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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marking A Decade Since the Death of Robbie James

It's ten years since Robbie James died. James was with a number of clumbs. He was signed by Alan Mullery, and spent almost three years at QPR - See Wikipedia

Llanelli Star

- Robbie James
It's all smiles these days at Stebonheath Park - the home of the high-flying Reds.
But during this month 10 years ago it was a ground in grief.
A midweek Welsh League clash against Porthcawl on Wednesday, February 18, 1998, turned out to be the most sombre occasion at the ground, since it was first played on in 1922.
Instead of carrying the result of the match the following day, the Star's front page reported that Welsh legend Robbie James, the Reds manager, had collapsed and died playing the game that had made him famous.
The 40-year-old Swansea City favourite was playing as sweeper in the clash again Porthcawl, with the cheers turning to tears during the first half when the tragedy unfolded at Stebo.
The game was abandoned immediately and despite on-field attempts to revive him and the attention of paramedics, it was later announced that he had died.
The ground was in mourning for the week that followed with garlands of flowers laid on the pitch. Tributes also poured in to the club with many others appearing in newspapers, on radio and television.
Sketty came to a standstill for Robbie James funeral in St Paul's Church in one of the biggest funerals seen in Swansea for many years. Fans in tears lined the streets to say farewell to the former Vetch favourite.
The young players from the Reds side were in club tracksuits at the funeral with the Welsh manager at the time Bobby Gould, Colin Addison, Bob Latchford, Dai Davies, Brian Flynn, Len Allchurch and Leighton Phillips among other famous soccer faces there. Phillips, the ex-Aston Villa and Wales defender, at the end of his career also managed the Llanelli side.
Former Wales wing wizard Leighton James, who took part in the service, was Robbie's successor as manager at Stebonheath.
It was appropriate that another of Swansea's most famous players was to finish the job Robbie James had started - steering the Reds from the Welsh League back to the League of Wales.
When Robbie James died, it was during his second spell with the Reds and at the end of an outstanding career which brought him 47 caps. The dynamic midfielder made nearly 500 appearances for the Swans, scoring 164 goals with QPR, Leicester, Stoke and Cardiff other clubs he played for.
Despite all Robbie had previously achieved, he relished the opportunity to coach Llanelli.
He had considered managing from the touchline, but decided to carry on because he felt his experience would help a young side.
Under his guidance, the Reds had one of the most successful starts to a season in their history, and were pushing for promotion back to the top flight of Welsh football. Report

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