Abertillery Rugby Football Club.
There is a consensus that the Abertillery Rugby Football Club was formed in 1883. I have thoroughly searched all newspaper reports from that time but can’t find any information or details of their set-up.
The earliest mention of the team in official reports that are available is in 1885 when the Abertillery Rugby Football Team were playing in the Monmouthshire Rugby Football League.
The Abertillery Officers in 1886.
A report in the Cardiff Times from 14th August 1886 stated the selection of officers for the Abertillery Club for the coming season were as follows – Mr W. Rickard (Captain); Mr J. Z. Edmunds (Vice Captain); Mr W. Edwards (Treasurer) and Mr D. N. Boswell (Secretary):
The Abertillery Team Members in 1888.
The Abertillery Team in 1888 were as follows – Mr Eli Lee (Back); Mr John Thomas; Mr William Bevan; Mr R. Lawrence; Mr John Brown (Three Quarters); Mr S. Robins; Mr E. Skidmore (Half Backs); Mr E. Boswell (Captain); Mr David Rees; Mr Mark Robins; Mr John Pearce; Mr John Powell; Mr William Davies; Mr John C. Edwards and Mr John Brittle (Forwards): At this time their headquarters was the Bush Inn, though they later had the Station Hotel as their club house.
In the early 1900’s the Abertillery Club became a successful unit and the players all natives of Abertillery won the Monmouthshire League on a few occasions.
In August 1905 Mr D. J. Boots left Newport Rugby Team to play for Abertillery.
The Monmouthshire League Winners.
During the 1907-08 season Abertillery Rugby Football team won the Monmouthshire League with a record of – Played 37 games and won 31, losing six. They amassed a total of 436 points for and 104 against. On June 24th 1908 at a meeting at the Station Hotel, Abertillery the team were awarded 9ct gold medals in recognition of this feat.
The Abertillery Team Members in 1908.
The Abertillery team at this point were – Mr Charlie Hodges; Mr William Bowen; Mr “Chick” James; Mr D. J. Boots; Mr Lionel W. Thomas; Mr W. Hodges; Mr Joseph Richardson; Mr Joe Winmill (Captain); Mr Jack Webb; Mr J. Blakemore; Mr Thomas Dykes; Mr Jack Webb; Mr William Powell; Mr Joseph Howells and Mr Thomas Williams; Mr W. Hodges; Mr Dai Francis; Mr R. Gill; Mr Abe Jones; Mr T. Dagger; Mr T. Haycock and Mr Lionel Lewis. The trainer was Mr John Stephens (as seen in the main featured image above):
Mr Alfred “Jim” Webb.
Alfred “Jim” Webb (pictured left) was born in West Dean, Gloucester in 1883. The son of Charles and Sarah Webb was one of seven children. In the mid 1880’s the family came to South Wales and in 1891 Alfred was 8 years of age and living with his parents at 51 Blaenau Gwent Rows, Abertillery.
His father Charles was a haulier at one of the collieries and Alfred’s two elder brothers also worked at the colliery, Mr John Webb, a collier and Mr Joseph Webb a doorboy. In October 1905 Alfred’s elder brother John was killed underground at the Gray Colliery, Abertillery while working at the coal face. At the time of his death Mr John Webb was living at Ashfield Road, Abertillery, he left a wife and daughter.
By 1901 Alfred “Jim” Webb was still living with his parents, he was aged eighteen and was working as a coal miner though his family had moved to 3 York Street, Abertillery. At an early age he began playing rugby football for the Abertillery Boccolonians, he progressed to the Abertillery 2nds and then moved into the premier side. He was later picked to play for Wales and on Saturday 2nd February 1908 gained his first cap while playing for Wales against Scotland. He was later capped again for playing against Scotland, England, Ireland, France and Australia.
Mr Jake Blakemore.
Jake Blakemore Abertillery Rugby player (pictured right) gained his first trial cap aged 19 years old. He represented Monmouthshire on the Overseas Tour of South Africa in 1907. He was later picked to play for Wales and on Saturday 16th January 1909 gained his first cap. On his debut for Wales against England, Jake Blakemore played alongside Jim Webb, the two Abertillery players received credit for their outstanding skills, even from some of rugby’s harshest critics at the time.
Dr Ernest C. Fahmy.
Ernest Fahmy (pictured left) was a Scottish doctor residing in and playing Rugby for Abertillery, he was an outstanding player and soon progressed to international standard. It was hoped that he may have played for Wales but he chose to play for his home country Scotland. On Saturday 1st January 1920 he was capped playing for Scotland against France.
While Dr Fahmy was at Abertillery post war the team consisted of the following – Mr Tom Norris; Mr A. Hill; Mr F. Giles; Mr Dr E. C. Fahmy; Mr F. Cecil; Mr A. Hill; Mr W. Dando (Welsh Trial Cap) Mr Trevor Williams; Mr W. Morris (Welsh Trial Cap); Mr Tom Simmonds; Mr J. Howells; Mr H. Bird; Mr B. Hadley; Mr William Powell; Mr Bryn Jones; Mr J. Slocombe; Mr J. Webb and Mr B. Gill:
(Later information to come).