It was meant to be a celebratory match, a feel-good occasion. And for 80 minutes it was. But when Barry John came off the pitch in 1972, he had decided something. He wouldn’t be going back on. Now, S4C have unearthed rare footage from that match which may offer some clues and pointers as Graham Thomas reports. Barry John’s shock decision to walk away from rugby at the age of just 27 left a nation stunned – but not his one-time young rival, Phil Bennett. Forty eight years on from one of the biggest sports stories of the 1970s, the dazzling genius of John – the player they called The King – remains accessible through YouTube clips or in the memories of those fortunate enough to see him play.
Elynor Backstedt – Wales’ most promising young cyclist – has suffered a huge setback after breaking her leg in a training accident on Sunday. The world championship junior bronze medallist, who has been in her debut World Tour season, suffered a spiral fracture of the tibia – her shinbone - in a crash. The injury is likely to require surgery, although her team - Trek-Segafredo – have not yet confirmed when that will take place.
Which Welsh sportsman has made the biggest impression overseas? John Charles in Turin? Ian Woosnam at Augusta? Colin Jackson in Stuttgart and Seville? Gareth Edwards on the rugby fields of New Zealand and South Africa? Or was it Jack Evans in the ice hockey stadia across North America? Owen Morgan has dug around and states the case for the man they called “Tex”. If I had been asked a month ago who I believed was the most influential sports person to hail from my native Amman Valley, three names would have sprung to mind. Global rugby superstars Gareth Edwards and Shane Williams would probably have vied for the title with former Wrexham, Everton, Swansea City and Wales goalkeeper Dai Davies putting in a valiant, but unsuccessful, bid on behalf of the round ball game.
Seven years ago this summer, Wales had the player voted the best youngster in the world in 2013. Sam Davies almost made it a double triumph at the world’s summit that year – but it wasn’t quite to be, as he tells Graham Thomas. Sam Davies admits he cried tears of frustration when the chance to crown Wales as world champions slipped through his fingers. The Wales and Dragons star – who broke back into the national squad earlier this year – welled up when he stepped forward to receive the 2013 Junior World Player of the Year award.
Dean Saunders was good enough for Wales, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Galatasaray. But 35 years ago this week, the striker who eventually scored 255 club career goals was dumped by Cardiff City after just four matches. Terry Phillips counts the cost of a missed opportunity. Dean Saunders failed to impress with Cardiff City under Alan Durban and left the Bluebirds after only four appearances. The Swansea-born hitman was on his way out at his home town club at the age of just 20. It was 1985 and Cardiff manager Durban could have had signed the striker for a very small fee.
Gavin Williams is planning to lead Merthyr Town on a Southern League promotion mission during 2020-21. Merthyr-born former Wales International Williams, a lifelong Cardiff City supporter, will again be working with one of the lowest squad budgets in the Southern Premier, but he believes the Martyrs can challenge near the top. The 2019-20 season was halted early because of the coronavirus pandemic and Williams said: “That was the strangest season I have experienced since I arrived at Merthyr Town six years ago.
Martyn Phillips has described the deal with CVC Capital Partners and the Guinness Pro 14 as a “sea change” for the tournament. The Welsh Rugby Union chief executive believes the agreement – confirmed on Friday – will secure the ability of the league to dveleop further, although he warned that the current shutdown of rugby would affect the sport for a long time to come. The Pro 4 will receive a major cash boost by selling a 28 per cent stake in the league to CVC. The deal, reported to be worth around £120m, will lead to significant investment and is likely to increase the private equity firm's influence in discussions to remodel the global rugby calendar.
The GOAT is back with Cardiff Devils for the 2020-21 Elite League ice hockey season. Team captain Joey Martin - nicknamed ‘Greatest Of All Time’ by Devils fans - has committed to a seventh season in Devils colours and head coach Andrew Lord says: “He has proven to be one of the top players in Britain during every single season. “As the league grew better and better, so did Joey. His dedication and work ethic keeps him improving every year and he is a great role model on and off the ice.”
It was the kick the propelled Gavin Henson into a stardom as bright as his silver boots. But as Mike Ruddock tells Graham Thomas, the shot at goal that turned the tables against England – and ushered in a Grand Slam in 2005 – was the consequence of planning, teamwork and the boldness of youth. Mike Ruddock has revealed that the swaggering confidence of a young Gavin Henson was a crucial factor in setting Wales on the road to the 2005 Grand Slam. Fifteen years ago, Ruddock – then Wales coach – was sat high in the stands at the Millennium Stadium when his side were awarded a long rage penalty near the end of the game against England.
Wales U21 star Robbie Burton insists he has made the right move in leaving Arsenal to join Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb. The deal, reported to be worth £800,000 to the Gunners, was still dependent on the 20-year-old midfielder agreeing to become the first British player to move to the Croatian... Read More
Former Swansea City and Newport County defender Tyler Reid has joined Wrexham AFC on loan from Swindon Town. Reid, aged 22, is likely to make his Dragons’ debut against Yeovil Town at the Racecourse Ground on Saturday (3pm). The former Manchester United and Arsenal youth player joined Wrexham after the injured James... Read More
Bluebirds, Arsenal, Patrick Vieira And David Ginola Play Their Part In The Football Past Of Aaron 'The Smash'
Welsh flanker Aaron Wainwright, nicknamed Aaron 'The Smash' from his early days in rugby union, is one of the success stories of the World Cup in Japan and looks certain to play for Wales against South Africa on Sunday. Terry Phillips chatted to Cardiff City's Academy manager about Aaron’s Bluebirds’ past There... Read More
Aaron Ramsey is set to return for Juventus this weekend – less than week after missing Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia because of injury. The Wales midfielder has trained with his Italian club and is in contention to return from a groin injury to face Genoa in Turin on... Read More
Merthyr Town have signed former Wales, Celtic and Arsenal striker John Hartson - for one night only. The Martyrs are hosting an evening with Hartson at their MetCoaches Stadium at the end of October, although the exact date is yet top be confirmed. Merthyr have also invited former club players Kevin Rodgers,... Read More
Forget Daniel James And Harry Wilson . . . Gareth Bale Is Still Wales' Main Man, Says BJH (Big John Hartson)
Gareth Bale remains the key man to Wales’ European Championships hopes, according to John Hartson. Former Celtic, Arsenal and Wales striker Hartson insists Wales are still heavily reliant on their ‘main man’ - despite his troubled recent few months in Spain. The 29-year-old Real Madrid star was criticised by some... Read More