History of Canton RFC
ORIGINAL GROUND: Alexandra Park, (west of St. John's Church - ref. Alexandra Road), Canton, Cardiff.
ORIGINAL HEADQUARTERS: Boars Head, 39 Leckwith Road, Canton, Cardiff.
THE EARLY YEARS 1876-1914
Canton Rugby Football Club commenced playing in 1876 and was one of the three clubs that founded the Cardiff and District Rugby Union. During this time three teams played within the Canton boundary. Today only Canton RFC remain, the teams of the period provided Cardiff RFC with a steady stream of players including Welsh Internationals, William James Wood 'Buller' Stadden, Albert John Hybart, William Matthew 'Billy' Douglas, David Henry 'Dai' Lewis, Quentin Dick Kedzlie, Vivian Pugh Henry Huzzey, Frank James Hawkins MC (Pontypridd RFC), Robert Francis 'Bobby' Williams and William James 'Billy' Jenkins.
Other notable players included William Edgar 'Jar' Jarman, Arthur Henry Emery, William Alfred Prance & F. Richards. During the period, Joseph 'Boyo' Brookman and the six Harding brothers were to greatly contribute to Canton rugby teams with Hubert John 'Hube' Harding, Joseph Webber 'Joe' Harding & Ernest 'Ernie' Harding, the latter having played for the Blue & Blacks in their record winning season.
As early as 1882 a Canton Reserves (2nd XV) team began playing and that same year saw the inaugural fixture between Cardiff RFC and Cardiff & District with Canton, Docks Rangers and Roath Windsor providing most of the District Players. December 1883 saw Canton play and defeat Bridgend. By 1896 Canton Juniors (3rd XV) team was established.
In 1893, the Cardiff and District Mallet Cup competition began. Over the years Canton RFC have won this trophy seven times, last appearing in the final in 1989. The 1906/7 season is the most successful in Canton’s history, winning both the Mallet Cup and League Championship and remaining unbeaten in all games. In the following season, 1908, the league Championship was decided in a derby game between Canton RFC and Canton Wanderers. The teams were known as the “Dervishes” and the “Tramps” respectively and, unfortunately, the result was a 3-0 triumph for the “Tramps”.
Records indicate Canton Rovers RFC as an early forerunner in the history of Canton RFC and that the suburb of Canton was an hotbed of rugby teams with the Wanderers, Crescents, Wednesday, United, Harlequins, Crusaders, Institute, Albions, Raglans, Wesleyans, Villa, Canton Loco, Canton Parish Church & Canton St Mary's; all Canton teams playing for the most part, in the C&DRU leagues.
THE MIDDLE YEARS 1920-1939
In 1920 Canton RFC again reached the final of the Mallet Cup, this time losing 4-3 to St.David's RFC.
In the following year the club was very successful and included in it’s’ fixture list such teams as Blaenavon, Risca, Pontypridd, Chepstow and Caerphilly whose ground record was taken by Canton in September 1923. At this time there were three teams playing in Canton, Cardiff Romilly, St. Mary’s and Canton RFC; again, only Canton RFC survives today.
In 1927 Canton celebrated their Silver Jubilee with a fixture against Llandaff, who were also 50 years old that season. The game was played on Cardiff Arms Park with Canton RFC the victors by 3-0 pts.
The last game before the outbreak of war was against the Welsh Regiment which Canton won 16-6 pts.
POST WAR: THE ROBLIN YEARS 1946-
In the 1930s Mr. Wilfred Lyn Roblin became Secretary of Canton RFC, a position he held for thirty years. Whilst being the heart and soul of the club, he also became a distinguished member of the Cardiff and District RU committee and a life member of both Club and District. The Roblin family continue to be actively involved in both the playing and administration side of the club with brothers John and David active members.
Many latter day Canton players have gone on to gain first class honours including Glen Webbe, Mike Knill, Wayne Lewis and John Hickey, whilst three players in recent years have gained Welsh D.R.U honours including former club captain Danny McGrath who led the successful 1993/94 Welsh team.
In the last ten years considerable effort has resulted in the building of a new clubhouse and changing room facilities at Lawrenny Avenue, Leckwith, Cardiff. This complex includes two first class pitches adjacent to the clubhouse and planning permission has been received for further dressing room extensions’. The club is also fortunate to be able to include Dr. Ian Mackie and Mr. Phillip Hoare, Senior Nursing Officer, on their medical team.
All this, along with the running of two senior teams, a Youth and a flourishing Mini Rugby section, has laid the foundation for on-field success in recent seasons. A strong committee provides sound administrative back-up and this augurs well for the future.
(Ref. 'That Great Little Team On The Other Side Of The Bridge' - The 140 Year History of Canton (Cardiff) RFC Season 1876-77 to 2016-17 by Terry Budd, Beacon Printers Ltd -Penarth).