All too many perceive the familiar surroundings and the records of everyday life as being of little importance. This is true of the Maesteg Harlequins. If one considers that the club was formed within the living memory of some people*, then there is a great deal of unnecessary conjecture attached to the subject of the club. At present moves are being made to collate evidence, with the view of producing some form of publication relating to the club's history**. Anyone with any information, however small, or anyone who possesses memorabilia associated with the club, please contact the following number: (01656) 732499.
The date of formation is generally accepted (or perhaps assumed) to have taken place during the 1936-37 season, with the captains board taking this season as the first in the clubs history. However, evidence suggests that the club was formed at a much earlier date. In the publication 'The Llynfi Valley in Old Photographs', it states: "the club was formed in the 1920s". This, indeed, may well be true, but the theory revolves around Maesteg RFC.
Although many refute the link between the two clubs, it may be possible, indeed it has been said that the Harlequins was formed as a second team to the senior club of the valley. Teams known as Maesteg Rovers, Wanderers and another called the Rangers were playing in the valley during this period. A number of players have represented both clubs during the same period and this theory may be the correct one.
It is interesting to note that during the 1920s and early 30s, Maesteg had a committee to run its affairs and the second fifteen also had a committee of its own, with elected officials nominated to run this section of the club. Therefore this is where the origins of the Harlequins may lie. Indeed, in photographs of the 1936-37 Harlequins and 1946-47 Maesteg team, the same committeeman appears. The gentleman in question may have a twin or may have joined another club as an official, but the links seem to be too much of a coincidence. An examination of the playing personnel of both clubs during this period will soon be undertaken, in order to establish or refute this tenuous link.
If the link between the two clubs is proven then the Harlequins could claim to be much older. An edition of the local weekly newspaper, the Glamorgan Advertiser, in 1919 reported on the desire of the Maesteg RFC committee to revive the spirits of the people after the terrible years and experiences of the Great War, by: "resurrecting the second team". This team played in the years prior to the First World War, therefore the club may be closer to celebrating its centenary than we think.
In the early years the name "Rovers" would have been quite apt as the Harlequins of yesteryear were indeed a nomadic lot. Their home grounds' included Maesteg RFC's Llynfi Road, Llangynwyd, Coytrahen, the old playing field that was situated behind Maesteg hospital and home to Nantyffyllon RFC and still referred to as Nanty's "old field", and the Hurling Field, a ground built for a large Irish community to enjoy their favourite pastime from the Emerald Isle.
Once again war intervened and after the cessation of hostilities, it was time to re- establish the club. The other local clubs (Maesteg, Nantyffyllon and Maeteg Celtic) must be thanked for their generosity during this period, as they donated their unwanted jerseys to the Quins cause. These gifts of different colours were dyed black, as this was the cheapest and most effective dye to use.
In the 1950s the pioneers of Quins Rugby decided to obtain a home ground of their own. It was in Llangynwyd, the present site of the football and Rugby fields, that was chosen. The land was given to the club and over a lengthy period the club members removed the hedgerows which ran through the field and constructed a suitable playing surface. Today the ground is used by Llangynwyd Rangers FC and Maesteg Celtic RFC. It is still called the "Harlequins Field".
In 1962 South Parade, the site of an old brickworks which overlooks the town, was transformed into municipal playing fields. It was during this period that the club moved to the new ground and has remained there ever since.
Not only were the club nomadic in relation to their home ground, but also in their headquarters. Numerous pubs were utilised in and out of the town. The Prince of Wales, Coytrahen, Victoria, Farmers Arms, Full Moon, Measteg RFC and the Railway, were all the venues for the aftermatch festivities. In 1977-78 the present clubhouse was purchased and a great deal of work was once again undertaken by the members to furnish the premises. The building is a class II listed building built at the turn of the twentieth century by North's Navigation, a company who had a large concern in the mining industry in the area. There are people in the town today who remember picking up their wages from the offices.
On the playing front the club has enjoyed and endured fluctuating fortunes with good times and bad times ebbing and flowing. The Quins enjoyed a purple patch on the field at the end of the last century and beginning of the twenty-first. We are currently rebuilding with an extremely youthful team competing well in Division Three South-West of the WRU SWALEC Leagues.
* It appears the club may have been formed much earlier than first thought. In the 1880s a side called Maesteg Wanderers played rugby in the town and at the start of the twentieth century there was another side called Maesteg United.
Steve Wills has agreed to undertake the historical research to discover far more about our past than what is currently known.
Steve is no stranger to the Quins as his father was the caretaker at South parade and he used to watch the club perform on many Saturdays. This became ingrained in his psyche and can now be seen watching us regularly with his son.
He has already found out a number of greatly interesting details which are invaluable to us in relation to the years between the First and Second World Wars.
An admissions administrator at Bridgend College and holder of a degree in Ancient History, Steve is an expert in historical research. Although we don’t anticipate him having to go back quite as far back as he is currently used to researching. However you never know and we should never bet against a Maesteg Silures / Harlequins team taking on the Romans in a less than friendly game of Harpastum!
Chairman Robert Williams could not conceal his delight at someone offering their services to the cause of historical research.
“It’s marvellous that someone with Steve’s expertise is prepared to take the time and expend the energy on our behalf, to discover more about our club. I know from work already undertaken by Dai that we are over 100 years old. I can’t wait to see the final product which should be completed in approximately five years or so.
“On behalf of all the members of the club, I wholeheartedly thank Steve for what I know will be his unstinting efforts, as Steve is undertaking this research totally voluntarily which is another great gesture in this day and age.”
We will also be contacting players throughout the years for their memories.
If anyone is interested in historical research and wishes to help Steve in this enterprise, please do not hesitate to contact Dai Berry.