Abertillery Junior Rugby Football Teams – An Early History

The Abertillery Junior Rugby Teams.
During the relatively short history of Abertillery, the town has had many teams in connection with rugby football, including the senior sides of Blaenau Gwent R.F.C., and Abertillery R.F.C. along with the various chapel and church teams, school teams, with the town’s junior teams including the Harlequins, Crusaders, Abertillery United, Wednesday’s team and the Boccolonians just to name a few. The senior teams played on the Old Barn Field later becoming the Abertillery Park and the Captains Field (where Glandwr Street is built). The juniors played on the Gasworks Field, south of Tesco’s where the Water Treatment Plant is today.

Apart from the Abertillery district senior teams (featured on this site) and Blaenau Gwent Rugby Football Club (still to come), what follows is a brief history of the junior league teams that flourished in Abertillery in the early years, teams of which members were later chosen by the premier sides in the valley. There are, as mentioned many other teams that formed and disbanded over the years, they will be added when information is found on them.

Abertillery Harlequins.
The Abertillery Harlequins were the first known junior team and were formed in 1894, they played in the Monmouthshire Rugby League and in the mid 1890’s their secretary was Mr William Hiley based at Brynteg, Blaenau Gwent, Abertillery. In 1898 they had a new secretary Mr R. Brewer of Tillery Street, Abertillery and it was reported that their ages were between 13 to 16 years of age. The club had various secretaries over the years including Mr C. Winmill.

The Abertillery Harlequins team were as follows – Back – C. Jenkins: Threequarters – W. Cosker; T. Williams; A. Harvey and Alfred Jones: Half backs – C. Hodges (Captain) and W. Hodges: Forwards – W. Hiley; O. Winmill; C. Smith; J. Brimfield; W. James; W. Barber; C Redwood and T. Everson:

The Abertillery Harlequins played on the Gasworks Field (South of Tesco’s where the Water Treatment Plant is today). The Abertillery Rugby Football Club senior team initially played on Captains Field, they shared it with the Abertillery Cricket Team while Blaenau Gwent R.F.C played on the Old Barn Field, Abertillery. After the Captains Field was sold for the construction of Glandwr Street housing project, the Abertillery R.F.C senior team shared the park with Blaenau Gwent R.F.C., over the following years other local fields were utilised.

In May 1899 an annual supper was held at the National School, Abertillery kindly lent by the vicar Rev H. S. Rees. Over eighty guests sat down for the spread provided by Mr W. G. Wilkins after which Mr A. Jones was awarded a prize for top scorer for the season and Mr C. Hodges as captain. At this gathering it was suggested to start a Gymnasium Rugby Football Club.

The Abertillery Harriers
The Abertillery Harriers were playing rugby football in the latter half of the 1890’s and were arranging fixtures with other junior teams to play rugby between the ages 13 to 16. Their secretary was Mr W. J. Evans of Princess Street, Abertillery.

Cwm Street Harriers.
In October 1898 Abertillery Cwm Street Harriers were featured in the South Wales Gazette.

Brynteg Abertillery Harriers.
In December 1899 the Brynteg Harriers, Abertillery were featured in the league and were making arrangements for games with other teams between the ages 12 to 15. Their secretary was Mr A. Payne of 43 Lewis Street, Abertillery. (Lewis Street is at the bottom of Gaen Street, Blaenau Gwent, the couple of houses adjacent to the Blaenau Gwent Workingmen’s Club).

The Abertillery Gymnasium Rugby Football Team.
In September 1899 the Gymnasium Rugby Club Football Team (as seen left) connected to the Abertillery Harlequins was formed. Their secretary was not named though was reportedly based at 36 Carlyle Street, Abertillery.

Abertillery Gymnasium Team.
Messrs W. Conley; E. L. Watkins and G. Howells featured in the Abertillery Gymnasium Rugby Football team (as seen left) they later became very successful gymnasts, G. Howells represented Wales in 1906 and 1907 and Mr E. L. Watkins appeared at the London Olympic Games of 1908.

Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football Team.
In September 1899 the Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football Team were formed, initially a junior team aged between 11 and 14 years of age. The Abertillery Crusaders played on the Gasworks Field, Abertillery, even though they were a junior team they later played against more experienced players and also the premier Abertillery team on many occasions.

In September 1899 an advertisement was placed in the South Wales Gazette by the Crusaders inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them – Apply to Mr J. James (Secretary) of 10 Gray Street, Abertillery.

The Abertillery Crusaders 2nds F.C.
The Abertillery Crusaders 2nds F.C., appeared a short while later, their age group was 14 to 16 year olds.

