When that legendary group of ex-servicemen formed the YMCA R.F.C for the 1946-47 season, there can be little doubt that they had high hopes for their venture. Indeed their enterprise was rewarded, for their record for that Inaugural season shows that from 33 games played they lost only 7, and outscored their opponents by 302 points 156.
In 1951 the Llanelli Wanderers RFC was formed, and the headquarters were the old Prince of Wales Inn. It is from these humble beginnings that the Corinthian spirit towards rugby and indeed life, was nurtured. The club's motto "Cyfeillach trwy Grwydro" (Friendship Through Wandering) has been practiced to the full with the club having had many different headquarters before moving to the present one in 2006. It is similar story regarding the playing pitches - with many corporation grounds being used, as well as sharing the facilities of their neighbors Llanelli RFC.
The present ground was opened in 1st September, 1975 when a Present XV played a former XV. It was a hard match - one only has to look at some of the players that day to realise this- with the Present XV finally defeating the Past by 21-10.
A XV Captains - 1960 to 1983
60-61 Dennis Shanahan
61-62 Dennis Shanahan
62-63 Frank Davies
64-65 Bert Rosser
65-66 Trevor Lewis
66-67 Jackie Jenkins
67-68 Roger Howells
68-69 Wynne Davies
69-70 Brian Beynon
70-71 Jackie Jenkins
71-72 Peter Jones
72-73 Mike Caig
73-74 Ken Davies
74-75 Hugh Vaughan
75-76 Steve Pike
76-77 Alun John
77-78 Alun John
78-79 Bobbie Davies
79-80 Steve Pike
80-81 Bobbie Davies
81-82 Gareth Evans
82-83 Roger S Griffiths
The Wanderers’ Story
In season 1946-47, a group of young ex-servicemen formed the Llanelly Y.M.C.A. R.F.C. and with no funds available, the players bought their own equipment and paid their own expenses to matches. The lack of playing facilities was a problem to which there was no easy solution. For a while, the use of the Corporation field at Penyfan was shared with other clubs, which meant that the team changed at the Y.M.C.A. and walked over a mile to the ground, and of course, back again after the match. Later, the occasional use of a field in the Pwll area was obtained, but there was no dressing room and the players, therefore, continued to change in the town and took a trolley 'bus to the ground.
The astonishing thing is that during this most discouraging period, there was no shortage of players and enthusiasm increased. The quality of play was also steadily improved and it was not long before the Llanelly R.F.C. selectors were drawing on 'Y.M.' talent. Players were surrendered at short notice to the senior side and there was one historic occasion when a player, on his way to Tumble by bus with the 'Y.M.' team, was transferred to a pursuing motor car and whisked back to appear for the Scarlets at Stradey. It is during this period that the seed of the Llanelli Wanderers Rugby Football Club was sown and at a Special General Meeting of the Llanelly Y.M.C.A. Rugby Football Club on the 26th February, 1951 the seed germinated when the following Motion was agreed to: "On 1st May, 1951 the Llanelly Y.M.C.A. Rugby Football Club, as it now exists, be disbanded and that it be reformed outside the Y.M.C.A. as the Llanelly Wanderers Rugby Football Club."
This urge to spread their wings was not the outcome of any split with the Y.M.C.A. The matter was thoroughly discussed and agreed that the team should become a Club in its own right instead of an agency of the Y.M.C.A. So what had been a dream for several years became reality.
The first meeting of the Llanelly Wanderers Rugby Football Club was called to be held on 7th March, 1951 at the Prince of Wales Inn, Hall Street, where there were 10 members present. At that meeting, the following officials were appointed:
President: Mr. Elvet Jones; Chairman: Mr. Hector Griffiths; Hon. Sec.: Mr. T. G. Pugh; Hon. Treasurer: Mr. J. D. C. Evans. The other members present at this meeting were D. M. Hughes; Ken John; Albert Lewis; Hugh Rowe; R. E. Williams and G. R. Wilson.
It was also agreed that the Club's Headquarters be at the Prince of Wales Inn and that Llanelly R.F.C. be asked to receive a deputation to request the use of Stradey Park as the Club's home ground. Fortunately, the Scarlets co-operated in providing training facilities, the use of the ground and a dressing room for matches.
The advantages of such an arrangement to the premier club was that it would establish a source of reserve talent and eliminate difficulties that often confronted the Scarlets when selected players withdrew at short notice. It was at the first General Meeting of the Club on 16th April, 1951 that it was agreed that the Club colours be Maroon with a 'W' on a white shield and that the following would serve as a Committee: Messrs. H. D. Evans; Cliff Jones; W. Rees; H. Rowe; H. R. Thomas and R. E. Williams, with the following serving on the Selection Committee: A. Lewis and G. R. Wilson. Team Secretary: Reg Bayliss.
The problem of finance was one which was enthusiastically attacked by the organisation of various events including a Derby Sweepstake and a Jumble Sale organised by the Ladies of the Club. Advertisements in the local press claimed that "1,000 garments must be sold". As a result, the princely sum of £27.3s.3d. (£27.16.) was donated to the Club funds.
Training for the Club's first season began in mid August and a trial match was held at Stradey on 3rd September, 1951 following which Handel Greville, the former Welsh International and former Scarlets skipper, was elected to be the Club's first captain, although this was a distinction he was to hold for only 14 days as his services were required by Llanelli.
The team selected for the Club's first match at Porthcawl on 8th September, 1951 was:
Alan Prosser Harries; Meredith Evans; Howard Rees; Graham Morse; Howell Davies; Ellis Griffiths; Handel Greville; Howard (Ash) Davies; Robin Williams; Lionel Thomas; Graham Tobias; David Griffiths; John Rowlands; H. D. Williams and D. H. Williams. Among the forwards was a young aspiring prop forward in Howard (Ash) Davies who was destined to captain the town's premier club. The match resulted in victory for the Wanderers by 5-11. The match was reported by the South Wales Evening Post as follows:
“PORTHCAWL 5 pts. LLANELLY WANDERERS 11 pts.
This was the first game of the season for the newly formed Wanderers Club. Their display at Porthcawl augurs well for the future. From the outset, both sides tried to open up the game. There were two evenly matched packs on view, the home eight gaining the advantage in the set scrums while the visiting pack were masters in the loose.
The Wanderers scored from the first combined movement of the game. After a quick heel H. Greville eluded the attentions of the wing forwards and set his threes moving. The whole line handled and an inside pass by Howell Davies enabled Ellis Griffiths to score under the posts for A. P. Harries to make sure of the extra points. Porthcawl equalised just before half time when after some smart backing up, W. Hopkins scored a try and I. Mort converted. The only score in the second stage of the game came from the boot of young A. P. Harries who kicked two magnificent penalty goals for the visitors.”
It is apparent from the press report that an open style of rugby was played and the Club has, over its comparatively short life, endeavoured to maintain an attacking, open style of rugby which even in its first season brought honours to the club when two members were selected at full-back for their respective Universities, Peter Davies for Cambridge and Allan Prosser Harries for Aberystwyth. Peter in fact, became the Honorary Secretary of the Cambridge University Rugby Club in 1954.
Following Handel Greville's recall to the Scarlets side, the Club captaincy was bestowed on Huw C. Williams, and the Club's playing record at the end of its first season was certainly something to be proud of:
Played 33 Won 20 Drawn 6 Lost 7 Pts. For 302 Pts. Agst. 156
Among the highlights of the Club's first season were fixtures with St. Luke's College, Exeter, Swansea Athletic and Edinburgh Northern.
The Club's match against the Scottish side, was played on the same day as Wales v. Scotland, and to enable the both sides to travel to Cardiff Arms Park, the match kicked off at 9.00 a.m. This fixture became a tradition for many years and it was decided that a trophy be at stake at each meeting of the two Clubs. The trophy is now resIdent at the Wanderers’ Clubhouse.
Two important appointments coincided with the memorable campaign of the first season, when the Bishop of St. David's Dr. W. T. Havard, and former Llanelli and Wales centre Albert Jenkins, served as Patron and Vice President respectively.
The Club's motto "Cyfeillach Trwy Grwydro" means "Friendship Through Wandering", and whilst it is known that there was plenty of friendship at this time, so too was there plenty of Wandering with the Club moving its headquarters from the Prince of Wales Inn to the Bush Vaults and then on to the Salutation Hotel, which was also used at this time as a headquarters by Llanelly R.F.C. The close links between the Club and the Scarlets continued to develop over the years with the two Clubs jointly organising numerous social functions.
During the sojourn at the Salutation Hotel, the Wanderers were able to provide hospitality on a scale hitherto unknown which won fame far and wide. However, there is no truth in the rumour that one particular touring team were so impressed at being entertained so lavishly, that they asked to come back again on the Sunday for a second game!
A regular highlight of the social functions was the singing of the Club choir, which over the years has won great renown in many rugby centres. Even the 1958 Australian tourists will vouch for this when they paid a fleeting visit to the Wanderers headquarters. They unanimously agreed that the singing there was the finest they had heard in the world of rugby. High praise indeed and a worthy reflection on the musical directorship of genial Cliff Jones.
