Cardiff RFC Season Review 1958 – 1959

1958—59. P44, W22, L15, D7. Points 382—319.


C. Derek Williams was an old Cantonian, the fourth old boy of the school to be captain of our club, following the footsteps of R. A. Cornish, L. M. Spence and Peter Goodfellow.
C. D.” not “Seedy” as Stan Bowes might pronounce, was an all-round athlete and double Oxford Blue for Rugby football and cricket. When playing Rugby for Berkshire in 1948 he was the county’s half mile champion and was the torch bearer from Berkshire to the White City, London, for the Olympic Games.

Business took him away from Cardiff from time to time, and during his career he assisted the London Welsh and Neath clubs, but in all he played no fewer than 248 games for Cardiff and won two Welsh caps—both against France. Always fit, he was a splendid open side wing forward, a real worrier of outside half-backs, and Roy Burnett the very tricky running half-back of Newport was amongst other stars who C.D.” shadowed well. Four of our great players had retired—Cliff Morgan and Rex Willis, world class halfbacks, Geoff Beckingham our hooker, and Eddie Thomas another forward and last season’s captain. Our younger players lacked direct attacking flair, and Lloyd Williams our scrumhalf was the only player honoured by Wales. He was “C.D.’s” vice-captain. It was not surprising that we suffered our worst post-war season, the low number of points scored emphasised our lack of scoring power, and 319 points scored against us was high indicating some defensive weaknesses. But there were some good players in the pipeline, Terry Donovan hooking, and H. M. Roberts and T. H. Norris were three who gained first team caps.

Our successes were few. The best was our win at Coventry in March by 28 points to 9 where Harry Morgan at centre helped himself to two dropped goals. We went down 21—0 to the Barbarians. When the old ‘ enemy’ Newport arrived at Cardiff on 7th March they had shown they were our masters having already beaten us three times. They were hell bent on winning the fourth match to achieve the coveted honour of beating the Blue and Blacks four times in one season. Prospects for Cardiff were bleak. We had lost the three preceding matches to Aberavon, Newport and Llanelly. “ CD.” our captain must have felt some little apprehension as to the result, a little “seedy “ perhaps, but on a greasy pitch his team once more rose to the occasion and after a desperate struggle the match ended in a scoreless draw. Nevertheless, Bryn Meredith and his boys wasted no time in disposing of a firkin of ale which was one of the minor perks for a celebration victory.

Glyn John with but 12 tries was the season’s top scorer of them, he bagged four in the Christmas tide match against the Watsonians, Ken Thomas and Gordon Wells scored six, and five were notched by Cohn Hewitt, Ken Richards and H. M. Roberts. Alan Priday gained 134 points from 53 goals and four tries, well above a third of the total points scored by the team. Alan Priday with 40 appearances played most matches, D. J. Hayward and the captain in 39, Lloyd Williams in 36 and Kingsley Jones in 35.

The Athletic XV was captained by Peter Nyhan for the second season and a most excellent one it was. The record being P36, W31, L3, D2, points 614 to 154. The points scored were the highest number since Len Evans’s 1948—49 season of 636. To lose only six matches in two seasons was a great achievement, and “The Rags “ were fortunate in having such an excellent leader as Peter, a grand straight running centre with a beautiful pass and determined defence. Off the field he was also the happy and humorous leader, a captain worthy of the club’s congratulations. Ray Glastonbury with 22 scored most tries, Peter Nyhan got 16, Ritchie Griffiths (brother to Gareth) 10 and an excellent forward G. T. Ellis 9. George Spear the full-back scored seven tries and kicked 39 goals for a total of 104 points. Athletic caps were awarded to Graham Buck, Graham Davies, Ritchie Griffiths, Steve Hughes, Tommy McCarthy, R. Parkhouse, Jim Sweeny, W. J. Thomas and Elwyn Williams.

Cardiff Juniors were captained by Haydn Thomas and the record was P27, W18, L8 and Dl, with 362 points to 121. Some defeats were incurred when key players were engaged for the District in Crawshay Cup matches and internationals in which three were capped for Wales, B. Thorne, H. Thomas and the last of the Williams family of Rugby playing brothers, A. D. “Tony” Williams. The Juniors were now giving players to the Senior XV’s and four of them gained Athletic XV caps Graham Buck, G. Davies, J. Sweeney and Elwyn Williams.

Sid Judd, this great footballer, died on 24th February 1959. He had gained most all the honours of the Rugby game. His illness had been lasting and tragic and had aroused much sympathy in Rugby circles. His family were not forgotten, and many charitable events were arranged culminating in a Past v. Present match on the Cardiff Arms Park on 30th April 1959. The Past XV included players who had served the club back in the early post-war days, Billy Cleaver, Jack Matthews, Les Manfield, Cliff Davies and Stan Bowes, there were very many players available and most willing to take part in this charity match, but who could not be accommodated. My own tribute to Sid Judd is contained in the programme of the match, written by Bryn Thomas of the “Western Mail “, “ He was a great footballer and a brave man.”
A tragedy of a very different kind occurred during the end of the season; in the Welsh “Snelling” Sevens we were beaten in the very first round by Newbridge by six points to three—in extra time.

Cardiff 16 13 0 3 396 243 61
Carmarthen Quins 17 10 3 4 372 278 54
Aberavon 16 11 0 5 371 272 53
Llandovery 16 9 2 5 344 285 48
Pontypridd 18 10 0 8 394 376 47
Merthyr 18 8 0 10 362 374 44
RGC 1404 17 8 1 8 409 381 43
Newport 15 7 0 8 294 278 37
Swansea 17 7 0 10 246 292 35
Llanelli 15 6 0 9 293 412 27
Ebbw Vale 17 4 2 11 283 351 27
Bridgend Ravens 18 3 0 15 271 493 19