Thursday, March 19th, 2009 - News
Teams Pay Tribute To Old Friend Ben
A REUNITED rugby team rolled back the years during their emotional display first game in more than a decade.
Cwmtawe Comprehensive’s 1993 Welsh Schools Cup winning side took on Ospreys feeder club Cwmgors during the Ben Mullany Memorial Match.
Ben, who was killed on his honeymoon along with his bride Catherine, played for both teams — meaning the exhibition match was played with a cup-final like intensity.
Cwmtawe Old Boys player Keith Ellingham, one of Ben’s closest friends, said: “It didn’t matter we had not played together as a side for more than 10 years, we were so motivated for this game.”
“We wanted to do Ben proud.”
Before Saturday’s match kicked off, both teams bowed their heads during a minute’s silence.
Cwmtawe Old Boys wore specially made jerseys, donated by The Ospreys, each with Ben’s number, 14, and surname on the back.
And even more fitting, trainee physio Ben’s place on the flank was occupied by his younger brother Adam.
But once the whistle was blown, the 150 strong crowd soon realised the players would not be taking a nicey-nicey approach — with hard tackles coming thick and fast on the squelchy pitch.
Match organiser and Cwmtawe Old Boys player Phil Sparrow said his team were inspired by the adept skills of their late friend.
“Ben was the star of the show,” he said. “A clever and regular tactic used by us at that time was ‘chuck the ball to Ben, he’ll do the rest’. He usually did.”
And Mr Sparrow, aged 31, took a leaf out of Ben’s book after scoring the first try of the game following a weaving run.
But despite Cwmtawe’s gritty performance, Cwmgors proved too strong for the old boys winning the match 27-17.
But Cwmgors captain Andrew Davies was full of compliments for the opposition afterwards.
He said: “That was one tough game. They came at us very hard, I don’t think we expected it.”
Despite the game being a charity fundraiser, it appears that it will live long in the memory of locals.
“It was a great day and an emotional one,” said Mr Ellingham.
“All of us are so grateful to Cwmgors RFC for making this happen and to all the people who turned up to watch.”
The game marked was part of a hat-trick of events for The Mullany Fund.
Around 50 friends and family of the couple took part in a sponsored 10k walk along Swansea Bay, while Ben’s course-mates from UWE competed in the Bath Half Marathon.
Text by Ben Wright of South Wales Evening Post.