The tale is told of a Club member who had been admitted as a patient to Morriston Hospital. He had obviously been missing the hospitality and comforts of the Wanderers so he invited the choir to visit his Ward at the Hospital, without, it should be said, the prior approval of the Hospital Authorities. Arrangements were well in hand but the invitation was not fulfilled as there was "some doubt as to whether the Glee Section would be admitted".
Honours continued to grace the Wanderers when three of its members represented the Royal Navy in the same match. They were Hywel Griffiths, Alan Harries and Hugh Prosser Jones. This memorable event occurred in the 1952/53 season and the Club proudly boasts this event as being a record for a second class club.
It was in February 1953 when the Club reciprocated the visit of Edinburgh Northern the previous season, and made the trek north on its first tour to defeat the Scottish side by 20 pts. to 6 pts. The Club had previously travelled over Offa's Dyke in January 1952 to Twickenham for the England/Wales International but the Club did not play any matches whilst there.
Socially, the Wanderers' success rocketed with guest speakers of the renown of E. W. Swanton, Winston McCarthy, Terry McLean, V. G. J. Jenkins, Capt. Hopkin Thomas, J. B. G. Thomas and Ivor David, all addressing the Club between 1953 and 1955. In fact, the Club bestowed its first honorary memberships on Winston McCarthy and Terry McLean during their visit in December 1953. So only two and a half years from the inception of the Wanderers, the Club tie was worn on New Zealand soil by two great rugby men.
It was in 1953 that the Morfa Branch of the St. Johns' Ambulance Brigade agreed to provide first aid men for the Club's home games, an association which survived until comparatively recently. It was at this time that M. I. S. Williams became trainer, perhaps the most important appointment as yet in the Club's history. A great character in every sense of the word, he continued to render his services even when he had past his seventieth birthday and his sterling work could not be overpraised. It was commonplace for an injured player to visit M.I.S.'s home to receive treatment during evenings at his insistence, and there, in locked cupboards, was the array of bottles and cartons containing the ingredients of M.l.S.'s own liniment and other secret, magic potions. His passing was a sad loss to the Wanderers Club.
The lack of the Wanderers own field and changing facilities continued to present administrative problems. The Club had already played home matches on almost every available Corporation pitch and in 1953 tentative investigations were made into the possibility of their own pitch and dressing rooms, but this bore no fruit and so the Wanderers decided to stay at Stradey Park and were quite hopeful of a more permanent playing arrangement there when Llanelli RF.C. requested the Club's co-operation in the preparation of a second pitch at Stradey in July 1953. No doubt heartened by this, the Committee felt it necessary to increase the Club's income and duly increased admission charges to Wanderers matches to 9d. (4p.), with the extra charge for admission to the stand remaining at 6d. (2 1/2p.).
In March 1954 the design for the Club's crest was finalised and agreed. The crest comprises a shell upon which are to be found two letter 'L's' denoting Llanelli, and in the centre of the shell, the letter 'W', denoting Wanderers. On a scroll under the shell, is the Club motto "Cyfeillach Trwy Grwydro", "Friendship Through Wandering", an apt motto for the Club. The significance of the shell is that it is the heraldic symbol of the Wanderer.
April 1954 again saw the Edinburgh Northern club visit Llanelli, for the annual 'mini-international', and on the Wanderers return visit the following year, the Wanderers extended their sporting curriculum by engaging the Scots in a game of skittles. It is not recorded who was victorious in that particular confrontation, but on the Northerns visit in February 1956, it was seen fit for them to be the first club to be presented with the Club's plaque in the form of the Wanderers’ crest.
Summer 1955 witnessed the birth of the Wanderers Cricket Section under the Chairmanship of Howard R Thomas and the captaincy of Hugh C. Williams, They undertook their first tour in that Summer by visiting Salisbury.
The Wanderers showed great enterprise in that same year when, in conjunction with Llanelli RF.C., an invitation Seven-a-Side competition was organised at Stradey. The teams who participated in the competition were Llanelli Wanderers, Llanelli, Felinfoel, Llangennech, Loughor, Neath, New Dock Stars and St. Luke’s College, (Exeter). The competition proved to be successful and subsequent competitions saw the inclusion of Penarth, Furnace, Pontypridd, Welsh Academicals and Glamorgan Wanderers.
Notable achievements continued on the field of play with the Club taking the two year ground record of Bridgend Sports Club in December 1955. Further honours were bestowed on four more of the Club's players in 1955/56 season when Ieuan Jones and Howell Morgan were selected to tour South Africa by the Welsh Secondary Schools Rugby Union, FI.Off. Ian McPherson who was serving at the R.A.F. Camp was selected for the Scottish Rugby Union trial matches and K. Pullham was selected for the Welsh Youth trials.
Such was the enterprise of the Club Committee at this time, and no doubt encouraged by the experience of widening the Club's repertoire to include skittles, it was decided to organise a Boxing Tournament at the Drill Hall in May 1956.
It is interesting to note that in the mid 1950's the Club Committee agreed that "in future the Clubroom will be for the use of gentlemen members of the Club only and that ladies may only be admitted by special invitation of the Committee as a whole". Fortunately this is not the case today, as the Club's lady members have more than played their part in the Club's development in the "backroom" functions of food preparation after matches and the organisation of many social functions.
The 6th July, 1956 was certainly a red letter day in the life of the Wanderers Club for it was at the Club's Annual General Meeting on that date that F. G. Phillips, the then Vice President of the Welsh Rugby Union, announced that the Wanderers had been admitted as probationary members of the Welsh Rugby Union. For the record, the Club's application was seconded by Mumbles and Skewen N.O.R. This was a unique achievement for a Club of only five years standing. Wanderers themselves believe that this was achieved not merely by the playing strength of the Club but also by the tremendous fillip given by its record as a Club whose hospitality was generally recognised as second to none. Amongst those whose diligence up to this point had been of un measured value to the Club, were Hector Griffiths, Chairman; Graham Pugh, Secretary; John Evans, Treasurer; and last but not least, Cliff Jones, whose "magic" baton did much to earn the Club its' reputation on the social side. The Wanderers were accepted into full membership of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1959 after serving the norma13 year probationary period. The Club's entry into the Union was celebrated in typical Wanderers style by a dinner at the Stepney Hotel in November, 1956.
On the rugby side, season 1956/57 brought no relief in so far as a permanent playing home for the Wanderers. Changing facilities included the Stradey Arms, Trostre, Llanelli Cricket Club, the Y.M.C.A. and Stradey, but this did not prevent a record being set by Edward O. James, who, whilst playing on the wing, amassed a total of21 tries, a record which stands even today. In fact, he repeated the feat in the following season. Edward, a graduate of Guy's Hospital, achieved much success as a Llanelli wing after making a name for himself in London rugby football circles. He holds a strong, forthright view about the game, an enthusiastic approach and a man dedicated in maintaining the ideals of the Wanderers Club. He is not only held in high esteem at the Wanderers, but also at Wimbledon, where he regularly acts as umpire during the world famous tennis competition. He held the office of President of the Wanderers Club from 1970 to 1977.
1956/57 saw a unique Club event when both the Rugby and Cricket teams left Llanelli on a Rugby/Cricket weekend in Gerrards Cross.
The Wanderers continued to play open attractive rugby and were gaining the respect of other rugby clubs to such an extent that they were invited to play against Furnace in September 1957 to open Furnace's ground.
This was at the start of a season which was to see the first Wanderer raise his personal tally of points into three figures. This distinction fell to Harry Thomas, who also repeated the feat in seasons 59/60 and 61/62.
Dublin was the destination of the Club's tour in 1958 and as usual, a most enjoyable time was had by all, both on and off the field. The Club achieved a "first" on this tour by taking part in a broadcast by Radio Eire.
At this time, the Wanderers had a useful bowls team, under the guidance of Ken John, and although to date, the Club's honours were restricted to achievements by its players on the rugby field, the selection of Club member Mr. Hugh Andrews to the Welsh Bowls Team in 1960 was greeted with immense pride.
The fine rugby playing style practised by the Wanderers, was again evident when the Club played Merthyr at Merthyr in a special match, the proceeds of which were donated to the World Refugees Year Fund. For this match, the Wanderers fielded a strong side which included four guest players, all of whom were International players. The Wanderers team for this match was :
Terry Davies; leuan Jones; G. Morris; A1un Thomas; ]. Howells; Eifion Thomas; Frank Davies; G. Lee; B. Lloyd; Keri J ones; R. H. Williams; Keith Row1ands; John Leleu; Harry Thomas and P. Williams,
with the inclusion of A1un Thomas, who at this time, was the Club captain, the Wanderers fielded a team which was one third internationals. Naturally, the match was followed by prescribed amount of vocal harmonies, lubricated periodically by appropriate liquid refreshment!
So popular did the Wanderers tourists of 1958 prove to be, that Dublin was again the destination of the Club's tour in 1960. The Club was invited there as the guests of Glantarf R.F.C., but there is no record of a radio broadcast this time!
The 1959/60 season opened when the Wanderers took on the might of the Scarlets at Stradey. A penalty goal by Harry Thomas earned a deserved draw at 3 pts. each.
