1969 was a momentous year in Welsh history – Prince Charles, now the Patron of Glamorgan CCC, was invested as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle, and on the rugby field, the Welsh national side had another fine season. It was almost `The Year of the Welsh` as Glamorgan won the County Championship in 1969, and in so doing became the first county side since Lancashire in 1930 to win the title without being beaten.
Under the shrewd captaincy of Tony Lewis, Glamorgan registered eleven victories including a last ball win against Essex at Swansea over the August Bank Holiday period. This last gasp victory came as Glamorgan had a game in hand over Gloucestershire, their nearest rivals, and victory in two of their last three games would be sufficient to secure the Championship pennant. Home advantage for the match with Essex roved vital, and another massive crowd turned up to watch an enthralling game with a cliff-hanging finish.
Essex secured a lead on first innings by 95 runs, thanks to a sparkling century from Lee Irvine, and a jaunty innings of 70 from Essex captain and wicket-keeper Brian Taylor. Then when Glamorgan batted again, John Lever and Stuart Turner sent back Roger Davis, Majid Khan and Tony Lewis, to leave the Welsh side on 123-4 at the close on the second day, just 28 runs ahead.
One of the key elements in Glamorgan`s success during 1969 was their team spirit, and this was clearly evident on the final morning as firstly Alan Jones, and then Peter Walker stubbornly fought back as the initiative swung back in Glamorgan`s favour. Malcolm Nash, Eifion Jones and Tony Cordle all chipped in with little cameos with the bat, allowing Tony Lewis to set Essex a fair target of 190 in two hours.
Ossie Wheatley then made inroads with the new ball as Essex slipped to 43-3. Gordon Barker and Keith Fletcher then steadied the ship with a fighting stand for the fourth wicket. Spinners Don Shepherd and Roger Davis both conceded runs, but Tony Lewis had faith in his spin attack, and he kept them both on, knowing that something would happen sooner rather than later.
And so it proved, as Davis lured Barker down the track to be stumped by Eifion Jones, before Fletcher was caught by Bryan Davis. Further wickets fell as Essex continued their run chase, and a breezy partnership between Robin Hobbs and Ray East took Essex agonizingly closer to the target. After a few near misses, Don Shepherd finally dismissed Hobbs in the penultimate over, and last man John Lever came in with Essex needing eight runs and Glamorgan one more wicket.
Amidst great tension, Lever and East furtively scampered singles and with three needed off the last ball, East deftly cut the ball down to the vacant third man boundary. For a heart-stopping moment, it looked like being a match winning stroke, but Wheatley ran around the ropes and sent an arrow-like throw over the top of the stumps. Eifion Jones did not have to move an inch, and he ran out Lever to leave Glamorgan the victors by one run.