How the Assassin got his nickname and other unrelated stories.

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PlayerThe Assassin

Two or three months after joining the Rocks, Gerald turned out for the fourths, at Llandaff Fields against Clwb Rygbi, which for us, was a bit of a boon, as he was the only one who had any knowledge of the mother tongue. ‘The Very Man!` As a forward the lines- out would be ours! We had a spy in our camp; a `sospan` of our very own!

The fourths were not known for their linguistic skills – more for their aptitude to bore there opposition into submission in the bar with their stories of ‘Daring Do’ from the past from varying rugby clubs and matches with some of the ‘leg-ends’ such as Slag-Sutton, Tomasey and Frank the Tank.

Any old up, the match started in the usual manner. We ran the ball all over the place, giving the ball to the up and coming youth players as often as possible to save our legs for the second half, generously trying to get the likes of the students in our ranks and new boys to get stuck in.

After a few scrums it became apparent that Gerald was having a slight ‘problem’ with his opposite number, who was by the way a ‘non sospan` Gerald spoke to him in a rather gentlemanly way and informed him that if he carried on in the same vein, ie ‘ If you keep burrowing in like that I will be forced to take matters in hand.`

The game continued Gerald pulled the ref to one side and politely informed SIR that he had tried reasoning with the blighter, but as he was not taking any notice could SIR please have a word in the afore-mentioned ear, as he was getting slightly perturbed by the bounders insistence of boring in. Nothing was done. One or two scrums later, and without us winning any of their lines-out, as they used a code of numbers etc (bugger) like the rest of the rugby world.

The following scrum broke up, with the front row union on both sides, flailing and raining blows in any direction, if only to protect them selves from getting tagged and being ‘it’. A few of the older heads about the field joined in, ‘to abate the situation’ (?) and to get a good one in whilst still quite fresh. The ruckus ended, with the usual amount of pushing and shoving, hand bags at forty paces and the odd bloke holding a bloody nose, and a bit of chest thumping,

It was then that I noticed Gerald sat on top of the ‘non-sospan’. His legs pinning the blaggard’s hands to the floor and informing him once again that he had warned him not once, twice, thrice, but three or four times that if he did not stop he would have to let him ‘have it’. What was funny is that Gerald was telling him orf like a naughty school boy wagging a digit in his face wearing a thin lipped smile across his own. Hence THE SMILING ASSASSIN.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

Red Rock

Red RockIn the early nineties, at the old club in Newport Rd, the bay window housed an unlikely group of Nair-do-wells. They were known as ‘The Cavs’. The patron saint of the Cavs was St. Gerald, the steward, The patron saint? I hear you cry! Well to the Cavs he was somewhat of demigod, as he was the supplier of Red Rock; a drink, akin to ambrosia, to a Cav…

Anyway, it came to pass that the committee had had enough of the antics of the the Cavs and had decided to remove the said nectar. As the steward of the club, Gerald was privy to the plans. The committee asked Gerald what they should do about replacing the offending liqueur. Advice was given and a date was set, as to when the last barrel of Red, was going to be imbibed by the faithful.

A few weeks passed, and Gerald and stock levels were becoming strange bedfellows. A little too much rock was down stairs, and it needed to get up stairs to be dutifully quaffed?

The day arrived and the massed Cavs arrived. On a Friday as I recall… The coffin dodgers used to frequent the bay window on Fridays, but on such a solemn occasion they respectfully gave way, and proceeded to watch the show that ensued from the safety of the second fire place. This often occurred when Red Rock and happy hour collided. At about seven forty five there was an horrific gurgle, and a splutter from the Rock font, and the last Rock was poured. Many shed a tear at that point.

Gerald asked us to stand and toast the passing of the Rock. With a cheeky grin on his face, that I can see to this day, he whipped the bar towel off a pump that had, until this point, been obscured from the Cavs. A stunned silence, which lasted all of a second, enveloped the Cavs to a man.

A beautiful ebony handled pump stood proud, nay erect, before us in all it`s beauty and splendor; a gold shimmering disc proclaimed `SPECIAL VAT 5%`. The odd coffin dodger was known to have taken a step back, and a few clutched at their own beloved S.A.

A toast he proclaimed “THE ROCK IS DEAD-LONG LIVE THE VAT“

‘Dancing Queen` sprang from the duke box closely followed by ‘Redemption Song`

We had come for a funeral, but as is always on these occasions, a ‘wake’ took it`s place. With all the good memories of our close friend coming to the fore!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

Mad Pa

Mad Pa, Pater to Vinnie and Patsy Nolan. I only found out at Vinnies wedding to Lol, that they had two other siblings.

Mad Pa would only watch the 2 gang or 3 gang, having an aversion to the firsts, that to this day, I have no definitive answer to. He would turn up just as the boys ambled up to the pitch, after parking the JETTA(?) where it would cause the most inconvenience to all and sundry. Then for 80 minutes he would berate the referee – never once using the customary title of ‘Sir’.