Off the field, the Wanderers continued to attract notable guest speakers to their "Smokers" at the Club's headquarters. Between 1957 and 1960, these included Cliff Jones; Cliff Morgan; Terry Davies; R. H. Williams, and more rugby friends from across the waters in the forms of A. C. Parker, the Springbok press correspondent and the Australians Shehadie, Cameron and Scott. The Club was delighted by the recent revisit of Sir Nicholas Shehadie as tour manager of the Wallabies on their U.K. tour of 1981/82.
Such was the popularity of the Wanderers that it had become necessary to form a second team in season 1960/61. Under the inspired leadership of Dennis Shanahan, they played their first match at Tumble coming away victors by 6 pts. to nil.
The Wanderers team for this historic occasion was:
R. Williams; Byron J ones; B. Williams; David Shanahan; Roger Evans; Mike Tanner; Roger Howells; H. Griffiths; M. Jones; Ken Jones; J. Powell Rees; Terry Rees; Dennis Shanahan; Trevor Lewis and A. James.
The playing record of the 'A' XV in their first season was: Played 24; Won 7; Drawn 4; Lost 13.
Terry Rees played in all 24 matches and the leading points scorer was Roger Evans who, whilst playing on the wing, scored 21 tries thus equalling the record set by E. O. James for the number of tries for a Club XV in a season, but, Roger played a few matches for 1st XV in this season and scored a try, thus establishing a try record for 1st and' A' XV in anyone season of 22 tries. It is significant to note that so many tries were being scored by the Wanderers wings, again revealing the running, open game which became a trademark of the Wanderers.
The fixture list for season 1961/62 was distinguished by the addition of Cardiff Athletic, probably the most consistently strong second class side in Wales. Over the following years, the Cardiff side included many international players who always enjoyed their visits to Llanelli and the hospitality was always reciprocated when the Wanderers visited the Arms Park.
Once, after a particularly hard game at the Arms Park, Wanderers prop forward Heddwyn Thomas was complimented on his performance by his opposite number, (later to be capped by Wales), who had certainly not found things easy during the match. Heddwyn graciously accepted the compliment and added "That's the last time I drive the 'bus for this lot!”.
Following the success of the Merthyr/Wanderers charity match, the Club was again invited to send a team to play against Merthyr to celebrate the official opening of their new clubhouse. Once again the Wanderers fielded a team which included guest players such as Terry Davies; R. H. Williams; Keith Rowlands and John Leleu. By all account a splendid night was had by all and the Wanderers were congratulated on their "spectacular open rugby and wonderful singing", certain evidence that the choir remained in good voice.
The Club was particularly pleased in this season when Alun Prosser Harries, who, had by now moved further afield, was selected to captain the Middlesex County Rugby team.
Meanwhile, the administrators of the Club were busying themselves acquiring a twenty-one year lease on No. 2 Station Road, Llanelli, for use as a Clubhouse.
Once again, the enthusiasm of the membership shone through in its financing and the voluntary spirit was to be the guiding influence in the modernisation of the premises. The Club Architect, Mr. Wynford Lewis, a versatile and notable clubman, was given a free hand and his work was the admiration of all clubs who patronised it. The accommodation included a bar, smoking lounge, a spacious club room and excellent catering facilities.
The official opening was performed on the 2nd April, 1962 by Danny E. Davies, the then President of the Welsh Rugby Union. Following the ceremony, the spotlight switched to Stradey Park where a Wanderers XV played an International XV. It was an enjoyable occasion, and no one did better than that "grand old man" of Welsh rugby, Rees Stephens. The Wanderers XV still recall with pride, that thrilling and enjoyable game. The teams were as follows:
Llanelly Wanderers Ieuan Jones (Capt.), Wynne Davies, Gareth Morris, Neville Holmes, Clive Aitken ,Eifion Thomas, Peter H. Williams, Hywel Griffiths, Colwyn Owens, Godfrey Rees, Peter Williams, Rheinallt Jenkins, Dennis Shanahan, Peter Davies, Harry Thomas.
Full Back Kelvin Coslett
Right Wing Glyn John
Right Centre Alun Thomas
Left Centre Carwyn J ames
Left Wing Ray Williams
Outside Half Cliff Morgan
Inside Half Rex Willis
Prop John Dodd
Hooker Mel Rees
Prop lorwerth Evans
Second Row R. H. Williams
Second Row Rees Stephens
Wing Forward John Leleu
Lock Len Blyth
Wing Forward Haydn Mainwaring
Referee: Mr. G. D. Francis (Carmarthen)
Touch Judges: Mr. E. O. James; Mr. F. Brian Stephens
The result, not that it mattered, was victory to the International XV by 19 pts. to nil.'
Further distinction fell on the Wanderers when Alun Thomas was successful in being elected as a Welsh Rugby Union district representative in 1962.
The Wanderers, now with the luxury of their own clubhouse, immediately ensured full use of its accommodation. In the first year of its opening, D. Onllwyn Brace was the first guest to address the Club, soon to be followed by Clem Thomas and Carwyn J ames. So far had the reputation of the Wanderers choir spread that the Morriston Orpheus Choir decided to come and see for themselves, the Club was requested by the Welsh Rugby Union to entertain the Canadian Tour party of that year, even the Irish Lacrosse team popped in!
The Club again extended its sporting activities, this time in darts matches against Mumbles and Carmarthen Athletic. 1962 was also the year of the Club's third Triennial Dinner. Little is recorded of the first two. The Triennial Dinner is a phenomenon which, as its title suggests, occurs every three years. The night of the Triennial Dinner is a very special one in the Wanderers social calendar. It never fails in attracting notable guests and civic dignitaries, in 1962 these being John Faull, Ken Harries and J. B. G. Thomas.
The Wanderers also invite representatives of other rugby clubs to attend this social evening. It is a night of a fine dinner, excellent after dinner speeches, informal conversations with the guests, and the function inevitably ends with a "Gymanfa Ganu". It is truly a great night for rugby men.
The 1962/63 season brought distinction to the 'A' XV when they succeeded in taking the ground record of the Llandovery R.F.C. first team. No mean achievement for a second string of only two full seasons standing.
The Wanderers again extended their sporting horizons when in early 1963, they formed a swimming club. This, of course, was made possible by the opening of the Jubilee Pool shortly before. In fact, so popular was this new venture in the Club that the Wanderers decided to donate a trophy to the Llanelli Amateur Swimming Club to be competed for amongst its members.
The social highlight of the 62/63 season was undoubtedly the visit to the Wanderers Club by members of the All Blacks touring party. The party included Terry McLean, who had been a guest of the Wanderers in 1953, and the popular skipper of the 1963 All Blacks, Wilson Whineray. That evening proved to be extremely successful in terms of cementing the kindred spirit of rugby players, a spirit which exists wherever rugby is played. It is known that Wilson Whineray was of the opinion that his evening in the Wanderers Club was the best of the tour.
The Wanderers still had no "permanent" home ground for playing or training, with various pitches around the town being used to stage their matches, whilst being without the luxury of floodlighting for the dark winter evenings severely restricted their training programme. This, however, did not prevent more playing members joining the Club, the most notable in the 1963/64 season was the arrival of Eifion Jones, who later was to become, and still is the Glamorgan County Cricket Club's wicket keeper.
The enterprising Wanderers again proved their versatility in other sports by involving themselves in ten pin bowling.
The 1964/65 season saw the 'A' XV achieve a success rate of over 50% for the first time in their comparatively short existence. The skipper of the first XV, in this season, Gareth Morris, played a true captains role in playing in all 45 first team matches.
The Wanderers were delighted in December, 1964 to play host to the University of Toronto who were on a British Tour. In fact, this was the first time in the Club's existence that a fixture had been arranged with a foreign team. The University sides' tour included matches against, Sidcup, Edinburgh Wanderers, Jordanhill F.P., a combined Tonyrefail/Gilfach Goch side and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Following a civic reception at the Town Hall, the Wanderers engaged the tourists at Stradey Park, and after an entertaining match emerged the victors by 5 pts. to nil.
The Canadians were full of praise for the hospitality shown to them during their stay in Llanelli and went on to Aberystwyth to meet the University of Wales team for a match which, incidentally, was to be the first ever encounter on a rugby field between a British and Canadian University. Both sides regarded the match as an International and the Canadians did extremely well to win by 12 pts. to 3. (As a postscript to this event it’s worth noting that the match couldn’t be played in Aberystwyth because of a frozen ground, and the game took place in Llanelli on the Grammar School pitch.)
The Wanderers and indeed the town ofLlanelli, suffered a great loss in May 1965 with the passing of T. Graham Pugh. He had been a founder member of the Wanderers Club and had served in the capacity of Honorary Secretary from the Club's inception in 1951 until 1958 when he became Chairman, a position he held until his passing. His contribution to the formation and development of the Wanderers Club is immeasurable. It was largely due to his vision, drive and enthusiasm, that the Club's reputation, both on and off the field, has been held in such high esteem for so long and the tributes received by the Club from many local rugby clubs, West Wales Rugby Union, Welsh Rugby Union and Societies of Referees, only stand to show how highly he was regarded. As well as holding the offices in the Wanderers Club, he served as Chairman of the Llanelli and District Rugby Union. As a tribute to him, the Wanderers Club commissioned a portrait in oils from local artist Mr. John Bowen. This portrait now hangs in the clubhouse in honour ofa man who the Wanderers can consider as being their first "statesman".
