In 1973 Mr. Jeff North founded the Quiz League in Bridgend and ever since then has kept little jottings & snippets of interest and recently gave them to me to show those who might wish to see them. I feel sure that most members of teams in the league will find them as fascinating as I do, therefore, I have arranged them as best I can in chronological order. From 1994 we became known as the Bridgend Recorder Quiz League and then later the Bridgend & Porthcawl Gem Quiz League in recognition of the generous & continued sponsorship by the local newspaper.
The very first week of the League began with just eight teams & four matches. They were Ewenny Road Social v Royal Oak (Bridgend), King’s Head v Conservative Club, Railway Inn v Red Dragon and REME v Glanrhyd Social.
Within a week or two, Tom Crowley & Paul Jones having heard of the Quiz League, asked Jeff North if they could enter two teams from the Bridgend Rugby Club. They were to be known as Rugby ‘A’ & Rugby ‘B’. The late Tom Crowley (a graduate of the Open University) brought together a strong team consisting of John O’Brien & a very intelligent father & son pairing, Bill & Jeff Hughes and were supported everywhere by the “legendary” David Dobbs.
Ewenny Road also had a father & son playing for them. They were John & Peter Hermolle, who ran the Toye, Kenning & Spencer badge factory in Lewistown and, together with Jack Tozer and their expert on sport, David (Slogger) Greenslade, formed a very formidable team. (The last named was the first of a number of men to find fame through the Sunday People Sports Quiz).
The intense competition between the two sides was a talking point throughout the league during the first few years. Notwithstanding the excellence of these two, neither of them won the first title. Surprisingly, that honour went to Glanrhyd Social who stole it from under their noses on the very last night of that opening season. Their team members were Harold Joyce, David Lewis, Joe Price & Derek Simms.
Bridgend Rugby managed it in the second season and Ewenny Road in the third. The latter were helped by Lynne Longford James, a lecturer in Cardiff Training College and George Lloyd, the Under Manager of Wyndham Western Colliery. A few years on and Mike Fletcher had joined Tom Crowley & Co. in a new Bridgend Rugby Club side, which combined the former ‘A’ & ‘B’ teams. Eventually, Tom Crowley moved from the area and Mike Fletcher took over the mantle of captain. By this time a new “Top Team” had emerged, namely, Aberkenfig Conservative Club, well led by Gareth Davies, ably assisted by Steve Williams & Graham Walker.
The original quiz setter, Jeff North, had begun playing on a regular basis and by the 1980s was a permanent member of the Red Dragon team. Consequently, new setters emerged to take their turn in different years. They included Tom Crowley, Mike Fletcher, Steve Williams, Gerald Price, Alcwyn Trowbridge, Les Howells, Graham Jones, Gareth Davies and Roger Thomas.
By the end of the 1970s, a Knock-out Cup was introduced by Mike Fletcher and has run alongside the League competition ever since. In the mid to late 1980s at the West House, Bridgend, there arose a team which became tough, if not impossible, to beat. This was made up mainly of three star players, Roger Thomas, Jeff Howells & Jeff Caldwell. After a spell as champions, their reign was interrupted by a new team known as the Cavaliers, formed at Glanrhyd by Steve Williams with strong support from Peter (Gus) Richards & a “mustard-keen” all-round star from Cardiff, George Sheldrick. The Cavs. were based at a number of venues, including Glanrhyd, the old Tondu R.F.C. Club, Craig-yr-Eos, Aberkenfig Consevative Club & Royal Oak (Bryncethin).
The late 1980s also witnessed the rise of another team who had the tag of “invincible” placed upon them. This may have been a slight exaggeration, perhaps “extremely formidable” would be a more appropriate description. They too resided at a number of places, starting at the Pheasant Penyfai, through Tondu Railway Club, Bridgend A.F.C., the Golden Lion Aberkenfig and thence to the Prince of Wales Aberkenfig. They were champions on a number of occasions and always up near the top. Although the team members changed somewhat over the years, mention must be made of the stalwarts who, throughout the seasons, maintained the high standards of the early days. Originally from the Port Talbot League, they are Alan Coombes (an excellent all-rounder), Barry Hines (their sports ace and not bad either on general knowledge) & John Davies, a former Chief Supt. of traffic with South Wales Police. John was with the team for a number of years, had a short spell with the Cavs., was away for a year or two, then rejoined Alan & Barry and, let it be said, as a quiz player, he’s right up there with the likes of George Sheldrick.
Joe Price, a first season winner, Martin Bussey & Gareth David were other regulars. Before moving on, mention must be made of David Rees. He too played for them for a number of years, but these days his spare time is almost entirely taken up as the League’s ‘Question Setter’. He now compiles them for the League’s two divisions, the KO Cup & Plate Comp. and the annual Muriel Williams Cup (the latter always take place on the Presentation evening). David is held in high regard for all the things he’s done and is doing for the Gem Quiz League.
