Appeal to trace family members of first Cardiff team

University netball club c1920s

University netball club c1920s

Universities are this year celebrating 100 years since the start of organised competitive sport between British universities.

Cardiff University, then called University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, was one of 10 founding members of an organisation set up in March 1919 to promote student sport.

History was made when the Inter-Varsity Athletics Board of England and Wales organised an athletics event in Manchester in May 1919 featuring nine universities - including Cardiff.

The Manchester Guardian reported that the event attracted 2,000 spectators and was “very successful”.

Events included one-mile and 100-yard races, hurdles, high jump, long jump and tug-of-war.

The Manchester Guardian reported that BC Watson of Cardiff competed in the high jump and had “by far the prettier style, but he appeared to tire at the critical moment and was placed third”.

BC Watson had a busy day, also coming third in the final of the 100 yards race after finishing second in his heat.

It was the start of competitive inter-university sport as we know it - now hugely popular and organised by BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport).

Cardiff University has several old photographs of its teams from that period but none from the very first event in Manchester.

The University is appealing for any family members of those original competitors - such as BC Watson - to come forward, and would also like to identify team members from the old sporting photographs.

Head of Sport Stuart Vanstone said: “We’re very proud of our sporting heritage at Cardiff University so it would be great to trace any family members of those pioneering athletes like BC Watson, and to hear any tales that have been passed down the generations.

“Sadly we don’t have pictures of our students competing at the very first inter-varsity event in Manchester but we do have some fantastic photographs of our teams from the era in sports such as hockey, netball, tennis and water polo.

“It would be interesting to hear more about some of those competitors too if anyone recognises a familiar face.”

Cardiff University has been a strong supporter and contributor to the higher education sporting landscape ever since those early years of inter-university sport.

The University now boasts 66 sports clubs and enters more than 80 teams into regular Wednesday afternoon BUCS sporting activity.

This is complemented by the many sports clubs who compete in regular championship events such as swimming, rowing and athletics.

Anyone who has memories of any of the original competitors or sportspeople in the photographs can contact sport [at] cardiff.ac (p) uk.


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