One memory comes to mind which occurred down the Rec, the proper one – not the one up the hill. He would never go and watch the enemy. We were playing the Sarries, and leading by 20 odd points. They scored a dubious try, under the posts. Sir, missing a forward pass, or some such minor offence. Mad Pa, made his way behind the posts and continued to barrack Sir about, his misspent youth, and the lack of a father figure in his life. Sir in his own, but misplaced way, decided to counter the bloke who had been making his life a misery for sixty minutes. Mad PA, not taking a backward step, and seeing an opportunity to inflict further ridicule on the poor man, let him have it with both barrels; verbally braking the bloke into submission.

With Vinnie physically holding his old man back, and Patsy given it the blue birds, and playing some sort of imaginary piano, managed to subdue the old fella “HE`S NOT WORTH IT DAD, and LEAVE IT OUT POP.”

The rest of us were beside ourselves, with glee! The said incumbent with the whistle, fed up to the back teeth, and visibly exhausted, and also in desperate need of some liquid refreshment or a good lie down, blew up a good ten minutes early. We won the encounter by 30 odd to 7. When we got back to Newport Rd, Mad Pa (Peter) needless to say, never needed to put his hand in his pocket. Man of the Match by far.

This is my abiding memory of the Rainbow Warrior`s Dad. RAINBOW WARRIOR? I hear you ask, but that as they say is another story, for another day?

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

The Day they Called Me Sir.

Let me take you back a few years… When on an international Saturday morning`s FRIENDLIES were played by like minded rugby clubs, to boost their income and therefore getting as many boozers into their clubs early for as long as possible on match days. On one such occasion, Joe (crazy horse) Dunleavy, our ever present fixture secretary, arranged one such skirmish – FAIRWATER!!!

Dai (MARY) Hopkins, who had been standing outside the Bulldog since 10:30, had just got back from filming, at some exotic location west of Deptford, rang Corsi. On the ‘mobile’. Mary was one of the first to have such a luxury item along with Chris. They would ring each other and discuss how ‘big’ their phones were. Anyhow, we had not even left the Harlequins. Eleven o`clock kick orf`s are notorious for kicking off at twelvish and Mary, in his rush to get out of the house, and to get on the Red Rock didn`t realise the foolishness of his actions. About an hour later the massed ranks of the Cavs, the odd first teamer and a few members of the bob bank supports club were at Fairwater’s ground.

Acme ThundererBrendan McAloon greeted us, and customarily asked if we had a full team. We obliged him. He asked us if we would not mind in providing a Sir, as every one that he had asked, had politely declined his offer of officiating that morning as it was their match, and that if they battered us, if one of their committee men were to act as SIR you lot would only blame the ref. A Good point and well thought out by Bren. The fact that no one would want to do the job was neither here or there. As I had an Acme Thunderer in my possession I became ‘Sir’ for the day – and to be honest it was freezing it seemed a good option at the time.

I went into both dressing rooms but never checked the studs as I didn`t know what i was looking for apart from counting them. I informed both sets of players that I could only give what I saw, and there would be no point in appealing, coz you never see a sir change his mind. I was obviously DRUNK with power by this stage.

The match started easily enough, a try apiece in the first ten minutes. Then I had to penalise the Loon for handling on the floor. He protested his innocence, and I informed him that ‘being in possession of the said thunderer I could send him from the field if he persisted in this foolhardy and blatant disregard for the Laws of our Beautiful game’ or words to that effect. Brendon being nobodies fool agreed (?). Now I know and you know that he was not going to be sent off by any one, let alone a no-mark from the Rocks.

The igmany of it! He would not live it down in the bulldog. The boys would let him have for eternity. Later I was told that Dobbin had been burrowing at evey ruck and retrieving the ball at will. I must have been on the wrong side of the play, when these transgretions took place. Chaos returned and scores changed hands at regular intervals. Mel (the ghost) Amos skipped in for try on the left wing, and Mary I believe got a brace. One of them from three yards out. To this day he plays on the dummy, side step and body swerve. Alas we know Mary, and all three were beyond his compass. The Turk took out Jowie, with a clash of heads, over on the right hand side of the field, after being swung round by the seat of his pants. Jowie recovered but Turk began to make funny noises reminiscent of a phone ringing, brurp Burr, brurp Burr.

Rugby BallWith Fairwater trailing by three points, Ricky Theaker struck a magnificent drop goal attempt, from just inside his own half which sailed upwards and onwards towards our posts just missing by about five yards? A quick look at the watch and to everyone’s surprise including Theaker I put the whistle to my mouth giving the kick as good. Fair result. An honorable draw. I blew for the last time, and the game was done. Little was I to know, that Fairwater were not three behind but two and in fact, had pipped us, that’s why Theaker was going for the drop. Hey HO.

With great power comes great responsibility?

A quick pint in the dog and back to the relative safety of Roath to watch England lose again. Heady Halcyon Days.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

The Day that Billy Bled Green and Black

I would like to bring to your attention W. H. O’KEEFE. In my mind a true LEGEND of St. Peters Rugby Club – A much maligned and often misunderstood bloke.
I have, and always will have, the greatest respect for Billy. This little vignette I hope will put to bed, any misgivings that have been attributed to the great man.

