25 February 2020 / Club News


This Saturday Maesteg Harlequins welcome Neath to South Parade in a Championship encounter. Ok. Write it again, because for many associated with the Quins, the sentence sounds like something Hans Christian Anderson would create.

This Saturday Maesteg Harlequins welcome Neath to South Parade in a Championship encounter. It still doesn’t seem right but let’s just go with it.

This Saturday Maesteg Harlequins welcome Neath to South Parade in a Championship encounter. Everyone knows the historical standing of the Welsh All Blacks. Birthplace of the WRU. Founding club of the Union. Multiple Welsh club champions and Welsh Cup winners. An abundance of revered internationals graced the black shirt.

A little known fact was a certain William Joyce played centre for the Welsh All Blacks. Now many a Neath player has been accused of wrong-doing, but Joyce was hanged. As ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, Irish-American Joyce became the Nazi’s English voice across the airwaves. Joyce’s propaganda aimed to destroy the morale of the British people during World War Two. When caught, his verbal exploits earned him a date with a five foot length of rope and a ten foot drop.

It could be claimed forty years later Neath coach Ron Waldron did far more psychological damage to the nation than Joyce, breaking the morale of the rugby section of society at least. Waldron assembled a squad, forged a fitness regime and devised his own 'blitzkrieg' style of play that instilled a sense of impending doom among all challengers.

Feared by all who ventured onto the Gnoll and even on their home patches, faint hearts would be crushed by bearers of the Maltese Cross. So too were stout hearts for that matter. Therefore it wasn’t really of any importance who Neath faced, records and bodies were smashed in equal measure.

While Joyce and tongue in cheek, Waldron destroyed morale, last season the Welsh All Blacks’ skipper Aaron Bramwell was a blindingly bright light among those who play the oval ball game. Financial disarray caused a catastrophe at the Gnoll and as many left the club to play on pound loaded pastures, Bramwell remained resolute. Of all the greats who have graced the black shirt, he must be right up there among the greatest.

Of course, Maesteg Quins will meet different Neath personnel amid different circumstances, but it still remains the same club with the same heritage. This is the second tier of Welsh club rugby. Neath have found themselves here as a result of negativity. Quins are here because of an extraordinary period of success.

February 29th is the day when roles are reversed. On a Leap Year day, anything can happen, as the extra day balances out the calendar cycle, other things can be balanced out. Women can break with tradition, go down on bended knee and propose to their favoured male. Now here’s a thought. Quins wait 120 years to be able to challenge Neath as equals. Now they have the opportunity to record a double over the Welsh All Blacks! Such a role reversal would be truly amazing.

October’s result at the Gnoll was simply unbelievable. In what was the greatest individual success in the history of Maesteg Harlequins RFC. Some of the individual performances were of an incredible standard and the execution was top drawer. For Neath it was the most embarrassing, calamitous defeat in their existence. To lose to a club who were a ‘junior union’ team until 1987 was a sobering experience. It created a dismally, dark pall over the Gnoll, this time for themselves not for those venturing to the bullpit.

Since that Gnoll loss, Neath have improved week on week. Culminating in an excellent win over one of the league’s leading lights Bedwas. Saturday’s match at South Parade is certainly on Neath’s win radar. The Quins will need to hit the same performance levels in all facets of play. They will certainly possess the motivation for a repeat performance.

Of course, Neath coach Matthew Jones is no stranger to South Parade, having coached here for a little while at the start of the last decade. His father and brother also played for our club. At present the records are being formulated and while Matthew’s dad Peter’s record is not yet established; brother Darren played 213 times for the coal black and blood reds scoring 338 points. He scored 58 career tries and on three occasions scored twenty plus points in a game.

Neath’s team and supporters will certainly want to set that record of Quins’ October victory straight on Saturday. If Neath’s travelling hordes who are planning to bus it to Maesteg wish to park up prior to the game before moving on to the match at South Parade, there is plenty of parking in close proximity to our Talbot Street clubhouse (directly opposite the war memorial and post office) where a warm welcome awaits.

We hope to see you Saturday.


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