It didn’t seem to be quite in the spirit of Christmas but the Wales Online web site have just published a list of ‘The hardest and most feared Welsh teams ever’ –
The eight teams listed were mainly from the 70s & 80s & included 3 which Askeans regularly played against – Maesteg, Tredegar & Ebbw Vale.
Playing in the backs (& being a first rate coward) I managed to keep away from most of the punching, gouging and stamping, although I do remember getting a right pasting from Arthur Lewis (Wales & British Lions) when we played Ebbw Vale one Easter.
We played against Welsh sides most seasons and to be honest I don’t remember the games against Cross Keys, Penarth or Abertillery being too much of a picnic either! I collected broken ribs, a smashed zygomatic arch, dislocated shoulder and numerous stitches on trips across the Severn bridge (not in the same match, obviously). Bearing in mind my extreme efforts to avoid any aggressive bastards on the other side this will give you an idea of the friendly nature of the games.
Fortunately we never lined up against Neath – the closet I came was when I asked Chunky if he’d ever been worried on the pitch.
He told me that once when playing for Blackheath v Neath, the ref was lecturing him for stray use of the boot. Brian Thomas (Wales and Neath) approached and politely said “excuse me ref” he gently turned Chunky round and nodded “ah number 7” before wandering off.
Chunky said he spent the rest of the game expecting to be leaving the field on a stretcher.
Incidentally Brian Thomas featured on another list on the same web site ‘The hardest rugby players in history’
No wonder Chunky was a tad apprehensive!