Who were Cardiff Alpha CC ??? This question fascinated me right from the photograph’s initial arrival as an object in the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket and our initial assessment. In fact, I became rather persistent in my enquiring nature to establish the background to this club. As you will see, this is no ordinary photograph of a cricket club. The players are extremely proud of their attire…… and where was the photograph taken?? It’s not the Arms Park or Sophia Gardens where so many teams of a decent standing during the Edwardian era played in Cardiff.
Our combined research into Cardiff Alpha CC has begun to uncover a rich vein of sporting culture in the Canton area of Cardiff, although there are still many questions to be answered.
The Club was established in 1893 and played their games at Clark’s Field . Despite several enquiries, the exact location of this pitch was a mystery . Several suggestions drew a blank until we were pointed in the direction of “Cardiff Remembered” and an article which confirmed the ground was situated in Broad Street , Canton which was adjacent to Cardiff Sanatorium (later known as Lansdowne Hospital)
The cricket club was formed by a group of young men who had been educated at Radnor Road Board School in Canton. Specifically, the Price and Gibson brothers inspired the ongoing development of the Club. It certainly seems the School was a hotbed for sporting activities as Rugby was prominent with games against other Cardiff Schools .
In the early years, the Alpha cricketers also formed Cardiff Corinthian Football Club which later became the famous Cardiff Corries Amateur Football Club. The cricketers decided they needed sporting activity during the winter months. What is very relevant here is that a close-knit generation of young men supported the ongoing Canton sporting scene, and left a legacy for other generations to enjoy.
As the cricket club grew in stature during the 1900s, their achievements were more widely recognized. This was no ordinary club as several of the players established themselves in a much higher level of cricket. Annual Club Dinners attracted the cream of Cardiff society including Lord Ninian Stuart and the Earl of Plymouth who themselves were very involved in sponsoring and encouraging their own cricket teams. Indeed, the Alpha Club obtained their own financial sponsorship from local businessmen. This may explain the style and panache of the 1909 photograph and why the sporting culture was held in such high regard.
But it was not just social recognition that drove the young men in this photograph. They really enjoyed playing cricket and broadened their horizons by joining in with other clubs and teams on tours to the West Country. Glamorgan Gypsies and Cardiff Bohemians played annual fixtures in Exmouth , Paignton and other clubs in Devon during the 1900s, with members of Cardiff Alpha CC being part of the tour parties. We believe these initial forays by the Alpha cricketers lead to the formation of Glamorgan Nomads who subsequently became the foremost touring team in South Wales.
So where was the 1909 photograph taken?? How about Thompson’s Park in Canton!! We would love to know more so if you have photographs, match records, family connections that can add to the story of Alpha CC please let us know. There is plenty more for us to uncover about this club and the men in this wonderful photograph.
(with thanks in writing this small piece of Canton history to Dr Andrew Hignell , Dr Tony Peters, John Lloyd and Jan Grey.)