Aberaman Rugby Football Club
Aberaman R.F.C who now play under the Aberdare title were formed in 1890. One of, if not the earliest accounts of Aberaman participating in a rugby match dates from 16th November 1895 when they registered a victory over a side from Ferndale. Mountain Ash had already established a fixture involving their close rivals and this has maintained till the formation of the Heiniken League when Mountain Ash qualified into the new system but Aberaman/Aberdare had to wait some time.
The early part of the last century saw Aberaman established a long side teams such as Mountain Ash, Maesteg, Cilfynydd, Penygraig, Pontypridd, Treherbert and Treorchy and the Glamorgan league table of 1904 showed Aberaman in 3rd position. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that the club was given an anchor that enabled in them a feeling of security created by officials of the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company who owned Aberaman Colliery.
Players from outlying areas came to the Aberdare Valley where jobs beckoned enabling them to establish a degree of being part of a thriving industry and participating in sporting activities, especially Rugby & Soccer.
The Aberaman Park area was established and the advent of the Miners Welfare Scheme in 1923 purchased the Aberaman Athletic Club which became the modern equivalent of a Sports Centre that provided for Soccer, Rugby as well as Bowls Cricket, Quoits (cuoits) and Tennis. The boiling green was especially noted for its near perfection and heaven help anyone who ventured onto this area devoid of the necessary footwear.
The afore mentioned Welfare Scheme suffered through the rapid decline of the coal industry and although not an easy decision for the committee to make the club decided to move to the Ynys Stadium’s adjoining field area in 1960-70. The much-used Michael Sobells Sports Centre had not long been opened and a clubhouse was acquired in the purchase of the old Crown Hotel in Gloucester Street. Opened in February 1971. The ground leased from Aberdare Urban District Council soon saw the erection of a grand stand costing £20.000 and later the purchase of 49 Gloucester Street in order to extend the club premises.
The old Grammar School for boys and Aberdare Intermediate School had always held a close bond, sports-wise with the Aberaman R.F.C and many an ex-grammar school rugby player played for Aberaman, Keith Rowlands is a fine example. As a boy he came to Aberdare when his father became the town Police Inspector. Once established in the Grammar School rugby soon made him stand out and with the help of the long-standing sports master Mr Excell plus his natural eagerness to learn all he soon showed his ability and later captained the 1st xv. His talent aroused the attention of the rugby world in Wales and he won a Welsh Secondary School Cap in 1955, Playing against England at Cardiff. He played for Aberaman then London Welsh. Later for Llanelli, Cardiff signed him in 1961 (September) and half a year later, March 1962 he gained his first of 5 caps for Wales when he played in the winning side who beat France. The rest they say is history. See cameo on Rowlands, Keith.
Other notably Aberdare R.F.C players who gained distinction playing International Rugby: David Jones of Aberaman, Edward Morgan and his brother William Llewellyn Morgan of Abernant, Dai Morris of Rhigos, Aberaman player David Young played Rugby League Internationals after the Union code, now back in the Union code and present captain of Wales. David William Evans, (first Aberdare schoolboy to win a rugby blue, in the 1988-89 season he played for Oxford University when they beat Cambridge by 27 points to 7) later played for Wales. All the above also played for the Barbarian’s.
The All Blacks visit the Valley. The season 1935-36 presented rugby fans with a very special spectacle in the appearance of the touring New Zealand All Blacks. A match was played at the Ynys Stadium against the Mid-District. A crowed Estimated at 20.000 attended this special occasion in Valley rugby, which the tourists predictably won. Local supporters’ joy, however suffered a degree of disappointment because there were no players involved in games the trial games from either Aberdare or Mountain Ash Clubs. Aberaman players, Archie Thomas and T Hurley represented their team but were not selected for the final game.
Successful Tour In 1982 Aberaman toured Canada with a 100 % success. Having toured before this occasion had been long awaited and was the result of witch behind the scenes activity in order to raise the necessary funds required. The party consisting of some 50 players, committee members and supporters left for Gatwick Airport and Canada in late May. Results of watches played: Sunday, May 30 Toronto Wanderers 0 Aberaman 7. June 2 Hamilton Ath 0 Aberaman Ath 24. June 3 Hamilton 3 Aberaman 21. June 5 London Ontario 0 Aberaman 24. June 8 Brampton 6 Aberaman 21. They ended this succession of wins by beating Brampton’s Athletic side 9-16, thus ending as successful a tour one could possibly undertake. Back to the Beginnings