Club Captain : C.C. ‘Charlie’ Chambers
Playing Record: Played: 7 Won: 3 Drawn: 3 Lost: 1
Swansea ‘The All Whites’ was initially formed in 1872 under association football rules and converted to rugby following a decision on 17 October 1874. A year later it joined with the existing cricket club to become ‘Swansea Cricket & Football Club’.
EARLY FOOTBALL DAYS
The club’s first match was against Neath on 23rd Nov. 1872 under Association rules. An earlier mention on a Neath v Swansea match in the Neath RFC official history probably refers to a team from Swansea as opposed to Swansea Football club as we can trace it. It is not certain what rules the February match was played under.
Early reports in The Cambrian tell of a drawn match at Llandovery (College) on 14th December 1872 (one goal each) and a game that is not confirmed as played, against Cadoxton on 28 Dec. 1872 on the Swansea Sands.
In 1873-74 Llandovery College were played home and away on 22nd Nov. and 6th Dec. respecively, the home game being won by Swansea and the match at Llandovery, by the College. An away match was lost against the Beaufort club on 27th Dec. 1873 when Swansea played 9 players against 15. Two fixtures were arranged with Cowbridge School on 28th Feb. and 7th March 1874, the latter game at the Primrose Fiield was advertised in the Cambrian of 6th March with “Admission Free”. The results of these games are not recorded. Some of these matches will have been played under Association rules and some, like those against Llandovery College, probably under rugby rules.
FIRST RUGBY FOOTBALL GAMES
Then on 17th October 1874 F. F. Meager’s proposal that the Swansea Football Club should adopt Rugby Union Rules instead was accepted. The first rugby game played by Swansea since formal conversion to the code, was against Llandovery College on 14 November 1874. The Swansea captain on that historic day was Charlie Chambers who was to become the inaugural president of the Welsh Football Union (now WRU) in 1881.
The team that played Llandovery was : CC Chambers (capt), A Richardson, FF Meager, H Sutton, Jeffreys, C Tuckfield, A Williams, MT Jones, PO Ingram, A Ingram, H Head, LL Green, HR Knill, P Warren, and C Sutton.
The Brecon County Times reports that Swansea beat Llandovery College at Llandovery on 14th November 1874: “FOOTBALL.- Swansea Football Club v Llandovery College.- The first of the Annual Matches between these two clubs was played on Saturday last, on the college ground at Llandovery.” Swansea beat the College by 2 goals to none – so the Town achieved their ambition to avenge their defeat of the previous year. The mention of a fixture in 1873 refers to that of 6th Dec. 1873 at Llandovery.
The Western Mail of 24th November 1874 tells us that Swansea Rugby Football Club won the game against Swansea Grammar School: “Football – A football match was played at Swansea on Saturday last [21st Nov] between twelve of the Swansea Football Club and eighteen of the Swansea Grammar School, the latter playing with two Masters and three Old Boys of the school. The match terminated in favour of the Club who obtained one goal, the school not being able to get the ball through, although they played pluckily to the last.”
Whether this was an early rugby game or an ‘Association’ game can only be guessed at from this distance in time. Certainly it occurred after the decision to change codes and at the start of a new season.
The Cambrian of 6th March 1874 lists the following forthcoming Swansea fixtures:
Swansea v [Swansea]Grammer School 21st Nov at Swansea.
Swansea v Llandovery [College] 28th Nov (Return) at Llandovery.
Swansea v Brecon 2nd Dec at Swansea
Swansea v Cardiff 12th Dec at Swansea.
Of other early Home games it is known that on 2nd December 1874 Swansea defeated Brecon Town by a goal to none. December 12th 1874 saw Swansea draw a Home game with Glamorgan F. C. (forerunner of Cardiff RFC), scoring one try and one touch-down to two touch-downs (It is interesting in this context to note that a game could not be won unless a goal had been scored). As can be seen, a fixture list was then as now, ‘subject to change’.
Details of other early matches are scarce but again the Brecon County Times of 2nd January 1875 describes an away match against Brecon on 26th December 1874 ending in a draw (with Brecon scoring two touch-downs to one). 17 players are listed in the Brecon team and only 11 in the Swansea side! They were half-backs: E Copus, H Sutton, C Sutton, ‘Goal’: E M Jones, Forwards: D Jeffreys (Capt.), J P Jeffreys, P Meager, P Ford, F Kendall, P Ingram, H Kenell.
Another report in Cambrian, describes a lost match away at the Cardiff Arms Park v Glamorgan F. C. in the return fixture on 16th Jan. 1875, and also lists the Swansea players who were: C Chambers (Captain), D Jeffries, C Sutton, Hombersley, Pritchard, Brown, Pritchard, E M Jones (Goalkeeper), Green, Warren, J Bell, J H Thomas, W Thomas, Charles Riches, Cuthbert Riches. The only named playing position was the ‘Goalkeeper’ (full back) as reporters struggled to come to grips with the facets of Rugby Union. Later reports start to specify ‘Forwards’ and ‘Backs’.
The Home games are likely to have been played on the Primrose Field Ground off Constitution Hill. This is the present site of Chaddersley Terrace and cromwell Street. Swansea Rugby Football Club had temporarily relocated here, having had to leave the original site of Bryn Y Mor Field opposite their ‘Clubhouse’ of the Uplands Hotel. This ground, which was encicled by mature trees, was very prone to holding water and becoming too marshy, so some early games were played on Swansea Sands. The second location at Primrose Field was central, so convenient but unfortunately featured a significant ‘slope’ which made for a distinct game of two halves. Other facilities such as changing area and running water were also lacking. With Swansea Cricket Club also losing use of the Bryn Y Mor facilities, their futures were more closely linked and the Rugby Club finally joined them at St Helens Ground at the end of the 1875-6 season.
The shirt colours first adopted by Swansea were blue and white horizontal stripes. Then, for one season, the players wore a vivid scarlet. The white jersey was adopted after that, and retained. The club did not truly become ‘All White’ until 10 January 1925 when white shorts were worn instead of the (usual) blue ones used previously.