Scarlets to bid farewell to Stradey

One of the most famous venues in Welsh rugby stages its final match on Friday when Llanelli play at Stradey Park for the last time.

The Scarlets are heading for a new home, the all-seater Parc y Scarlets after more than a century at their south Wales base, where Bristol provide the opposition Friday in an Anglo-Welsh Cup tie.

Stradey meanwhile is set to be turned into a housing estate.

Down the years the ground has witnessed some dramatic matches, including Llanelli’s victories over Australia in 1984 and 1992. But for sheer drama few games can match Llanelli’s 9-3 Stradey success over the mighty All Blacks in 1972.

Roy Bergiers may have only won 11 caps at a time when Wales had a surfeit of talent among their backs but the centre assured himself of sporting immortality by chasing a Phil Bennett penalty kick which came back off the woodwork to score the decisive try of a memorable match.

The result prompted Welsh entertainer Max Boyce to pen the following lyrics: “Those who went to Stradey, boys, will remember till they die, how New Zealand were defeated – and how the pubs ran dry.

“And in a hundred years again they’ll sing this song for me, of when the scoreboard read Llanelli 9 Seland Newydd 3.”

Or as Bergiers, rather more simply, recalled: “I dived on the ball and the whole place went bananas.”

More recently the likes of Ieuan Evans and current Wales Grand Slam stars Dwaynhe Peel and Stephen Jones are among those who’ve worn the famous red shirt of Llanelli at Stradey.

“The ground is not like any other as far as I am concerned,” said outside-half Jones.

“It has such a spirit when it’s packed, with supporters singing at the tops of their voices. It is a special place.”

Bristol coach Richard Hill is well aware of the significance of Friday’s match.

“It is always a shame to see a real, old-fashioned ground go. “There is huge tradition and a lot of history there,” the former England scrum-half added.

“You can’t get a ticket for love nor money. There will be people on the roofs and on the floodlight pylons. It will be some occasion and we are looking forward to being involved.”

Sapa-AFP –

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