This brings us to the second part of the 1990s and so to one of the most successful teams of all. They played at the Red Dragon, Litchard and their squad consisted of George Lloyd, Gary Morgan & Keith Chamberlain, all from Ogmore Valley, Jeff Simmons of Litchard and Brian Thomas of Bridgend. They were Champions from 1996 to 2000 inclusive. Cup winners on more than one occasion, they looked as though they would do it again in 2001 but were beaten in the semi-final by the Golden Lion, Aberkenfig who had such players as Joe Price, Dave Rees & Brian Thomas, only for them to be beaten in the final by a single point by Glanrhyd Magic. The latter also won the Championship that season in what is believed to be the only occasion when it has been decided by a play-off, resulting in a two-point win over Red Dragon. The following season, the Golden Lion team moved to the Prince of Wales, Aberkenfig where Barry Hines rejoined them and promptly won the double of League & Cup.
Glanrhyd Magic, whose team was made up of Steve Williams, Alan Rudge, John Young and Phil Rawle were joined by Delyth Bressington who was then teaching at Radyr Comprehensive and who thus became only the second lady to play for a double-winning team (Lynne James being the first, in the 1970s). When Glanrhyd Social closed, the team were invited to become stablemates with Aberkenfig Social and did so, becoming known as the Nomads. Delyth & Phil are not playing any more but the team has remained strong since the addition of Gary Morgan & Keith Chamberlain and are proud to have just done the double for the third season in succession despite excellent challenges from the likes of Maesteg Catholic Club ‘A’ and Llynfi Arms.
The ten teams who played in the first season were:- Bridgend Rugby ‘A’, Bridgend Rugby ‘B’, Bridgend Conservative Club, Ewenny Rd Social Club, Glanrhyd Social, King’s Head, Railway Inn, Red Dragon, REME 39 Club, & Royal Oak Bridgend. Four of those venues are no longer in existence, two of the pubs now have different names, while three have the same names but no longer participate. None of the original teams are left. There are only two of the original players still actively involved i.e. Jeff North & Graham Jones.
It is true to say that quizzes are habit-forming. They almost get into the blood and some players will go almost anywhere to take part in a competition or even play quiz machines. Among those who readily spring to mind are: Barry Hines, David Rees, John Davies, Steve Williams, John Young, Gaorge Sheldrick, Andrea & Steve Kingscott, Alan Rudge & Mel Thomas. One or two of them have even done well on Radio & TV shows such as Mastermind, Fifteen-to-One, Great British Quiz and Brain of Sport. The coming season looks as though it may be the most competitive for some time with a number of teams bunched near the top in both divisions.
There are a number of players with long experience in the League. Jeff North has been with Red Dragon, Dunraven Arms (Bryncethin), Caeffratti & Royal Oak (Bryncethin). David Powell was an original with the Railway Inn team and then with Oldcastle for years along with Dave Parsons, who teaches at a Barry Comprehensive school. Alan Rudge joined the league in its 2nd year at the King’s Head later playing for Bridgend Rugby Club, Cavaliers, Great Western Railway Club, Glanrhyd Social & Aberkenfig Nomads. Steve Williams, with Glanrhyd, Cavaliers, Great Western Railway Club & Aberkenfig Nomads. Gareth Davies with Aberkenfig Conservative Club & Llynfi Arms. These two teams contain others with long service such as Dave Senter, Alan Phillips and our efficient & caring treasurer, Richard Fattorini. We must not forget either Andrea & Steve Kingscott of Tondu Railway Club, The Swan (Aberkenfig) and Tondu Rugby Club. Experience is by no means confined to Division One. In the Second Division, Alan Husk & John Elsbury with Llangeinor AFC. Keith McAllister with Laleston Inn who played alongside Gerald “Film Buff” Price at the Tennis Club. Josh Abraham of Five Bells and Alan Pawluk with Bettws Social and Oddfellows Arms. There are, almost certainly, others who could have been mentioned, but their omission is not deliberate and it is hoped they will not take umbrage.
The position of Chairman was held for a number of years by David Gavin. He was succeeded by the present Chairman, Alun Tingle. Alun has managed to perform this task diligently for over twenty-five years during most of which he was teaching in Cardiff. The job of Secretary has been well served over the years by people such as Peter Hermolle & Graham Jones. In 1994 Alan & Andy Rudge were appointed joint Secretary & Results Secretary which seem to have worked well, but in recent years, with Andy being out of the country for varying periods more has fallen on Alan’s shoulders. This brings us to a valid point that has been raised. It goes without saying that the members of the committee are not getting any younger and though they are willing & able to continue as at present, it is obvious that there should be people available to take over when the time comes, fully conversant with the workings of the committee. Therefore, we are hoping some of the younger lads & lasses will come forward to liaise with committee members and be made aware of what is involved in its running. We hope that many of you have found this brief history of the League interesting and if that is so, then our time has not been wasted. If there are any points you’d like added to this history please email email@example.com
Let us hope, therefore, that the Bridgend Gem Quiz League continues to go from strength to strength for many years to come. It has been suggested that we may well be the oldest continuously existing quiz league in the country.
Alan Rudge (Secretary)