On Saturday 23rd of September 1899, the Abertillery Crusaders met Blaenavon Forge Seconds on the Gasworks Field, Abertillery. The Crusaders won by three tries to nil. The scorers were – J. Jones; T. Daggar and A. Strickland:

The Abertillery Athletic Association.
At the end of the 1890’s and the start of the 1900’s an athletic association was formed, called the Abertillery Athletic Association it took control of most of the sporting clubs and placed them all under one administration. They organised sports events at the park, football matches, negotiated the use of the various grounds with the council and took control of the finances of the teams that were affiliated to the association. No sporting member could be part of unless his subscriptions were fully paid, the club took in the various sports clubs of Abertillery such as the cricketers, footballers, athletes and gymnasts.

The Abertillery Athletic Association’s headquarters were at Buckley’s Temperance Hotel, Oak Street (as seen right) later known as Oak Street Club, the officers were as follows – Mr W. Hiley (Chairman); Mr R. Waygood (Secretary); Mr W. Stewart J.P. (President); Alderman S. N. Jones J.P.; Dr Sargent; Dr Muir; Dr Jones; Mr E. Jones Williams J.P.; Mr E. James Williams J.P.; Mr J. B. Jones and Mr W. Harris (Vice-Presidents): Mr R. Waygood (Secretary) and Mr D. N. Boswell (Treasurer):

The football section officers were as follows – Mr W. H. Hiley (Chairman of the General Committee); Mr C. Hodges (Captain); Mr J. Winmill (Vice-Captain); Mr W. J. Phillips (Secretary): Committee – Mr J. John; Mr J. James; Mr D. Rogers; Mr J. Powell; Mr L. Reed and Mr J. Phillips:

The Abertillery Harlequins Disbands.
On Monday 22nd of April 1901, the Abertillery Harlequins met at their headquarters the Wilkins Temperance Hotel where Mr P. Frowen officially wound up the club. The Abertillery Harlequins had played in the league for seven years and was being superseded by the Athletic Club to which Mr Frowen had urged his members to join. During their last season as a club 1900-01 the Abertillery Harlequins had played twenty-six matches of which they had won fifteen, lost five and drawn six. The number of points scored was 235, against 111, this was reported as very satisfactory as the club had fixtures with several first teams during the year. The top scorers were Messrs W. Hodges and C. Hodges with 18 tries and 14 tries respectively.

The Abertillery Harlequins Last Season Team Members.
The last season’s team members for the Abertillery Harlequins were as follows – Backs – Mapp and C. H. Thomas: Three quarters – L. James; A. Jones; E. Rogers; D. Cosker; A. Harvey; D. Lewis; L. Reed; Thatcher; W. Hodges; W. Powell; T. Smart: Forwards – J. Winmill; C. Redwood; W. Williams; Crisp; W. Webster; D. Jones; J. Brimfield; T. Everson; O. Winmill; R. Powell; W. Barber; W. Leigh; W. Davies; T. Beynon; A. Jones and C. Hodges (Captains) and J. Robbins:

The Abertillery Crusaders Team Members.
At the start of the 1901 season the Abertillery Crusaders team members were as follows – Back – J. Weeks (Captain): Three Quarters – L. John; W. Jones; A. Price and R. Parsons: Half Backs – J. Read and A. Horler: Forwards – P. Jones; G. Evans; A. Harris; G. Day; T. Davies; T. Williams; and T. Daggar: Forwards – T. Bull and A. Scott: Centre – T. Dykes joined later.

In September 1901 the Abertillery Crusaders played Waenavon Juniors on the Gasworks Field and won five tries to nil. The scorers were – W. Day; W. Jones; D. Owen and L. John:

Abertillery Crusaders 2nds Rugby Football Club.
In September 1901 the Abertillery Crusaders 2nds F.C. appeared in local reports inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them – Apply to Mr W. Morgan (Secretary) of 10 Gray Street, Abertillery. The Crusaders 2nds record for the season was – Played 14 won 10, lost 2, with 2 drawn games. Scored 85 points with 15 against.

In January 1902 the Abertillery Crusaders 2nds advertised inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them. The team at this time had a new secretary – Apply to Mr Richard Brewer (Secretary) of Newall Street, Abertillery.

The Abertillery Crusaders.
In August 1902 the Abertillery Crusaders held their annual meeting at Carters Restaurant, Abertillery. The following officers were elected for the coming season – D. Davies (Captain); T. Dykes (Vice-Chairman); Mr J. Corbett (Treasurer) and Mr J. James (Secretary):

The Abertillery Ripshirts.
On Friday 5th September 1902 the Abertillery Ripshirts appeared, advertisements were placed in the South Wales Gazette inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them. Apply to Mr T. Byard (Secretary) of Argyle Street, Abertillery. The ages were between 14 and 16 years of age.