September 1965 saw the Wanderers embark on their first continental tour. Under the tour managership of trusty Harry D. Evans, a party of 30 left Llanelli bound for Brussels. This tour had been long awaited by the Wanderers and the hospitality of the Belgians was well worth the wait. The touring party was entertained to a reception at the world famous Martini Bar and hosted by the Mayor of Brussels at the Brussels Town Hall. On the field the Club was to meet a Belgian XV and a Brussels XV. Incidentally, no "caps" were awarded for the match against the Belgian XV which resulted in a win for the Wanderers by 8 pts. to 3 pts. The Wanderers also beat the Brussels XV by 15 pts. to 13 pts.
November 1965 saw the Club's fourth Triennial Dinner with chief guests being W. H. Clement, D. O. Brace, Rocyn Jones and Ken Harries.
The Club continued to attract notable personalities of the rugby world to guest at "Smokers" when in February 1966, the Club was delighted to play host to Norman Mair.
Season 1966/67 began with a match against an International XV. The match had been arranged as a Benefit Match for Neville Holmes who had served the Wanderers admirably in the centre when a serious leg injury tragically cut short a sparkling rugby career. For the record, the teams who took the field at Stradey were:
Llanelli Wanderers : leuan Jones, Gwyn Williams, Brian Mason, Glyn Jones, Wynne Davies, Eifion Thomas, Peter H. Williams, Keri Jones, Ron Bowen, Dai Jones, Sid Rees, Peter Davies, Eurwyn Griffiths, Terry Rees Parry Davies
International XV: Alan Priday,Ray Williams, Cyril Davies, Brian Davies, Andy Sendall, Harry Morgan, Dennis Thomas, Normal Gale, Bryn Meredith, Len Cunningham, Rees Step hens, Brian Thomas, Geoff Whitson, Marlston Morgan, Haydn Mainwaring.
The match itself was an exhibition of sparkling, open rugby with a total of 10 tries being scored. The result, not that it mattered, was victory to the Wanderers by 24 pts. to 17 pts.
The Wanderers were again invited to Clontarf R.F.C. to visit Ireland in March 1966. Immediately prior to the Wanderers match, they found themselves with only eight players available. Finding another seven to make up the side did not prove too difficult. It being international weekend, New Dock Stars and Felinfoel were on tour in Clontarf and members of these clubs filled the gaps. In fact, there were so many local players there available to play, that the Wanderers committeemen were able to pick and choose which players they could use to make up the side. A young lad from Felinfoel declared his availability and eagerness to play for the Wanderers on that day, but did not take the field in the maroon shirt as a Wanderers committeeman informed him that he was perhaps a little too small. This little lad from Felinfoel turned out to be Phil Bennett. Fortunately, he did not take it too personally and the Wanderers are proud that Phil remains a respected friend of the Club.
The Club choir, still active under the leadership of Cliff J ones engaged in an impromptu sing song in the Llanelli Cricket Club on Whit Tuesday 1966. So impressed were the officials of the Cricket Club with their melodious harmonies, that they formally invited the Wanderers choir to sing at a presentation evening which they were organising to honour the cricketing achievements of]eff J ones whilst on tour with the M.C.C. in Australia. Fine tribute indeed for a choir whose only practices were of a spontaneous nature in the Club's Mens' Bar.
So well known was the Club's choir that it was invited to take part in a Rugby Eisteddfod at the Swansea Uplands Rugby Club. It is not clear who was victorious, but what a great night it must have been.
The 1966/67 season was one which bestowed a unique distinction on the Wanderers Club when two of the Club's second string were borrowed, on two separate occasions, by Llanelli. They were Roger Howells and Mike Tanner, who made their premier debuts against Newbridge and Pontypridd in midweek matches.
Following the Wanderers' excursions overseas, tours for the next season or two were fulfilled somewhat nearer to home. The Club visited Wrexham in April 1967, Pembrokeshire in September 1967 and Stroud and Newbury in September 1968.
The highlight of the 1967/68 season was that Club skipper Ieuan Jones became the Clubs' second player to notch up over 100 pts. in his personal tally for a season, with John Barrow just failing to become the first 'A' XV player to emulate this feat with 90 pts.
November 1968 saw the Wanderers 5th Triennial Dinner when along with the various civic dignitaries and officials of other clubs, the chief guests were John Reason, W. H. Clement, Carwyn James and Ivor Jones, the then President of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Season 1968/69 was certainly a memorable one for Wynne Davies. Having been appointed as captain for the 'A' XV, he became the 'A' XV highest scorer with 48 pts. from a total of 16 tries. In his appearances with the 1 st XV, he had scored a further 7 tries which meant that the record of 22 tries established in 60/61 by Roger Evans, had at last been broken. Wynne's total of23 tries is a record which stands to this day. Here again, it is worthy of note that the try scoring record was broken by yet another wing threequarter. Wynne continued to distinguish himself when, along with scrum half Lincoln Law, he represented the Llanelli and District Junior Union in their cup winning side.
The Wanderers were delighted once again to welcome New Zealander Winston McCarthy to the Club. It is of great satisfaction to Wanderers that so many of the notable guests it has entertained over the years, are only too pleased to renew old acquaintances by visiting the Club.
In the 1969/70 season, the Wanderers were delighted to entertain a touring party from North America. This was the visit of Fairfield University, Connecticut, who proved to be very popular visitors to the Club. Their visit to South Wales had been co-ordinated by the then Club Secretary, F. Brian Stephens, who had been asked to serve in this capacity by Colin Stephens, an ex-Wanderers forward. Colin (no relation to Brian) was then an Electrical Engineering Consultant in New York but had kept going his rugby union ties and had become the Chairman of the Tours Committee of the Manhattan Rugby Football Club. Fairfield had brought two sides, their second string played against the Wanderers' A' XV at Peoples' Park on Easter Saturday and their first team played the Wanderers counterparts at Stradey Park, immediately after the traditional Easter Saturday game of Llanelli v. Northampton. The results were 19-3 and 24-13 respectively to the Wanderers. The matches delighted the spectators and the Fairfield side was thrilled to play on such an historic ground before such a large crowd who had stayed after the Llanelli match to view the curiosity of a North American rugby union side. The hand of friendship was certainly extended over the Atlantic on that day with the tourists being entertained in the evening to a discotheque at the Wanderers clubhouse.
But tragedy was to hit the Wanderers Club just 24 days later when on the 21st April 1970 Keri Jones died on the field of play shortly after the start of the Wanderers match at Swansea Uplands. Although many members have contributed to the success of the Club, Keri was particularly outstanding until his tragic and untimely death removed him from the scene he loved so well. He had joined the Club upon its formation in 1951. It has been said that the youth of today are the trustees of tomorrow's prosperity. If anyone believed in that it was Keri J ones. Many still recall with pleasure the great deeds he performed as a member of the Wanderers pack, a prop who was good enough to play the occasional match for the Scarlets. Not only was he an outstanding forward who played with skill and enthusiasm, but he was an outstanding personality both on and off the field. In fact, Keri epitomised the spirit of the Club and his passing left a big gap in the Wanderers Club. The Club launched a Memorial Fund, the proceeds of which were donated to his widow and two young daughters. The fund was made up of the proceeds of various social functions organised by the Club, donations from individuals and various organisations from all over the United Kingdom, but the one event which particularly boosted the fund was a match at Stradey Park between Llanelli R.F.C. and an International XV held in September 1970.
There hangs in the Wanderers Club a portrait of Keri in Wanderers kit. The likeness is so remarkable that it could only have been painted by someone who knew him well. The artist, Owen Saer, who had played alongside Keri for so long as a hooker, paid his tribute in his own distinctive style.
Following the abandoned match at the Uplands, the Wanderers cancelled their fixtures for the remainder of the season and opened the following season (70/71) with a match at Carmarthen Athletic, the proceeds of which were to be donated to the fund. It is remarkable that there were on the field that evening, two players who were to tour South Africa with the unbeaten Lions of 1974. They were Clive Rees of the Wanderers and Roy Bergiers of Carmarthen Athletic.
The appointment of Eurwyn Griffiths as Club Captain for the 1970171 season established a Club record by his being selected to this office for three consecutive seasons.
Eurwyn, a Welsh Schoolboys cap who had also distinguished himself by playing for the Scarlets on numerous occasions, was later to become the Club's coach and contributed largely to the Club's promotion to Section 'D' of the West Wales Rugby Union in season 1981/82. A fact recognised by the presentation of a Club plaque to him in May 1982.
September 1970 saw the Club host the visit of Roan Antelope from Zambia, a side comprised of exiled British who had emigrated to the dark Continent. Once again, an ex-club member was included in the touring party in the form of Alan Davies. After a gruelling match, the spoils were shared evenly at 14 pts. each.
The season ended with the Wanderers travelling to Osnabruck in Germany to beat the Royal Regiment of Wales by 12 pts. to 5. The whole Club was delighted when the Welsh Rugby magazine decided to focus on the Wanderers by publishing a brief history of the Club in its January 1971 issue.
The summer of 1971 witnessed the Club's Golf Tournament at the Ashburnham Golf Club and coupled with the annual bowling match between the Wanderers and the Llanelli Bowling Club, there was plenty of sporting interest for the membership.
