Latimer Jones the first captain of newly formed RFC at only 19 led the side for two years before handing over to David Jones (Pantycelyn). The Captains Board displayed in the bar of the clubhouse since the 1980’s whilst a valuable source of information was reliant upon fading memory and incomplete sources for early records of Captains of the Club. Latimer Jones is recorded as club captain up until 1914, whilst David Jones tenure is not recorded at all. That David Jones (Pantycelyn) was captain for the 1913-14 season is recorded in September 1913 in the Amman Valley Chronicle (AVC 25/09/1913).
The mistake is perhaps forgivable; both were captain in the very early days of the clubs existence, both bore the common surname Jones and both were killed during the First World War (Carmarthenshire Roll of Honour for the Great War). These players influence upon the establishment of rugby in Tycroes cannot be underestimated. It is their efforts that laid firm foundations for Tycroes RFC, creating a legacy for succeeding generations.
The first reported match is from October 1913 against Brynamman RFC as Tycroes RFC quickly became established in West Wales rugby circles. The match report itself contains a number of passages describing the club at its inception which still ring true today
“On Saturday the Tycroes XV journeyed to Brynamman with not the best representative team. The Forwards were fairly full but the backs played many reserves”
“The forwards played a hard game in the first half but the ball came out hardly clean enough for Fowler to make the best use of it. This phase of play must be remedied if success is to follow Tycroes in the league matches.”
“Early in the second half a scrum was ordered at midfield. Fowler rescued the ball and neatly giving a “dummy” to both the opposing halfbacks he dropped a nice goal which aroused a cheer from all” (Amman Valley Chronicle Oct 3rd 1913)
The early side contained players of great ability and early reports of players such as Ike Fowler, Latimer Jones and Morgan Clarke demonstrate their importance to the Teams early success on the field as the Club also established itself off the field.
Isaac John (Ike) Fowler was certainly the star of the early team, described as “a clever and extremely durable scrum half”.(AVC) Born in 1894, he played against a New Zealand Army Team and in 1919 he was selected for Wales. Fowler also represented Wales at Rugby League after “going North” to play for Batley RLC.
The Ammanford RFC History relates the circumstances where Ike, at the age of 86 became the oldest player to receive his Welsh Cap.
“Because of the amnesty shown by the W.R.U. in their Centenary year in 1981, all players who had not received their Welsh Caps because of their going "North" duly received them. So proud was he to receive this Welsh cap at the age of 86 that he even wore it to bed for a week. He died a happy man a few months later” (History of Ammanford RFC)
The Ammanford RFC History, whilst claiming Fowler as an “Ammanford Man” admits he was not a regular “invincible” and his value to Tycroes RFC is clearly shown by the report above.
The first meetings of “officials,” were held in the Mountain Gate Public House, still the oldest building in the village, it had once been the site of a toll gate (one of the few in the area not to be affected by the Rebecca riots in the 1840’s). Here players and committee men would often gather on Friday nights to discuss their opponents and partake in what modern observers would today call “team bonding”.
The strength of this early side was demonstrated with a draw in the 1913-1914 season against the Ammanford “Invincibles,” (75th AB) it must be said the Lilywhites had enjoyed sustained success without a try scored against them for three years and were a bigger far more established team and had beaten Tycroes previously that year. Indeed an October edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle 1913 contains the headline, “Tycroes Routed!” after a previous match. However, the All Blacks of Tycroes were able to deny them victory and ensure bragging rights in the pits on the following Monday. The Amman Valley Chronicle is surprisingly silent about this match, despite having advertised it the week before and having reported previous Ammanford and Tycroes games extensively.
The outbreak of War in August 1914 brought an end to Rugby across the country with players and officials rushing to join up. The impact on the village was profound and a glance at the war memorial in Llanedi show names such as Mathias or Anthony that are still familiar in the village today. One casualty was sadly the clubs first captain Latimer Jones described in the Amman Valley Chronicle as one “of the best forwards in the district”(AVC 25/09/13) who enlisted in the Welsh Guards in 1915, fighting in the Battle of Loos. He also fought in the subsequent Action of Hohenzollern Redoubt. In July 1916 his Division moved to the Somme. Latimer was killed on 8 March 1917. He was 25 years old, and is buried at Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery, France (Commonwealth War Graves Commission). The October 1917 edition of the Amman Valley Chronicle counted the cost to Tycroes RFC
“The Tycroes Rugby team has played a prominent part in this great war. Amongst those who have unfortunately fallen are"
Latimer Jones, of the Welsh Guards; David Jones, R. E. killed in France;
W. Trevor Williams killed in France; Bert Goldsby, killed in France;
Dan Watkins, killed in the Jutland naval battle; Tom Hughes, killed in Gallipoli.
The wounded include – David John Owen; Griff Williams;
W. J. Edwards; And there are still in action – Edgar Price; Mog Jones;
Idris Parry, Abel Rees; D. W. Jones.
No wonder Tycroes people are proud of their gallant lads. They can also boast that they have many youngsters in action who are not 18 years old.”
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