Albert Baker author The History of Quoits in WalesThe History of Quoits in Wales - International and Individual Records

By A. Baker, Secretary Welsh Quoit Association

Printed in 1949 by J. R. Davies (Printers) Ltd, Central Printing Works, Abertillery

"THE GAME OF QUOITS as I know it" by A. Baker

As Secretary of the Welsh Quoiting Board it is my happy duty and privilege to compile a record of Welsh Quoiting which unfortunately has not been undertaken in the past.  The Record of Welsh Quoiting stands equal to any sport that has been developed in the Principality and is worthy of being brought to the notice of all sportsmen in a printed book.

A L B E R T  B A K E R

The dictionary states that "Quoiting" is to throw or pitch a flattish circular ring of iron at an iron pin fixed in the ground.  No doubt that was the idea in early history, but to the present player it is really more than that, because with the march of time the game of quoits has had standard rules and regulations to comply with.  It is not now an affair of rope rings and a wooden peg to hang them on, but an 18 or 21 yard pitch over which the iron quoit weighing anything from five to 14lbs. must be thrown with accuracy to ring the pin, called the hob, set in stiff clay, surrounded by a box framework.

The Tradition of the "Sport of Quoits" is ancient and very absorbing.  It is on record that historians have recorded that it was one of the five games played at the Pentathlon Meetings held in Greece over 2,000 years ago.  This booklet, without any pretence of being complete, endeavours to give records of the sport as we best know from information received, and press cuttings.  The records have not been easily obtained, bo doubt our departed friends of those early days hesitated to think that we, long after they have departed might have a desire to read and know off-hand, the results and records of their efforts in the playing of our sport.  We have endeavoured to take our records back for the past fifty years, when Wales took to Quoits seriously in 1896 when they commenced playing International games with England, and it is of these games and Welsh Championships that we intend to enlighten you and rekindle the honours due to past veterans of the pastime in Wales.

It will be observed on perusal of the records of some players that they have made a very low score.  This must not always be taken for granted that the player has made a poor show during the game.  It very often reflects more or less, great credit to the player who is fortunate to lead off.  This player covers the pin with his quoit, thereby not giving his opponent a chance to claim the pin.  This continues until the opponent gets a chance.  Many of our quoit players are capable of making runs of ten to twenty points before giving their opponents an opening, and the same can be said of our English and Scottish quoiters.  After perusal of the records of the International contests, you will find low scores by players of all countries.  The only occasion when a player failed to score in an International match, was at Merthyr in 1901, when R. Smith of Abersychan was defeated by W. Evans of Salop 21 points to nil.  Quoit players have various styles of adopting the delivery of quoits and have expounded the delivery with great art, especially in their efforts to overcome difficulties in beating their opponent's quoit.  One of the greatest exponents of all times was the late James Hood of Liverpool, and English Quoit Championship Winner, he was noted for the delivery of the "Potty".  Delivering a "Potty" is the art of throwing the quoit "Turned Over" or "Upside Down".  By doing so, an effort is made to uplift an opponent's quoit that may be lying over the pin in the quoit bed.  James Hood was a past master at the "Potty" delivery and has delighted many quoiting spectators with some remarkable achievements, he has also exploited the playing of a "Potty" as a leading quoit and gave the Welsh crowd a wonderful exhibition of its success at Ystrad Rhondda in Wales versus England International of 1920.

In a match played under official quoiting regulations, each player is allowed to play only two quoits from one bed to the other bed, but should his first quoit be lying in a favourable position on the pin and there may be the possibility of the second quoit knocking the first quoit off the pin, the player involved may carry his quoit in place of delivering it.  In important matches, players are coached by a person who is called a "Lighter".  Theis "Lighter" places a piece of paper in a spot near the pin, in the bed of clay, and asks the player to deliver his quoit to this said piece of paper.  The art of "Lighting", is when two or three quoits are lying next to the pin, and the piece of paper must be put in the right spot so that the player concerned may come as close as possible to the pin and win the point.  Many an International contest and other important quoit matches have been won by good "Lighting", and in these games it must be realised that when a game is won, credit must be given the "Lighter" as well as the player.

