Porth Higher Grade School                
    Porth Secondary School            
        Porth Secondary Grammar School        
          Porth County Grammar Mixed School
            Porth Grammar Technical School

History ... School Staff 1954 ... Demolition Photographs ... Rededication of the Memorial plaques ... Reunion Dinners ... Houses (of the live-in variety) ... Panoramas

The rugby legacy

Today, the big news in the rugby world is the announcement that almost all of the 2013 Welsh Six Nations rugby team has been chosen by Warren Gatland to take part in the British Lions Tour of the southern hemisphere
But over the years, since the old school arrived on the Mount Pleasant landscape in 1904, its rugby players have left their mark in the rugby history books.
Vivian Thomas - a member of the organising committee of the reunion dinners, and a zealous chronicler of the school, its staff and its pupils - has put together a reminder of some of those players of yesteryear, beginning with the school's second headmaster who, in Vivian's opinion, deserves pride of place.

Dr. Richard David Chalke
the headmaster who retired in 1928. He founded the Welsh Secondary Schools Rugby Union on 9th June 1923 and was its first Chairman. Its aim was to promote rugby at school level in an attempt to regain the glorious days of Gwyn Nicholls, Willie Llewellyn and Dr E. T. Morgan. The Union played a major role in the development of so many fine Welsh rugby players in the schools of Wales.
This is true of the products of Porth Secondary School, which, despite its small size, turned out boys who achieved great success on the rugby field.

 
 

C. W. 'Cliff' Jones O.B.E.
was the son of the well known Porth businessman, Dan Jones. At fourteen, Cliff received a scholarship of £10 and entered Llandovery College in 1928. He was a triple Cambridge blue, and after leaving Cambridge he joined Cardiff RFC.  His first cap for Wales came in the game against England on January 20, 1934. He went on to win 13 caps in the period 1934 to 1938 and captained Wales on more than one occasion. Wilfred Wooller, the great Welsh centre and a Cambridge contemporary of Cliff's, said of him: "he was a brilliant attacking outside half and it is regrettable that injury limited his Cardiff appearances." One former Cardiff player said that Cliff could side-step on a sixpence.
He served as President of the Welsh Rugby Union from 1980 to 1981. Cliff died in 1990 at the age of 76.

Ronald Price
lived in Rhys Street, Trealaw and entered the school in 1928. He was playing for Weston-super-Mare when he won the first of his two caps against Scotland in 1939. His second was against Ireland in the same year. The half-backs in those matches were the famous Swansea pair W. T. H. Davies and Haydn Tanner.

 
 

William John Darch
also lived in Trealaw, in Miskin Road. He was an all-round sportsman, playing cricket and rugby, but was also outstanding in athletics. As a schoolboy he played rugby for East Glamorgan as scrum-half to Bleddyn Williams. He left the school in 1940 to study chemistry at Cardiff where he obtained a doctorate. During his rugby career he played for Cardiff and Aberavon as scrum-half. Billy Darch played with some of the great names in Welsh rugby, namely Jack Matthews, Bleddyn Williams and Billy Cleaver. He played for Wales in the first of the so-called Victory internationals against France when caps were not awarded. His partnership with Cleaver, another Rhondda product, was very popular with the Cardiff Arms Park crowd. He played in 68 official fixtures between 1945-46 and 1948-49 scoring 10 tries. Later he occupied one of the highest posts in the B.P. company.

David Daniel Evans
of Glyncoli Road, Treorchy left the school in 1943 to study Physics at Aberystwyth University. He played outside half for Treorchy and was captain of the Welsh University XV.
After a few years of teaching Physics at his old School, he took over his father's business as a florist and nurseryman. 

 
 

Gwilym Morris
was from Grawen Street, Porth and entered the school in 1938. He played scrum-half for the school, and later for the famous London Club, Saracens.
He ended his teaching career as the head of a London comprehensive school.