“He’s got no hair and he’s got no teef! Billy, Billy O’Keefe!”

A little ditty, that most Cav’s will no doubt remember. It was sung at the drop of a hat, and at the top of our voices, at any given time on a Saturday. A strange song as in fact Billy has indeed got all his own teef, as for the hair!

I was lucky enough to play with Billy in the Fourths and Fifths towards the end of his career. Victoria, his daughter, proudly informs me that ‘My dad’s first game was when he was 16 years of age, at Ely Race Course against the CIACS. His last game was against Gwaelod-y-Garth, captain of fifths, age 52. His full name: William Hamilton O’Keefe’.

To be given a withering look and a shake of the head by the legend, who is Billy, was tantamount to being giving the hair-drier by Sir Alex Ferguson. Youngsters just coming up from the youth, and new recruits, could be seen to be visibly sick with worry at what lay before them in the after match debriefing.

‘HARRIS (Simon) – you’ve got a lot to answer for!’ After match debriefing indeed? Sorry chaps I forgot my self just for a moment.

One of Billy’s looks could deflate a hot air balloon. When he gave one to you, you knew you’d probably made an error of judgment on the field of play.

ScrumI can remember when young sixteen or seventeen stone opposition props would take a look at our Billy. Fourteen stone frame, thin legs, slightly stooped shoulders, and think that this was going to be one of the easier days on the rugby-field of their young lives. How mistaken they were!
They would, in fact, mistakenly relish the opportunity to pack down with this bloke and put into practice all they had learned, sometimes in their extensive three years of playing. Having seen the number on his shirt early on in the game, the first scrum would be warmly anticipated. Billy would always let the youngster get comfortable, then slightly adjust his feet, minutely twist his shoulder expertly drop his hip to one side and squeeze, just slightly, in all the right places. A faint squeal could often be heard emanating from the youth who had warmly anticipated his first scrum against our Bill. A quick tap, a strike, the ball being swept from the No. 8`s feet. I would look up to see Billy trotting away to where he thought that the next scrum would probable take place. The youth on the other hand, would just be stood (if capable) with a look of astonishment on his face and with the certainty of at least another thirty ‘occasions of humiliation’ still to come. This was not going to be the easy day that he had earlier thought. The relish of the afternoon had turned sour in the space of about 42 seconds and all that remained was admiration and above all – respect.

I swear on one occasion Billy had a bash on the nose accidentally, falling over on the way to a scrum or line-out, hence getting involved in a ruck or maul. Billy had given up mauls in his (the) early fifties. Billy’s conk seemed to ooze emerald green and black goo.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! He did, for that brief moment, for that fleeting period of time and in front of us all, bleed the emerald and black. For that moment Billy O’Keefe was – The Messiah –
The One – The Rock God!! Later (unfortunately) we found out that the messiah had been spraying the club mini-bus that very morning. Some residue had made its way up his Bugle. Shame really. We all preferred the Messiah version.

GrympyJowie and the Assassin directed the first Rocks Pantomime – SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN CAVS. After casting Snow White – Clubber, they turned to the Cavs for the dwarves. As with every casting some were easier than others to place. But who could play the last Cav? Not that much of a difficult choice, but who was to ask the great man? This was done, as with all cowards, BY COMMITTEE. En masse the Cavs – all six of them, approached Billy, and Billy in his own inimitable way accepted. After all, who else was there?
The true pro that Billy is, the luvvie never missed a rehearsal. He took very little direction, and being a method actor became the part. He also took up wonderful relationship with Ashy who played Dopey. They were after all, both members of a very special club – The Front Row Union. When the curtain fell after a momentous show and the players took their bows the biggest cheer of all was of course for our very own Grumpy!!

On another occasion however after I had had a particularly hard encounter over Blackweir Billy gave me a pat on the back and a Nod of the head. I think he even afford himself a little smile. This I took with great pride and strode from the field feeling 6ft tall. I’m actually only 5’ 10” (and a half). THAT was as best as you would get from Billy as far as praise would go. But it’s the things that are never said that sometimes mean so much.
When now, I still act the goat or get a little boisterous, you can be sure that Billy will fix my gaze through a crowded room give me the look and shake of the head bring me back to that time when he gave me a pat on the back.

BILLY O`KEEFE.

Thank you for being A LEGEND.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

You’re Booked!

Many years ago I was playing scrum half against Whitchurch 2nds away with one of their committee reffing (a big fat feller). The 10 yard law at the line out had just come in and the first line out in our 25 the ref. pulled me for being
inside the 10 yards. Dennis Norman was captain playing in the center. Dennis ran in and said to the ref “he’s scrum half ref“. The ref replied
“Is he? Then you’ll do!” and gave the kick smack in front which they duly obliged by slotting it over.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Chris Corsi

The Vas and the Kiwi

Talking of fourth team rugby for the Rocks… Back in the early 90′s, I remember one game where the fourths were away to Old Penarthian thirds. The Old Pen’s away fixture was always popular as it was normally a good game (which we usually won), a guarenteed stop off in the Merrie Harrier’s for a good swill and quite often a second stop at Rumpoles on route back to the club for another rauceous night.

