Whilst lacrosse in Wales has been about for many a year, only recently has there been a surge in the number of Welsh clubs. Up until the early- to mid-2000s, the only club that offered men’s lacrosse was Penarth – women’s and mixed were well catered for at Cardiff club, Cardiff University, UWIC, Swansea and Aberystwyth. But based a few miles outside the capital, and latterly with just 1 senior men’s team playing at the highest level in the south of England, it was perhaps unsurprising when first UWIC and then Swansea University established men’s teams made up mostly of new and developing players. The former is one of many clubs who have received vital support and coaching from Wilmslow’s Jason Perrin, the latter being the fruit of years of hard work by Tom Echanis
The season of 2005/2006 was a watershed year for lacrosse in Wales. After a long and arduous season, many of the Penarth men’s team were looking for a new challenge. Some opted for a weekly round trip of 350 miles to test themselves in League North, another decided to give his support to the fledgling side at Swansea University, where he was studying, whilst others put their efforts into establishing a men’s team at Cardiff University. This was a crucial step in the development of Harlequins – had these players remained at Penarth, it is unlikely they would have made the break-away to form a team in Cardiff directly.
Until January 2007, the Welsh Lacrosse Association ran a Centre of Excellence at the Welsh Institute of Sport (WIS) in Cardiff on Monday evenings. This attracted players from several clubs and had produced some of Wales’ brightest international talents. It was at these sessions that the Cardiff based players, who spent their Saturday’s playing across the UK, came together and the idea of a club in the capital began to emerge. Once the principle of starting a men’s team in Cardiff had been established, a series of meetings were arranged to put the wheels in motion.
The first get-together took place on Monday 8th January 2007 at the Mochyn Du pub – a favourite post-training watering hole within a ground ball dash of WIS. Attendees comprised a variety of interested parties playing their sporting trade at clubs as far afield as Wilmslow and Hitchin. The invitation asked anyone interested to come along to ‘bash brains and share ideas’ – although at this point, all correspondence was in relation to Cardiff City Lacrosse Club – Harlequins was to come later. Over the following weeks and months, further meetings took place and lots of work was done behind the scenes in finding a home for matches, finding a floodlit training venue and deciding on club colours – all the important things. Importantly, several local women’s players also got involved in setting up the club – the intention being that the support of an established club would go a long way to helping set up a women’s team as well.
As plans solidified, notification was given to the English Lacrosse Association (ELA) and to the South of England Men’s Lacrosse Association (SEMLA), ratifying the new club. Advice was sought from SEMLA over the wording of a club constitution, and from friends in the lacrosse community who had embarked on similar projects. Notable amongst these were Trevor Rogers of Reading LC and President of SEMLA, and Chris White who was a driving force behind East Grinstead LC. Both offered invaluable help along the way, pointing out the pitfalls to avoid as well as tips to make the venture a success, and Harlequins owe them a debt of gratitude for the time, effort, many emails and long phone calls they had to endure.
On 16th April 2007, the club’s first Annual General Meeting was held – a constitution was proposed and accepted, and the first officers of the club elected. Cardiff City Lacrosse Club was official. Having been accepted into the SEMLA league for season 2007/08, the club was invited to enter the Centurion 6-a-side tournament – an annual season-closing event. Placed in the Minor division along with other new and developing clubs, it marked not only the first official outing for Cardiff City LC, but also its first piece of silverware as the squad beat Welwyn Warriors 4-0 in the final.
Of all the advice offered, one of the strongest recommendations was to find a rugby or football club to call home. And so, several willing volunteers set about calling Cardiff’s many clubs to see if any fancied adding a lacrosse club to their ranks. The first to indicate an interest was Cardiff High School Old Boys Rugby Club, and a meeting was arranged between Cardiff City LC and officials of CHSOB in May 2007. From the outset, they were excited to have a lacrosse team on board, keen to improve the bar takings that are the lifeblood for many amateur sports clubs (they must have heard about the lacrosse mantra that is ‘just one more’…). From a lacrosse point of view, they offered fantastic facilities, a floodlit training venue, a pitch (albeit in need of proper development before it is usable) and perhaps most importantly, a place to call home. In return, the lacrosse club was asked to ditch the ‘City’ moniker and take on the alternative name of the rugby club – Cardiff Harlequins. The proposal was passed unanimously.
On 6th October 2007, Harlequins’ men’s team lined up for the club’s debut league fixture. It marked the end of months of hard work. Hopefully, it will be only the opening chapter a long and illustrious history.
Cardiff Harlequins LC would like to thank the following people for all the phone calls, emails, attendance at meetings, advice, and support, without which the club would probably not exist:
Will Barrett Gareth Bolderson; Liz Callicott; Sue Chandler; Alan Croft; Hannah Fisher; Ian Furlong; Mike Gamble; Matt Grindle; Kyle Hughes; Clair Huish; Toby Jones; Esther Laugharne; Chris Lee; Doug Lee; Andy Morgan; Neil O’Hara; Nick Panayidis; Vix Peregrine; Mike Peters; Rory Peters; Dick Pexton; Luke Probert; Barbara Rogers; Trevor Rogers; Rhodri Stanford; Ryan Wallace; Chris White; Gareth Willis; Matt Wills;