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Mountain Ash RFC

 

 

 

 

 

Welsh Rugby Merchandise
RUGBY IN MOUNTAIN ASH

Mountain Ash RFC

At the end of the War,a public meeting was called in the Workmen’s Hall and the Club reformed in 1946 with Watcyn Phillips as Chairman,Arthur Lloyd as Secretary and Glyn Davies as Captain.

There had been some rugby played at the end of the War by colliery teams,so there was a pool of players ready to mould into a team.One of these colliery matches had been held on Easter Monday 1945 between Miskin and Darren in aid of the Mountain Ash Grammar School Memorial Fund.A gate of £125 was taken and after 3 hours of stalemate,the referee suggested that the team who got nearest the opponents line would win the match.A bandaged player eager to return to the field found himself near to the opponents line and was accorded the honour of having “scored”.No one was certain which side won,but it expressed the spirit of the times and rugby was on its way back into the life of the town.

The old story of the past was once again to be repeated.The Mount had no cash and no kit as such,but there were players.Some felt the Club should have kept going during the War years enabling it to keep a “first class” fixture list.Ivor Edwards,who began a long association with the Club and later became Secretary and a Life Member,came to the rescue by offering kit and the “Old Firm” were back in business.

The post War era commenced with a game against Penygraig at the Rec.Over the next few seasons,the Club’s fixture list was built up once again and Bridgend,Ebbw Vale,Glamorgan Wanderers, Penarth,Pontypridd,Maesteg and Tredegar were played regularly with English opposition in the form of Nuneaton,Cinderford,Torquay Athletic and Newton Abbott also featuring.

In 1950/51,Cardiff visited the Rec to celebrate the Club’s 75 th anniversary,Mount going down 22-6 to Bleddyn Williams’s team,which included former Mount player and future Welsh International John D Evans.In 1951,another former Mount player,Haydn Morris,who was playing for Cardiff,gained his first cap against France and followed this up with two more in 1955 and a British Lions tour to South Africa in the same year.John Evans gained his two Welsh caps in 1958 and appeared in over 300 games for Cardiff.

 

Mountain Ash RFC

In 1953,a dire blow to the Club’s fortunes came with the compulsory purchase of the Recreation Ground by the County Council.Although security of playing tenure was obtained,the grandstand,dressing rooms and perimeter fence to the playing area were removed.In one fell swoop,the Club’s “first class” status was seriously undermined.

Due to the absence of satisfactory facilities at the Rec,many “first class” Clubs,which had appeared on the Club’s fixture list for some 60-70 years,saw fit to drop fixtures with Mountain Ash.Undeterred,the Club continued to arrange as strong a fixture list as it could get.

In 1956,the Youth section of the Club was formed by Emlyn Richards and Lyn Clarke and has continued supplying quality players to the current day.

In the 1959/60 season,under the captaincy of Denis Bryant, who later became Club President in the early 1970s,the Old Firm lost just four games.He was elected Captain for a second year and was instrumental in 1960/61 in establishing the second team or Athletic XV as it was called.This coincided with the sad demise of the town’s other rugby union club,Newtown RFC.

Looking to the future,the first Clubhouse was opened in 1963 by Judge Rowe Harding.The season 1964/65 saw the “Old Firm” winning the Mid District Championship under the captaincy of Cliff Morgan,later to be Club coach,Chairman and Life Member.

The following season 1965/66,the Athletic XV,under the leadership of David Wells,did not miss out either winning the Ivor Williams cup.

The 1966/67 season must surely rank as one of the Club’s finest and successful post War,the final tally being played 41,won 26,drawn 8,lost 7 with 402 points for and 195 against.Brian Mayo was top scorer with 116 points and Tom Pullman,in his first season as Captain,scored 73 points which included 23 tries.

In 1968,the Youth section,which was formed 12 years earlier,was fully incorporated into the Club,where it continued to provide quality players for the senior ranks.

The year 1968 saw the Club win the W.R.U. National 7s District ‘C’ Competition,the squad consisting of Alan and Phil Mumford,Geraint Jones,Malcolm Close,Alan Locke,Alan Davies,Pat Williams and Ken Brackston.

With the advent of the W.R.U. Challenge Cup in 1971/72,Mount played a number of “first class” Clubs.In 1972/73 a strong Cardiff side which included Gareth Edwards eventually beat the Old Firm 22-0 at the Arms Park and in 1974/75 at the Rec.,Abertillery stole the honours 7-6 with a penalty in the dying minutes.

