Playing Record : P32, W22, D5, L5, Pts for 328, Pts against 70.
Club Captain : William Bowen
Points Scorer : Billy Bancroft 67
Club Honours : Runners Up
Capped v England : Billy Bancroft, Billy McCutcheon, Frank Mills (d), Thomas Deacon
Capped v Scotland : Billy Bancroft, Billy McCutcheon, Frank Mills, Thomas Deacon, David James, Evan James
Capped v Ireland : Billy Bancroft, Frank Mills, David James, Evan James, Thomas Deacon
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Club records show that the large sum of £2000 was spent on ground improvements for the 1891-92 season. These included the erection of a Pavilion, improvements to the perimeter wall, redistribution of topsoil from the Bryn Road end to the Gors Lane end and the removal of the cottage at the Mumbles end that had been the Bancroft family home. A further £1400 of work upgraded the Grandstand.
The WFU altered the scoring system prior to this season so that a try was now worth 2 points, a penalty 3, and a drop goal & goal from the mark 4. These changes were reversed ( back to try 1, penalty 2, DG & G 3) at the end of the season as it was felt they adversely affected the entertaining football the ever increasing crowds wanted to see. Prior to 1890-91, the Home Unions had differing scoring systems but games were decided by GOALS which were scored by ‘converting’ tries by a kick or by dropping a goal or kicking it from a mark
None of this was on the mind of Billy Bowen as he commenced his third season as captain of Swansea Football Club. He had felt a new hand should try but was persuaded to stay on due to his record in the position and the players response to his leadership. How to defend Swansea’s position as ‘Premiers’ with player retirements and injuries was his worry. Early results were encouraging with Neath comfortably beaten as the ‘Swansea Gems’, the James Brothers (Evan & David) caused havoc as a half back pairing. At the end of September a two game tour to Lancashire resulted in a loss to Swinton and win at Oldham (where former Swansea back David Gwynn now played) with 500 supporters traveling up from Swansea. On return to Wales, Cardiff were badly beaten with the James Brothers again prominent. In November, English Cup Holders Coventry were beaten at St Helens by 3 goals and 2 tries to 1 try. Although injuries disrupted the side and a loss of momentum was experienced, skipper Bowen could reflect that between Christmas and the last game of the season, Swansea did not conceed a single point for two months! So on 26th March Swansea hosted Newport at St Helens and were beaten (5 – 9) by a late drop goal to relinquish the ‘Premiership’ to the Gwent side who went on to finish their season unbeaten. Bowen retired at the end of the season with Swansea having lost only 5 of its 31 fixtures (and through his three season tenure of the captaincy won 70 and drawn 9 of the 90 games played).
This is Swansea Scrum-Half David James‘ Wales cap from 1892 in which he and his brother Evan (see Player Profiles) were the half back combination against Scotland at St Helens and Ireland at Lansdown Road. David played 4 times for Wales the last being again with his brother against England at St Helens in 1899.
(Cap kindly made available for photograph by John & Ira Preece. Ira Preece is the Granddaughter of David James)
This season saw the James Brothers embroiled in controversy as they were induced northwards to play for West Hartlepool following Swansea’s Easter fixture and though the charge of professionalism was left lie at the time, it was only the start of the drama for these two copperplate workers from the Hafod. The English Union was in dispute with its Northern Association over ‘broken time’ payments and fears of a Professional League akin to soccer abounded. The James’ were to play their part in this story as northern Clubs tempted the poorly paid Welsh workers to “Go North”.
Swansea boasted 6 Welsh International players in 1891-92. On 2nd January 1892, England beat Wales at Blackheath by 17 points to nil. That they went on to win the Triple Crown without having a point scored against them, in some way puts the result into perspective, as does the absence of the James Brothers of Swansea at half back. Joining Bancroft in this game were swansea team mates Billy McCutcheon on the wing and forward Tom Deacon. Both were gaining their second Welsh caps that day, Tom went on to win 4 caps and McCutcheon, 7 caps. They were joined by Swansea forward Frank Mills making his international debut. he was to acrue 13 caps by 1896.
Thomas Deacon played as a forward for Wales on 4 occasions between 1891 and 1892. He made his Swansea debut in 1890 and played in the game versus Blackheath in 1891 for the unofficial Anglo-Welsh championship.
The match against Scotland on 6th February 1892 was played at the St Helens ground in Swansea and featured no less than six players from the Swansea club. But in a rain swept , bad tempered match, Wales succumbed by 7 points to 2 in a match better remembered for the hostility of some of the crowd toward referee Jack Hodgson of England who was jossled by Welsh supportes at full time. Billy Bancroft, McCutcheon, Mills and Deacon were joined by David and Evan James. The James brothers had also played together for Wales against Ireland in 1891.
Wales scorer: forward J Hannen.
Back Row: (L to R): R Mullock(WRU Official), A Boucher, T Deacon, C B Nicholl, J Conway Rees, T C Graham, W H Watts.
2nd Row: (L to R): W McCutcheon, F Mills, A J Gould (Captain), J Hannan, W Bancroft, T W Pearson.
Front Row: (L to R): H T Day, D James, E James.
Wales lost to Scotland at St Helens on 6th february despite the re-introduction of Swansea’s James brothers at half-back following a poor performance against England in which the fowards and backs were unable to play in ‘combination’. Wales fared better on this day but eventually succumbed 2pts to 7pts to a strong Scottish forward effort. (Club Archive)
Wales completed the international season by losing their match against Ireland in Lansdowne Road on 5th March 1892 by 9 points to nil with the Irish pack dominating the game. David and Evan James were joined by Swansea team mates Billy Bancroft, Frank Mills and Tom Deacon.
Frank Musgrave Mills was a forward who played for Wales on 13 occasions between 1892 and 1896. Frank made his Swansea debut in 1892 but left to join Cardiff for the 1894/95 season and became their vice captain in 1895/96.