Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mel de Lloyd

Mel de Lloyd (bottom right)

The saying “going north”, would probably mean little to the current generation of rugby union players. However, prior to the professionalization of the game in 1995, it was a sad and depressing sight to see the cream of the national side and even good club players disappearing to the north of England to play an alien game. Often these players would achieve fame and fortune yet this would go largely unnoticed in their home communities, and league players were even banned from attending rugby union clubhouses. Resolven is not unusual in this regard and has produced a pantheon of famous rugby league players including Reg Lloyd, Mel deLloyd and more recently Mel James. However in the 1930s it was often a case of an economic necessity to “Go North” in order to avoid the desperate privations of the time

Mr Gwyn Bishop recently brought the story of Mel de Lloyd to the notice of the History Society when he chanced upon this notice on the Keighley Cougars Rugby League Hall of fame.

Mel De Lloyd – Warrington R.L

Debut 26th September 1936
Last Game 11th October 1947

Starts: 176

Tries: 24

Drop goals: 7

Goals: 27

Points: 140

It states “Another notable player who “guested” with Keighley from Warrington during the war and who later signed for the club was stand off Mel De Lloyd. In 86 war time appearances with Keighley, he kicked 95 goals and scored 13 tries (229 points). From 1947 to 1952 he played in a further 100 games and added another 30 goals and 15 tries to his scoring record.

He had one particularly memorable game during the war years on the 13th of November 1943. In the first leg of the Yorkshire Cup semi final at Lawkholm Lane against Huddersfield, Mel De Lloyd dropped three goals, added another three goals from place kicks and scored a try – a tally of fifteen points, Keighley won 21-0.

He also suffered at the other end of the scale. On January 7th 1942, the Disciplinary committee suspended him sine die. In the game against Hull, four days earlier, Mel was ordered from the field after disputing a decision by the referee, Mr L Dolby, who alleged that De Lloyd had later “struck him”. However the suspension was lifted in October 1942 and De Lloyd resumed playing having only missed 14 games.

The History Society contacted Mr David de Lloyd, Mel’s nephew for some more information and this is his report on the life of his uncle.

Melville De Lloyd was born on April 2nd 1917 at 12, Commercial Road, Resolven. He was one of seven children, four sons and three daughters, however only two sisters now survive.

In those days Resolven RFC would often field three of the de Lloyd brothers in the first team. Mel went on to play for Llanelli at the age of 17. He was spotted by the rugby league scout Mr Eddie Waring and went on to play for Warrington Rugby League Club.

Eddie Waring was a good friend to Mel during his playing days and of course went on to become the “voice of rugby league” on BBC Grandstand. He always gave Resolven a mention in his commentary when there was an ex Resolven player on the field, the last one famously being Mel James.

There were of players from Resolven playing up “North” for Keighley, before, during and after the Second World War.

Iory Herbert (Keighley) of 1 Heol Herbert

Mel de Lloyd (Warrington and Keighley) of 12 Commercial Road.

Reg (Wolla) Lloyd of railway Terrace

Llew Bevan ( Keighley) of Cory Street.

Following many successful seasons for Warrington, Mel transferred back to Keighley, finishing his playing days with that club in the 1951-52 seasons.

Mel made a number of friends in both codes. Bill Clement, the long serving WRU Secretary was his inside half when he played for Llanelli. I remember Bill and Mel meeting at the Angel Hotel on an International day, in those days the two codes did not mix! I met one of his friends the great Jim Sullivan, at his home on one of our many visits with my family. He lived in a small terraced house, the front room of which was a bar, the smallest pub I have ever seen!

Another good friend was Fred Higginbotham who played in the centre with Mel at Warrington and Keighley. Last year, by sheer coincidence my wife and I met a man in Barcelona at a bus stop; I got talking to him and asked where he came from. He answered that he came from Warrington. I told him that my uncle had played for Warrington, and on saying his name, his mouth dropped and he told me that he was a friend and former team mate and even lived next door to Mel’s former wife. I met up with Mr Higginbotham again as we were on the same cruise ship. He told me a number of tales about Mel’s playing days. In one anecdote Warrington were playing Wigan and Fred was marking a famous welsh player. Mel told Fred before the game the game started to “hit the Welsh bas++++ as hard as he could”, he would laugh at this because he knew how proud a Welshman Mel was.

Melville de Lloyd died aged 68years in 1985. He is buried alongside his wife May in St. David’s Cemetery, Resolfen.


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