The Abertillery Ripshirts 2nds.
On Friday 12th of September 1902, the Abertillery Ripshirts 2nds appeared, advertisements were placed in the South Wales Gazette inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them. Apply to Mr William Dykes (Secretary) of Somerset Street, Abertillery. The ages were between 11 and 13 years of age.

The Abertillery Crusaders.
In September 1902 new team members joined the Abertillery Crusaders squad – Messrs Jordan; Williams; J. Selwyn; Robbins; Meredith; Barnfield and Beynon: The Crusaders had quite a few members and in this month they played a game of “Probables versus Possibles” as a practice match to choose a team to play against Blaina St Peters, a game which the Crusaders won.

Wilkins Temperance Hotel, Somerset Street.
In 1902 the Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football Club were holding meetings and concerts at the Wilkins Temperance Hotel, Somerset Street (as seen left) opposite the Pontlottyn. Mr W. G. Wikins was the team’s president.

The Abertillery Crusaders Photograph.
The photograph (in the main featured image above) shows the Abertillery Crusaders Team during the 1902-1903 season, the team members names are as follows – Top row -Mr J. Corbett (Chairman); Mr H. Davies; A. Harris; P. Jones; A. Robbins (Captain); T. Smith; G. Evans; L. John; Mr O. F. Oldland (Trainer) and Mr W. Wilkins (President): Middle row – W. Meredith; W. Jones; A. Price; T. Davies; D. Jones; J. Weeks and Mr J. James (Secretary): Front row – J. Williams; T. Bull; T. Daggar; J. Selwyn; T. Williams; and G. Jones:

Abertillery Harlequins Cricket Team.
In April 1903 the Abertillery Harlequins decided to form a Cricket Team. Following was their starting eleven – T. Price (Captain); O. Winmill; J. Winmill; C. Winmill; C. Hodges; T. Stafford; A. Jones; W. Powell; P. Frowen; J. James and T. Dykes: Reserves – Wilfred Lewis and Abel Jones: Mr F. Read of 40 Vivian Street was their secretary.

The Ince Cup.
On Saturday 11th of April 1903, the various junior teams started a knockout to compete for the Ince Cup. The cup was given as a prize by Messrs Ince the jewellers shop (late Fouchard) in High Street, Abertillery. The Abertillery Crusaders team consisted of – Weeks; Wayne; W. Jones; R. Jones; Price; Robbins; Meredith; E. Jones; Tom Davies; H. Davies; T. Williams; T. Smith; E. Evans; W. Llewellyn and T. Daggar: The Abertillery teams who also competed included – The Abertillery United, Abertillery Crusader 2nds and Abertillery Boccolonians. The Abertillery Crusaders won the Ince Cup Competition. Later the team held their first supper at the Wilkins Temperance Hotel where it was reported that 120 sat down to a meal provided by the host Mr W. G. Wilkins.

Abertillery United Rugby Football Team.
In September 1903 the Abertillery United Rugby Football Team (as seen right) were playing at the Gasworks Field, Abertillery. Following were some of the team members – Full back – A. Little: Three quarters – W. King (Captain); D. Jones; N. Richards and A. Davies: Half backs – G. James and J. Read: Forwards – G. Baker; D. Owen; G. Beavan; W. Thomas; C. Perkins; T. Jones; H. Waters and T. Downs: Reserves – I. Beard; T. Llewellyn and E. Snell:

The Brynmawr Medal Competition.
At the same time as the Ince Cup knockout was taking place the Abertillery Crusaders also entered into the Brynmawr Medal Competition. They lost in the semi-finals of the competition.

The 1903-04 Season.
On Saturday 12th of September 1903, the opening match of the season saw Abertillery play the Abertillery Crusaders at the park, Abertillery. The teams were as follows – Abertillery, Back – C. Tamplin: Threequarter backs – R. Evans (Captain); E. W. Watkins; D. Francis and C. Hodges: Half-backs – G. Evans and J. James: Forwards – J. Webb; T. Dykes; J. Welsh; S. George; R. Baker; J. Jones; T. Thomas and A, Jones: The Abertillery Crusaders, Back – J. Weeks: Threequarter backs – L. Evans; W. Jones; R. Jones and T. Bull: Half-backs – A. Robbins and W. Meredith: Forwards – D. Jones; Evans; T. Davies; A. Harris; T. Daggar T. Williams; R. Gill and W. Davies: Other players registered for the Crusaders at this time included – Evans; G. Shaw; Price; R. Gill and Oakland:

Mr W. G. Wilkins Presentation.
On Saturday 31st of October 1903, a Smoking Concert was held at Wilkins Temperance Hotel, Abertillery in connection with the Abertillery Crusaders. Mr J. Corbett presented the host Mr W. G. Wilkins with a silver mounted ebony walking stick (supplied by Mr Purnell, newsagent of Abertillery) for services rendered to the Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football Club season 1902-03. Mr Wilkins had retired form the post on the 10th of October 1903. At the presentation concert Mr Jack Evans sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and other songs were rendered by Mr B. Harrison, Mr F. Ace, Mr S. Edwards, Mr A. Beynon, Mr J. James, Mr W. Morgan and Mr D. Williams.

The Abertillery Athletic Association Meeting.
In June 1904 at an unusual meeting of the Athletic Association at the Buckley’s Temperance Hotel, Oak Street, Abertillery, the chairman Mr W. H. Hiley spoke of the unexplained absence of the treasurer Mr R. Waygood, the committee were unable to present a balance sheet on the club’s financial position. It was decided to appoint Mr J. Boots and Mr J. Corbett to wait on Mr Waygood or to obtain from him the books etc.

In the meantime, Mr W. J. Phillips the Football Section secretary gave a report on the football section as follows – It had not been a very successful season, there had been several difficulties that they had to contend with including the weather and other causes and they were out of pocket. The total receipts for the year amounted to £125. 15s. 0d. including a donation of £25 from the Welsh Rugby Union. The expenditure amounted to £138. 3s. 1d. including – Players travelling expenses of £87. 17s. 0d: Insurance of £19. 10s. 6d: Welsh Rugby Union and Monmouthshire League penalty fees £4. 4s. 0d: Printing and posting expenses £7. 12s. 6d: Jersey’s and Knickers (Shorts) £9. 14s. 0d: Footballs £2. 2s. 11d: An Abercarn penalty of £2. 0s. 0d: This all left a deficiency of £12. 7s. 7d. In connection with the Ince Challenge Cup the receipts were £9. 11s 0d. with an expenditure of £6. 11s. 0d. and they had to pay £3. 3s. 0d. to get re-admittance into the Monmouthshire League. It was suggested that they wait until the following month where a proposal to disband the association would be put forth.

The Abertillery Athletic Association went through some changes in their set-up, they re-structured and carried on organising the different teams affiliated to them. (More information to come).

The Abertillery Crusaders Disbands.
During the 1904-05 season the Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football team began to suffer many problems within the team and very often refused to play away games causing agitation amongst the opposition, players and the league.

The Abertillery Crusaders Cricket Team.
During the summer of 1905 the Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football team formed a cricket team and joined the cricket league. Some of the Abertillery Crusaders Cricket Team were as follows – M. Penny; D. Jones; H. James; J. Selwyn; T. Daggar; J. Corbett; W. Lewis; T. Williams; W. Wilkins; A. Robbins; A. Carter; T. Price; T. Everson and W. Jones:

The Amalgamation of the Crusaders and Abertillery United Teams.
On Wednesday 30th of August 1905, a meeting was held of the members of the Abertillery Crusaders and the Abertillery United Rugby Football Clubs with a view to amalgamating the teams for the forthcoming season 1905-06. Mr Arthur Davies presided and it was decided to unite both clubs under the name of the Abertillery Harlequins. The following were appointed officers of the new club – T. Williams (Captain); Mr W. King (Vice-Chairman); Mr A. Powell (Secretary) and Mr D. Treharne (Treasurer): The Abertillery Harlequins would play at the Abertillery Park.

The Abertillery Harlequins First Match.
On Saturday 16th of September 1905, the newly formed junior team the Abertillery Harlequins played their first league match against Victoria at the Park, Abertillery. The Harlequins beat Victoria 2 tries to 1.

The Abertillery Harlequins Rugby Football Team.
In October 1905 just three weeks into the new season the newly formed Abertillery Harlequins Rugby Football juniors combined team failed to turn up for their first away match against Victoria Village, Ebbw Vale. Mr C. Baber the secretary of the Victoria Village team wrote to the press to express his disappointment in the way the new Abertillery Harlequins team ex-Crusaders team they were again treating the league with contempt and warned other teams against their actions.

