The Wizards: Aberavon Rugby 1876-2017

Posted by Gareth Gange on 10/08/2017

A new book by Aberavon Match Reporter and Programme Contributor Howard Evans...

The Wizards

Aberavon Rugby 1876-2017
Howard Evans & Phil Atkinson


"I would rather have played rugby for Wales than Hamlet at the Old Vic. To that town, Aberavon and its rugby team, I pledge my continuing allegiance, until death." Richard Burton

"The earliest memory I have of watching The Wizards play is with my Grampa. Freezing cold and sitting in the stand (never did understand how that made any sense), listening to the glorious Mrs Mainwaring 'urging' on her Billy and his boys, and me trying to summon up the courage to pipe up and join in." Michael Sheen

One of the traditional powerhouses of Welsh first class rugby, Aberavon RFC has a long, proud and illustrious history, with 50 of its players being capped for Wales, the club winning many league titles and domestic cups, and - with Neath RFC - facing the might of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Aberavon RFC is a great rugby club and this is its story.

Fully illustrated and packed with photos and club memorabilia, The Wizards is a comprehensive history of the town’s premier club, from the days when the men of Aberavon gathered on a farmer's field to challenge rivals from across south Wales, to the formation of the Afan Football Club in 1876 and its development into Aberavon RFC, and from the club finding a home at the Talbot Athletic Ground to the anniversary celebrations of the 2016-17 season.

Aberavon RFC's fascinating 140-year story - lovingly written by renowned rugby historians Howard Evans and Phil Atkinson - traces the club's fortunes through its good times, its many challenges and, most importantly, through the personalities who've worn the famous black and red jersey, delighting the home supporters and putting fear into visiting teams. From the days of ‘One-Arm’ Wilkins to ‘Warhorse’ Jones, The Wizards recalls the great names such as Johnny Ring, Ned Jenkins, John Bevan, Clive Shell, Ray Giles, Billy Mainwaring, Max Wiltshire, ‘Om the Bomb’, Allan Martin and Billy James, to current heroes ‘Buddah’, Jamie Davies and Richard Morris, with a special place for the club’s greatest supporter, the legendary and much missed Mrs Evelyn Mainwaring.

Howard Evans is a respected Cardiff based rugby writer who was, for many years, a rugby correspondent for the South Wales Echo and Western Mail

Phil Atkinson
is a retired headmaster and history teacher, who is editor of Touchlines, the magazine of the Rugby Memorabilia Society, and lives in Newport.

CONTENTS
Foreword by Michael Sheen
Preface by Andrew John, Chairman Aberavon RFC
1. 1876-1900: Start, stop, restart, grow
2. 1900-1918: Victory in the Cup: then war breaks out
3. 1919-1939: Including the greatest era of the ‘Wizards’
4. 1940-1949: Before the balloon went up: and after
5. 1950-1959: ‘The well-off problem child of Welsh club rugby’
6. 1960-1969: Including another ‘Wizard’ time
7. 1970-1979: Cometh the Cup. Finals, two: luck, nil!
8. 1980-1989: Tricky times ahead
9. 1990-1999: The Ups - and Downs - of the Leagues
10. 2000-2009: Canny O’Cally takes over and titles are gained
11. 2010-2017: A Happy Ship: a good spell for ‘the Wizards

The Wizards will also contain a comprehensive Appendix including:
1. Club Captains
2. Players of the Year
3. Club Chairmen
4. Tour Matches
5. The Wizards who ‘Went North’
6. Club Records
7. Aberavon’s Capped Players
8. The Athletic Ground’s Big Games

The book is out this November and can be pre-ordered from St David's Press , Amazon and other good book stores.

Fostering NPT