Some previous Officers of the Welsh Quoiting Board are : -

Chairmen :-

Treasurers : -

From 1937 onwards, the Board made their Secretary's office into Financial Secretary.

Secretary :-

A. Baker of Cwm, Ebbw Vale, the present General Financial Secretary has held the office for 22 years.

In the year 1896, International contests commenced between England and the Principality, the first contest taking place in Cheltenham, the result being a win for England by 99 points, each team being composed of 16 players.  The following year, the International was played for the first time on Welsh soil and was held at Bridgend, the result being a win for Wales by 81 points.  Out of the 16 games played, Wales won 11.  From 1898 up to 1902, each respective country registered a win on their home ground.  Between 1903 and 1911, there was a break between the both International Bodies, owing to non-agreement on the sharing of gate receipts and guarantee matters.  However, in 1912 the breach was healed and International contests again resumed, but the teams were to consist of 12 players in place of 16.  The first contest of the resumed series was held at Llwynypia in the Rhondda Valley, and England for the first time defeated Wales on Welsh soil by 11 points on the aggregate score.  Wales won seven games out of the 12 played at this match, but not with sufficient scores to win the contest.  In 1913 and 1914, each country won their contest on their respective home ground.  Unfortunately the First World War again caused a break in the sport between the two countries; no contests being held from 1915 to 1918. the result of these breaks from 1903 to 1911 and 1915 to 1918, robbed many of our prominent players of the honour and a good International record of playing for their country.  The standard of quoiting during the breaks, was equal to any that preceded the period, or after.  With the ending of the  First World War, the International contest was again resumed and the match was played in 1919 in Custom House, London.  Wales won the match by 16 points; the scores being Wales 219 and England 203; the Welsh team won seven out of the 12 games played.  This was a memorable contest to the Welsh team owing to the fact that it was the first victory for Wales on English soil.  From 1920 to 1924, each country won their respective contest on their home ground, but in 1925 at the Erith Quoit Ground, Wales had the honour of defeating England by 63 points on their home ground.  The result of International contests played to 1925 being - Wales having won nine and England having won eight games.  From now onwards up to 1930, Wales won all the contests played, but in 1931 at the North Kensington Club Ground, London, England defeated Wales by 29 points.  With the exception of the contest that was held at Ystrad Rhondda in 1938, the Welsh team won every contest played from 1932 up to 1939.  Owing to heavy rain, the contest in 1938 was declared drawn after only three games having been played.  Owing to the Second World War, the contests were suspended from 1940, but resumed in 1948.  The results of all contests played to date being Wales won 20 contests, England won nine contests and one declared drawn.

On looking through the International records, we find that England has been served by such grand players as Jack Kirby, London, six times Champion of England, James Hood, Liverpool, five times Champion of England, George Graham, London, four times champion of England, W. H. Jones, Worcester and Arthur Knox, Rutlandshire, both three times Champion of England.

Wales has been served with grand players such as William Dice Davies of Aberdare, five times Champion of Wales, Frank Griffiths, Waunlwyd, four times Champion of Wales, Percy Lloyd, Ebbw Vale, four times Champion of Wales, Ben Lyon, Ebbw Vale, three times Champion of Wales, Jack Price, Argoed, four times Champion of Wales.  Jack Price has not yet lost a game to an English opponent, having played 12 games and won them all.  Relating to Jack Price's games in Scottish Internationals, he has won four out of seven played.

It was in the year 1931 that Wales commenced playing International games with Scotland.  The National Scottish game is played over a 21 yard pitch, but England and Wales play over an 18 yard pitch.  Owing to the three countries not having reached agreement over the distance to be played, inter-country games between the three have not yet materialised.  There is a very keen competition for the 21-yard Singles Championship of Scotland and the players are not in favour of breaking their tradition by playing 18 yards game as played by England and Wales.  But on a few occasions, Scotland have agreed to come down to the 18 yard. game and have come out on top with some very fine exhibitions of quoiting.  Scotland has some grand leading players in J. Kilpatrick, who has been 12 times Champion of Scotland, W. Penman, six times Champion of Scotland, W. Anderson, three times Champion of Scotland.  These three players are regarded as equal to any  three players throwing quoits.  Apart from being good players, all throw heavy quoits.  J. Kilpatrick throws a quoit 14½ lbs. on an 18 yard pitch and 12lbs. on a 21 yard pitch.  Wales and Scotland have played seven International contests, the last being played in Llanhilleth in 1948 when Wales was defeated by 36 points.  Of the series played, Scotland has won six contests and Wales one contest.  Previous to World War II, the sport was gaining prominence, and the B.B.C. honoured the sport by allowing a broadcast of the International match between Scotland and Wales at Glyn Neath in 1939, the commentator being D. R. Williams, the past Chairman of the Welsh Quoiting Board and the broadcast was much appreciated by all quoit enthusiasts who were unable to see the contest.  With the termination of the War, the Welsh Board Secretary A. Baker, has given a few talks on the air with the object of reviving the interest in the ancient pastime of quoits.

