St Helen’s ArchivePreserving the past for the future



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Rights Holder



David Dow




Photographs B&W, set of two taken at St Helen's ground. Swansea v New Zealand 1924. Dimensions: w4 1/4" x h2 3" (w10.7cm x h8cm).


These two photographs were taken by a spectator from the grandstand at St Helen's, probably with one of the popular amateur Box Brownie cameras. They capture the scene at St Helen's on 27th September 1924, when Swansea RFC played the second touring 'All Blacks'. The images are of particular interest for a number of reasons. Firstly, they show St Helen's ground during an early 'tour' match and the vast crowd, from an unusual angle, that of the supporter in the grandstand. Also, the pre-match ceremony of the 'Haka' is seen, as are the professional photographers on the ground, capturing the moment for posterity. ‘All Blacks’ full-back George Nepia was the shining star of the tourists and can just be made out leading the ‘Haka’. The referee, W J Llewellyn of Bridgend, is bottom left of the 'Haka' image. The second image, taken during the match and obviously from the same position, shows the east or 'Town side' of the ground highlighting just how large the crowd was on the day. Reports on the size of the attendance vary between 40,000 and 45,000, which is easily believable from these two images. The viewer will note on the far right, behind the crowd that beyond the dead ball line which is already crowded, there are many more supporters still entering the ground and trying to find a vantage point in a terrace already full of spectators. Spectators also line the wall along Gorse Lane and the wall that separates the ground from the back gardens of Bryn Road. In the 'Haka' image, just to the left of the pavilion, a lamp post is seen with three spectators clinging to it for a better view. They have even made their way onto the roof of the pavilion! The 'action' image shows New Zealand scrum-half Bill Dalley breaking away from the back of the scrum with the ball. Dalley was the great-uncle of 'All Blacks' legend Dan Carter.
The match aroused such great interest in Swansea due to the closeness of the encounter between the two sides in 1905, where Swansea were beaten by a drop goal to a try (3-4). But the 1924 tourists were a superbly balanced side and whereas the 1905 ‘Originals’ lost just a single match – to Wales, Cliff Porter’s 1924 ‘All Blacks’ ended their tour as ‘Invincibles’. Swansea in 1924 did not have the famous names of 1905 in their midst like Billy Trew, Fred Scrine, Dicky Owen or Will Joseph and other legends of their first ‘golden era’ and they were beaten this day by a convincing score of 3-39. A total of nine tries were scored by the 'All Blacks', four of them converted and a drop goal (4 points) for good measure. Swansea’s sole points were a penalty kicked by Dai Parker from near half-way, which bounced off the crossbar and fell over to record the first points to be scored against the dominant tourists, who went on to beat Wales at St Helen’s (0-19) on 29th November. Swansea's heavy loss was a warning to the Welsh selectors, but Cliff Porter's side drew sweet revenge for their 1905 defeat and the fast running pitch at St Helen's on 27th September - the first dry pitch they had played on during the tour - set them up for a record of played 32, won 32 matches. These two photographs capture the excitement of an enormous crowd who came to watch the New Zealand 'Invincibles' on a historic tour.


1924-1925, St Helen's Ground, All Blacks


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