This particular Saturday I was in the fourths, as I was coming back from injury (or just axed again by LOB and Crocker) after having enjoyed the dizzy heights of the First XV, seconds and of course Gerald Treorchy & Thomassey’s mighty 3rd team Cavaliers.

Denver was captain and we had the usual mixed bag of old head’s, a couple of students, an bligatory Murph (Finbar I think) and some imports – two young guys from New Zealand, who were on a European travelling tour and found themselves in Roath, had joined for a game.

KiwiLike typical Kiwi’s they were both excellent players. One was an open side flanker, fit as a butchers dog, quick, strong and a big hit tackler whose name escapes me. The other one was a small young bloke with the long hair surfer look who’s small frame looked suited to the wing or maybe scrum half. We were all surprised when he announced he was a hooker! His appearance was deceptive, but he was strong as an ox, hard as nails and a very skillful player by the name of Mikey. Mikey the Kiwi Hooker.

Prior to kick off Captain Denver called us into a huddle on the field for his last rallying team talk after entertaining us with a Churchillian style speech previously in the changing rooms. By the look on the Kiwi players faces it appeared they were more used to playing at a higher and more intense level as the rest of us enjoyed Denver’s eccentric oratory.
As Denver gathered us round on the pitch for one last address, little Mikey, the Kiwi Hooker, interrupted him to enquire about his appearance.

Denver Bandages UpDenver had a huge bandaged and taped up head band covering his entire forehead and ears which made his spikey, silver hair shoot out of the top of his head so he looked like a human pineapple.
He was strapped and taped at every joint, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Denv was obviously determined to lead his troops into the heat of the battle and his uniform was completed by gallons of Vaseline smeared heavily all over his knobbly knees, quarter to three stance legs, (he couldn’t stop a pig in a passage) and also a mini mountain of Vas all over his brow about two inches thick.

Little Kiwi Mikey, taken aback by our Captain’s get up, was obviously assuming Denver was a front five forward, as Denver stood in the middle of our huddle fist cleched ready to speak little Mikey exclaimed in his thick New Zealand twang;

“Strewth Denv, thats some grease on ya there mate, what position you playing?”
“Full Back!” replied Denver

We all fell about in pieces laughing including the Kiwi’s!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Jowie

It’s a Pushover

Pentyrch V St.Peter’s 1982

Scrum on half way
line….. Push over try! Dennis McCarthy and Billy O’Keefe had a smile on
their faces for weeks

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Paul Barry

The Day Malcolm X fell off his bike

As I recollect, it was the first Thursday after 5th November. The Cav`s had repaired to the clubhouse after a particularly hard session over the Quinns. Brian ‘Vegetables’ Venables had been trying in vain to teach John ‘Mad-Dog’ Dunleavy that a side step was a rugby skill, that if he put his mind to it, he would be able, one day, to perfect. Not that he wanted Mad-Dog to side step in a real game, more of a request simply to side step in the training sessions to prevent injuries to our own. Mad-dog`s normal side-step involved running straight through any one who got between him and the bleedin’ try-line. That night he had put three out for Saturday.

Chatting at the BarAny old up, we were warming down, with a few pints of Rock. The fireplaces were lit. The atmosphere was cozy – comforting even. Chris Corsi and Nelly O`Brien were having a drink at either end of the bar, engaged in idle chat. Abba`s Chiquitita was playing in the background. A place for everything and everything was in its place. Life was good.

The steward was in reflective mood as he had an impending stock-take on Friday. Out of the blue a sudden screech of brakes and a dull, peace-breaking thud was heard outside. Catalogue Man – Damion Walsh peeked through 118’s stylish, but slightly sun-bleached bay curtains.

“Don’t look that bad. No-one’s out of their cars.” He announced with increasing apathy.

As the first of the autumn’s internationals were upon us, we re-engaged in conversation. Difficult decisions needed to be made regarding the weekend’s impending egg chasing entertainment. Would we watch from the West Stand – or the East? (These in case you don’t know, were the TVs at either end of the bar) The West was best as it was like a posh hotel –great reception! Toozer had installed the latest in analogue boosted aerial. The East however was the best for access to Red Rock? Decisions? Decisions? What to do?

The East usually won hands down, as after twenty minutes the All Blacks, Aussies and the other mob had weathered the storm and the inevitable result would unfold.

Just then – two eyes, and a set of teeth that a Hollywood dentist would be proud of, appeared from behind the old Masonic door. Dressed from head to foot in skin tight Lycra, a fluorescent sash that slipped from around his right shoulder to his midriff; helmet askew – chinstrap dangling at a cheeky oblique angle, the eyes and teeth announced in the broadest of Brummie accent`s

“Ees eet aw-roite, eef Oi coom een for a point? Soom mad baird just nokd me orf me boik.”

As is his way, Corsi, without hesitation, asked Gerald to provide the man with sustenance.

“Cheers skip” lycra eyes and teeth replied.

