Ebbw Vale celebrate their championship

In 1909, Ebbw Vale won the first ever Welsh League. Here’s how the Merthyr Express reported on it at the time…



The Northern Union Game



Ebbw Vale, the champions of the Welsh Northern Union League, met a team representing the rest of the clubs in the League at Ebbw Vale, on Monday. The teams were as follow:-

Pick of Wales. Back, Fitzgerald (Treherbert): three-quarter backs, Cowmeadow, Ponty Thomas (Merthyr), Evans (Aberdare), and Parker (Aberdare); half-backs, H. Rees and D. Rees (Mid-Rhondda); forwards, D. B. Davies (Merthyr), Thomas and Jenkins (Merthyr), Norris (Mid-Rhondda), Galloway (Treherbert). and Dan Lewis (Merthyr). Ebbw Vale: Back, Dai Davies; three-quarter backs, Kerton Harvey, H. Smith, and “Chick” Jenkins, half-backs, Shiglo Thomas and W. Higgins (captain): forwards, J Foley, G. Hitchings, W. Brown, Dai Maile O. Burgham, and J. Edmunds.

Ebbw Vale started against a strong wind, and play was taken to the visitors’ quarters, where “Shiglo” Thomas was injured and had to retire, but soon resumed. The visitors receiving smartly from the scrum saw Rees, the visiting outside half, make a good run, but his pass went astray. Ebbw Vale secured the ball from the scrum, and Higgins receiving, put in a kick which Hitchings failed to gather, but Brown racing up dribbled nearly half the length of the field and scored. Dai Davies con- verted. The teams crossed over with Ebbw Vale leading by five points to nil. With the wind in their favour Ebbw Vale held the upper hand in the second half, but the game became very uninteresting. “Chick” made a good but fruitless attempt to kick a goal from over the halfway line. Then Ebbw Vale pressed, and Smith beat I Fitzgerald and scored under the post. Dai Davies r converted. From a. scrum “Shiglo” got over in the corner Davies again converting at a difficult angle. Just before time Foley got over, Davies majorising. The champions, therefore, won by four goals, four tries (20 points) to nil.

The game was not a good exhibition of the Northern Union code, being very unmethodical and scrambling. Ebbw Vale were the better team, and Dai Davies’s excellent goal-kicking was the chief feature of the match.



At the conclusion of the match the cup was presented to the captain of the Ebbw Vale team in the presence of a large crowd. Mr. Kent, Mid-Rhondda, the president of the League, ascended the roof of the press box. and was accompanied by Mr. T. Rees, of the Ebbw Vale club. and W. Higgins, the old Pill half and captain of the Ebbw Vale team. The magnificent cup, standing three feet high, was greatly admired by the spectators.

Mr Kent in making the presentation to Mr. Higgins, said it gave him great pleasure to present that massive trophy to the Ebbw Vale Club, who had won it handsomely the first time it had been offered. He congratulated them upon their success and the excellence of their play throughout the season. It was the finest cup he had ever seen presented to any team, and could safely say it was the best trophy ever offered in a football competition. They were indebted to the Northern Union Committee tor sending them such a magnificent cup. He hoped they would take great care of it at Ebbw Vale whom he congratulated on being the champions of the Welsh League. They had held a substantial lead throughout and ran out winners by a clear four points over the runners up. He was sure that the people of Ebbw Vale had reason to be proud of their team and he hoped that in future years they would still go on improving in play, and that the Northern Union game would flourish in South Wales and Monmouthshire. Gold medals would be presented to the winning team.

Mr. W Higgins came in for a rousing reception upon receiving upon receiving the cup. He thanked the president of the League for his kind remarks, and said he was glad to be captain of the Ebbw Vale team. He hoped that they would be the holders of more cups in the future, especially the Northern Union League cup, which was the one they all wanted (cheers).

Higgins was then carried off shoulder high, with the cup, and the enthusiasm was great.



TABLE FROM KNOWN RESULTS – We believe some games were not played.

1908/1909 Welsh League Table

Team P W D L PF PA PD Pts
Ebbw Vale 8 8 0 0 142 14 128 16
Mid-Rhondda 9 6 0 3 61 45 16 12
Merthyr Tydfil 9 4 0 5 82 73 9 8
Aberdare 7 3 0 4 65 89 -24 6
Treherbert 7 1 1 5 41 94 -53 3
Barry 6 0 1 5 17 93 -76 1