1891-92. P31, W13, L14, D4.
UNLUCKY SEASON FOR CARDIFF’S OXFORD BLUE, D. W. EVANS
From the results point of view, this proved to be the worst season to date, defeats exceeding victories. D. W. Evans was the appointed captain. He was vice-captain the previous season and actually took over the captaincy from W. E. 0. Williams who retired from the game through injury incurred at Newport in November 1890. Of the poor season of 1891-92 the late C. S. Arthur wrote, “ the cause of such a disastrous year was the inferior quality of the forward play and the caprice of the selectors for their failure to produce a ‘ regular’ team “. This was indeed true, as four of our most experienced forwards had dropped out, namely. W. Cosslett, R. T. Duncan, W. T. Morgan and S. H. Nicholls. In addition our splendid fullback H. Sawdust” Hughes, and H. M. Ingledew at halfback were also unavailable; consequently there were many changes in the composition of Cardiff’s teams.
To add to his own discomfiture, Evans, a splendid forward was several times injured, and played in only 19 of the 31 matches. Since his early days at Oxford where he gained his Blue, he played 117 first team club games between 1886-94, earning five Welsh caps in the process. After his retirement from the game he took part in the public and social life of the town and was knighted for his services. He died in 1926.
What then of the season’s results? These were obviously affected by the failure of our forwards to gain possession enough for our backs who were committed much more to defence than attack. Against our strongest rivals, Newport and Swansea, we suffered three defeats with one drawn game. Newport, enjoying an invincible season under T. C. Graham inflicted upon us two of the greatest defeats in the series of matches between s to date (at Newport) which were two goals, six tries to a try, and three goals (one dropped), five tries to nil. With four forwards in the Welsh pack, Newport were in fact honored by the selection of eight players in the international match with England.
The defeats at the hands of Swansea were not quite so heavy, but they were very decisive and convincing, and to celebrate the first of the wins at St. Helens in October. ‘The “All Whites” were blessed with a gate of 10,000. They now had W. J. Bancroft the great Welsh full-back kicking goals for them, and at half-back the very tricky pair of brothers Evan. and David James, who later, were to become involved in a “professional”: conflict with the Welsh Rugby Union.
We were well beaten in London by Blackheath to the tune of one goal, four tries to nil. The ‘ Baa-baas ‘ licked us at home by two goals to nil. We lost twice in succession to Pontypridd, away, by one goal, two tries to one try, and two days later at home we went down to Old Merchant Tailors by one goal, one try to one try. Huddersfield, Gloucester, Swinton, and Llanelly also added to our depressing list of defeats. What were the crumbs of comfort?
At Penarth in the second match of the season, we struggled to win by one goal to nil; he “ Donkey Islanders were celebrating the extension of their ground through the generosity of the then Lord Windsor. On our first ever visit to Bristol we succeeded by our goals to one try on the County Cricket Ground, we managed to beat Neath at home and at The Gnoll. We also succeeded at home against Wakefield Trinity by three tries to two; the visitors were four times winners of their Yorkshire Cup competition. West Hartlepool Club, on its first and only match with Cardiff were beaten at home by three goals and a try to nil. A Press report for this match was very scathing as the visitors fielded, promptly at the kick-off time of 2.45 p.m., and Cardiff did not appear until 3.15.
Yet the second team were doing good missionary work, its standing was emphasised y a gate of 3,000 to witness their match with St. David’s, a Cardiff & District team which he “Saints “ won by one goal, two tries to two tries. Two matches were played with Brecon College, and on the same day as the first team match with Pontypridd on 2nd January. they took on Bridgend at the Cardiff Arms Park, the match was drawn, and the international match with England at Blackheath was played on the same day. Aberavon were also met on the same day that the first team played Swansea on 9th April, and they defeated our Second XV by three goals, one try to nil. Understandably therefore, Selwyn Biggs’ Reserves were able to win no more than 15 matches out of 24, with 7 lost and drawn; 50 tries were scored, 15 by F. S. Grogan. Top try scorer for the 1st XV was W. Pearson who got 15 of them. The club generously awarded First Team caps to Steve Cravos, R. Davies, H. Godwin, Tom Jones, G. Lloyd-Roberts, T. H. Thomas and V. E. Watts (although gate money was down) and to T. Harry. E. Hybart, A. Harper, John Price and J. H. Bowen of the Second Team.
As to training, “the club expended £20 in respect of gymnasium facilities at Stacey load, Roath but most of the players found it too much trouble to attend For the matches t Home with Huddersfield and Runcorn, the former Blackheath player, W. P. Carpmael officiated as referee.
In its annual report to members for this season, the Most Noble the Marquess of Bute was again thanked for the loan of the ground, which was also secured for next season.