Recollections from the 1930s

  • P. Cranmer 1933-34

    There was this attractive redheaded maid working at the Esplanade so Wilf Wooller and I thought we'd better get more acquainted, so one evening we went to the servants quarters, that house on the hill opposite the hotel entrance. All the lower doors were locked, but a half opened window upstairs looked promising.

    There just happened to be a ladder lying on the ground, so we propped it up against the wall, but it could not stand the strain of our combined weight and we crashed, luckily feet first, through the cucumber frames below. No injury and we both played against Cardiff next day and won. Not so on another Saturday; Cardiff moved a wing, A. H. Jones, to fly half and he dropped a goal minutes before to make Cardiff the first club to beat the Baa-Baas on the Easter Tour for some time.

    It must have been after this match, back at the Esplanade, that I was leaning on a high-backed chair talking to the "Alikadoos", Some of the Cardiff players were there too, including Eddie Watkins, Cardiff and Wales 2nd row forward. He pushed me and I caught my lip on the top of the chair. Blood everywhere. Luckily Hughie Hughes was still about, though how he threaded the needle to stitch me up I'll never know, but he did, perfectly, and all Eddie said was "We couldn't do you on the field, Peter, so I've done you now!"

    When I used to go to Twickenham after I'd finished playing, the first person I used to see sitting at the bar in the International Room was Eddie Watkins. Lots of beer and no recriminations.

  • R. W. Shaw 1933-34

    That 1934 Easter tour was certainly the most exhausting rugby I have ever encountered. Saturday v Cardiff; Monday v Swansea; Tuesday v Newport. I was given slight relief on Tuesday by being played on the wing.

    This was the only game I ever played with eight backs and seven forwards. Why this was so I cannot recall. Whether it was an admin. error or a last minute call-off of a forward and the only available replacement was a back. However, it was all good fun with too many backs cluttering up the field and spoiling many scoring opportunities. Highjinks in Penarth. Great friendly opinion from all the local people in Penarth allowed some horseplay at the dance.

    Setting off of fireworks and the riding of a bicycle all on the dance floor were all accepted in the spirit in which these actions were done. I used to conduct the dance band for several years in succession. In retrospect, I cannot understand this as I was timber toned and couldn't play a musical instrument. It is quite amazing what beer can do!

  • E. C. Davey 1936-37

    The Barbarians were the most popular visitors to South Wales and the games were always looked forward to with great relish knowing that they would see good open rugby. I will always remember my first game against the Barbarians as a young raw player for Swansea in the 1928-29 season when I had to mark that great Scottish centre GPS Macpherson.

    I certainly learnt a great deal from that match. The great fascination of playing against the Barbarians was that one had the opportunity of playing against great players from over the world, thus improving one's play. This also applies when you are playing with the Barbarians against club sides. the Barbarians being a very cosmopolitan side one has the opportunity of playing with great players.

    For example, when I played against Cardiff I played in the centre with Louis Babrow, the former Springbok centre. My career as a rugby player would not have been complete if I had not played for the Barbarians and I insist that the Barbarians will never be disbanded and will continue to give pleasure and delight to all rugby followers in the world.