Dazza and Jowie retrieved the bedraggled waif`s bike, from outside the main door. Ever inquisitive Tommo senior enquired if the guy was a member, as he hadn’t seen him before… Always keen to get the membership up, Tommo relieved the gent of two quid entrance fee. The night passed with ‘honorary Cav’ Tim downing a few Red Rocks, as Tim was his name. By the end of that first introductory session ‘Eyes and Teeth – Lance Armstrong’ had become Celestine after an actor on Eastenders.

Celestine was immediately picked for the fifths on Saturday, although he had never touched the Egg before, and had informed Dazza that he was a ‘Baggie’. They apparently play with A ROUND BALL? Celestine was introduced to Corsi`s mantra – you got two arms two legs, course you can play rugby. It’s a game for all shapes and sizes.

Celestine dutifully turned up, and was an instant success, scoring on debut on the right wing, After the match as tradition has it, he gave a resounding version of ‘Lilly the pink’ and then downed a pint of Nigerian larger. Good lad. By this time he had already acquired a different nickname. That of ‘X’ – after Malcolm X – the leader of the ‘Sons Of Islam’. To this day, Dazza thinks even that Denzil Washington HAS ALOT TO ANSWER FOR.

Inside ten weeks X was becoming a big hit with the club and had many friends. One of which was Gerry Treorchy, who had had trials with Wolverhampton Wanderers, (goalkeeper) and as X was West Brom to the bone, they became the best of enemies! A floating Tenner went back and forth across the Black Country for years.

Soon, but never soon enough, the Five Nations were upon us. After a beautiful Saturday afternoon when the Welsh had battered, nay slaughtered, the English, again, the after match festivities were in full swing. Dai Morris had brought along Aled Williams, the Welsh outside half who just been dropped. This was not for anything, that he had done on the field mind you, and also the ABERCRAVE Male Voice Choir – Aled and Dai`s home club. X got wind of the guests and was suitably introduced to Aled, Dai, being accommodating that way!

In the blink of an eye, and with Cwm Rhondda reverberating around the room, X was giving Aled a kicking lesson, using a size three ball extricated, from the under twelve’s kit bag, using an ashtray as a kicking tee and expounding the virtues of placing the non kicking foot, parallel to the ball. RINGO (Paul’s brother) had been giving a master class on the previous Thursday. X was keen to pass on any tips to get Aled back in the fold and X unaware that even if Aled kicked 100 out of a 100 for Swansea, he was never getting back in that side, not as long as certain selectors!! were at the helm. Now I tell you. You can`t make that up the X lesson I mean.

Follow up note from Celestine

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

Unsung Hero

I have many great memories of playing for the Rocks over the years however the one thing that sticks in my mind more than anything else is packing down in the scrum behind Rob Ringwood and seeing the pain on the faces of the opposition hookers and props as Rob did his business.

What a superb player Robert was and a true unsung hero of a successful side at that time.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Rupert

For the Love of a Murph.

Time appears to have done for the exact date or, indeed, the final scoreline, but in the early 90′s another unsung hero, Sean Murphy, shone like a beacon in an extremely tight game against the forward might of Llanharan, at the Harlequins Ground.

The normal suspects, Llanharan, Rumney and St.Peters, were all in the running for the East District title (pre-national leagues). Llanharan arrived at the Harlequins with their usual monster pack directed, at Number 8, by the great Trevor Worgan. All of Llanharan‘s moves stemmed from his ability to involve two or more opposition players in making the tackle on him. He would then flip the ball to one of his supporting runners and the gain line would be breached.

In a game where we must have defended in our own half for about 80% of the time, Sean Murphy, single handedly, tackled Worgan on, or behind, the gainline, allowing the rest of the team to do the same to the support runners. From memory, St. Peters managed no more than half a dozen sortees into opposition territory but returned with points each time.

It appears that, sometimes, defence does win matches!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Stuart Love

The Coffin Dodgers and the Coffin

fugitum intransit et caphuius

To explain… as these gentlemen have been mentioned occasionally in passing – I mean in other ramblings by moi!

The Coffin Dodgers are aged folks who have long since past their teenage years. Folks who did not study ‘History’ in school, as it was known as ‘Current Affairs’ in their day. Many of these buffet sausages (wrinkly things on sticks) are ex-players, or close associates of St. Peter’s Rugby football Club – their time-served boots long since hung out to dry.

Their goal: To get out from under their respective wives’ feet.

Emanating from a day gone by, when golf was not open to all, and being the bunch of senior reprobates that they are, any golf club of standing would have only let them in, through the artisan’s entrance.
Their current chosen game? Lawn Bowls: A game of touch finesse and guile.

Barney, Bart, Mad Pa, Mike Murph, Connie, Cecil, the Darce, Frank, Jim Sweeney and the rest of the blaggards*.

Coffin DodgerThese men of crooked standing… not that they were ‘crooked men’ – not at all – nay nay and thrice nay, but men who can no longer stand up straight unless fitted with the obligatory new hips, knees or other NHS joints, and so crooked by stature rather than character. Anyway, these men of ‘readjusted’ standing frequented 118 more regularly than any of the regulars for twenty years or more. Since retiring their chosen work commitments and having no fixed abode during the daylight hours, their wives’ feet again became an important fixture in their lives, firmly planted up their husbands’ posteriors. To get the buggers most definitely ‘out of the house’.

