THE footballers in the following photographs played a central role in the trophy-laden history of Newport's lost club - Lovell's Athletic.

The works team of the confectionery firm G F Lovell & Co, they kept the sport going in the then town in the revamped Football League of the Second World War years, after County suspended operations for the duration.

Either side of that conflict they were one of the finest non-league clubs in south Wales and the south west of England.

Plying their sporting trade out of the Rexville ground in Crindau for 51 years, before folding in 1969, Lovell's Athletic won numerous honours during that largely successful half-century, most notably the Welsh Cup in 1947/48, six Welsh League and two Western League titles. They also won the old Welsh Amateur Cup and the South Wales Senior Cup four times apiece, and as well as Monmouthshire leagues and cups.

The club has been relegated to the status of a sporting footnote since its demise, but ought to be remembered as a key part of this aspect of Newport's history.

In the second of a (very) occasional series, ANDY RUTHERFORD tells a partial history of Lovell's Athletic through the medium of team photographs and the stories of some of those players staring back at us through time.

Can you help fill in some of the many gaps? Can you spot a distant relative?

The majority of Lovell's players down the years also worked for the company and many were Newport and district men, or from the wider Gwent area. Others came from much further afield. Anyone who can help with information on any of those featured may email


South Wales Argus:

Back row: C H Baker (treasurer, standing); C Clapp (honorary secretary); E Healey; W Fullerton; H R Watts; W Davies; G Smith; W Baggs; G Moss.

Middle Row: W Deakin; C Hillman; W J Williams (general manager); Jim Davies (captain); W Hillman: G Garbutt.

Front Row: J Davies; T Cooke; T Williams.

A VERY early one to start, taken a couple of years after the club was formed. In its infancy, Lovell's Athletic played friendly matches only, but by 1920/21 were competing in the Newport & District League and the Woodcock Cup, with a squad talented enough to finish runners-up in both competitions.

This squad features W Hillman, one of the earliest Lovell's players to be capped by Wales at amateur level. He earned three amateur caps, and two at junior international level, later in the 1920s.


South Wales Argus:

Back row: W Higgs (committee); C Baker (committee); H Church; T D Howells; W Beer; H Watts (committee); D Williams (committee); C Smith (trainer).

Middle row: J T Howarth (secretary); H Graham; A Mitchell; Mr H Lovell; W Hillman (captain); R W McDonald; W Hiles.

Front row: S Bowsher; C Williams; B Hodson.

Three seasons later, and the club's development had continued apace. This season it spread its wings and joined the Western Football League, winning the title.

Lovell's reached the final too - for the second successive season - of the Welsh Amateur Cup. Each occasion ended in defeat to north Wales clubs - 0-1 to Acrefair, and 1-2 to Denbigh Town, respectively - but success in this competition was not far away. The club lifted the trophy three seasons in succession from 1925/26.

The club also won the Monmouthshire Challenge Cup in 1923/24.

Once again, W Hillman features here, this time as club captain. Also pictured are: Roy MacDonald, who had represented Wales at amateur international level in 1922/23 whilst at Newport County, and later became longstanding manager at Rexville, steering the club to its Welsh Cup triumph from the dug-out in 1948; and Billy Hiles, who worked at Lovell's for more than 30 years, and later played for Newport County for several seasons from the late 1920s.

Also pictured is Harold Lovell - son of confectionery firm founder George Lovell - who was the driving force behind the football team and was later and for many years involved in the Football Association of Wales.


South Wales Argus:

Something of a mystery, this one. The photograph is taken from one of the regular supplements of old Gwent photographs the South Wales Argus published in the early 1990s, though the original appears lost.

The supplement caption dated it to 1924/25, though no player details accompanied it, and the grainy quality makes it difficult to spot players who may have featured in the previous season's photograph featured above it.

It is possible too of course, that Lovell's were running more than one team in different competitions by this stage, so the personnel may have differed considerably.

Note the 'Toffee Rex' advert in the background. The players appear to be on different levels of a seating area, possibly the grandstand at Rexville.

1936/37 or 1937/38?

South Wales Argus:

Back row: A T Young; G Rogers; H Whitehouse; A Hardwicke; C Sercombe; W T Williams; O Wright; F Oakley; H Fisher; P Neath; C Whitehouse; A Clark; W Franklin.

Middle row: F Mogford (trainer); P George; G Wheeler; J R Jones; J Wheeler; C K Fisher; F Foxall; F Wake; A Woodruff; E Godfrey; W H Williams; S Fairfax (trainer); E Cowell.

Front row: T, Macgill; Mr R J Langmaid (secretary, G F Lovell & Co); H Lovell, Esq (vice-president); G Lovell, Esq, JP (president); Rt Hon Wm Brace PC (vice-president); Mr A C Fisher (chairman); Mr E Jenkins (honorary secretary, manager); F C Williams.

