Paul Williams (Llandovery Programme Notes)

The annual round-up…

So here we are at the final home fixture of 2022-23 – a season that started so well for the Wizards but turned into something of a roller-coaster with neither rhyme nor reason in a haphazard series of mid-campaign results that seriously dented any hopes of silverware.

There were, however, some memorable moments to treasure. The slick passing from Joe Gage and Joe Thomas that paved the way for Jonathan Phillips race in for one of the Wizards’ seven tries in the opening match back on September 3rd.

Another that sticks in my mind was Sam Pailor’s 40-metre gallop for the try that secured a memorable win up at Sardis Road. And then, a couple of weeks later during another high-scoring affair, this time at the Brewery Field, there was a bewildering display of interpassing started by Gabe Lacey and carried on by Rhodri Cole and Lloyd Evans, with Lloyd ultimately taking the final pass from Rhodri to claim the try.

A chilly Thursday evening (thanks, S4C) in early December saw league leaders Cardiff visit the Talbot Athletic Ground where they met an Aberavon side in irresistible form, not least in the set scrums – such was the drive from the Aberavon eight… well… let’s just say I don’t think I’d ever previously seen an entire pack literally running backwards over its own goal line, with Rhodri Cole picking up and sending in Jay Baker for the try while the Cardiff forwards tried to grasp what had just happened to them.

Then, bringing us right up to date, I’m reminded of that last-ditch bonus-point clinching score just a couple of weeks ago against RGC 1404 – I can imagine a McLaren-esque commentary, with the intensity building with each pass of the ball, along the lines of “Cole, out to Roderick… fine pick-up by Phillips who’s away… inside to Evans… back to Phillips… oh, I say, inside to Andrews and he’s over! Magnificent! Merlin the magician? Not a patch on Captain Beany!”

Food for thought, folks – just think back over the season just gone and add your own fond memories of 2022-23 to the above.

On, however, to some very necessary last-home-game acknowledgements, starting with the man whose efforts turn the contents of a diverse series of emails into the glossy publication you, the read-er, now hold in your hands, Mr Stuart Evans AKA Sevans Creative Design, who has for more than two decades uncomplainingly met the tightest of deadlines to ensure we have a supply of programmes for each and every home match. Many thanks once again Stuart.

Then there’s webmaster Gareth Gange, the quiet man whose dedication to facts and figures in the form of the website provides me with a very necessary and definitive reference source for all things Aberavon-related.

And (almost) finally, there are the people who make supporting Aberavon RFC worthwhile, even on those days when all doesn’t go to plan on the field: Andrew John and family, Jason and the coaching staff, the players, the backroom staff, Sharan and her team and, of course, the incredibly loyal band of supporters who ensure that whenever any of us comes here we find ourselves among friends.

Today, of course, we welcome the Drovers of Llandovery – another fine club with fine traditions and who, at the time of writing, sit proudly at the top of the Premiership table.

Enjoy the game.