On 18th December 1886 The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times reported this shocking event:-
"FIGHT AT A FOOTBALL MATCH."
"A disgraceful scene was witnessed at Neath, on Saturday last, at a football match between that club and the Newport team. A dispute arising as to a "try", the referee (Mr. R. Adams) was appealed to, and he gave his decision in favour of Newport, whereupon the partisans of Neath attacked him with mud and stones. Mr. Adams had to seek the aid of a medical man, being escorted off the field by the constabulary."
The Western Mail of 13th December 1886 reported this controversial game as below:-
"NEATH V. NEWPORT."
"These teams met at Neath on Saturday, but, owing to a dispute, the game ended in a discreditable fiasco, the players leaving the field before the call of time. It appears that the Newport team were exceedingly hard to please in the choice of referee. In the first place the name of Mr. Trubshaw was mentioned – a name which is a synonyme for fair play, and who refereed between Cardiff and Swansea without a single dispute. The Newportonians, however, would not have him. Cardiff and Swansea were afterwards telegraphed to, but were unable to spare a man. There was, therefore, no alternative but to choose a man from the field, a course which the home team have never objected to, and even in the Cup match between the two teams last year they allowed Mr. Lyne, a Newport man, to act as referee. The Neath captain suggested Mr. R. L. P. Cox, a native of Newport, but to no purpose, and, as stated below, the game proceeded for some time without a referee. After the first disputed try, Mr. Adams, a sporting correspondent of our sporting contemporary, was requested to act in the capacity of referee. The choice was most unfortunate, for the Neath team have always held the opinion that this gentleman has not been actuated by the most friendly of feelings towards them. His first decision was, in our opinion, unquestionably wrong. He was not in a position to see what took place, and we think it would have been better discretion on his part not to have undertaken the duties of referee under the circumstances. At 2.45 Newport kicked off, and the home team, by some good all round play, worked the oval to Newport territory, when H. A. Bowen got possession, and by a splendid run crossed the Newport line amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the onlookers. The Newport captain objected, and Clarke, with characteristic generosity, allowed the ball to be brought back. A referee was here appointed, and the play resumed. Some fast play ensued, in which Neath had a decided advantage and one of their number followed this play up by scoring a try. The referee gave his decision against the Neath team, which caused great dissatisfaction amongst the spectators, who were loud in their assertions that the try was a fair one and that the referee was unable to see the point scored. Much against the feeling of the onlookers, and their own sense of fair play, the home team again gave way, and the game proceeded. Within a few minutes the Neath men, by some pretty passing, scored another try, which, upon an appeal to the referee, was for the third time disallowed. The home team continued to press their opponents, several times crossing the Newport line, only, however, to be met with the same unalterable decision “disallowed”. At the call of half time the score stood:- Neath, two touches down to Newport, nil. After the time usually allowed for breathing Clarke kicked off, and play ensued in neutral ground. The ball was kicked over the line and J. E. Jones followed up, but before he was near the ball Gould collared him, threw him on one side, and then touched down. The home team contended that Gould had no right to tackle Jones when the ball was not in his possession, and this contention appears to us to be perfectly correct. Of course the appeal to the referee resulted in the usual stereotyped decision, and the Neath men, becoming exasperated at this treatment, left the field. Whilst admitting that the onlookers had great cause for dissatisfaction, we cannot offer any palliation for their conduct in following the visitors to the station and hooting them. This was most inhospitable and unmanly, and we sincerely trust that such a discreditable exhibition will never be permitted again. To say that the Neath team met with a similar reception at Newport some time ago is no excuse. It was certainly a most offensive display of bad taste, which we should be the last to countenance.
The following constituted the respective teams: -
Neath: Full-back, Broskham; three-quarter backs, S. S. Clarke (captain), J. E. Jones, and T. Brooks; half-backs, T. Evans and J. Williams; forwards, Ned Hughes, H. A. Bowen, R. Jones, W. Brooks, W. Gethin. S. Sparkes, S. Anthony, J. Norman and H. Evans.
Newport: Full-back, W. Fothergill; three-quarter backs, G. Thomas, T. E. Webb, and F. Jones; half-backs, C. Thomas and C. Downe; forwards, R. Gould (captain), Lockwood, T. G. “Jones,” T. Harding, Briggs, Hannan, Pepperall, Stone, and J. Jackson."
Subsequently, the Western Mail of 2nd May 1887 reported on the April Annual Meeting of the Welsh Football Union (incidentally attended by representatives from the following clubs: Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Neath, Llanelly, Maindee, and Cardiff Harlequins)and that:-
".... MR. BRYANT gave notice that at a special meeting to be held in August he would propose a new rule, giving the Welsh Rugby Union or its committee, power to deal with all dispute arising between local clubs."
"The grievance of Newport against Neath was met by the hon. secretary of the latter admitting that his club was wrong in leaving the ground when an adverse decision was given by the referee in the match in qestion."
Note : At the same meeting the London Welsh Football Club were elected members of the Union.