Out front: T Jenkins; J Edwards.

Skipping forward more than a decade, and by this time, Lovell's Athletic was well-established as a non-league football club in both Wales and the south and west of England.

As indicated, the season is not certain, but there are three trophies on show, and in 1936/37 the club won a 'treble' of sorts - the South Wales & Monmouthshire FA Senior Cup, the Monmouthshire County Senior Cup, and the Newport & District League title.

So most likely, the photograph shows either the 1936/37 squad showing off its trophy haul, or the 1937/38 squad with the previous season's spoils.

Trophy-gathering had become a habit for Lovell's by then. In addition to the honours mentioned previously, the club's various teams had also won a first Welsh League title (1931/32), three successive Monmouthshire Senior League titles from 1927/28, the South Wales & Monmouthshire Senior Cup (1930/31 and 1934/35), the Monmouthshire County Senior Cup (1929/30 and 1930/31), the Monmouthshire Challenge Cup (1929/30), and the Monmouthshire County Amateur Cup (1925/26 and 1928/29).

Two sets of club shirts are displayed in this photograph, probably depending on which one of its respective teams the players most regularly turned out for. Players of note featured here include:

Albert Clark, who won Wales amateur honours in 1937/38 and after the Second World War; defender;

Kitchener 'Kitch' Fisher, who appeared with Clark for Wales amateurs against England in 1937/38 and played a big role at the then Swansea Town during and immediately after the war, before briefly rejoining Lovell's;

F C Williams, another Lovell's Wales amateur international (1932/33);

Tom Macgill, an Englishman who played for Lovell's from the late 1920s through the 1930s, before becoming the club's longstanding trainer;

W H 'Billy' Williams, a Royal Marine Commando during the war, who was a member of the 1948 Welsh Cup-winning team.

On the non-playing side, Harold Lovell is present, as is his father George Lovell, founder of the confectionery firm, who was club president. Pictured too, is Risca-born vice-president William Brace, a former south Wales miners' union leader, Liberal-Labour MP for South Glamorganshire, and briefly Labour MP for Abertillery.



South Wales Argus:

No line-up details for this one either, but there are more trophies on show, and the information that accompanied this photograph states that Lovell's were champions of the Southern League (Western Section), the Western League Division One, and the Welsh League Divisions One and Two.

It is feasible, given that the Second World War began when barely a ball had been kicked in anger that season, that these trophies represent achievements from 1938/39 - when Lovell's won the Welsh League and Western League titles before these competitions were suspended for the duration of the conflict - and the hurriedly revamped 1939/40 campaign, when Lovell's won the re-arranged Southern League's Western Section.

There are rather more officials than players in this photograph, however keeper Billy Williams is present, and here is a first sighting of Les Bye (third from the right, middle row), a stalwart of the club during the war, who went on to captain the Welsh Cup-winning team of 1947/48.


South Wales Argus:

Back row: T Macgill (trainer); A Shelley; B Turner; J Evans; A Ferguson; L Gage; N Low; W H Brown; Mr C Williams; S Fairfax (assistant trainer).

Middle row: Mr R W MacDonald (secretary, manager); B Nieuwenhuys; H Lovell Esq (chairman); G F Lovell Esq, JP (president); C Whitehouse (captain); Rt Hon W Brace PC (vice-president); R J Langmaid Esq (vice-president); Mr J Parry (treasurer).

Front row: F Wetter; A Hardwick; W H Lucas; W M Owen; L Bye; E Jones; D Witcomb.

Out front: W H Williams; D Watkins.

Lovell's Athletic thrived in the revamped wartime sporting landscape, with the Football League regionalised and Newport County in hibernation.

The club enjoyed success in the Football League West - essentially a mini-league involving teams from South Wales, Bristol and Bath - and won the title in the season represented by the above photograph.

Many Newport County players threw in their lot with Lovell's during the war, or guested for the club among several other teams. Players from far and wide also played for them, usually those stationed at RAF St Athan or other armed forces bases in the region. These factors are reflected in this photograph, which among others includes:

Berry Nieuwenhuys - a pacy South African outside right who played for Liverpool either side of the Second World War, and was a part of that club's Division One championship-winning team in 1946/47, after which he retired and returned to his home country. Nieuwenhuys served in the RAF during the war, stationed for a time at St Athan, and when he couldn't get back to Liverpool for wartime matches, he guested for Lovell's;

Bert Turner - a full back born in Brithdir, Caerphilly, who played for Charlton Athletic either side of the war, including in the 1945/46 FA Cup final against Derby County,when he achieved the unique feat of scoring for both teams. He also won eight full Wales caps in the 1930s;