The rules and regulations of the game is practically the same as in the early nineties.  There is one exception which now makes quoiting more difficult to play.  The exception is the pattern on the quoit.  The Kilmarnock quoit is much flatter and easier to climb, but with the introduction of the West Bromwich type of quoit with its high shoulder, it is far more difficult to climb and much harder to beat.  There fore, it calls for skill, and the player concerned has to alter his style of throwing his quoit and try to beat other quoits of his opponent.  Very often as previously stated, the throwing of the first quoit to a good player, is worth a dozen points or more, and many times we have seen a player compile a score of 15 to 20 points without a break.

Wm. Dice Davies, The Grand Old Man of Quoiting

The most prominent player for Wales during the past 50 years was undoubtedly the late William Dice Davies of Aberdare, (find him on Facebook) who was know to us as the Grand Old Man of Quoits.  Dice represented Wales on 25 occasions, winning 17 games and losing eight.  He also won the Welsh Championship on five occasions.  He was also for a little period, Secretary of the Welsh Quoiting Board, and to us who are left behind to record his record, we say to all young quoiters "Set your teeth together and emulate the record of the Grand Old Man of Welsh Quoiting". As a "Leading Quoit Player", Fred Evans of Waunlwyd was considered one of the best players of Wales.  He was always in the forefront when called upon to oppose England, ranking high in the team on the merit of how players are chosen.  He was always opposed by the best English players of his day.  We can state that he was one of the most capable of quoiters who played for Wales, but never had the honour of winning the Welsh Individual Championship.

For more on Dice Davies and Aberdare visit AberdareOnline                                                          Wm.Dice Davies


By what we can gather from old enthusiasts of the game, they state that in the early days of Welsh quoiting, the distance played was 21 yards, but a certain Scotsman named McGibbon who was touring the Welsh Valleys at that period and was said to be a quoit player of repute, introduced the 18 yard game to us.  Since this distance has been adopted, Welsh quoiters have always adhered to it.  Prior to the late War, a league was established in the Swansea area and was known as the Swansea and District Light Quoit League, with clubs from Gorseinon, Penclawdd, Loughor, Waunarlwydd, Bynea and surrounding places.  These players threw quoits weighing about two lbs., a distance of 21 yards.  As Secretary of the Welsh Quoiting Board, I had the honour of witnessing these games at Bynea.  The match was arranged with the full object of confirming their views and trying to get me to acknowledge the fact that there was more skill attached to the small quoit by throwing a longer distance.  By what I saw of this game, it did not convince me to accept their version.  The pins were not being covered and the display of our leading players overshadowed all I saw at Bynea.  Had I witnessed play of a standard produced by our players, I should have readily agreed with the Light Quoit Players' views.  Should they rise their displays anywhere near the standard of our throwing, I should be the first to admit that there was far more skill in the delivering of the light weight quoit than with the heavy weight.

The game as played by the premier Quoit League of Wales, England and Scotland calls for great fitness on the players' part, and for which much skill is required.  It is an individual game played between two players, and all efforts depend on fitness and accuracy.  The style of play differs quite a great deal.  This can be immediately observed when you have seen the English and Welsh play and compared it with the style of the Scots player.  Personally, I would term the English and Welsh style of playing as pitching quoits, and the Scots style as throwing quoits, the extra distance of the Scots game, and played off the ground in place of playing from a running board makes it appear that way.

