1877-78 Season

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Club Captain : Fred Meager

This season saw Swansea play nine games between November and March winning three and losing four. The season started badly with heavy losses away to Llandovery College and Newport, before Cardiff were beaten at home and a draw made with Llanelli at Stradey Park. 1877-78 saw the introduction of the South Wales Challenge Cup overseen by the South Wales Football Club (predecessor to the WRU), with a 2 Guinea subscription by participating Clubs. Eighteen South Wales Clubs competed for the Cup which was to promote the growth of the game in south Wales. Abergavenny defaulted on their first round match v Swansea who went on under their captain Fred Meager to beat Carmarthen Grammar School away (December) and Neath at home (January) to reach the final of the inaugural competition. In February, Cardiff beat a visiting Swansea team by 2 goals to nil at Sophia Gardens and a draw resulted in Llandovery College’s visit to St Helens. A Newport side in its own Invincible Season beat Swansea in the first ever South Wales Challenge Cup Final at Bridgend on 2nd March 1878.

John Talbot Dillwyn Llewellyn was born in 1836 to photographer and scientist John Dillwyn Llewelyn and Emma Maud Talbot, cousin of William Fox Talbot.  Llewellyn was High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1878 and Mayor of Swansea in 1891. He was made a baronet in 1890, and became Sir John Llewellyn of Penllargaer. He was elected Conservative MP for Swansea Swansea in the 1895 general election. Llewellyn’s connections to sport included the position of captain of the South Wales Cricket Club and in 1885 he replaced the Earl of Jersey as the president of the Welsh Rugby Union; a post he would hold until 1906, when he was replaced by Horace Lyne. Lyne himself stated that ‘they (WRU) had been singularly fortunate in getting a gentleman like Mr J.T.D. Llewellyn to act in that captaincy’

Sir J T D Llewellyn in his role as President of the WRFU, the second Swansea man to hold that honour (former Swansea captain, C C Chambers was the first President in 1881). He was also Swansea Football Club”s first President and a key figure in securing the St Helens ground as a permenant sports arena. It was his love of cricket (he was a regular member of the Swansea 1st XI) which drove him to champion the cause for the ground remaining undeveloped and to be used for recreational purposes.

The Annual Athletics meetings at St Helens and organised by the Swansea football Club was keenly looked forward to by Swansea residents and athletes from the surrounding towns and villages. On bank Holiday Monday (22nd April) 1878 14 different events were held at the ground including a 5 mile walking race, 100 yards, 2 mile bicycle race and 1 mile run, all with cash prizes. There was a 440 yards Club only race which Phillip Ingram won (2nd: W T Far, 3rd: K W Kendall) and the place kicking was won by James Doggett of the Swansea Club. Many future players would emerge from these games under the watchful eyes of the Club committee and the activities were seen as a healthy advertisement for outdoor sports at a time when manual labour under suffocating conditions left little time for exercise in the fresh air.