Presentation to Mr W. G. Wilkins.
On Wednesday 15th of November 1905, members of the recently disbanded Abertillery Crusaders Rugby Football team met at their old headquarters, Wilkins Temperance Hotel for the purpose of presenting Mr W. G. Wilkins with the silver cup which was won by the team in a tournament a few years ago. The cup was inscribed as follows – “This cup was presented to Mr Wilkins by the Abertillery Crusaders Football Club on Wednesday November 15th 1905”, the chairman Mr J. Corbett made the presentation and spoke of the generous support accorded by Mr Wilkins to all forms of sport in general and to the Crusaders in particular. The cup was filled and handed around the room.

The Abertillery Harlequins.
In April 1907 the Abertillery Harlequins played in the Brynmawr Cup, the Harlequins team were as follows – Back – W. Brooks: Threequarters – H. Price; T. Morgan; J. Hillier and S. Reames: Half backs – B. Halling and J. Green: Forwards – J. Powell; E. Ennies; J. Taylor; H. Box; W. Davies; W. Edmunds; J. Harvey; J. Hutton; G. Powell and L. Andrews: Reserve was Matthews (no christian name given).

In 1907 the Harlequins Cricket team members were as follows – A. Little; G. Baghurst; J. Hartshorn; J. Linton; W. Brooks; G. Jayne; E. Wiltshire; H. Dix; R. Gregory; R. Byard and S. Linton:

In September 1907 an advertisement was placed in the South Wales Gazette by the Abertillery Harlequins inviting teams to arrange fixtures with them – Apply to Mr G. Powell (Secretary) of 38 Gladstone Street, Abertillery.

A New League.
On Wednesday 4th of December 1912, a meeting was held at Rabbiotiers Temperance Rooms, Newbridge with a view of forming a new league. The new league was to be called the Western Valley Old Boy’s League and the clubs represented were – The Newbridge Old Boys, Six Bells Reserves, Crumlin Quins, Ebbw Vale, Abertillery Crusaders (as seen left), Llanhilleth Thirds, Abertillery Old Boys and Pentwynmawr. The following officers were selected – Mr T. Morgan of Ebbw Vale (Chairman); Mr A. Salter of Newbridge (Vice-Chairman); Mr J. E. Williams of Llanhilleth (Treasurer); Mr R. M. Winstone of Newbridge (Secretary) and Mr P. Davies of Ebbw Vale (Assistant Secretary): The entrance fee was 5s., the age limit was 21 years of age and all players must be registered. A team from Aberbeeg later joined the league.

The Post War Era.
Due to the outbreak of war 1914-1918 many players joined the colours and fought for their country. rugby playing in the leagues ceased. In 1920 the leagues resumed and the Abertillery Harlequins began their season 1920-21 playing on the Duffryn Athletic Grounds. During this time the Abertillery Harlequins played some of the best teams in the leagues and had a fantastic record, they were reportedly the best junior team in the county, this was no mean feat as most of the players were picked to play for the district’s senior teams such as Abertillery, Llanhilleth and Aberbeeg etc.

At the end of the 1921-22 season the Abertillery Harlequins were getting stronger, their record was – Played 28 games, won 23 games and drew 5. Points for were 251 with only 29 against. In 1923 the Abertillery Council sanction the use of the Abertillery Park to the Abertillery Harlequins, some of the team members throughout the 1920’s were as follows – “Darkie” Fear; C. Axford; J. Walby; Nick Phillips; T. Bartlett; W. Jones; A. Merritt; Howell Williams; G. Goode; J. Hillman; W. Hinge; A. Brickle; R. Brickle; Jack Jones; George Parsons; “Duff” Lewis; W. Snelling; Wilf Edwards; Lewis Jenkins; E. Coles; Tommy Horler; The Williams brothers; Bert Love; T. Oldham; W. Ford; “Chick” Harris; A. Nash; T. Berrow; H. Mabbott; W. D. Evans; David Henry Griffiths; W. Rees; J. Arnold; E. Coombes; E. Bridge; R. Assender; Dai Sutton; T. Davies and Len Powell:

The Abertillery Harlequins Disbands.
On Tuesday 14th of February 1928, the Dundee Courier newspaper and a few local editions reported that due to the industrial depression the Abertillery Harlequins Rugby Football Team were to disband. It stated they had been in existence for over 25 years and in that time they had been one of the most successful junior teams in Monmouthshire, during the past six seasons 1922 to 1928 they had only lost six games.

(Later information to come).


Points of Interest –
Abertillery R.F.C.
On Saturday 30th of August 1913, at the start of the 1913-14 season the South Wales Gazette reported that 58 players presented themselves at the park to play for Abertillery R.F.C.

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