Gordon Thomas Wells
was a product of  Graig Road, Ynyshir. He was a fine athlete, winning the Welsh sprint title as well as breaking the British Triple Jump record.  He studied chemistry at Cardiff University and trained as a teacher at St. Luke's College. Gordon played for Neath and Cardiff. He appeared for a combined Aberavon Neath XV against the1951/52 Springboks. Cardiff became his club in the 1952/53 season.  During his ten seasons with Cardiff he scored 110 tries in 254 appearances and was the captain in 1959/60. He toured South Africa and played for Cardiff against the Springboks in the Arms Park. He made his international debut against England in January, 1955 playing alongside Bleddyn Williams. Gordon represented the Barbarians 14 times between 1955 and 1959.  He later worked for the Shell oil company, and died in his London home at the age of 67.

 
 

Brian Peasley
was from Blaencwm Terrace, Treherbert and entered the school in 1944. He played rugby for Treherbert, then with the first class side Bath. At Bath he played in the back row with the English internationals Alex Lewis and Kendall-Carpenter. He also represented Somerset. Brian moved to South Africa where he worked as a mining engineer.

John Simmons
of Marian Street, Clydach Vale was in the same year as Brian Peasley, and he later played rugby for a top English club, Harlequins.
At that time he was a P.E. teacher in London.

 
 

Charles Howard Norris
was from Aber-Rhondda Road, Porth and became a pupil of the school in 1946.  He began his rugby career as a prop-forward and gained a Welsh Secondary Schools cap. He later played for St. Luke's College, Exeter. Howard joined Cardiff Rugby Club in the 1958-59 season, making his debut against Earth on 24th September. At Cardiff he made 415 first XV appearances and became one of the best of Cardiff's post-war "props". He was the club's captain in the seasons 1967-68 and 1968-69. His vice-captain in the 1967-68 season was the famous Welsh wing Gerald Davies. He gained the first of his two Welsh caps in the game against France in March, 1963.  His selection for the British Lions came in 1966 when they toured New Zealand.  He led the pack of the Barbarians against the Sixth All Blacks at Twickenham in December 1967.
Howard died in January 2015.

Raymond Cheney
of Cemetery Road, Porth won a Welsh Youth Soccer cap and played for Ton Pentre. He made his reputation as a goal kicking full-back for Pontypool, setting a then club record of 169 points. He had the distinction of playing for a Pontypool Cross Keys team against South Africa. He made his debut for Newport RFC against Llanelli in March 1963 and played for Newport when they beat the All Blacks. He set a club record in 1963/64 and the beat it in the following season with a score of 224 points.  Wales made him their reserve full-back on 23 occasions.  Ray also played for Crawshays and Monmouthshire, and, later, in 1965 he moved to Cardiff RFC. He made 69 appearances including being part of the team that beat the Australians in 1966. During one season he scored 151 points, a record for the most points scored.
Ray also played County cricket for Monmouthshire.

 
 

So, there it is. A legacy worth placing on record, don't you think?
Now that the boys have been taken care of, do we have anyone prepared to compile a record of some of the girls who left their mark in their chosen field: sporting or otherwise?
Please get in touch, so that their accomplishments are not forgotten.

History ... School Staff 1954 ... Demolition Photographs ... Rededication of the Memorial plaques ... Reunion Dinners ... Houses (of the live-in variety) ... Panoramas

Text copyright Vivian Thomas/Deryck Lewis 2013

 The copyright holders of the photographs are acknowledged, but extensive research has failed to identify them.
 It is believed that the team photographs, from which many portraits of players have been made, were taken by Albert Davies,
 whose studio was in Aber-Rhondda Road; or by Norman Studios, Pentre, but all efforts to trace the present-day copyright holders have failed.
 The photograph of Gwilym Morris is by Vivian Thomas, but the remainder are of uncertain or unknown origin.
 If anyone's copyright is breached, then sincere apologies.
 If you have claim to being a copyright holder, please contact Deryck Lewis so that a formal application for waiver can be made.


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Page created October 13 2015