The Club celebrated its Centenary season in some style in 1975/76 under the captaincy of Tom Pullman,one of only two players to wear the “Old Firm” 1 st XV jersey on over 500 occasions.Reigning Welsh champions Pontypool were defeated 12-11 at the Recreation Ground,Leicester scored in injury time to snatch a 22-19 verdict,Pontypridd won 25-24 and in the last 16 of the Welsh Rugby Union’s Challenge Cup,Merit Table topping Bridgend scored with just five minutes remaining to scrape home 8-6 in a game played on a snow covered Rec on a Sunday afternoon. South Wales Police were defeated 9-3,the Welsh Academicals 13-12 and in the earlier rounds of the W.R.U. Cup,the “Old Firm” beat Builth Wells 114-4 in a record score for the competition that lasted 20 or so years.In that game the Old Firm showed their pedigree for running rugby by not kicking any penalties or drop goals but scoring 21 tries and 15 conversions (4 pts for a try).

In 1979,the Glancynon Hotel,Mount’s former base in the early part of the Century, became the Club’s new home.The Ivor Williams Cup returned to the Club in 1980/81 after a 15 year absence when the Athletic XV,captained by Gary Hopkins,beat Junior Union Club Llantrisant 15-7 in the final at Abercynon.

The season 1984/85,under the captaincy of flanker David Thomas,saw a young Mount side win Section B of the newly created Mid District Championship and in 1985/86,Stephen Pascoe,at 21 one of the Club’s youngest ever Captains,led the team to the Section A title.

The Supporters Club was formed in the mid 80s and they became a great help to all the Club’s teams as well as giving the Old Firm vociferous support.In 1987/88,the Club again looked to the future by starting a Junior Section.

In 1988,Jonathan Mason,who was playing for Pontypridd at the time,became the twelfth Mount player to be capped when he came on as a replacement for Wales against New Zealand at Eden Park,Auckland.

In 1989/90,under the captaincy of Dean Conway and coaching of Brian Evans,the “Old Firm” became Mid District Champions which ensured the Club a place in Division 2 of the newly created Welsh Rugby Union National League structure.

In the first year of the new National League,Mount finished third behind champions Dunvant and Llanharan,after looking a good bet for promotion at one stage of the season,but were joint top try scorers for Division 2 with Llanharan,scoring 59.

Centre Paul Withers had the distinction of scoring the Old Firm’s first ever League try as Mount beat Wrexham 36-3 at Caedrawnant in their first ever League fixture.

In 1991/92,Mount had a plum draw in the WRU Cup,playing Llanelli at home.The Club and town was at fever pitch with excitement as thousands lined the pitch at the Rec.In the week running into the game,the match was threatened due to frost but a sterling effort by the Mount Committee and volunteers,who ensured the pitch was covered and even hot air blowers used,ensured the game went ahead.

Llanelli paid the Old Firm the compliment of fielding their strongest side and at 18-13 down with 20 minutes left,Mount were still in with a chance of a huge upset.The Scarlets’ fitness and bulk eventually told but they knew they had been in one hell of a Cup tie for their 26-13 victory.

In 1992/93 under the captaincy of Mark Bennett,the “Old Firm” were promoted to Division 1.

The following season in a desperately close finish,the Club was relegated finishing one point adrift and ruing 6 games lost by 5 points or less.Abertillery,who were promoted,edged out Mount twice,15-10 with an injury time try and 8-6 at Abertillery Park but Maesteg were defeated 12-6 and Ebbw Vale 27-3,in what turned out to be the last “big” game at the Rec.

The Athletic XV demonstrated the strength of the Old Firm senior squad by winning

the Ivor Williams Cup for three consecutive seasons beating Caerphilly (9-6) in 1991/92,Hirwaun (8-3) in 1992/93 and Ynysybwl (14-9) in 1993/94 in the final.

The season 1994/95 saw Mount move their home matches from their spirtual home,the Rec.,where the Club had played since 1909,to a new ground,Parc Duffryn Pennar,on the other side of the town.Built on the site of the old Duffryn pit,the Club invested in a new grandstand,dressing rooms,floodlighting system and superb playing surface.Such has been the impression made by the Club’s new ground that County matches,Schoolboy Internationals,F.I.R.A.World Cup matches and various other representative fixtures are a regular occurrence.

Tondu were defeated 34-6 in the first ever match at the Parc,outside half Mark Bennett scoring the Old Firm’s first ever try at their new ground.

Later that season,the “Old Firm” got to the last eight of the W.R.U. Challenge Cup,eventually going out at Sardis Road to Pontypridd.

Another milestone was reached in season 2000/2001 when the “Old Firm” ran out for its 125 th season,marking the occasion with a match against Public School Wanderers in the Paul Ryder Memorial Match.

Over the years,there have been great teams,great players,great victories,memorable characters,times of struggle and great moments that will forever live in the memory.To all the people who have contributed to the “Old Firm” over the years,a debt of gratitude is owed.And to the current and future generation,never forget you are representing a proud Club with a great history and tradition.

 

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