Yesterday afternoon I logged on to Wales Online, the web version of the local paper, to see my grandfather smiling back at me!
I was only 10 when Papa died, but I think of him every time I watch a rugby match, because he was one of the sporting celebrities of his generation.
The first time I realised he was famous was at the age of about 6 when one of my classmates came up to me in school to ask if her older brother could have his autograph. I remember being completely confused, why would anyone want Papa’s autograph? Yes he was a wonderful grandparent but why would anyone apart from me and my family care about that?
When I told my mum about the incident later that day she explained that Papa (or Cliff Jones to give him is proper name) had been a great Welsh fly half who later chaired the board of rugby selectors, before being made President of the WRU in its centenary year.
And so my love of rugby began!
Being Welsh meant there was probably a high likelihood of me following the game as I got older, but this cemented it as one of my favourite sports, despite the fact I’ve never even played! (Unless you count throwing a ball around the garden with my dad who spent hours teaching me how to spin it as I threw it backwards.)
Of course, there are plenty of people who love rugby as much as I do, which is why Papa was hitting the headlines yesterday, some 25 years after he died. Next Friday a special auction of rugby memorabilia is taking place in Cardiff and the star lot is a Welsh Rugby shirt worn by Arthur Rees during the famous Welsh Victory over the All Blacks in 1935, in which Papa was also playing. According to the article, it’s expected to fetch around £5,000 which is rather a lot more than the item would have cost at the time.
Thankfully I don’t have to spend money like that to get a piece of Welsh Rugby history because I already have my memories, and those to me are priceless.