Today marks the fortieth year anniversary of the legendary Abergavenny vs. Llanelli Scarlets match.
Forty years ago, on Saturday January 22nd 1983, thousands of Abergavenny RFC supporters travelled west to Stradey Park to see their team take on the mighty Scarlets of Llanelli in the last 16 of the then Schweppes Welsh Cup competition.
En-route to that epic match, Abergavenny were in good stead, having beaten Abertillery (then a Snelling club) 13-9, Ynysddu 19-9, Llanharan 10-3 — all at home — and Pembroke Dock Quins 18-0 away.
However, Llanelli contained eight players who were or later became Welsh Internationals; two of which were British Lions, centres Ray Gravell and Peter Morgan, in addition to three Welsh B players – making them a formidable opponent.
In a difficult start, Abergavenny conceded a try in the first minute by International Phil Lewis and two further tries by Internationals Mark Douglas and David Pickering.
Although the Scarlets fans expected the flood gates to open during the second half, Abergavenny hadn't read the script... The second forty minutes was remembered as one of the greatest displays of rugby by a ‘second-class' side in the history of the competition.
The Claret and Ambers defied the odds to prevent any further scores by Llanelli and claim the only points of the second half from a try by Captain Nigel Evans, converted by Paul Exton, leading to the final score of 17-6.
On the day, twenty-one players were selected, including ten players who had played for Abergavenny Youth and another three players on the bench having also played for the Youth.
Four players had previously captained the side...Brian Clark (Clarky) Jeff Gardner (Gynt) David James (Ferret) and Terry Richards (The Neck or Yosser) and two players went on to captain the side; Geoff Williams (Flyboy) — who set a club record of seven successive seasons — and was followed by Mike Williams (Rhino).
Since, four players have sadly passed away; Terry Richards, Adrian Green, Keith Knight and Paul 'Maffo' Matthews all of whom had played in earlier rounds of the Cup run.
Nigel is planning a reunion for the players at the end of the Six Nations at a Home Game on Saturday March 25th however this is to be confirmed.
This remarkable win continues to be remembered today, and what makes it all the stranger is that all of the current players were not even born when this occasion took place! Yet, so far this season the camaraderie and fight lives on... keep it up lads!