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CAPTAIN : MEL JAMES
MOST APPEARANCES : 45 (ALAN MAGES)
MOST TRIES : 16 (DARRYL COLE)
MOST POINTS : 162 (ROBERT DYER)
WALES CAPS :
v NZ : Mervyn Davies
v E : Mervyn Davies
v S : Mervyn Davies
v I : Mervyn Davies & Phil Llewellyn (d)
v F : Mervyn Davies & Phil Llewellyn
Represented Welsh XV on Canadian Tour :
v British Columbia : Mervyn Davies & Phil Llewellyn
v Alberta : Phil Llewellyn
v Quebec & Maritimes : Phil Llewellyn
v Ontario : Mervyn Davies & Phil Llewellyn
v Canada : Mervyn Davies & Phil Llewellyn
ENGLAND/WALES v SCOTLAND/IRELAND : Mervyn Davies
The following contibution was made by former Swansea back David Protheroe whose memories of the infamous pre-season tour to Italy have become known as …..
‘THE ITALIAN JOB’ by Dai Protheroe
Having played my first game for the Club in the previous season, I was delighted to hear that as part of our preparations for the 1972-73 season, we were to visit Rome.This was a short pre-season tour to play two games, the first against a select XV and the other versus the full blown Italian side.
We arrived safely and set up camp under the watchful eye of our coach Ieuan Evans in the village used for the 1960 Olympic games. This was an experience in itself but as I was to shortly find out, this trip was to teach me much more than I had bargained for. Luckily I was selected for the first encounter at Outside-half with my student colleague and competitor for the pivot role, Dai Richards, in the Centre partnering the excellent Darryl Cole. This meant that the usual Outside Centre Arwel Rees (alias: Zac) had not been selected. Well we won the match comfortably enough, although we had not reached the heights that we had hoped.
So it was off to the City to celebrate with my minder Colin Davies known to one and all as Tally Bach, promising all sorts of things! Following an excelent banquet with our hosts, we decamped to one of those stylish italian corner bars, you know-something like Crescis in Gwauncaegurwen, except that the square it stood on was nearly the size of the Waun. As the wine flowed so did the inevitable discussions on team selection and, from one particular corner, it was maintained that Zac, obviously, should have played. The incessant plea grew louder and became quite a nuisance, whereapon and in the interest of team morale, our incomparable captain, Mel James decided to sort it! The offending player was helped outside, cuffed by Mel and lay comatose apon the cobbled Roman square.
Then all hell broke loose. There were Vespas and Italian youths everywhere under the misapprehension that we had laid out one of their own. The next fifteen minutes can only be described as mayhem as we sought to defend ourselves. I was agog eating a mars bar as all this went on. Suddenly blue lights were flashing and the Carabinieri surrounded us. There was no other option but to leg it! It’s at this juncture that it is said that Dai Richards perfected his sidestepping, dodging bullets.
Anyway I was pursued up a sidestreet by one of the Police cars, which swerved across the pavement in front of me, resulting in my cartwheeling over the bonnet. By this time the charismatic prop Neil Webb had caught up and I thought he’d said- “Resist them Dai!” so I did. A big mistake…. as they laid into me with fists and rifle buts. As one towered over me with a gun barrel in my chest making clicking noises like the Lone Ranger, Webby was shouting- “Don’t resist them for goodness sake!”
So before we knew it, both of us were in the aptly-named Queen of Heaven Penitentiary, shortly to be joined by Roger Hyndman, John Roberts and Tally Bach who greeted me with the immortal words- “See, Dai, I told you I’d be here to look after you!” We were all taken to seperate cells, sharing with local inmates; mine stank! “Pugno Pugno!” Webby tried valiantly to raise morale, informing us that the bingo cards would be round shortly.
Next morning the British Embassy envoys came to see us – progress at last. “Don’t worry, Mr Protheroe, we will bring you fresh pyjamas and toiletries weekly”.
“What do you thnk this is, a holiday camp?” I retorted. “Get me out of here!”
“Well, it’s not that easy you see, two of the Policemen are in hospital with broken jaws. It could be anything from six months to two years.” Mam fach! Speaking of whom, I don’t think she ever got over it as apparently the first she knew of it was reading the front page of the Western Mail in the morning and passing out in shock. It certainly created a stir in Rhiwfawr.
Well, fortunately, after just over a week of pasta and raw eggs, a top lawyer convinced the court that it made sense to extradite us from the country rather than use up Italian taxes to keep us in prison. So we were whisked away as quickly as we had arrived in jail and I for one was pleased to say “Arrivederci Roma”.
Some 25 years later, I returned and following a Wales v Italy International, I was walking across this square with my friend Stuart Griffith (Chico). And it suddenly dawned on me almost like déjà vu, that this was the square where it all happened. I turned to Chico and said, “For goodness sake, don’t eat a Mars bar here, whatever you do!”
POST SCRIPT: Colin Davies (Tally Bach) from Amman United was involved in a memorable Swansea v Barbarians encounter in 1972; memorable because the All Whites played with only fourteen men for all but fifteen minutes of the first-half. Alan Meredith the Swansea Scrum-half was injured and carried off and in pre-replacement days, Colin Davies, with his flowing red locks, moved up from full back to take his place. This was his first appearance at Scrum-half but he played magnificantly in an unexpected 27 – 25 victory for the home side. With four tries apiece, Phil Llewellyn’s team clinched victory with a penalty goal four minutes from time, kicked by one David Protheroe. – It was my chance to help out Tally Bach!
Many thanks to Dai Protheroe for this contribution to the History Archive. Dai is older and more responsible nowadays we hope as he currently serves as Club Treasurer!