In November 1971, the Club held its 6th Triennial Dinner with chief guests being Bryn Meredith; W. H. Clement and Carwyn James, who had successfully coached the British Lions in their record breaking tour of New Zealand during the summer.
The match against Cardiff Athletic in November 1971 still holds special memories for the Wanderers for it was this match that Gareth Edwards and the newly crowned 'King' Barry John, decided to return to British rugby following the rigours of their Lions tour to New Zealand. Naturally, the T.V. News cameras were in attendance and with a larger than usual crowd at the Arms Park to welcome the return of this half back combination, the scene was set! The Wanderers had succeeded where many New Zealand sides had failed, in that 'King' John had not scored a try. Not until the last five minutes anyway. It was then that he started on one of his ghosting runs heading towards the corner flag, but the Wanderers cover was strong, until Barry threw a dummy and scored under the posts. There was consolation for the four Wanderers players who ended up in a heap having tackled the corner flag, when in the dying minutes of the match, centre Alun John opened up the Cardiff defence and sent co-centre Mike Richards to score the Wanderers only try. The final score was 52-6 but that try set the Cardiff side back on their heels for they failed to score again.
The 1971/72 season saw, for the first time, the introduction of trophies which were to be presented to players who over a season had shown excellence to Wanderers rugby. The two trophies are known as the President’s Cup and the Players’ Trophy.
The President’s Cup is awarded to the player of the year who rates highest in terms of contribution, performance and success on the field and off in all matters pertaining to the Club's rugby. The Players’ Trophy is awarded to the player making the greatest impact on the season whether he be a new player whose arrival has done much for the side or a seasoned campaigner who during the season "arrived" as a player.
The first recipients of these trophies for the season 1971/72 were Wynne Davies who received the President’s Cup and Robert Morgan received the Players’ Trophy.
These Trophies are presented annually at the Captain's Dinner which normally takes place in the month ofJune. This follows the deliberations of the Club's own "Big 5" who also select the playing officials whose appointments are announced at the same dinner. The "Big 5" meet behind closed doors, and their selections cause great interest in the Club. Of course, each member of the "Big 5" is sworn to secrecy and the announcements of their deliberations is akin to the sighting of the white smoke over the Vatican when a new Pope is appointed.
The Captain’s Dinner is in itself a Club institution. First held in 1959, it is traditionally a dinner hosted by the Club's captain of the season before and is attended by the Players, members of the Committee and whoever the captain decides to invite.
The winter evenings of the 71/72 season were to see much activity in the Wanderers clubhouse. The ladies of the Club had organised keep fit evenings for themselves whilst the men were engaged in the less physically strenuous activity of a Cribbage tournament. The tournament attracted much interest in the Club and by the night of the final, held in the Mens' bar the air was filled with anticipation. The eventual winners were Harold Prescott and Peter Jones.
The lack of a permanent home ground still caused problems for the Club's administrators, although over the past few seasons, a semi permanent ground had been found by arrangement with the Borough Council at Peopie’s Park. But with the formation of other rugby sides in the area also using this ground, the officers of the Club decided to step up the efforts to acquire a ground which the Wanderers could justifiably call their own, and it was in May 1972 that the Club investigated the feasibility of developing a ground at Stradey.
Many honours were to be bestowed on the Wanderers Club in the months that lay ahead. The Club had a representation of four established Club players in the 1972/73 U.A.U. Cup Final held at Twickenham. They were Clive Rees and Garth Thomas of Loughborough, and Wynne Jones and Beuno Lloyd-Hughes of Swansea. Iestyn Thomas, who also played in that match, was later to wear the Wanderers jersey. Wynne Jones was to ascend to greater honours when he was selected to play for the British Universities.
The announcement in August 1973 that Alun G. Thomas had been appointed as Manager to the 1974 British Lions touring party to South Africa was greeted with tremendous delight by the Wanderers Club. Alun, who had himself toured South Africa with the 1955 Lions, had been a playing member of the Club and the Club's captain in seasons 1960/61 and 61/62. He had aspired to the position of Welsh Rugby Union District Representative for District E in 1962 and was later to become chairman of the Welsh Rugby Unions' Selection Committee. He had distinguished himself as a player, having played for Llanelli, Cardiff and Swansea and was capped by Wales 13 times between 1952 and 1955. He had been the Honorary Secretary of Llanelli R.F.C. and had previously visited South Africa as Assistant Manager of the Welsh Touring Party. He became President of the Wanderers Club in 1963, a position he held until 1969 when he was elevated to become the Club's Patron, a position which he holds today. The Lions appointment was a great recognition of Alun's contribution to rugby and a great honour for the Club.
Paris was the venue for the Club's tour in September 1973. Under the capable management of Jackie Jenkins, the Wanderers party left for a two match tour.
The first match versus A.S. Poissy, resulted in a fine 21 pts. - 9 victory for the Wanderers with 17 pts. coming from the boot of outside half Geraint Llewellyn. The other match was played against St. Germain en Laye, and the Wanderers must have been feeling the effects of French hospitality as they were trailing by 24 pts. to 3 at half time! Quite what refreshed the team at the interval is not known, but it was sufficient for the Wanderers to achieve a drawn result at 27 points each to maintain the Wanderer's record of being unbeaten on the Continent.
Barely had the Club's enthusiasm for Alun Thomas' appointment settled down, when Clive Rees was selected for his first cap against Ireland in 1974. Clive was the first player to graduate from the Wanderers’ ranks to International honours.
The 1974/75 season saw Allan Evans establish a new Club scoring record when he amassed a total of III points for the 1st XV, and also saw the evergreen Steve Pike's record of 82 consecutive appearances for the 1st XV come to an end. This amazing run started in the 71/72 season and remains a Club record.
The investigations into the feasibility of the Wanderers own ground at Stradey proved to be fruitful and in March 1974 the Club launched an appeal fund to develop what was unsightly scrubland, into a playing area, with facilities which have since become the envy of many local sides.
The Appeal Fund was launched, in typical Wanderers style, by a Dinner at the Stradey Park Hotel on the day that the membership of the British Lions touring party to South Africa was announced.
The Club was by now, getting used to being in a state of excitement, but the inclusion of Clive Rees in the touring party, whilst being no surprise to the Club, introduced a feeling of euphoria. There cannot be many, if any, second class clubs who can claim to have had two from its ranks selected for a British Lions tour, something that the Club is particularly proud of. The dinner was attended by the great Willie John McBride who had been appointed to captain the Lions, Clive Rees, Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Mervyn Davies, Tom David, J. J. Williams and Roy Bergiers, all of whom had been selected for the touring party. There were many notable people from the Welsh rugby scene and it was the great man himself, Willie John McBride who, during his speech, "felt humbled to be surrounded by so many people who collectively had so much rugby knowledge".
That night was a particularly proud one for the Wanderers and the Club was particularly proud when the Lions surpassed even what the 1971 Lions in New Zealand had achieved to become the most successful Lions tour in history.
The site of the Wanderers ground incidentally is an historic one since part of it was the venue of the first International match to be played at Llanelli. The visitors were England, the year was 1887 and it was the seventh encounter between the two countries, and the first in the series that Wales did not lose. The final score 0-0.
The Club's chief guests to their 7th Triennial Dinner in November 1974 were Godfrey Smith and Aubrey Gambold.
The versatile Wynne Davies got to work on his drawing board and with the expert work of the Contractor, Glyn Davies (Kidwelly) Ltd., and Engineer Davies, an attractive looking Rugby pitch soon appeared. As well as the two separate players’ dressing rooms and showers housed in the pavilion, there is also a referee's dressing room, a treatment room and an open area which has been used for activities such as weight training. The cost of the project was in the region of £33,000 and the financing of such a capital project was a problem, but the Wanderers are grateful to the Sports Council of Wales, the Dyfed County Council and to the many members and friends of the Club who contributed with timely and appropriate donations to see the work through.
The concept of the Wanderers having their own ground was one which the founder members of the Club had looked forward to from the early days. Unfortunately, one of them in particular was not to see this project finalised, for in July, 1974 the Wanderers, as well as the whole of the rugby fraternity, mourned the passing of D. M. Hughes. He was a man, held in considerable respect by all who knew him. After retiring as a player, he took up refereeing and was appointed to the International Referee's panel in 1964. He refereed five internationals and numerous repesentative matches before retiring in 1967. He was Vice Chairman of the Wanderers Club from 1954 to 1957 when he became Chairman until 1959. He then became the Club's Secretary, a position he held until 1967. Although he left Llanelli in 1971 to take up a position at Melton Mowbray, he maintained his close links with the Club even to the extent of arranging an annual rugby match between the Wanderers and Melton Mowbray.
He epitimised all that the Wanderers Club stood for, and his dedication to the development of the Wanderers was outstanding, he had proved himself as a most capable administrator and a referee who held respect all over the rugby playing world.
Following much activity and the dedication of Wynne Davies to his task, what was wasteland had by now become a lush playing surface and on the 1st September, 1975 the ground was officially opened by the then President of the Welsh Rugby Union, Handel C. Rogers. There followed a match between the Wanderers and a team made up of former Wanderers players. For the record, the teams were:
Wanderers XV: Allan Evans, Michael Morgan, Roger Smith, C. John Williams, Jeff Hughes, Raymond J ones, Phillip Johnson, Wynne Jones, John Gravell, Stephen Pike, Roger Baldwin, Hywel Toft, Nigel Mansel, Stephen Bradley, Eurwyn Griffiths.
