugby football.

The consensus in South Wales was that Wales should be represented by a rugby team, so Llewellyn Kenrick - a soccer-playing solicitor from Ruabon - called a meeting at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel to form the FAW. A first match, against Scotland in Glasgow, was arranged for March 25 with a first trial match taking place at the Racecourse on February 12, between the Druids club and Wrexham Town. "Gentlemen desirous of playing" were invited to apply to Llewellyn Kenrick, the FAW's secretary, and trial matches were held each weekend. Today the FAW is the world's third oldest football association and has been affiliated to FIFA since 1910.

"Everyone in Wales understands that football's spiritual home is here in Wrexham," said Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, who added that this week's game's sell-out crowd demonstrated the strength of support for the sport in the region. "I'm delighted the national team is playing here at The Racecourse and it's important that we see the museum as part of an opportunity to regenerate the Kop end of the ground.

"To my mind, this is an opportunity to develop a landmark building for this side of Wrexham. It's the gateway to the town and is likely to get a new £10 million transport hub at the adjacent train station - it's a one-off opportunity to do the right thing to boost the club and the town."

Until then Jonathon will continue to curate his collection of memorabilia with the hope that a permanent display in Wrexham becomes a reality sooner rather than later.

He added: "Ian Rush, the former Welsh forward came to visit the collection and signed a few of the items for us. Joey Jones, the Wales and Wrexham legend has been too and is a top guy. We are incredibly proud to have such a large collection of shirts that were worn by players between 1940 and 1995 and so many international caps too.

"What we hope is that by having these items here at the museum, other footballers in turn will want their memorabilia showcased here alongside the legends that are John Charles, Billy Meredith and Gary Speed. People have an emotional tie to Wrexham Football Club and the passion has always been there. When you come to Wrexham, even though we are only a few miles from the English border, you definitely know that you are on the Welsh side!"