AFTER rugby was put on the back boiler until next season due to the coronavirus crisis, enthusiasts in the Cardigan area have taken stock with some expressing disappointment over a gradual decline in the fortunes of the local club, which is one of the oldest in Wales.

Formed in 1876, Cardigan was for many years the only club over a wide area with quality players attracting bumper crowds.

Supporters recall the halcyon days from the 1960s to when the team included former Welsh Internationals the late Brian Williams, Kevin Phillips, Ricky Evans and Jonathan Griffiths as the Cardis locked horns with opponents now in the higher echelons of the league structure.

Newcastle Emlyn was established in 1977 and Crymych came into existence seven years later when Cardigan was on the crest of a wave.

But how times have changed.

When the 2019-2020 season was declared null and void, Emlyn and the Preselimen were in League 1 West while Cardigan languished in the lower half of League 3 West A.

And on the evidence of difficulty experienced in putting together junior teams – the club recently made an appeal for youngsters to take up the game – there would not appear to be cause for optimism.

Down the years the Cardis have invariably fielded quality youth sides with players graduating to higher levels. The most notable was ex-Llanelli winger/fullback Wayne Proctor, who won 39 caps.

But although suffering on the playing side, one aspect has been hailed an outstanding success and that is the pitch at King George V Playing Field.

In bygone days the rugby strip was the town dump and for a lengthy period after conversion to sport it resembled a swamp in wet weather, one of the worst patches near the clubhouse.

The conditions were highlighted during a game between the local comprehensive school side and their Aberaeron counterparts.

Midway through, an Aberaeron player lost a boot in the morass and despite intensive efforts to locate the footwear it was never recovered.

For the record the player who continued minus a boot was Geraint Davies – better known as long-serving secretary of the Costcutter Football League.

As the pitch continued to deteriorate, the local farming fraternity rallied round in carrying out extensive drainage work.

Long hours put in by volunteers eventually bore fruit, with the playing surface nowadays widely regarded as one of the best around.