1977: the Gillette Cup semi-final at Swansea.

Eifion Jones – who played a decisive innings in the victory over Leicestershire at Swansea in 1977. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Glamorgan had tasted little success in one day cricket, so it was no surprise at the start of the 1977 season to see them listed as rank outsiders for the Gillette Cup, the premier limited overs competition. However, the Welsh county made a complete mockery of these odds, put together a series of comprehensive victories and reached the Lord`s final of a one day competition for the first time in their history.

Glamorgan`s progress in the 1977 Gillette Cup began with a bye in the first round, before in mid-July defeating Worcestershire at New Road by four wickets. Young batsmen Arthur Francis and Mike Llewellyn both scored half centuries as Glamorgan recorded their first win the competition for the small matter of five years!

The Welsh side were then quite fortunate to secure a home draw for the quarter-final, against Surrey at Sophia Gardens. It was a contest which drew a capacity crowd into the Cardiff ground, and it proved to be a good day all round for the club, as gate receipts exceeded £6,500 and Surrey were defeated  by four wickets. This time it was the turn of captain Alan Jones and new overseas signing Collis King to score half-centuries as Glamorgan successfully chased a target of 200.

Lady luck was on Glamorgan`s side once again with the draw for the semi-finals giving Alan Jones` side a home tie against Leicestershire at Swansea. Persistent rain intervened to force the match over three days, but after an entire washout on the first day, Glamorgan won a vital toss on the second day, and with the outfield still damp, Alan Jones invited Leicestershire to bat first.

The loss of early wickets and further interruptions by rain hampered the visitors. Although David Gower and Brian Davison took the total to 87, their dismissal in successive overs dealt Leicestershire a blow from which they never fully recovered. Alan Wilkins and Gwyn Richards both bowled accurate spells, and with the aid of some razor-sharp ground fielding, they restricted Leicestershire to a modest 172-7.

Alan Jones and John Hopkins launched the Glamorgan innings in a commanding way, adding 108 for the first wicket in almost even time before both were out, and a slight stutter took place against Leicestershire`s experienced spin attack of John Steele, Ray Illingworth and Jack Birkenshaw. In the space of ten overs, Glamorgan added just eleven runs, but lost two further wickets. Matters were made worse when Mike Llewellyn was run out to leave Glamorgan on 147-5, with Gwyn Richards as the last specialist batsman at the crease. But the youngster had the support of Eifion Jones, the county`s vastly experienced wicket-keeper, and the Leicestershire spinners were coming towards the end of their twelve over allocations.

Richards and Jones kept their nerve and carefully added the 28 runs Glamorgan needed. When the target was reduced to single figures a chorus of “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” drifted out from the packed pavilion, and there was an enormous cheer as the winning runs were hit with fifteen balls to go, to give Glamorgan a place at a Lord`s final for the first time in their history.

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