Some of us would often cwtch in and listen intently to tales of halcyon days of years gone by. When rugby was proper rugby, the area near the try line was called the 25, substitutes stayed frozen on the touch-line unless a player died in-situ, a try was worth 4 points (or less), ordinary folks went to watch international matches to get urinated on and a fag was something you would happily wrap your lips around and suck.

Mad Pa would recount the time spent in the desert with Spike, Monty, Rommel, Noah, Abraham and the boys. Jim Sweeney would tell of watching Slogger weave his mercurial-magic when just out of the youth. Frank would recall when the City played over the Harlequins. Connie expounding on the time when you could get anything you wanted, over Guest, Keens and Nettlefolds. You know – the steelworks between Splott and the sea. Of course, who could forget the time when Bart plus twenty thousand other spectators saw Wales beat England again over the Rec, the proper one – not the one up the hill.

One of many stories sticks vividly in my mind – a Mike Murphy Tale no less. The CDs had been to a funeral to blow the final whistle on another friend. The mourners where gathered around the grave. The coffin party arrived at the ground-sodden graveside. The party were set. The priest began his final prayer, and the bearers began to lower the deceased into his final resting place. With the rain pouring down and the ground unsteady, one of the party started to slide and follow the coffin in. A mourner nearby managed to catch his arm supportingly and steadied the poor fellow. Another mourner was heard to comment ‘Alright, he only owed you a tenner. There’s a free bar. You should be able to get that back in spades’.

Dodgers of coffins they may well be, but tellers of good tales, is what I will always fondly remember them for. Not that all have met there makers yet. Many a good yarn, is still to be unearthed?

Excuse the pun!

IN FONDEST MEMORY OF CECIL, CONNIE and JIM

vivit post funera virtus

virtue lives beyond the grave

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Denfa

* Barney (Bernard Daly), Bart (O’Brien), Mad Pa (Peter Nolan), Mike Murph, Connie (O’Brien), Cecil (Bingham), the Darce (Pat Dacey Snr), Frank (Sullivan), Jim Sweeney.

You Boy! Start Again.

I went away with the fourths in about 1990 to Westbury on Severn. The game was an annual fixture and there was always a stop-off on the way home so quite a few of the boys tried to get dropped to the fourths to go on that one. I was picked at outside half that day and it was a lovely September afternoon. I kicked off to start the match – a beauty! The ball was up in the air for ages. Peter Sutton, Lawrence O’Brien, Jo Sweeney etc went flying into the Westbury pack and floored the lot. There were English bodies everywhere. A cracking start to the game I thought. The referee – another Englishman, I believe, gave a shrill blast on his acme thunderer and called the Rocks pack to order. “Gentlemen!” he ordered, “You’re not in the Valleys now. You’ll abide by the laws of the game! And you…” he instructed pointing at me… surely I can’t get sent off yet – I thought. “Retrieve that ball. We’ll startagain and properly this time!!”

So… we started again. Same high kick off – similar result. Played to the laws of the game occasionally and beat them about 80 odd nil.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Kevin

The Green and Black Smoking Dragon

My story is a cautionary one that at times may tug at the heartstrings and may even result in the odd tear.

SantaIt was the run up to Christmas, the dark nights were having their turn for a few months and there was the hint of snow in the air (on second thoughts it could have been Thomasy spitting). The Under 8′s had that expectant look about them having just written to Santa even though they did not fully believe in him (harsh but true).. We had played away (again) for the Cav’s at some dismal ground and slaughtered the dismal opposition. You may have already noticed that this story lacks facts – for reasons that will soon become clear. Our honorary chauffeur and Cav’s leader Mikey Thomas had once again done us proud by driving the minibus whilst we all got bladdered during our traditional stop-off on the way back to the Club. We were of course always very grateful to Mike for risking his licence rather that us risking ours.

However, all was not plain sailing on these away trips. Mario Carpanini, Hon Treasurer, Mafia member and the Beau Brummell of Roath was also the ace supplier of our transport. He maintained a high-quality fleet of buses for hire but never hired them to us. Consequently, we were always left with the green and black one. This beast was the runt of the litter and was always the last one to be picked. It was held together with rust, insulating tape and the ‘Grace of God’. (A bit like Thomasy in fact). If we had ever crashed, the police would simply have brushed it to the side of the road. The “seats” were wooden slatted benches with just enough splinters to make you clench your cheeks and hope for the best. The rain dripped in but by far the best feature was the carbon monoxide fumes which vented through the floor in lieu of an exhaust. The bus was a sort of Catholic Kamikaze drivers dream. The one advantage it had was that we couldn’t make it any worse. Hindsight tells me that Mario wasn’t that daft!

