Swansea RFC were saddened to learn of the passing of Ernie Longden after an extended illness following his contracting Covid-19. Ernie was a life-long supporter of Swansea Rugby Club and passed away while receiving palliative care at home.
Supporters of The Whites and many other rugby clubs will remember Ernie at both home and away matches and always arriving at the ground with a smile and engaging with everyone, regardless of what team they supported. Ernie always felt it was important to mix well with supporters and he certainly led by example. His knowledge of the game was extensive and he had an eye for up and coming players, but always spoke with humility and above all, with humour.
Ernest Joseph Longden was actually 93 years old when he passed and was known to have almost certainly been the last living person to have been at the match in September 1935, when he was brought by his father to watch Swansea beat the All Blacks at St Helen’s. His parents were from Avonmouth where Ernie’s grandfather Ernest James Longden was a cooper. But the search for work brought Ernie’s parents to Swansea where he was born on 4th October 1928 into a large family of four boys and four girls. Ernie was the second of four boys who were born exactly seven years apart (Wilfred, Ernie, Melville & Garfield), a fact that gave Ernie much pleasure in re-telling.
Typical of Ernie’s humour, when asked by the Swansea Archives team if he was in any way related to J S Longdon (with an ‘o’), who played rugby for Swansea and Oxford in the 1890s, Ernie replied that no one in his family was educated at Oxford; however, his uncle Walter had invented the cardboard coffin! Actually he also apparently had a great uncle who was a well known sculptor.
Ernie was ever present on supporters trips and especially enjoyed the run to Llandovery, often in the company of his good friend Spencer Howells, who would keep an eye on Ernie as he got older, not that Ernie would have shown he needed watching. Those unfamiliar with him would have guessed 25 years off his age, so spritely and involved in enjoying his rugby was Ernie. His wife had recently predeceased him, also an unfortunate victim of the Covid virus. Phone calls to him often had him shouting down the phone over the sound of bacon and laverbread popping in the frying pan, as he prepared breakfast for two. Ernie will be remembered at St Helen’s as a genuine rugby supporter and a truly wonderful gentleman. Our thought go out to his family at this difficult time