DUNVANT v THREE CROSSES - March 1936
The history of Dunvant R.F.C from 1887, embracing a century of sporting achievement, is a proud unsullied story of endeavor and ultimate triumph. There is, however, one game in contrast to all others, which stands apart.
It was March 1936 that the intense and acrimonious rivalry between Dunvant and Three Crosses erupted in a violent local derby, both teams having progressed to an advanced stage of the prestigious "Henry Folland" Cup.
The game played at Three Crosses in Dai Killan's field on the brow of the hill, was witnessed by a record, vociferous crowd of 200, half having paid their 3d entry fee at the gate, the other, less affluent half gaining free access by a circuitous route through an adjoining field.
The late withdrawal of Rees Howells, the eminent Gowerton referee, with its attendant loss of impartiality, was a portent of impending catastrophe. A deathly foreboding descended upon the Three Crosses supporters as Doug Chapman, the fiercely partisan Dunvant trainer, stepped forward to fill the breach. Doug, an itinerant rough painter, an affable person of impressive physique was, as always, turned out for the occasion in heavy brown boots, check suit, bow tie and "pork pie" trilby hat.
Despite, or perhaps because of, Doug's frantic whistling and protestations, a travesty of Rugby degenerated still further into a tribal conflict of epic proportions. The black and white Three Cross XV - Enoch Roderick, Gwilym Davis, the Hopkins fraternity and Bryn Parkyn, behind forwards Wilfred (Tai Cyd), the Williams brothers and the Gronows, descended upon the retreating Dunvant XV like a horde of marauding Assyrians. Deeds of heroism abounded: Len Button, the tall, angular Dunvant lock �- a local poacher who traveled the neighborhood on a bicycle festooned with rabbits which he sold for 3d each - was soon stretchered to the sidelines. Only a merciful God and the gesticulating, whistling and breathless Doug Chapman stood between Dunvant and total annihilation.
And then it happened! Some ten minutes from the end the spindly-legged Dunvant wing threequarter, Phil Croft from Grovesend, (I remember my father telling me that when frightened, Croft was the fastest wing on earth), found himself with the ball on his own line and in a state of abject terror, ran for his life and glorious immortality!
In the gathering gloom all hell was let loose. Chapman's blatant bias provoked the Three Crosses linesman, the volatile Trevor Hopkins, into hurling verbal abuse and his flag at the referee. Pandemonium ensued and in the deepening confusion the Dunvant flanker, Norman Roach, who was also the club secretary, snatched the referee's whistle and blew prematurely for full time and an infamous Dunvant victory .The seething response of the home crowd was to consign Referee Chapman's "pork pie" trilby hat to the mud and its owner horizontally to Gowerton surgery with broken false teeth and a badly bruised jaw.
A high-powered inquiry was hurriedly arranged, the venue - The Tenby Hotel, Swansea.
The findings, generously reported in the local press, disqualified both clubs with ignominy from the "Folland" Cup. Whistleblower Roach was suspended in perpetuity (sine die) and to heap insult upon injury the Dunvant advocate, local "barrack room" lawyer Tommy "Lot" John, following his impassioned plea for clemency, was sternly rebuked by the tribunal chairman for intemperate language and fined £1 for contempt of court.
WITH GRATEFUL THANKS TO GLYNDWR RICHARDS FOR THIS CONTRIBUTION