I was happy to find last week a good copy of this fantastic book about the early days of Cardiff RFC, one of the most prominent rugby club in Wales.
"The Cardiff Rugby Football Club - History and Statistics 1876 -1906" compiled by club secretary C.S.Arthur in 1907 goes into every possible details about the first 30 years of the club, from its creation to that famous 17-0 victory against Paul Roos' Springboks on January 1st, 1907 (Percy Bush, Gwynn Nicholls, Rhys Gabe...cf below)
Among tons of teams or action photographies contained in this book, I've been particularly pleased by this picture I'm posting today... it shows the inauguration of the Arms Park Grand Stand, on Dec.26th 1885... Officials, and both Cardiff and Liverpool teams are lining up...
Large picture here.
As C.S.Arthur puts it "I was this season that the grand stand on the six penny side was taken away and the centre portion of the present Grand Stand erected. It cost £362 and was first use on Boxing Day, the match being Cardiff v Liverpool. It was considered of such importance that a photograph, here produced, was taken.
A steel rope was also put round the ground, in place of the hempen rope used in previous years, and footboards were also put down, so that the spectators should no longer be obliged to stand ankle deep in mud as they frequently to do in former years.
In consequence of the phenomenal success of the First and Second XV., there was a great influx of spectators, and the gate receipt amounted to the sum of £720 3s. 9d., and the members' subscriptions to £153 8s. 6d., and ground tickets to £36 15s.
The stand was paid for out of the season's income ; the expenditures in other directions naturally increased, with the result that there was a deficiency of £43 13s. to carry forward to the next account."
Note (a) to myself : let's work on the economics and business matters of early rugby clubs...
Note (b) to myself : let's also work on the architecture of these stadium, "cathedrals" of modern times...
Otherwise, I also have some Baines cards of these clubs (a Cardiff Baines card in colour, anyone ?)
Post-Scriptum: some "extras" about Cardiff b Springboks 17 - 0, Jan.1st 1907, at Cardiff Arm's Park...
First, here is the official programme from that day in Cardiff... This wonderful piece of memorabilia belongs to Richard S. who kindly let me scan and share it... thanks a lot, Richard !
Second, I recommend these online resources brought together (by Dai Richards of Rugby Relics fame) for their digital "World Rugby Museum" about the 1906-07 Springboks tour...
A combination of a boggy field and a Cardiff team on top of their form saw the Springboks thrashed at Cardiff Arms Park. Ankle deep in mud the Springbok forwards were unable to match their Welsh opponents in the tussle up front. Cardiff had given the All Blacks a fright a year earlier when they were the only team to score two tries against them. Their 10 - 8 loss to the men of New Zealand was their only defeat in a wonderful season. Led by the genius of Percy Bush the home team included one of the greatest centre partnerships of all time in Gwyn Nicholls and Rhys Gabe, the latter having lined up for Llanelly against the Springboks only 3 days previous. Nicholls it was who opened up the scoring with a marvellous try converted by his brother-in-law Bert Winfield. Gibbs then scored a try for the home team, Winfield missed the conversion but landed a penalty goal late in the half. An early incident saw both Biggs (Cardiff) and Millar (Springboks) leave the field, both returned but Biggs retired from the game at half time. Despite playing the second period with only 14 men against the wind the Cardiff men were able to hold the tourists and prevent them from scoring. They added two further tries through Williams and Gabe to win by an astonishing 17 point margin.
Pretty long post, isn't it... ;-)