In an effort to produce an authentic record, I have had great difficulties owing to the fact that no records of any description for dates previous to 1920 period was handed to me when I took office as Welsh Board Secretary.  But with the assistance of old quoiting enthusiasts, members of various quoit clubs, and especially the valuable cooperation of the Welsh Board Chairman D. R. Williams, I have been able to compile a record going back for the past fifty years.

We have International records for all contests played between England and Wales.  The same applies to the contests played with Scotland.  We have not been successful in obtaining individual record of the Welsh Championship winners previous to the First World War, but from 1919 to the present date, our records are complete.  I have the happy memory of seeing J. Powell of Dowlais win the Welsh Championship at Cwm, Ebbw Vale in 1920, and in 1921, I saw The Grand Old Man, Dice win the Welsh Championship at Cwm, Ebbw Vale.  This victory of Dice meant him winning the cup outright for being Champion of Wales on three occasions.  In 1922, a new Challenge Cup was presented to the Welsh Board for annual competition in the Welsh Championship, by the Evening Express of Cardiff.  This cup is still being competed for annually, the last winner being J. Price of Argoed, with W. Price of Ebbw Vale as runner up.

From a financial point of view, our game has been a difficult proposition, but nevertheless, we have always managed to come through our difficulties, fully conversant with the knowledge that we play the game for the love of playing and not for financial gain.  some folk regard our game as a dirty game because it entails the throwing of quoits into a bed of stiff Clay which often splashes over players and spectators.  it may be dirty to play but at heart of the game is at the cleanest of all sport, with no body line bowling, no stone walling, no fouling and no playing for a draw.  The quoit player must play to win, and the spirit shown afterwards between the victor and the vanquished when they sit together to enjoy a convivial evening, is a spirit of brotherhood, and all are satisfied that the sport calls for much better measure of support and encouragement.

The majority of players and supporters of the sport, are miners, and we feel assured that there are better prospects for the future.  The five-day week now being installed into the miner's life, should give him the break he rightly deserves and allow him to attend the pleasure that has been denied him in the past.  The late War brought the game to a standstill by the way of playing Internationals, Welsh Championship and inter-league games.  Owing to the fact as previously stated, it was mostly played by our miners and the demand for King Coal was so great that our players, with patriotic fervour, gave up their sport and assisted with the war effort.  Also, if the opportunity arose during the War, to assist some Wartime charity, the facilities for travelling was very acute and it was difficult to carry on.  We are now hopeful, and looking to the future with promise.  With the Saturday free, games should commence earlier in the afternoon and give more time to sit together in the final convivial enjoyment which has always been part of the sport.  There have been instances when whole families have taken up the sport, the most notable being the Tovey family of Cwm, Ebbw Vale.  All five brothers played for Wales between 1897 and 1929.  Between them they played 16 time for Wales, winning 13 games and losing three.  Other families have followed suit, such a the Powell's of Dowlais, who had 2 Internationals.  Then we have a team of Joneses at Banwen who turned out one International.

In conclusion, we trust this booklet will rekindle the interest in our ancient sport of quoits in the now post-war period.  Also be the means of appreciating the records and history of past pioneers of the sport.  It is hoped that this account of quoiting history may encourage further efforts in making good use of leisure by the miners who have now attained their five-day week.  It has been far too long that men have been regarded just as producers.  Primarily they are human beings who require work and pleasure.  Even today we have not fully learnt this.  Yet if we are to build up a civilised and Christian policy, we must relate all our industrial, social, sporting and educational activities to the full purpose of establishing conditions under which men and women can enter upon their full spiritual, intellectual and physical birthright.  The task of all present players and quoiting enthusiasts, will be to cultivate in others, the pleasure and interest that can be obtained from our ancient sport.  We hope this booklet will be widely read and that quoiting, along with other Welsh sport, will be revived in the now post-war period.

And finally, I have again to record appreciation for the constant detailed assistance in the preparation of this booklet; often necessitating somewhat wearisome research by friends, and especially the Welsh Board Past Chairman, Mr D. R. Williams, to whom I shall remain most grateful.

On behalf of the Welsh Quoit Association,

ALBERT BAKER, Secretary.

24,Cendle Terrace, Cwm, Ebbw Vale


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