The day the All Blacks were humbled by schoolboy duo
NO emails, no internet and very definitely no Twitter — yet New Zealand captain Jack Manchester knew word would travel fast after his side fell to Swansea at St Helen's 75 years ago tomorrow.
It wasn't any old defeat.
For a start it was the first time the All Blacks had ever lost to a club side.
And, unimaginably, the Whites had tamed the much-vaunted tourists with half-backs lifted straight from the classroom.
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Sixth formers at Gowerton Grammar School, Haydn Tanner and Willie Davies set aside their satchels to put their names in legend by orchestrating their team's 11-3 triumph, prompting Manchester to utter one of sport's immortal lines.
Turning to the travelling Kiwi journalists in Swansea, he appealed: "Please don't tell them at home we were beaten by a pair of schoolboys."
Sports desks in New Zealand were soon made aware of the earth-shaking events 12,000 miles away, with the rest of the rugby world rapidly picking up on developments.
"Word travelled pretty quickly," said former Swansea secretary David Price, "because it was a momentous result.
"New Zealand didn't make a habit of losing, and certainly not to a side with two schoolboys at half-back.
"For Swansea, it was the greatest result in the club's history.
"It transformed the club with the prestige it brought. People in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa knew our name and associated us with the victory over the All Blacks. They saw us as a club of stature — world renown, even.
"Days like that do not come along often."
Indeed they don't.
Rugby tour matches of bygone years were events that were eagerly anticipated for months or even years by the locals, but not all ended in triumph.
When Neath and Aberavon teamed up to take on New Zealand in 1973, the match was billed as a celebration of the great Dai Morris, who never toured with the Lions.
But the match proved the mother of all anti-climaxes, with the tourists handing out a crushing 40-point beating that left the combined side in navel-gazing mode.
As Dai's fellow villager from Glynneath, Max Boyce, subsequently lamented: "Neath blamed Aberavon/ And Aberavon, Neath/ Someone blamed the linesman/ Some blamed you and I/ Everyone blamed the committee/ But no one there blamed Dai."
Over the years, Neath and Aberavon were not alone in experiencing defeat against the southern hemisphere's finest. Reality smacked all the Welsh sides hard in the face at certain points.
Llanelli were crushed 81-3 by the 1997 All Blacks, while Swansea had subsided 78-7 to South Africa three years earlier.
But occasionally, just occasionally, the natives rose to the challenge and gained a triumph whose significance would echo through the years.
Swansea's success in 1935 was one of those occasions.
The scale of the task facing Tanner and Davies that overcast September Saturday was beyond daunting.
As they took the field, they would have looked across, probably feeling butterflies as they contemplated doing battle with the most formidable foe in rugby.
Dominating everything in their vision would have been the colour black.
"You actually need to see an All Blacks jersey out on the field, on the back of the man who has won the right to wear it, to appreciate its impact, its depth, its sheer unadulterated blackness."
So runs one writer's take on one of sport's most famous shirts.
The colour black — evil, mourning, funerals, power, stability and strength. Everything associated with it must have assaulted Tanner and Davies's senses.
Yet the pair delivered.
"They were superb players," recalled Price, a spectator that day who later served as Swansea's secretary for 37 years.
"Haydn Tanner was a scrum-half ahead of his time. Not only was he bigger than other No. 9s who were then playing — he could take on back rows through his sheer power.
"He also had a superb reverse pass and regularly broke defences.
"Willie Davies was lightning quick, a sprinter who could run 100 yards in close on ten seconds. Would-be tacklers would think they had nailed him, but in the blink of an eye he'd be gone.
"That day, the pair of them orchestrated the game from half-back."
But the All Blacks never lose to just two players alone. Despite being lighter than their opponents, Swansea's pack scrummaged New Zealand off the park. Inspired by skipper Edgar Long, they were also ravenous in the loose.
Then there was centre Claude Davey, arguably Swansea's man of the match but whose deeds went relatively unheralded due to the exploits of the teenage cousins.
Davey was a crash tackler, a Scott Gibbs of the 1930s, and he held the Whites defence together with a series of thunderous hits that saw Kiwi defenders knocked back all over the field.
But he could also split defences and scored two tries that day, the first after Davies had taken a bullet pass from Tanner, accelerated clear of the first line of defence, drawn the full-back and sent out the scoring ball.
Dennis Hunt scored Swansea's other try.
"The thing was, that team contained some all-time great players," said Price.
"Haydn Tanner was one and Claude Davey another, while Willie Davies had tremendous class and there was quality in the pack.
"Nothing passed Davey in midfield. He had presence and was one of the greatest centres Wales has ever produced.
"Off the pitch, he was as affable as they come. But once he took the field he tackled like fury."
Price continued: "There were tremendous celebrations after the game.
"There was a pitch invasion, and the players were in the committee box in the stands with the fans cheering them from the pitch.
"It was a huge thing for Swansea."
Such occasions are gone forever, lost in the mists of time, with monochrome images in dusty old books doing them scant justice.
They allowed clubs to have a crack at sometimes full-strength Test sides who were on not so much tours as crusades, lasting for months.
"Tour matches in the amateur era were special occasions," added Price.
"They brought together everyone and the interaction off the field was a key part of the enjoyment. There were great occasions throughout the locality for the tourists.
"Swansea's win in 1992 over Australia was another landmark day for the club, with the Wallabies world champions at the time, but I wouldn't equate it with the 1935 success against New Zealand.
"That saw us become the first club side to defeat the All Blacks and the first club to complete wins over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
"There was elation throughout Swansea after that result."