23 April 2021 / Club News

Magic Moment: A Day With a Silver Lining 23rd April 2001

Twenty years ago on this very day was a great one with a silver lining for the club.

Having qualified for the latter stages of the Silver ball a few seasons earlier, on April 23rd, 2001 Maesteg Harlequins took to the field in their first ‘major’ final, the Glamorgan County Silver Ball.

Opponents Vardre competed three leagues above Division 6 Quins. To many it was going to be a clear-cut victory for the Magpies. The competition was sponsored by Worthington, while Brains Brewery were the pourage suppliers to the Quins. When the Cardiff based brewery asked if they could provide something should the Quins win, they were told “That won’t happen, so don’t worry about it.”

“It can’t be the same Silver Ball competition if the Maesteg pub team has reached the final,” were some local barbs. Another was, “How can pot-bellied pigs get to a Glaomrgan final? They’ll get stuffed”

That Monday had been beautiful, bright yet cool come the evening; much like today. In the build-up prior to kick-off, as the sun descended ever lower the hum of the babbling crowd that visibly grew as the minutes passed was ascending to a full crescendo when the team ran on to the Brewery Field.

The game itself was evenly balanced throughout. Many followers believed the Quins would have competed for the hour before Vardre’s experience of playing in Division Three and fitness would put the Maesteg men away. A Mark Petty try gave the Quins a first-half lead, which they conceded, and it seemed the prediction would come to fruition.

By the time the clock ticked over seventy minutes, the Quins were still in the game, locked at 17-all. Many had overlooked the experience the Quins possessed with several players having played at a much higher level than Vardre’s Division Three in previous seasons. Fitness too wasn’t a problem.

Entering the town end twenty-five, the Vardre midfield had come offside in their efforts to stem a Quins attack. Up stepped Ryan John to goal the penalty and with a shade under five minutes to play, Quins were 20-17 ahead.

Launching an attack on half-way the Magpies broke through. It resulted in a one on one between the Swansea valley right-winger and Richard Brace. Coming off his left foot the Vardre flyer attempted to take the Quins full-back on the outside. Remaining square sailed and sure footed, like a man-o-war on the high seas Brace remained close enough and was fast enough to come up alongside and tightly grapple his swift opponent’s legs to bring him down.

With a scrum in their favour five yards from the Quins line and former Bridgend out-half Dean Morgan poised for a possible drop at goal to level the scores, the call was for a big drive to cut off the ball at source. The scrum that followed inflicted a huge broadside on Vardre, as it went back full sail at a rate of knots and the Quins regained possession.

There were still a couple of minutes left to play and when Nick Flay tapped the penalty, sent the ball back to Ryan John who found touch… pandemonium broke out. The grandstand erupted and the children undertook a pitch invasion led by the biggest kid of them all – Terry Whelan. Robert Williams wasn’t far behind either.

The great former players and those who kept the club alive in leaner times were absolutely delighted. Nobody moved from the ground until the players had left the pitch with the prestigious Glamorgan County Silver Ball.

Much mirth and merriment took place down Bridgend and even more so back at the clubhouse with milkmen and postmen beginning their rounds among a large contingent of the Maesteg Quins membership.

It was former scrum-half, Chairman and loyal supporter Evan Jones who summed it up “Nobody can laugh at us any more… they can do that now.”

The match ended at 21:20hrs, so there’ll be a special celebratory pint of ten starting at that time, to remember that fantastic match, two decades ago. It seems like yesterday.

Any memories? Provide them via the club social media.

15. Richard Brace 14. Darren Jones 13. Iain Morris 12. Andrew Evans 11. Leon Crow 10.  Ryan John (5PG) 9. Nick Flay 1. Darren Johnson 2.  Shane Williams 3. Lee Sparrow 4. Roddy Waite 5. Mark Petty (T) 6. Peter Jenkins 8. Colin Roberts (c) 7. Simon Lyons


16. Dai Berry for D. Johnson (41mins) 17. Ryan David for R. Waite (58 mins) 18. Chris Davies for P. Jenkins (63 mins) 19. Darren Phelps 20. Andrew Leighton  21. Neil Morris

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