Referee: Mr. Eurfyl Williams
Touch Judges: Mr. Rheinallt Jenkins; Mr. Michael Pugh
Former Players XV: Eifion Thomas, Wynne Davies, David David, Gareth Morris, Wyn Oliver, Beuno Lloyd-Hughes, Jackie Jenkins, Mike Hopkins, Owen Saer, Trevor J ones, Heddwyn Thomas, Steve Morris, Peter Jenkins, David Rees, Terry Rees.
Phillip Johnson and Stephen Pike left the field injured and were replaced by Nigel Parsons and William Davies respectively. After a particularly hard game, the former players XV were defeated by 21 pts. to 10 with Alan Evans having the distinction of scoring the first points on the ground with a penalty goal. A reception was held at the clubhouse after the match which was attended by the many dignitaries present for the opening ceremony, the players, the officials of the Wanderers Club and various other clubs who had been invited to this very special evening in the Club's history.
Allan Evans smashed the Club record of 111 pts. for the 1st XV which he set in season 74/75 when he scored a total of 173 points in season 75/76, a record he still holds.
The 1976/77 season is another when a try scoring record was established when Michael Morgan, yet another wing threequarter, ran in for 5 tries for the 1st XV against Penlan, and success came to the Wanderers seven-a-side squad when they won the plate competition at the District G competition.
The Wanderers undertook a journey to Guernsey in April 1977 when it was quite clear that the island's healthy environment was found to be to the tourists liking when they ran out winners by 34 pts. to 9 against New Milton.
The urge to take part in league rugby was now becoming strong in the Club. Up until this time, the Wanderers had not entertained the concept of "competitive" rugby, the only rugby competitions being entered by the Wanderers were the seven-a-side competitions and the Welsh Rugby Union Challenge Cup. The Clubs' Constitution stated that one of the objects of the Club was "to play and foster Rugby Football" and it felt that the best method of fulfilling its objects was by refraining from competitive and league rugby i.e. to refrain from participation in cup competitions, other than the W.R.U. Challenge Cup competition and games, the results of which are reflected in a "league table".
When the West Wales Rugby Union announced that it was prepared to increase the number of affiliated clubs by adding a new Section to its existing four sections, considerable interest was shown by many local clubs, most of whom were already on the Wanderers fixture list. This coupled with the fact that many of the Club’s membership were of the opinion that the time was ripe for the Wanderers to engage in league rugby resulted in an application being made to the West Wales Rugby Union for membership. The application, made in August 1977 was proposed by New Dock Stars R.F.C. and seconded by Bynea R.F.C.
There had been many applications made from which ten had to be selected by the Union’s member clubs by ballot. The Wanderers were notified of their acceptance in November 1977 along with BP Llandarcy, Bonymaen, Bryncoch, Carmarthen Athletic, Dunvant, Furnace United, Mumbles, Resolven and Tonna. These Clubs were the members of the newly formed Section 'E' of the West Wales Rugby Union and the 1978/79 season was to see the introduction of the Wanderers into the West Wales Rugby Union.
A similar situation soon followed when the Wanderers 'A' XV entered the Llanelli and District Junior Union competitions also in season 1978/79.
Meanwhile, the Wanderers held their 8th Triennial Dinner with chief guests Dewi Griffiths and Phil Bennett relating their experiences whilst on tour of New Zealand with the 1977 Lions. Phil Bennett, of course, was captain of the tour and Dewi Griffiths was involved in the T.V. coverage of the tour for B.B.C.
Although the Wanderers 1st team did not distinguish itself in its first season in league rugby, two members of the 'A' XV certainly had seasons to remember. Back row forward Mathew Green achieved a remarkable feat when he scored a hat-trick of tries in three consecutive matches, whilst outside half Mark Foden became the first 'A' XV player to notch up over 100 pts. in his personal tally for the 78/79 season. In fact, he managed 120 pts., and remarkably, all from the boot!
The Wanderers spent the Spring of 1979 busying themselves in preparation for their first ever Fete & Gala which was held on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday of that year at People’s Park. The organisation of such an event is a mammoth task which is reflected on the day before when the hardy volunteers of the Club are to be seen hastily erecting the many stalls and various other attractions for the big day. The whole operation is managed by Wynne Davies who can normally be seen buzzing from one partly erected stall to another with a rolled up plan under his arm! The overnight security of the stalls is entrusted to the burly members of the Club who make camp on Peoples' Park on the eve of the Gala. To date, their eagle eyed vigilance has ensured no damage. The morning of the event sees renewed activity when the various stalls are fitted out with the necessary prizes etc. With this all done, the scene for the 1979 Fete and Gala was set, and then it rained, but a tremendous amount of fun was had by all concerned, so much so that it was agreed to do it all again next year.
Mark Foden broke his own record in the 1979/80 season when he notched up a total of 125 points for the 'A' XV.
This augured well for the 1980/81 season when the 'A' XV became champions of their section. This was a particularly pleasing achievement to the Wanderers in that in only their second season in a league system, not only was the championship won by the 'A' XV but they also won the Doreen Rogers Cup. This is awarded to the team who accumulate the highest total of points during the league season.
The Wanderers maintained their record of being unbeaten on the Continent when in April 1980 they embarked on a tour of Brittany. The accommodation was good, the French wine was fine, the only thing missing was opposition! The organising company had, somehow, got its wires crossed and the touring party returned with their playing kit clean!
The Wanderers 1980 Fete and Gala was this time, blessed with sunshine, and with so many people visiting the event, it was certainly a success. Encouraged by this, the Club arranged a similar event for the Spring Bank Holiday of 1981 with the same result. The Wanderers Fete and Gala on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday is now destined to becoming a regular event and it is a tribute to those members who engage themselves in its organisation that it continues to be so popular among those who patronise it.
As part of the Welsh Rugby Union Centenary Year celebrations during season 1980/81, the Club was delighted to host the visit of Roger Gardener. Although a Welshman by birth, he had emigrated to South Africa and had become coach to the Natal team. The Club also took part in the relaying of the Queen's Message to the Welsh Rugby Union during this special year by carrying the message, which was sealed in a small replica of a rugby ball, from the Furnace R.F.C. headquarters to the Wanderers headquarters at Station Road.
The Wanderers held what turned out to be their last Triennial Dinner at the Station Road Clubhouse in November, 1980, when the chief guests were Terry O'Connor and Ray Williams. For, with the lease on the Club's Station Road property due to expire in 1982, the Committee investigated various properties in the Llanelli area with a view to finding a new headquarters.
The Wanderers resurrected an event which had been part of the Club's calendar in the mid fifties when in August 1981 they hosted a seven-a-side tournament, the proceeds of which were donated to the fund of the International Year of Disabled People. The teams taking part were Ammanford, Burry Port, Bynea, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Furnace, Hendy, Kidwelly, Llangennech, New Dock Stars, Pontyates, Pontyberem, R.N. Llangennech, Trimsaran, Tumble and the Wanderers. After a keenly fought competition, the eventual winners were New Dock Stars.
The achievement of promotion by the Club's 'A' XV was emulated by the 1st team in season 81/82 when, to the great delight of the whole Club, the Wanderers 1st team finished in third position in Section E of the West Wales Rugby Union, having lost only three of their 18 league matches. In the process, they scored 42 tries and conceded only 12, with Mark Evans notching up 120 points for the season.
The whole Club was delighted when Clive Rees was recalled to the Welsh XV after so long an absence. Although Wales' International season did not fulfill its expectations, it is worthy of note that it was generally recognised by the press and other knowledgeable rugby men, that Clive was one of the few successes of the Welsh team showing flair when given the opportunity and showing an astute appreciation and application of the finer points of the game. Something that the Wanderers had known for some time!
Summer of 1982 witnessed the Wanderers' Cricket Sections' first season in league cricket by playing in the Second Division of the Ushers Carmarthenshire County Cricket League. The XI certainly made a notable impact by ending the season as unbeaten champions of the Division, under the captaincy of Bernard Shaw who led the XI for the seventh consecutive season, with both Alan Evans and Eurwyn Griffiths being selected to represent the league. Other past skippers have included Elvet P. Lloyd (4 times), John Harries and Rheinallt Jenkins (twice each), Roger Buckland, Roy Charles, Gareth Jones, Glyn Lewis, Trevor Lewis, Denver Lyon, Jack Marker, Arthur Snicker and Peter White. The whole club mourned the passing of Peter White as an outstanding clubman, who had, over the years lent his talents to the benefit of the Club as a whole and particularly to the Cricket Section. He proved to be a notable administrator whose cricketing abilities were highlighted when he shared in the Clubs record opening stand of 150 with Jack Marker at Morriston.
The Cricket Section's best bowling performance to date is undoubtedly Bernard Shaw's 9 wickets for 7 runs v. Ystradgynlais. On the batting side, century makers include Denver Lyon (2), Glyndon Davies, Jack Marker and Graham Morse. No mention of the Cricket Section would be complete without the name of Graham Wilkins who may well prove to be the longest serving scorer in the cricketing world!
