P35, W16, D8, L11, Pts for 213, Pts against 131.
Club Captain : Billy Bancroft
Leading Try Scorer : Charlie Coke 7
Leading Points Scorer : Bancroft 47
Capped v England : Billy Bancroft, Billy McCutcheon, Frank Mills
Capped v Scotland : Billy Bancroft, Frank Mills
Capped v Ireland : Billy Bancroft, Frank Mills
Played:35, Won: 16, Drawn: 8, Lost: 11. Points for:213, Against: 131.
Back Row(L to R): Frank Mills, R S Jenkin, Thomas Russell, W J Williams, W McCutcheon, A M Jenkins, Ted Poole (Trainer).
2nd Row(L to R): F Gordon,W Crocker, W J Bancroft, T Thorogood, C Coke.
Front Row(L to R): T Blackmore, S Rice, Will Parker, R Thomas.
(kindly donated by the family of Thomas Russell and now in Club Archive)
Having been capped by Wales at the young age of 19 yrs, Billy Bancroft had 12 International caps to his credit by the start of the 1893-94 season when he was selected to captain Swansea for the first time. Still a young player himself, he was charged with the task of bringing The Whites back to the winning ways of Billy Bowen’s tenure at the helm. Early signs were that spirit was good within the squad as Cardiff Quins were beaten by a Swansea team down to 13 men as forward Frank Mills (playing while suffering from ‘flu) broke his colar bone and centre W Griffiths received a severe nose injury and both left the pitch. Llanelli were beaten at St Helens and although Newport lowered the Swansea colours, it was felt the players had put in a good performance against a very strong side. Following the previous season’s dispute with Cardiff over a refereeing decision, only two fixtues were arranged between the two great rivals, so a large crowd of 10,000 were at St Helens to see Swansea narrowly win a tight encounter with the ‘Blue and Blacks’. A drop in form followed this however and with the forwards and backs failing to work well in combination, news was received that the English Rugby Union (ERU) had refused to reinstate the barred Swansea half backs, the James brothers. Their continued exclusion seemed synonymous with the form of the Club and by season’s end 11 games had been lost with a further 8 drawn. Bancroft, though giving of his best and being the top points scorer saw that more would be needed to pull Swansea out of the doldrums.
William J. ‘Billy’ Bancroft who Captained Swansea in the 1893-94 season made his Swansea debut in 1889 which was the start of an extremely illustrious career. He will be remembered by most people as Swansea’s greatest ever full back. He was the club’s record points scorer in 12 of the 14 seasons from 1888/89 – 1901/02. His younger brother John (Jack) also played with distinction for both Swansea and Wales for many seasons. (Club Archive)
On the International scene, Frank Mills recovered from his injuries to represent Swansea in the Welsh teams that played the three other ‘Home Countries’. This was the first time he’d been selected for all three tests. Bancroft was ever present at full back though he could do nothing to stop Ireland winning in Belfast to secure their first ever Triple Crown. Billy McCutcheon gained the last of his 7 caps as a wing against England. He’d had his debut for Swansea in 1886 at full back, but since 1888 had joined former Swansea player David Gwynn at Oldham, returning to feature for Swansea regularly. He left permenantly for the Northern English Club at the end of the season and with Oldham leading the breakaway Northern Association’s rupture with the ERU in 1895, he went proffessional and only returned to Swansea as an Oldham scout for more players. Frank Mills also left the Club and joined Cardiff at the end of 1893-94. New faces were fortunately to appear soon to help lift swansea back to prominence.
The match programme above is from the England v wales fixture at Birkenhead on 6th January 1894 which England won by 24 points to 3. Joining Billy Bancroft and Frank Mills from Swansea that day was Billy McCutcheon who, although listed here as an Oldham player, was playing for Swansea at the time of his selection. He joined Oldham permenantly at the end of the season.
(image courtesy of Ellis Rugby)