Anyway, there we were, half-cut and more gassed than any First World War infantryman and speeding home down the A470. I say speeding, 26 mph flat-out in the tail-wind. We tried to sing Christmas Carols (as we did a lot of hymn singing on these trips) and let rip with chorus of Bing and Frank. Carbon Monoxide does that to you. Thomasy meanwhile had mastered the technique of avoiding the fumes by sticking hid head out of the open window. This was quite effective until the nasal frostbite forced his head back inside. Just when we thought we would breathe our last (somewhere around Taffs Well) somebody played their Joker and discovered that he had brought his special mixture of Jamaican ready-rubbed. This player was clearly not a regular of St. Peter’s but a guest. I do not condone such things and indeed have never smoked, but that journey certainly took years off my life.

Now picture the scene, 15 blokes spaced out of their heads on Monoxide fumes, alcohol and exotic tobacco and a driver with frostbite in his eyes. The accident was inevitable. Thomasy was warned to look out for the innocent push-biker carrying his fare of Christmas Shopping as we turned left into Newport Road from City Road. In a remarkable demonstration of timing and no little skill Mike (Schumakker) Thomas managed to take out man and machine in one hit. As luck would have it, the lack of an exhaust had meant that he was able lay down a significant smokescreen as we sped off into the distance thus preventing any follow up action by the authorities.

Broken LegThat night in Cardiff Royal Infirmary a young cyclist lay shaking in his bed clenching and unclenching his fists, too scared to sleep in case he was revisited by the green and black, carol singing smoking dragon.

Well that’s how I remember it anyway.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Vince

Counting 1 2 10 with the 4s and 5s.

I remember, it would have been back in the early 80′s, I had broken my wrist in pre-season training and missed the trials and the first 4-5 weeks, I was selected for the fourths or fifths and we were playing in the back of beyond on a little pitch and had to change in a little tin shack. As it was so cramped, a couple of us retreated to the showers to change, I was going through a stretch routine when I heard our boys doing the old 1-10 warm up, feeling guilty I went in to the changing room and apologised to Eugene who was the captain,

”Sorry, Eug” says I.
”S’okay Crock” says he,
”Do you want to take us through another one.
”OK” says I thinking, I didn’t know they were so keen at this level! By the time I got to 3 they had all sat back down clattering their boots on the concrete floor, and bending their little fingers back and forth and led by Eug all smiling smugly as I was going at it like a lunatic.

How the mighty had fallen!!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Mike Crocker

Denfa and Death

I had myself at times a run out or two with the mighty cavs.

I remember on one occasion going back a couple of years picked to play against the Cardiff Saracens (the Sarries). I don’t know why but whenever I was selected to play for the Cavs, it always seemed to be against the Sarries and always on the rec, the proper one – not the one up the hill.

Clothes LineAnyways, we got a try or two up and at one stage in the first half and decided to put the game beyond the Sarries with an attempted penalty. The attempt, unfortunately, went wide of the mark and a quick thinking Sarrie decided it was his chance to get back into the game with a quick drop out. Not many of us were alert however to the fact. The exception to the rule of course was good old Denfa. This little Sarrie chap winked to his mate and slid a lovely little chipped drop out directly into the eagerly awaiting arms of his comrade. A move which had been clearly practiced on many unopposed occasions during training. This time however, he was met with what can only be described as a bolt from the blue! (or even a bolt from the emerald-green and black). Denfa, with the timing of an matador, poll axed him! I, along with most of Roath, shuddered to my boots. I honestly thought the poor young Sarries had met his maker.

As is customary during such matches, all hell broke loose. The Sarrie manager, subs, parents, children and friends were on. All apart from the rubadub looking after poll axed Sarry who was engaging in a near death experience. The rest of ‘em were baying for Denfa’s blood.

Realisation dawned – I was Captain, and put Captain mode straight into place, reassuring the Sarrie of the fact that this was clearly a pure accident and was not at all malicious as that was the closest to a tackle Denfa had been in years. To be honest (I had to put my best acting skills in place because if I were truthful it looked like I had witnessed a murder.

Anyway the ambulance showed, up Denfa was shown the changing rooms, and the poll axed Sarrie probably never wore a pair of boots again. NICE ONE DENV. You saved a certain try.

Talking about Denfa and death… He once told me a joke which was probably very funny, but as we had been in France for 3 days and I had abused my body (and been drinking heavily) and had just witnessed the Assassin cut his wrists because he couldn’t get to grips with Brown Cow, it went down like a lead balloon. I wish I had listened better to the joke and laughed a little, or even giggled a bit. It would probably have stopped him throwing himself out into the main street head first into speeding traffic. God – what reactions that French driver must have had. He stopped about a foot from Denfa’s head. What a season! I nearly had 2 deaths on my hands – Three if you include The Assassin cutting his wrists!. I must be some company eh.!

Post script from Denfa: Itchy then went in front of the Committee and defended me!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Ringo

Footo’s Famous Five

Some time ago in the dim and distant past, very early 80′s I believe, the 4ths went to play Caerphilly 3rds, on Virginia Park, under the inspiring leadership of then Skipper Tony Muston (Footo).

Whilst Footo was a committed and enthusiastic player, his organisation skills were sadly lacking as was proved after fielding 16 players at the start of our last 2 games. This he confided was very embarrassing as he found himself having to tell some unfortunate to leave the field just before kick off. In those days subs were not permitted stand on the touch line all game.

