St Albans RFC
The earliest information regarding St Albans RFC or to give it its full name of this time, St Albans on the moors RFC, was in September 1896, it was in the South Wales Argus giving the first round draw of the Cardiff & District “Union Shield” this was a competition for second teams and newly formed clubs, They were drawn to play Roath Hornets at Roath park, unfortunately it appears this game must have been lost as there was no mention of St Albans in the next Draw, so we surmise the club must have started either just prior to this time or the previous season.
This year falls into history of when St Albans brass band first started, and the story handed down from the older men of the club, namely Eugene Shanahan, & Pop Gallagher, it was said the club established by a few men who played in the famous St Albans Brass Band and some of their friends from the Splott and Tremorfa area, who were keen to establish a rugby side in the area, their home pitch was on Splott Park and this was where they stayed for 74 years
One of the earliest photographs of a St Albans RFC is in 1901 and shows a side captained by G Donaldson, and it appears to be taken outside St Albans Church in Carlisle St.
Pre first world war the Buns built up a very impressive and respected side featuring names like Fancy Francis Nelan, Dr: Bowen “the dog” Jones and the legendary Jim “Buller” Sullivan who went on to play for Cardiff before going North and creating a legendary status with Wigan and the Great British league sides.
1914 It seems like most sports St Albans RFC lost best part of it player who went to serve King and Country in First World War and sadly many never returned.
Unfortunately records and any mention of St Albans RFC seemed to vanish until 1919, an article in the local paper says that the St Albans centre pairing of Terry Mc Auliffe and Mike Smith are selected for the Cardiff RFC first IV to play Newport RFC, so there is evidence that the Buns still had a side of some ability.
It seems the war and loss of so many players did not deter the men of Splott and Tremorfa and the next mention of the Buns was in 1926 when they were mention in the South Wales Echo saying they had won their semi- final and were due to play local rivals St Peters in the final, alas the Rocks went on to win. At this time records shows that there club house or meeting place was in the loft above Perry’s coal yard in Neath Street and I bet many a good night was had there.
Again as the Second World War drew closer many of the buns players did their duty for King and Country and joined up to serve in the forces.
As previously as soon as this war ended the buns reformed through some great Splott and Tremorfa names , Dai O’Reilly (Mark Rings grandfather) Glyn Wheeler, Dennis “Dinny” Shanahan, to name a few. From this foundation the present day St Albans was formed.
Over the years that followed St Albans RFC had a few homes, the Bomb & Dagger, Grosvenor Hotel, The Moorlands Hotel, and a few others that perhaps should not be named, but they always played on the pitch that was synonymous with the buns, Splott Park.
Sadly for many in 1970 the Buns moved from their spiritual home of Splott Park a mile or so down the road to Tremorfa Park. Where for the first time they would have their own club house, this was the old Billet block house on the old Cardiff airport formerly used as the Rover works canteen, it was the typical forces H shape building with the one side containing 12 separate changing rooms with a showers unit at the top end, the club was the central area which contained concert room, Bar, Lounge, and Skittle alley, Kitchen the lot, and all this opened on to their new playing field that contained 3 pitches, this was very soon the envy of a lot of other clubs in the area.
Over this time the benefit of having such an excellent amenity the club expanded to 4 senior sides, a youth side and the Mini and junior sides were developed. This served the club well up to 2002 when we moved all of 50 yards across the car park to the newly built Club House of today.
Over the years although a very good side reaching many cup finals they were attributed with the nick name “the Bridesmaids” as the fail to win in the finals became the habit. This came to an abrupt end in 1956 and as like buses two came together, They won the Ninian Stuart Cup and the Cardiff and District sevens trophy. Since then the buns have gone on to win many cups including the Mallet cup 4 times the Ninian Stuart cup 5 times and the Buns are still the only Junior club in Wales to win the Welsh Districts Cup three times, this feat and the development of 8 mini sides for the kids finally persuaded the WRU after many attempts of trying, They decided to grant full WRU status to the club.
Ever since the Buns started playing rugby there policy has been to develop young talent and encourage them to try the luck at a higher level, in the very early years this is evident with the likes of Terry Mc Auliffe, Mike Smith & Jim “Buller “Sullivan going on to play for Cardiff and many other joining other first class clubs, this continued on over the years with Duncan Brown following his father to Cardiff RFC, Duncan stayed at Cardiff for many years after giving up playing to become a great chairman of this world famous club.
The 50s &60s the buns produced a wealth of talent that graced many a fist class club with the likes of Peter(the RAF) Thomas, John Southam Ned Foster to play for Cardiff, Jerry Williams, Kevin Bush, Terry Donovan, of too Penarth, and Eddie Heron to Cross Keys, and a lot of other people I will get shot by for not mentioning,
Season 2013/14 was the season that out shone all the achievements of the past The Buns became WRU Division 5 South East Champions. This was achieved with a record of only losing one league game, and the only other game lost was the East District Cup Final to local neighbours St Josephs themselves also successfully progressing to Division 1 East Central.
Up to this present time we can boast of St Albans RFC Boys who carry the Black and Amber up to the higher levels, Dan Fish Cardiff Blues & Wales 7’s, Nathan Trevett London Welsh RFC, Sam Feehan Bedwas RFC & Newport RFC, Daniel Crimmins Cardiff RFC, Luke Fish & Curtis Hicks Glamorgan Wanderers RFC.
In future seasons there is a hope of more talent to come through the St Albans RFC with the revival of the mini and junior section currently being overseen by the hard work and dedication through former 1st XV Coach Luke Gibson supported by Christine Read, Ian Watkins and Abbie O Sullivan.
St Albans RFC was and should always be a club of the local community
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