“GIVE THE BALL TO BARLOW”
THE FIRST GRANDSTAND
1881-82. P22, W8, L10, D4.
B. E. Girling one of the forwards was appointed captain with W. 0. Phillips as his vice-captain. A stronger fixture list with Newport. Swansea, Llanelly, Bridgend, a strong Moseley Club amongst others to. be met. But as the records show, the season was not very successful, mainly due to a rather large number of injuries, and many consequential team changes. Nevertheless the growing interest in the game was being reflected by gates of three to four thousand, and prior to the start of the season the ground had been re-levelled and re-turfed, and a grandstand to accommodate three hundred spectators, including women, was erected at a cost of £50. It was erected at the Canton end, the west or river end of today. The club was enabled to carry forward a balance of £612.3 at the end of the season.
The new players included T. M. Barlow, as good a full-back as any in his time. Capped for Wales against Ireland in 1884, he was unfortunately injured in the match and was forced to give up the game, but he played cricket for Cardiff for eleven seasons. Watching Rugby football on the Cardiff Arms Park in my young days, I often heard cries of “Give the ball to Barlow “, which, from the fans point of view, indicated this full-back’s superior kicking ability. H.J. Simpson developed into a very good forward and he was to give the club many years’ service as a player and first class administrator.
The first three matches were lost to Moseley, Weston Rangers—the Weston Club of today no doubt, and Clifton whose club was founded in 1872. In the Moseley match, three of our players were forced to leave the field injured. Q. D. Kedzlie a three-quarter back. and B. F. Girling and H. Trotter, two forwards who unfortunately collided with one another following a line-out. Moseley defeated Cardiff twice in this season, a feat never again to be repeated and amply avenged in later seasons. Our defeat at home by the Newport Crusaders by three tries to nil was mainly due to fielding a weak team, and it invoked much displeasure amongst our supporters and caused the “Western Mail” to write thus: It is a pity that the club which holds the South Wales Challenge Cup is not more careful of its reputation “. In the return: match however, Cardiff truly made amends by trouncing the Crusaders by 5 goals, 1 drop goal and 2 tries to, 1 goal, I try.
Another Newport club, The Royal Oaks was also heavily defeated in April by seven goals and a try to nil. But the Newport town team were much too good for us and soundly beat us in the South Wales Challenge Cup tournament by four goals and a try to a goal. Newport went on to beat Swansea in the cup final. On 1st April 1882, for the last match of the season Cardiff met the Harlequins in a drawn game of two touches-down each. The “Quins” were the first London club to appear on the Cardiff Arms Park and they included in their ranks A. F. Stoddart a great threequarter who was to gain many English international caps with the Blackheath Club in later seasons. Cardiff and the ‘ Quins “ have had an unbroken sequence of fixtures and the matches between them on Easter Mondays over all the years have been blessed with many exhibitions of Rugby football at its best. Both clubs have contributed much to the development of the Rugby game, and to many games showing the “ Quins “ and Blue and Black magic in classical running rugby.
In successive matches in January 1882 a Welsh fifteen played the North of England (the full England team were not to be met until the following season) and the Midland Counties, both at Newport. These were followed by Wales’s first full international with Ireland in Dublin on 28th January. In the two former matches, Cardiff’s representatives were W. D. Phillips, B. E. Girling and Tom Williams, and in the full international with Ireland, W. D. Phillips, Tom Williams and W. B. Norton. Tom Williams has been described as from Pontypridd in some publications but he had joined Cardiff the previous season, and for the current one was actually the Club’s top scorer with seven tries to his credit in thirteen matches. With three tries each A. J. Evans, J. A. Jones and W. H. Treatt were also amongst the scorers, as also were H. J. Simpson and J. Clare with two apiece.
Sixteen 2nd XV fixtures had been arranged, the captain was A. J. Evans (probably ‘Abe “ Evans) a forward who had several seasons’ experience of first team matches. No record of the second team matches appear to have been kept, and in the late C. S. Arthur’s Cardiff history, it is recorded—regretfully so, that ‘ The 2nd XV played several matches but not much interest was taken in their doings ‘. Probably, owing to many injuries to 1st XV players, not many matches were actually played. A. J. Evans himself took part in nine first team games. H. J. Simpson, E. Laybourne and T. M. Barlow played most 1st XV lames with 19, 18 and 16 respectively.