Team SheetOn the drive up to Caerphilly he told myself and Tony Barry that this was a problem that really had him beat as he had so many other things on his mind leading up to kick off.

“Why don’t you just write all the positions down and put a name against them ” suggested TB,

“What a great idea! I’ll do that.” said Footo

On arrival at Virginia Park, we all gathered in the changing rooms and all quickly grabbed a shirt as we had ‘done the maths’. There were 18 players in the room so these Emarald Green and Black garments were at a premium.

“Right,” said Footo “I’m going outside to finalise the team. I’ll be back in a minute.” Minutes ticked by. Then more. Expectant glances were exchanged across the room. No sign of the Skipper. Tthe tension rising uncomfortably in those not yet sure of their selection. After some 10 minutes, the door opened, just slightly. Footo’s head appearing sheepisly around it and he uttered the famous words

“TB, how do you spell loose?”

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Kevin (Pasty) Barry.

The Cauli and the Vas

A not so pleasant memory.

Up the Tumble for a Schweppes cup 1st or 2nd round game we were. And yes it was grey and dark and wet and windy.

An ugly game with forwards trying to squeeze the life out of each other and the backs moaning about the amount of ball they weren’t receiving. And when they did get it Basher Edwards would peg it into the corners or slug it into the sky for all to chase.

Rupert and Ben were in the second rows. Old war horses both, never took a step backwards, and stood on anything in their path.

As the game went on there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment. A couple of penalties went against us, but we turned around with the wind at our backs. Basher then stepped up to slot a couple back, and the slog went on.

With about 20 minutes to go I found myself unfortunate to be stood on! Somebody decided to use my head as a football. Naturally, me thinking it was an opposition boot, I lost my rag and decided to inflict a few blows to whoever came near. Unusually I was being calmed down by our two war horses.

VaselineI suspected something strange was up but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, Pedro came on and attempted to stop my bleeding ear with a tub of vas. I think he used the bloody lot – again.

And so the game trudged on, and with about 3 minutes left we received a penalty on the half way line. Basher stepped up to grab the ball, but I held on. My guess was that it was just beyond his range. I considered a kick to touch, but back in those days the opposition got the lineout – so that was out.

Stuart Love looked me in the eye and gave me an assuring wink and, much to the displeasure of Basher, I handed him the ball and pointed to the sticks. Down came the heal of his boot to make a hole for the ball. No mound to prop up the ball and the only time a Tee was used then was to play golf.

In went the ball, correctly angled backwards. He then turned his back and walked back about 20 paces – looked up at the sticks and ran towards the ball with little finesse. He booted that bll like he wanted to puncture it and up it flew. It flew and flew and kept flying, right smack bang between the sticks. Game over! What a kick! Through to the next round.

Anyway back to my ear.

“Ok,” I said “which one of you was it?” I said to the war horses. Ben said
“It was Rupert.” Says Ben.
“It was Ben.” Says Rupert.
“You liar!” said Ben,
“Don’t lie!” says Rupert.
“I’m not lying.” says Ben.
“I’m telling you Ringy. It was him.” Says both.

And to this day I still don’t know which war horse gave me my cauliflower ear. Although if truth be known, it was probably the Quak in the clubhouse after who stitched it up in the Bar. The next couple of weeks it came up like a balloon.

Thanks boys.

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Ringo

The Sween and the Wheel

The Cavs were running late and were playing away. As was normally the case, they were waiting for the usual blokes to finish their shifst. It was a 3pm kick offin those days and it was getting on close to 2 15pm and they had to get to up Pentre or some other God forsaken place up the Valleys.

Anyway Matthew Sweeney got the troops together whilst waiting for the last to arrive. “Come on boys get your bags on the bus, I will drive!” he says.

So the boys were all sat on the bus and were ready to go. Matt starts the engine. He checks his seat, adjusts his mirror and checks for traffiic (as only he Knows how coz hes a driving instructor).He looks behind as the last Cav clambers on board and shouts,

“EVER BODY READY? COME ON! HURRY UP WERE LATE AS IT IS!” Sween gets ready to pull out. Something was wrong. The bus doesn’t move. That’s when he realises. There’s no steering wheel. CLASSIC!

The story is true but as with all folklore , a certain amount of artistic licence has to be afforded to time and of course copious quantities of alcohol,

Yours in faith Ringo

X, Celestine and my real name Tim

It 11pm on Sunday, I should be getting ready for work and the kids are crying but I’ve just read the folklore stories and I’m wetting myself. I am the man X or Celestine ! The Billy O’Keefe stories from Denver made me laugh out loud. As standing on the wing I use to hear ‘Do you want some pain ?’ from the legendary O’Keefe so some 19stone, 10% fat prop and cries of ‘No’ and ‘You’re gonna kill me’ from the opposing prop.Other found memories are Dean Ahmed, 6 stone soaking wet, who was mad as a hatter I’m sure Denver and blokes have a few stories on him !Anyway good luck for the season hope to be in cardiff before the season ends.Cheers

X, Celestine and my real name Tim

P.S I still can’t ride a bike