Over the years, not only has the Club been fortunate in having accomplished players in the Maroon jersey, but it has also been blessed with administrators who, without exception, have shown themselves to be fully competent. As well as T. Graham Pugh, David M. Hughes, Edward O. James and Alun G. Thomas, mention should also be made of Selwyn Samuel who did so much for the town of Llanelli during his service as Town Clerk, Hector Griffiths who held the office of Chairman for the first three years of the Club's history, the years when the foundation of the Club was laid, Huw. C. Williams, who became Chairman after Hector Griffiths. Huw has proved himself to be a cornerstone of the Club, captaining the Wanderers XV in its first season and captaining the Club's Cricket XI in its first season. Harry D. Evans, who was elected to the Club Committee in its first year, a position he has held ever since. He was Chairman from 1965 to 1967 and over the years has undertaken the organisation of the Club's Christmas Draw. This involves a tremendous amount of work since there are, normally, over 100 prizes to be distributed.
Indeed, the Club's history to date could justifiably be called "The Life and Times of Harry Evans". Harry in fact became the Club's first life member. This was an honour he received in 1975 for his loyal service to the Wanderers Club.
The Wanderers lost a staunch clubman when F. Brian Stephens left the Llanelli area in 1978. He had been the Honorary Secretary of the Club for eleven years and was, like his predecessor D. M. Hughes, a highly respected referee. He had held the office of Chairman of the Welsh Society of Rugby Referees in 1971 and his advice is still sought and respected by many of the younger referees. J. D. C. Evans, as the Club's first Treasurer, did much to establish the Club on a firm footing in his seven years in this office. Jack Marker served the Club superbly as Treasurer from 1964 to 1973. He had distinguished himself as an outside half for the Wasps and Swansea. He stamped his authority as a cool, constructive player and perhaps his greatest moment was in the 1953 clash between Swansea and the All Blacks, where, after a titanic struggle, the match finished all square.
There have been many other members who have done so much for the Club, both as elected officers and as members. It is the voluntary spirit of the membership as a whole which has fashioned the Wanderers Club into one of the most enterprising and progressive Clubs in West Wales.
The efforts of the ladies of the Club also need special mention. They have organised numerous social functions which have greatly enhanced the range of activities available to the membership. They have over the years "slaved over hot ovens" to provide greatly appreciated nourishment after a hard game. Their efforts, whilst perhaps not receiving the plaudits they regularly deserve, have in no small way contributed to the successful social side of the Wanderers.
In October 1982 the Wanderers vacate the premises at No. 2 Station Road for the more spacious accommodation of "Dan-y-Coed" No. 2 Queen Victoria Road. Although "Dan-y-Coed" means "Under the Trees", you can be certain that the Wanderers will not rest there. No doubt, the repertoire of the Club's "choir" will continue to resound in the new premises and that the Club Committee will continue to extend its activities and ensure full use of the new accommodation. The Club's motto "Cyfeillach Trwy Grwydro" - "Friendship Through Wandering" is in itself a tribute to the spirit of the Club and to the joys which the game of rugby football affords to those who are fortunate to have enjoyed its pleasures.
The Wanderers Club has, over its comparatively short existence, been represented on the field of play by many players who have shown excellence. Some of them aspired to greater heights in representing various "first class" clubs whilst others remained to exhibit their class and ability wherever the Wanderers played. Those who represented the various premier clubs are Geoff Evans and Clive Rees (London Welsh), lorwerth Evans (Harlequins), Alan Prosser Harries (Cambridge University), Jack Marker (Wasps and Swansea), Graham Morse (Swansea), Ron Bowen, Howard Davies, Peter Davies, Eurwyn Griffiths, Neville Holmes, Roger Howells, Ken Jones, Keri Jones, Terry Rees, Mike Tanner, Eifion Thomas, David Thomas, Geoff Tucker (Llanelli).
As an exercise, selectors were chosen from the Club membership to select what they considered to be the strongest side that the Wanderers could field. The selectors were chosen from members who have had a long association with the rugby of the Wanderers, both as administrators and as players. Their brief was to select a XV on the merits of each player being at his best during his rugby career, having due regard to rugby at that time, and to be eligible for selection, each player must have played at least 20 games for the Club. Their task was a difficult one with so many accomplished players to choose from, but eventually, the team selected is as follows:
Huw Prosser Jones
Howard (Ash) Davies
Huw F. Williams
No doubt, the "team" will be the topic of discussion amongst the membership for some time to come. One can be assured that the discussion will remain on friendly terms.
So ends the story of the Club's first 30 years. A period which witnessed many changes and achievements, and a period for which every Wanderer can justifiably feel immense pride. Whilst many clubs are celebrating their centenary seasons, the Wanderers' first 30 years certainly have a story to tell. What of the next 30 years?
The following are extracts from the comprehensive Menu/Booklet prepared for the 50th Anniversary Dinner of the Wanderers on
4th May 2001.
The first is by the late Brian Stephens, former Secretary of the Club, on his time as a player, referee and long-standing official of the Club. The second by Tim Jenkins who was the brains behind the formation of the Minis, Juniors and Youth teams in the 80's and 90's. Both were at pains to say they were personal observations and both claimed 'Diplomatic Immunity' at the time.
IS IT REALLY FIFTY YEARS? - Some recollections by Brian Stephens.
I'll start by getting the record straight and establishing my credentials to talk about the "early" days. I was not there at day 1, but I did first play for Llanelli Wanderers in the September of season 3 under the captaincy of Meredith Evans, and I recall that we drew 3-3 at Gorseinon that day. As an 18 year old, your thoughts never stretch to the Club's 50th celebrations, or to yourself being an O.A.P., but events have led to both, and I am only too pleased to be here to tell the tale. As long ago as 1971 when Welsh Rugby Magazine did an in depth article on the Wanderers, I recall the then Chairman, Gareth Morris, saying "We certainly have a tale to tell", and that after only 20 years existence - since then events, honours, personalities, etc. have continued to come thick and fast.
As a club, I don't think we ever set out for records, but some of our experiences were I think more History Making - gaining membership of the Welsh Rugby Union after only 5 years existence; I think I can confidently say will be an achievement never to be equalled; being the first "second class" club to tour abroad independently was a proud boast; as was being amongst the first clubs of our status in the area to open a Clubhouse. We can also claim that the Chairman of the W.R.U. 'Big Five' selection committee, Major Cliff Jones, once came to People’s Park to officially watch a Wanderers game - not many clubs can boast that, although I must confess that he really came to see Gerald Davies prove his fitness playing for Cardiff Athletic, and, regrettably, no Wanderers' players caught his selectorial eye that day. Entertaining teams from Toronto University, Fairfield University (US.A.) and Roan Antelope (Zambia) were other proud days in our history, as were the off-field achievements such as singing on Radio Eiran, and the very complimentary reference in Winston McCarthy's world-wide broadcast as part of New Zealand's reply to one of The Queen's Christmas Day Messages to the Commonwealth.
Until Clive Rees came along, we used to claim Peter Evans as our first home produced international, but as he was capped in Year 1 of the Wanderers perhaps the claim was a little ambitious, but there is no doubt that part of Clive's rise to wear the Wales and Lions shirts was spent in the Maroon shirt of the Wanderers. A player in the Scotland final trial at Murrayfield is also somewhat history-making. lan McPherson was the man, a wing threequarter in the R.A.F. stationed at Pembrey. He enjoyed his rugby playing for the Wanderers, but alas he did not make the Scotland side. A couple of Blues, many Scarlets, and (whisper it) a few All Whites came via the Wanderers ranks, and in more recent years many age limit honours have come our way. Amongst the Scarlets were Mike Tanner and Roger Howells who were at the time Wanderers 2nd XV players and who played at short notice at Pontypridd and Newbridge respectively, but despite both having good press reports, both were back in the Wanderers 2nd XV for the following games.
Looking back on 50 years of rugby and selecting a couple of unforgettable moments is indeed a daunting task, but for me the most memorable moment was that mammoth dropped goal kicked at St Helen's in a game against Swansea Athletic by Mike Tanner. His kick from a point near the players tunnel, near the intersection of the half way line and the touch line was indeed some goal. As for the most memorable try (and I choose my words carefully), for me it has to be one of the numerous tries scored by Wynne Davies, -- this one in a 2nd XV game at Bryncoch. We were trailing by a dubious try (aren't they all) when Wynne took possession well in his own "25" (as it was then) and made to run out of defence, but in full cry he was forced to run over the touch line, continuing around the Touch Judge and a spectator, around two kids fighting, and back onto the field. Hearing no whistle, he kept running, ending up beneath the posts, and, to the amazement of all (including the two kids who even stopped fighting to protest) was awarded a try - this might sound somewhat farfetched, but I can assure you the account is accurate - I know, because I was that spectator he ran around, and I can with some confidence say that there will never be another try quite like it.
