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Ponty In The Past by Alun Granfield


In recent years we at Pontypridd RFC have got used to our club being at or near the top of Welsh club rugby. Yes, there have been a few downs to go with the ups, but that’s life. I have recently been researching the very early history of our club and for many years the club struggled to beat our fellow valley sides, let alone the “big four” of Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli. For example, the Sporting Life  printed a short piece on the “Close of the Welsh Football Year” on 28th April 1897, stating that:

The Rugby Football Season of 1896-7, just closed, has been, so far as the South Wales District goes, a most remarkable one. In no previous year has such phenomenal strides been made by the hitherto second grade clubs, and an impartial reviewer must classify a couple of the “hills” teams to be on a par with Newport, Llanelly, Cardiff, and Swansea.

The clubs listed were:

The Llanelli club (then spelled “Llanelly”), despite doing well on the field, came out of ths season with a debit balance of “about £300” – a lot money in those days. A report in the local press recorded that this was “an increase of about 200 percent upon the adverse balance of the previous year” and ended with the comment that “an amusing item in the statement is £70 for cake!”

Although one of the “hills” teams, Ponty did not have a good season, but our results in the Glamorgan League competion published at the end of March were a bit better and showed that Pontypridd could just about hold its own against some of the valley sides:

An end of season report in the South Wales Daily News was pretty downbeat about the season:

The Pontypridd team has been of so-so disposition through this season, and don’t seem to make a firm footing for themselves at all. Forwards they are very strong, and at half-back they have been able to hold their own, but at three-quarter they have always been beaten, and badly beaten, too. This I cannot understand, for the committee seem to have quite a shoal of players at their disposal. The three-quarter line of the team has been chopped and changed about unmercifully of late, and it is to this foolish action taken by the committee that the team has been so unfortunate.

Nobody loves the committee, but without them our club wouldn’t have survived back then and wouldn’t continue to survive today. At the moment the future of Welsh club rugby is a dark and mysterious place and we need to stand with our directors and the many great volunteers that help to run our club to make sure that we come through it and continue not only to survive but to thrive.

Alun Granfield