Dragon Signs Amateur Trophy rewind: The start of Cardiff Corries’ success

Cardiff Corinthians are the most-successful team in the history of the Dragon Signs Amateur Trophy having claimed the silverware on six separate occasions, with their first triumph being delivered 110-years ago in April 1914 on the eve of the First World War.

Initially formed in 1897 and officially founded a year later by members of the Alpha Cricket Club as a way for the players to maintain sporting interest during the winter months, at the time the club were regarded as the best amateur team in the country when they prepared to take on Holywell United at Newtown in the final of what was then known as the Welsh Amateur Cup on 11 April 1914. 

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2024 Dragon Signs Amateur Trophy final

The current Holywell Town, known as Holywell United during that era, may not have been favourites, but they did complete a domestic double having already claimed the North Wales Coast League title and the North Wales Coast Amateur Cup that season. Victories over Colwyn Bay, Bangor Reserves and Johnstown Amateurs had put them within one game of the treble.

Cardiff Corinthians had seen off the challenge of Llandrindod Wells, Ynysddu and Llanidloes United to book their place in the final as they went in search of a first-ever trophy. The club had initially only played friendly fixtures outside of the cricket season in their formative years, but joining the Rhymney Valley League in the early 1900s was a clear statement on the future direction of the club.

Labelled “The game of all games”  by the Flintshire Observer two days before, Cardiff Corinthians would claim the trophy with a 1-0 victory. In difficult conditions, the increased height and physicality of the Corries was reported as being the difference on the day, with one league representative from Bangor quoted as saying: “They won the cup by force of weight rather than force of science.”

A few days later, the Observer offered a colourful description of events in their match report:“Cardiff Corinthians, playing with the wind, secured a lead of one goal, and succeeded in maintaining it until the end. Holywell made strenuous efforts to score, striking the crossbar, and missing the desired target by inches. It is not brilliant dove-tailing and pattern weaving methods that count so much in matches of this description, but goals, and the failure to appreciate this truth or the inability to put it into actual practice is the only cause to which Holywell’s reverse can be attributed.”

Despite the defeat, it was still a season of success for Holywell and their achievements were celebrated on 25 April 1914 when their domestic double was celebrated with the trophy and medal presentations following a 4-1 win over Blaenau Ffestiniog to bring the campaign to a close.

However, it almost ended in disaster when the temporary stage erected for the silverware and dignitaries collapsed. Thankfully, nobody was injured and the trophies remained unscathed, so the presentation was allowed to continue.

The outbreak of global conflict just a couple of months later meant that the FAW Amateur Trophy would not be competed for again until 1919/20 when Caerau defeated Barmouth Comrades.

Cardiff Corinthians and Holywell would meet in the final once again in 1961/62, with the Corries recording their fifth success in the competition with a 3-2 victory having also lifted the trophy in 1929, 1930 and 1934. Their sixth and latest success would arrive in 1984/85 when Brecon Corries were defeated 2-1 in a replay following a 2-2 draw.

Holywell would again also reach the final in 1926 and 1927, but would not claim the trophy until 2011 when they defeated Conwy United 3-2, and they repeated their long-awaited achievement in 2015 when Penrhyndeudraeth were beaten 4-2. Their most-recent success coming just over a century since they reached the final for the very first time. 

But while Cardiff Corinthians would appear to have briefly enjoyed their triumph as the best amateur team in the country prior to the outbreak of the First World War, their success came at a price.

On 29 May 1914, the North Wales Chronicle reported on the minutes of a recent FAW Council meeting – “Cardiff Corinthians F.C. reported a considerable loss on the Welsh Amateur Final, in which they took part, and on the suggestion of Mr Stephens (Council member) it was decided to make a grant to the club equivalent to the amount of the players’ railway fares.”

The 2024 Dragon Signs Amateur Trophy final takes place between Newport City and Penrhyncoch at Latham Park in Newtown on Saturday 20 April (KO 12:30).

Tickets for the final will be cash only on the gate, costing £5 for adults and £2 for concessions. A ticket will also grant spectators access to the Welsh Blood Service League Cup national final at Latham Park later in the day. Both finals will be available to watch live for free on RedWall+.

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