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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Rise and Fall of Pontypool RFC [Kindle Edition]

Nicholas Bishop , Alun Carter
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What made Pontypool such a great seam of talent for the Welsh national team? Why were they hated and feared in equal measure by other clubs in Wales and across the Severn? What made Ray Prosser a coach ahead of his time?

In this engrossing book, Alun Carter and Nick Bishop recount the dramatic story of the rise and fall of one of the great enigmas of Welsh club rugby: Pontypool RFC. They chart the glories and violence of the amateur era in the 1970s and ’80s before the club entered a period of steady decline in the age of professionalism, reaching the point of bankruptcy after a crippling legal battle with the Welsh RU. It is a symbolic tale of the disintegration of the social fabric that held a once-great club together, both on and off the playing field – often irresistibly funny, eventually tragic, but always larger than life.

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Product Description



What makes the book so compelling and readable is the window it opens

on to the rugby of that period and the imperatives, still as relevant

today, behind great teams and institutions ... Fascinating and affecting

" (Paul Ackford The Times)

"...absorbing work that aims to get to the heart of what made the club tick." (Iwan Gabe Davies South Wales Argus (Newport))

"... immensely readable and enjoyable second book ... tells the history of the great club through the voices of former greats ..." (Iwan Gabe Davies Free Press (Pontypool))

Book Description

The story of one of the founding member clubs of the Welsh Rugby Union, Pontypool RFC, from the 1970s to the present day

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1599 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Digital (10 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CU8QBT4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #211,094 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First half of the book charts the story of the Pooler with Ray Prosser's uncompromising fitness and need for southern hemisphere intimidation on field. I was surprised by the revelations about the "extras" handed out by my childhood heroes - it does explain why so many teams cancelled fixtures. I remember so well opposition supporters calling us animals - always thought it was down to our superior fitness, strength and uncompromising pack - but the book reveals that we set out to deliberately hurt the opposition, by fair means or foul. Having just watched the Autumn internationals, so much rings true - the first dilemma faced by WRU (and the Northern unions), to beat the SH, we've got to be willing to embrace the extras.

The second half jumps swiftly, and I think appropriately past the management issues on and off the field at Pooler - just a few facts covered in enough detail to not leave gaps, now we're onto professionalism in Welsh Rugby. From the outset, it seems like the WRU focused on the Welsh team, then the big clubs, then the players when implementing professional rugby. No mention of supporters. Just a basic analysis to say 30 elite players = 2 or 3 regions. A few parochial arguments later and we end up with 4 regions with the same supporter base that they always had. As long as the national team does well, then all is rosy in Welsh Rugby. This book explains the physics and economics of why this is unsustainable and a doomed plan. We can see it today with elite players following the money to the big English/French clubs.
All in all an easy read with contributions from great players and minds in valleys rugby - its great to know that the glaringly obvious solution to professional rugby in Wales is simple and known to everyone in Wales except the WRU.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought this was excellent.As an Englishman who has never lived in Wales but has always followed Welsh Rugby and used to go into Wales to watch the big clubs and has even been to watch Pontypool at home now and again,including the famous match when Gerald Davies scored for tries to beat them in the Welsh Cup,I was fascinated to find out about the internal life of the club,both the positive and the negative,the role of certain individuals and the economic and social context in Pontypool and the area.It is interesting too on how it fitted into the community and how the community influenced the character of the club.Definitely one to keep and read again with profit.

One of its strengths is that you get to see the club from so many aspects and that there are so many individual views and experiences expressed in people's own words.It is also the more informative because it is not just a glorification,a hagiography if you can have such a thing of an institution,but because those who were part of it but who found that there were things they did not like have a fair say.It also feels that everyone in it is being open and honest without exaggerating their own part or being embittered by resentment.We are given the virtues and shortcomings of the club and prominent individuals,often by the same witnesses without rancour orresentment.

This is a really good book on a club who rose and declined in a comparatively short time without ever being as well known or glorified as some of the other clubs in Wales,and therefore with some mystery to many of us.It is astory vividly conveyed here by those who were part of it,and very will written and organised between a great deal of information and intelligent themes by people who use their enthusiasm and inside knowledge to make a perceptive and penetrating book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From riches to rags, the downfall of a giant. 27 Oct. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an avid fan of Pontypool RFC I was eagerly awaiting publication of this book. As an ex Pooler player Carter knows the highs and lows of the club better than most and his view of what made the team into the mighty force they once were makes fascinating reading.

He gives great insight to what made the legendary coach Ray Prosser have coaching methods 20 years ahead of its time, of how the training techniques broke many a player's mental state, of how Pooler were the most feared club throughout Britain beating the likes of Leicester, Munster, Cardiff, Bath, etc on a regular basis and of how the bubble burst with the advent of leagues, professionalism and regionalisation.

Sadly he has not gone into too much detail as to the inner turmoil that beset the club during the early 90s onwards, the club's decision to give the captaincy to Mark Ring which led to over half the team leaving and eventually relegation, the change of ownership of the club on numerous occasions that caused financial problems from one season to the next, the way in which the court case that led to Pooler almost going out of existence came about. Maybe Carter wasn't too willing to upset the applecart but many of the inner problems at Pontypool RFC were as much to blame for the club's decline other than the introduction of leagues, etc.

That said this is a real tale of how a mighty force in sport can fall if things go pear shaped off the field, it should heed as a warning to others that if things aren't managed well that serious problems will occur and that despite all the success failure could be just around the corner. Bubbles do burst, in the case of Pontypool it certainly did, big time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down.
For those who were involved in Welsh rugby during this era a remarkable insight into both club rugby and the importance of rugby to the communities. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jon Everett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect great book on our home town
Published 9 months ago by Melanie G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
Excellent book!
Published 10 months ago by Marc Harrold
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic read, couldn't put it down, a must for fans of rugby when it was real and relevant
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Pooler - Pooler - Pooler!
As a West Mon boy I grew up watching Pooler on the Bank in the halcyon days of the late 70's and 80's. Read more
Published 15 months ago by CycloTaff
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I bought this for my partner for his Christmas present and he read it in a few days and really enjoyed it.
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account....however!
I've been a Pontypool fan all my life and many of the stories here confirm those that have become folklore. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Martin C. Crockett
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the legendary club
As a lifelong supporter of Pooler, having spent many very happy afternoons on the Bank in Pontypool Park during the late 70's and 80's the book is a fascinating insight into the... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Matthew Trevett
5.0 out of 5 stars pontypool i love you
outstanding book all the star rugby players if like me you have been a pooler fan four years its a must on the christmas list
Published 20 months ago by val
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for all Welsh rugby supporters
Pontypool RFC was once one of the strongest clubs in Wales, and famous all over the rugby world. Yet the club that could once boast an all-international pack has nearly folded... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Barry Taylor
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