Norman Low - a defender who played for Newcastle United and Liverpool in the 1930s before a move to Newport County, where he played more than 100 games and helped the club to the Third Division (South) title in 1938/39;

Charlie Whitehouse - club captain at the time of this photograph. He features in the Lovell's team photo from 1936/37 with brother Harry, and also played for Newport County;

Billy Lucas - a Newport-born wing half and Wales international who played with distinction for Swindon Town before the war, and Swansea Town and Newport County after it. He also won seven full Wales caps. He joined County in 1953 as player-manager and after retiring as a player, remained as manager until 1961;

Doug Witcomb - an Ebbw Vale-born wing half who played for West Bromwich Albion either side of the war, then for several seasons with Sheffield Wednesday, ahead of a brief late career stint at Newport County. He earned three full Wales caps in 1946/47.


South Wales Argus:

Back row: R S M Bowie (masseur); T Macgill (trainer); D Witcomb; J McPhee; J Blood; T Rigg; N Low; H Ware; A W Clarke; L Bye; S Fairfax (assistant trainer).

Front row: Mr J M Parry (treasurer); E Jones; H Lovell Esq (chairman, senior vice-president); W H Lucas (captain); A Hardwicke; Mr R W MacDonald (honorary secretary, manager); W Guest; Mr F C Williams.

Players familiar from the previous photograph also make an appearance in this one, from the following season. Joining them here is outside half Billy Guest, another with plenty of Football League experience either of the war, notably with Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers during the 1930s.


South Wales Argus:

No line-up available for this one, taken in the midst of what could fairly be described as the club's glory years. In 1946/47 Lovell's retained the Welsh League title won in 1945/46, making it four successive such titles either side of the war. The club also won the Monmouthshire Senior Cup once again.

Keeper Billy Williams is present once again, and to his right, a first sighting of Harry Clarke, a defender whose talents were key to the club's Welsh Cup triumph the following season, and who then went on to play a key role in Tottenham Hotspur's 'push and run' team that won the English First Division title in 1949/50.

The core of the 1947/48 Welsh Cup winning team is here too. Along with Williams and Clarke are Garnett Edmunds (top row, third from right), Harold Morgan (top row, second from right), Les Bye (front row, third from right), and Trevor Holland (front row, second from left).


South Wales Argus:

Back row: T Macgill (trainer); Jack Steggles; George Hodder; Sam Prangley; W H Williams; Harry Clarke; Garnett Edmunds.

Front row: Harold Morgan; Alec Shaw; Les Bye; Trevor Holland; Terry Wood.

Picture: National Library for Wales (Geoff Charles Collection)

The team that won the Welsh Cup by beating Shrewsbury |Town 3-0 after extra-time at Wrexham on April 22 1948, pictured prior to the kick-off. More details of that match and how Lovell's reached the final, along with a more detailed club history, can be found here.

The club had rejoined the Southern League - the highest level it competed in - for this season, but its strength in depth was such that Lovell's Athletic Reserves won the Welsh League title. After this season, honours became gradually harder to come by, and it was to be 18 years before the club won the Welsh League again, for a final time.


South Wales Argus:

Back row: L Burch; I Robling; R Cross; G Edmunds; T Wood; E Sillett.

Front row: A Paul; S Kemp; G Lowrie (captain); J Griffiths; H Ridsdale.

Much-changed, this team photograph shows Lovell's before a Southern League game in November 1953. Garnett Edmunds and Terry Wood are the sole survivors from the 1948 Cup-winning team, but this is a more than useful XI with five, possibly six, of the line-up having Wales amateur international experience.

Edmunds and Wood had been capped by Wales at amateur level whilst at Lovell's in 1947/48, and Wood also had an amateur cap from his previous stint at Cardiff City.

And there are three, possibly four, other Wales amateur internationals in this photograph. The three definites are:

Idwal Robling - a manager at the Lovell's confectionery factory, he was a team regular during the 1950s and was capped 13 times by Wales at amateur level. He was also part of the Great Britain football squad that competed at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. Later, he moved into sports reporting, notably as a commentator with the BBC in Wales;

Alan Paul - earned two Wales amateur caps as a Lovells player;

Len Burch - capped three times by Wales amateur level while at Lovell's.

The 'possible' is J Griffiths, as a B J Griffiths won eight Wales amateur caps from the late 1940s to mid-1950s while at Lovell's - but this may not be the same player.

Also pictured are goalkeeper Ray Cross, a regular for many seasons, and Selwyn Kemp, another longstanding Lovell's servant and appropriately the last named here, as he was a mainstay in keeping the club going through the increasingly difficult 1960s, and was involved in the club's final match, at Pembroke Borough in the Welsh League on May 24 1969.

And that's it. Anyone who has information on the players in these photographs, or on the club - or have any other photographs - don't hesitate to get in touch at the aforementioned email address.