CENTENARY SEASON 1974 – 1975
INTRODUCTION – by John Lewis
Research indicated that the first recorded game of Rugby staged at Carmarthen took place in 1875 and so the Committee of Carmarthen RFC under the Chairmanship of Mr Bill Orman decided to celebrate our centenary during the season 1974-75. Bill had been an outstanding servant of the Club both as a player and as Chairman. He had skippered the 1936-37 side to a famous win in the WWRU Cup final.
The Hon Secretary of the Club at the time was Mr Noyr Bryan who in addition to being Secretary was actively involved in coaching the 1st XV and the emerging Youth XV that was to win the Welsh Cup in season 1974/75 & 76-77. Because of limitations on his time the task of Centenary Secretary was given to John Lewis who was Assistant Secretary at that time. He constantly liaised with the Club President, the enthusiastic Mr Calvet Jones who was joint proprietor of the Lyric Sports Shop in King Street, Carmarthen.
Prominent on the committee at this time were such stalwarts as Messrs Jack Matthews, Glyn Davies, Ted Merry, Reg Evans, Islwyn Morgan, Emrys Rees, Tommy Thomas, D.O.H. Davies (who was also the Club’s official photographer), David Phillips and Hugh Phillips. The Hon Treasurer was WFR Griffiths who continues to be a faithful supporter of the Club.
During this period a number of Welsh Clubs had or were about to celebrate Centenaries and although historical records are sketchy, the early 1870’s proved to be the embryonic period of the game in Wales. Llanelli RFC were founded in 1872 but did not play their first official match until 1875/76. Neath RFC were founded in 1871 and were one of the original members of the WRU which was established in 1881. Cardiff RFC (1876), Swansea (1874), Newport (1874) and Pontypridd (1876).
So the task of organising special centenary fixtures against these Clubs proved difficult as these Clubs had their own agenda to pursue. Fortunately, because of our proximity to and our close ties with Llanelli RFC and the influence of Carmarthen born, Mr Glan Tucker who was on the Llanelli committee then, a match was arranged with the Scarlets at Carmarthen Park. It must be remembered that at this time Welsh rugby was largely unstructured – apart from the Welsh Cup which was won in successive years from 1973 to 1976 by Llanelli. The Western Mail was responsible for an unofficial Merit League.
The Quins played in the WWRU League which comprised 36 teams split into 4 groups of 9.
One group would play teams from another group and at the end of the season there would be a top 4 play-off; there was also the WWRU Cup in which the final would be played at either Stradey Park or St. Helens in Swansea. It was also tradition that the WWRU champions played the winners of the WWRU Cup for the President’s Cup”.
During this season the Club reached the Final of this competition only to lose at Stradey Park to Llandybie RFC much against the odds. In the semi final, Graham Walters crossed for four tries and cemented a reputation that was to see him play in a Rugby League Final at Wembley for Hull. The disappointment of the defeat in the cup final was to a large degree expunged by the end of season tour to that citadel of world rugby – GERMANY!
The Glamorgan teams played in the Silver Ball competition and therefore, below the first class stratum of competitive rugby, structures were localised.
As a former pupil of QEGS Carmarthen, I knew that my former Geography teacher, Mr T. L. Evans of St Nons Avenue was also an avid local historian and so I approached him to pen a history of Carmarthen RFC to coincide with centenary year. This he kindly agreed to take on using sources such as the Carmarthen Journal and the Welshman as the basis of his research.
Arrangements were also in hand to organise an end of season Centenary Dinner which originally was to be staged at the Drill Hall but because of logistical problems, this had to be switched to the Clubhouse (the gymnasium at the rear of the property in Bridge Street which had been developed by the Club courtesy of a WRU grant).
Invitations were issued to Cliff Morgan, Judge Rowe Harding (Swansea & Capt Crawshays XV and ex Welsh International) , A.M. Rees QPM (former Chief Constable and Welsh International, born in Llangadog and former President of Crawshays XV) but due to prior engagements were unable to accept.
Fortunately, we were able to call on the then President of the WRU and London Welsh, Mr Harry Bowcott to attend as our guest speaker. Mr Bowcott had played for Cambridge University, Cardiff, London Welsh, London Wasps and the Barbarians; he had also been a Welsh team selector from 1963 – 1974. Also present were many local dignitaries along with Mr Handel C Rogers, our District Representative on the WRU. Handel was also President of New Dock Stars RFC and previously had been an indomitable servant of Llanelli RFC. He also acted as the WRU liaison Officer during the 1960’s welcoming touring teams when they visited the Principality. He was a survivor of the 1950 air disaster when the plane carrying Welsh supporters home from a famous win in Ireland crashed at Llandow.
Centenary Season Secretary &
Chairman of Carmarthen Quins Supporters Club
The Secretary of London Welsh at this time was Carmarthen born, Stuart Davies who was one of five brothers born in Priory Street. Two of his brothers, Neil and Howard were heavily involved with schoolboy rugby and Neil was a fine administrator with Carmarthen Athletic RFC. Stuart agreed to send a team to Carmarthen Park and although by this time London Welsh were passed their zenith they still possessed such greats as Llansaint born Gerald Davies, Tenby born, Jim Shanklin ( father of Tom), Geoff Evans, originally from Bury Port and Billy Hullin. I recall Stuart telling me that it was not uncommon for London Welsh to be fielding up to a dozen sides on match days and all players were Welsh born or from Welsh descendants.
This game was arranged through connections with Mr Denzil Jones originally from Carmarthen and brother of former Quins hooker and committeeman , Mr David Jones better known as Dai Chips. Both had been brought up in Little Water Street, Carmarthen.
Denzil had left Carmarthen to join the Mets and became Secretary of the Rugby team.
They stayed at the Falcon Hotel, Lammas Street and inflicted a defeat on the Quins primarily because of the physical superiority
Captain Geoffrey Crawshay first established this side in 1922 since which time it has played in many countries of the world and although its remit is to select any player in the world it has always encouraged Welsh talent and is universally known for its free flowing attacking rugby. We were fortunate to host this team in Centenary year due to the influence of the late Mr Tony Lloyd.