On the serious side, we played much good football against quality opposition, and whilst we usually lost a few more games than we won, that was probably due more to the quality of the opposition than to the lack of quality in our rugby. Throughout we have been blessed with industrious and capable officials, and equally industrious and loyal players. The wisdom and foresight of the early officers like Graham Pugh and Dai Hughes, and the endless industry and enthusiasm of Harry Evans has been well documented and the Club's debt to them and their successors is indeed great, and when I sit and think about it, I can come up with so many anecdotes about so many characters who have gone through our ranks, I could go on indefinitely. I suppose it was inevitable that in 50 years we got a few things wrong perhaps none more than Dai Rees's efforts to get his season as Captain off to the perfect start. After intensive pre-season training, on the coach to the first game, Dai had a pep talk with each player and handed them a "pill" which he assured them would ensure that they played at their best. I never found out what these pills were, and often wondered whether Dai had risked the good reputation of the Club, but my mind is always put at rest when I look at the result of the game and realise that the mysterious tablets had no performance enhancing powers - Glamorgan Wanderers 2nds 56pts, Llanelli Wanderers 3pts.
Much of the social life evolved around the baton of Cliff Jones, and although we belted out the same songs/hymns again and again, we never ceased to enjoy singing them. Everybody had a solo prepared, and whilst some singers like Les Evans, Jackie Jenkins, Rheinallt Jenkins, Oai Hughes, etc, etc, were quality, some of the less melodic amongst us were equally popular - I think Dennis Shanahan and his ever popular "shakers" as he called it, clearly fell into this category as did Harry Bevan and Llew John and their "unique" duets and Elfryn Thomas and his famous rendering of "The Flea". If there was a downside of all the singing it was when we played home to English touring sides, they would expect us to start singing straight after the meal, and go on well into the night. Club stag nights were legendary, none more than Jeff Keenan's - he did not turn up, but we all had a great time, and then had a second stag party some days later when Jeff did turn up.
I think I have wandered around the subject enough to suggest we have had 50 years full of enjoyable events, happenings, and Rugby Football, and I have little doubt that the next 50 years, whilst being different, will be equally eventful and enjoyable in what is now a very much faster moving world than the Club was born into. May officials and players continue to join the conveyor belt of the 21st century, and may they have as good an experience as we, now old stagers, had in the 20th Century.
Tim's View - Some Observations from Tim Jenkins
The "80's" will not be fondly remembered in Llanelli, falling victim to recession, massive unemployment, social deprivation and increased crime. To cap it all there was the Teachers' Strike and those who ran the schoolboy game withdrew their goodwill. Organised rugby for our youngsters withered. Indeed the demise was national: schoolboy rugby became at best fractured and elitist.
I recall that it was at one of those famous Cricket Section dinners that someone made a suggestion that we should put a junior team together to fill the gap that the schoolmasters had created and at the same time provide some hope of players in later years coming through into the senior team. In that night of insobriety the "Die was set".
And so it was on a bright and sunny morning in 1988 that four primary school-aged boys attended at the Wanderers ground at Stradey and keenly passed the ball around. They were Andrew Barrah, Ceri Thomas, Adrian James and my son Ceri. The following week each brought a friend and a week after that eight had become sixteen - more than enough to play mini rugby.
With numbers in hand the 10/11 's played in their first formal game at Narberth in January 1989. Looking like world-beaters in their spanking new kit - they lost by lots to nil! Indeed it was nil for several games. I recollect that it was Jamie Mansel (son of Nigel) who got the first try against Laugharne - now that was cause for a celebration! By the end of the season we ran two mini teams; the older age group being coached by Martin Jones. Other parents in harness at this time were Nigel Mansel, Peter Daniels, Mike Eatley, John Thomas and Alun (Bach) Davies. Fun was the name of the game and players and parents had plenty of it.
In the seasons that followed the teams grew in number and from strength to strength. The U8's - U11's playing friendlies far and wide whilst the U12's - U16's were involved in the Swansea & District League. Rugby was guaranteed and standards high as Junior rugby flourished. Teams entered Mini and Sevens tournaments and everyone enjoyed touring. The first of these was to Scotland in 1990 when we filled Peebles and Pennywick Rugby grounds with 150 of our players and supporters.
I look back fondly at the first minis team and feel privileged to have spent ten years organising their rugby - from boys to men if you like. Certainly they achieved remarkable success as individuals and as a team.
In their first season at Youth level (and in the first Wanderers Youth team) three sixteen year olds were capped for Wales Youth against Scotland at Ayr. They were Jeff Adams, Nathan Bonner-Evans and David Jones (whose father Les coached the Wanderers Youth at the time). From the same Youth XV Darren Bowles, Dominic Evans and Byron Tyler were also capped at a later date. In their second year of Youth rugby they won the Llanelli & District League, the Mowlem Cup, the President's Cup and reached the semi-final of the Welsh Cup losing narrowly away to Bridgend. In their final season 11 players provided the backbone of the Llanelli & District Team which won the MK Electric Cup (a national competition for District Youth teams). Out of Youth rugby, Daniel Griffiths has recently been capped by Wales Students, and Rhys Harries has toured South Africa with the Welsh Colleges. Many of these players have since moved on to more senior clubs but most will tell you that the Wanderers provided a great vehicle to develop the skills, confidence and lasting friendship - all from players who lived mainly within two miles of the Club.
As we created our ladder of rugby I had hoped that other local clubs would follow our lead so that the rugby-playing base could be maximised. Lord knows there were enough youngsters out there to do just that. Regrettably our neighbours did not fancy the hard way of providing for their futures; preferring instead to lure coaches, players and even whole teams away from the Wanderers! Mind you the stand of certain schools has also impacted negatively on the development of Junior and Youth over the seasons, and still does. In short there are too few youngsters coming into the senior game. For our part, there would be no senior team today without the products of our Youth XV's.
Everyone involved in Mini, Junior and Youth rugby at the Wanderers has a story to tell. Amongst my favourites concerns Karen, wife of the Senior coach J onathan Mayze, who was supporting her son Richard on the U13/14's tour to Mantes la Jolie (1992). After the match the teams were welcomed back to a magnificent buffet and Disco. At the table of food and drink one of our hosts asked Karen, in broken English, if she would like a 'Pastis' ( a local Pernod). Without thinking Karen replied "No, thank you bach, I've eaten already"!
I am sure that everyone here this evening would want to pay tribute to the scores of male and female (where are the women tonight?) coaches, managers, fixture secretaries, first aiders, bag handlers, fund raisers and referees who have underpinned the whole spectrum of talent that is Llanelli Wanderers Minis, Juniors and Youth. In particular Keith Tucker, Gary Davies, Stu Murray, JeffSpuffard, Tudor Rees, Terry Davies and Dai McAlister. All have worked tirelessly and unselfishly over the years to provide rugby for any youngster in Llanelli who wants it.
Another personality who deserves recognition is Mike Jones. He's given so much and surely his greatest reward was in watching his son Matthew play for Wales Schools U16's last season. I also think at this point I should also mention the much maligned Hon Sec. Steve Pike who has wholeheartedly supported the cause from the word go.
Thirteen seasons on and the sections are still thriving - now under the leadership of Andrew Norton, Steve Richards, Michael Thomas, Wyn Roberts and Co. Long may it be so. They have done a great job in perpetuating the most significant Rugby Development Programme in Llanelli Town's history. Where else would you see 200 plus youngsters involved in rugby on a weekend?
The sum total of all our efforts has made Llanelli Wanderers RFC what it is today - a Club that is in the fore of fostering the sport of Rugby Football- our National Game.
Captains 1951 to 1980
The First 30 Years...
1951/52 H C Williams
1952/53 H D Williams
1953/54 M Evans
1954/55 D C Griffiths
1955/56 J Marker
1956/57 H Griffiths
1957/58 A P Richards
1958/59 H P Thomas
1959/60 A G Thomas
1960/61 A G Thomas
1961/62 I Jones
1962/63 H C Griffiths & P H Williams
1963/64 D Shanahan
1964/65 G Morris
1965/66 R Bowen
1966/67 P H Williams
1967/68 I Jones
1968/69 E Griffiths
1969/70 E Griffiths
1970/71 E Griffiths
1971/72 D B Rees
1972/73 J Jenkins
1973/74 W Davies
1974/75 M Hopkins
1975/76 R Smith
1976/77 R Smith
1977/78 N Mansel
1978/79 P Johnson
1979/80 W Thomas
1980/81 M Davies
Captains 1981 to 2009
The Next 30 Years...
1981/82 M Davies
1982/83 M Evans
1983/84 I Rees
1983/84 I Rees
1984/85 I Rees
1985/86 I Rees
1986/87 I Rees
1987/88 D Lee
1988/89 D Lee
1989/90 L Evans
1991/92 Dorian Lee
1990/91 Simon Greville & Aled Williams
1992/93 Dorian Lee
1993/94 Dorian Lee
1994/95 Roddy Williams
1995/96 Aled Williams
1996/97 Aled Williams
1997/98 Aled Williams
1998/99 Aled Williams
1999/2000 Dorian Lee
2000/01 Dorian Lee
2001/02 Andrew Jenkins
2002/03 Andrew Jenkins
2003/04 Steffan Rogers
2004/05 James Bannister
2005/06 Iwan Jones
2006/07 Iwan Jones
2007/08 Iwan Jones
2008/09 Richard Samuel
2009/10 James Bannister
Captains 2010 to Present
2010 to present...
2010/11 James Bannister
2011/12 James Bannister
2012/13 James Bannister
2013/14 Daniel Nicholson
2014/15 Daniel Nicholson
2015/16 James Bannister
2016/17 Ben Phillips
2017/18 James Bannister
2018/19 James Bannister