Our History

Cup Capers: The Important Matches
(Written in July 1975)

In 1971/72 Waunarlwydd were drawn against Ebbw Vale in the first round proper of the Welsh Cup having beaten Amrnanford and Hirwaun in preliminary rounds. The game played on Saturday 11th December 1971 was to prove the reason for a change in the law governing drawn games in the Welsh Cup Competition.

The game started sensationally with Waunarlwydd scoring in the first minute. From a line out 10 yards from the Ebbw Vale line, Keith Roberts tapped the ball down for Geoff Morgan to score near the corner flag. Dennis Daniels converted from the touchline. Four minutes later, the Vale equalised through a score by Lyn Jones and subsequent conversion by David Morgan. Vale then went into a first half lead with a penalty goal also scored by David Morgan.

Early in the second half Waunarlwydd scored once more with a drop goal by outside half Roger Watkins. With the scores level at 9-9 at full time, the Monmouthshire side won on the toss of a coin!

The 1972/73 season again saw Waunarlwydd drawn against a first class club, this time Aberavon, in the first round proper of the Welsh Cup. Dennis Daniels kicked Waunarlwydd into a deserved lead after 15 minutes. When Aberavon tried to show their penetrative powers, Waunarlwydd tackled so well that running rugby became a luxury. However from a scrum some 20 yards out, Clive Shell, easily Aberavon's outstanding player, stole away and shrugged off a couple of tackles to score a fine solo try. Another Welsh international, John Bevan, missed the conversion.

Aberavon were 4-3 ahead at half- time and stretched this lead to 7-3 early in the second half when centre John Rees banged over a penalty. After this Waunarlwydd pressed incessantly, Dennis Daniels hit the cross bar with a penalty and soon after the home side nearly scored a try. Centre Roger Watkins grubber-kicked through to give Howard Wheel a chance to chase. The ball bounced away from him right on the line. Aberavon ran out winners 7-3.

In 1974/75 Waunarlwydd again had to beat some formidable opposition before coming up against a first class side at home. Having beaten Brynamman, Gorseinon and Nantyffyllon to reach the third round we were fortunate to be drawn against Cross Keys at home and, due to the state of our pitch, the match had to be transferred to the Alcoa Works ground. This it was felt would negate the advantage of the home draw, but it did not deter the enthusiasm with which the team went into the game.

The game itself in front of some 2,000 spectators opened with Waunarlwydd taking the lead in the first minute when full-back Paul Clement kicked a penalty goal after the Cross Keys No.8 was caught offside. This lead was increased after some twenty minutes when 'Keys' were again penalised for a forward infringement. Clement kicked the penalty. Minutes later, however, the gap closed when Haines kicked a long-range penalty. Despite some high kicks to test the Waunarlwydd defence, Keys found full back Clement in good form. Keys had a chance to level after some 28 minutes after a line out infringement but Haines was narrowly wide with a penalty from 35 yards. The half-time score was 6 points to 3 points in Waunarlwydd's favour.

The second half opened with some enterprising play by the Waunarlwydd side and the Keys defence was constantly under pressure. Following a late tackle, of which he was the victim, Clement increased the lead with another penalty. Later Cross Keys centre John Derrick was penalised in front of his posts and Clement kicked a further penalty to ensure a Waunarlwydd victory by 12 points to 3 points. This result enabled Waunarlwydd to become the first West Wales Union side to reach the last eight in the Welsh Cup Competition.

Excitement was at fever pitch as the village awaited the draw. It was announced as follows: Abertillery v Aberavon, Bridgend v Newport, Pontypridd v Waunarlwydd, Pontypool v Amman United or Llanelli. Initially there was the obvious disappointment at being drawn away from home but there was a quiet confidence that Pontypridd were a side we could do well against.

When the day came for this memorable match to take place, Waunarlwydd was a deserted place early in the morning. At Pontypridd the green and black colours were prominent everywhere as the Waunarlwydd "invasion" built up. Over 1000 of our supporters were inside the ground when kick off time arrived.

Within five minutes of the start Waunarlwydd took the lead when Dennis Daniels kicked a prodigious penalty from a yard inside his own half. The first half then became an unrelenting battle with Pontypridd winning most of the possession, but unable to do anything with it in the face of fierce tackling. Both teams missed penalty chances adding to the tension that gripped both players and spectators. Then as the game went into first half injury time Pontypridd went ahead with a corner try by wing Juliff following a back row move involving Huw Davies, John Ricketts and scrum-half John Samuel, who was to prove the games outstanding player.

Having missed a couple of first half penalties Chris Bolderstone found his range mid-way through the second half and kicked a 30 yard penalty to put his side 7-3 ahead. Waunarlwydd were far from finished and they squared the score minutes later with a superb try by wing Keith Simpson after a defence splitting run by Paul Clement who came into the line from full-back to set-up the score.

Playing excellent rugby at this stage of the game Waunarlwydd could, with a little luck, have gone ahead on a couple of occasions. Twice Paul Clement came charging into the attack only to be hauled up within yards of the line. Tony Ellis, the curate of Dunvant, substituting for Waunarlwydd prop and captain Keith Roberts, swears (the only time ever!) he scored a perfectly good try. The referee thought otherwise and ordered a drop out.

Much against the run of play Bolderstone landed his second penalty to put Pontypridd 10-7 in front. This revived the home team but it was not until injury time that they finally settled the issue. After a Waunarlwydd player had been caught in possession behind his own line the No.8 Ricketts barged his way over from the resulting scrum. Bolderstone converted to produce a final score of 16-7 that more than flattered the Pontypridd side.

Independent commentators noted there was absolutely nothing between the teams in terms of skill or determination. It could so easily have been a different result and Waunarlwydd had the consolation of having staged another magnificent performance that did both them, and West Wales rugby, great credit.