The day Glamorgan became a first-class county

The headlines in the Western Mail. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives

18 February 1921 was a very special day in the history of Glamorgan County Cricket Club because it was on this date that the Welsh county gained the approval of an MCC Sub-committee for their elevation to become a first-class county.

Right from the outset, the officials of Glamorgan CCC had dreamed of the Welsh county playing in first-class cricket. The Club had been formed at a meeting in The Angel Hotel in Cardiff on 6 July 1888 with the intention that it would become Wales’ representative in the County Championship and be to able to, in the words of JTD Llewelyn, the man who had convened the meeting, “fly at a higher game”.

This reference to the hosting of international cricket led to the Club fail by one vote to stage the opening Test of the 1905 series between England and Australia, with Glamorgan’s application taking place after  their success as a Minor County and being joint-winners of the competition in 1900. Further on-field success saw a campaign begin during 1910 for Glamorgan’s elevation into the County Championship. The torch-bearer of this campaign was the Earl of Plymouth, the Club’s President, but a downswing in the economy meant that Glamorgan did not have sufficient financial reserves to enter the first-class game.

A cigarette card of the Glamorgan Secretary who secured first-class status. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The campaign was resurrected after the First World War with Tal Whittington, the Club’s secretary and opening batsman, taking a sabbatical from his work as a solicitor in Neath in order to undertake the work necessary to drum up support for Glamorgan’s application. To his delight, Sir Sidney Byass, the owner of the Margam Steelworks and a generous patron to sport, also gave the Club a loan of £1,000 over a ten-year period so that match guarantees could be met and sufficient fixtures secured.

At the time, the requirement for achieving first-class status was home and away fixtures with, at least, eight existing teams in the County Championship and during the autumn of 1920 Whittington gained the agreement of Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Hampshire and Northamptonshire for matches in 1921. Lancashire followed suit just before Christmas, followed by Sussex in early January.

With a full complement of eighteen fixtures for 1921, Glamorgan’s application for first-class status was the opening item on the agenda for the MCC’s Advisory County Cricket group at their meeting at Lord’s on Friday, 18 February 1921. On the proposal of Henry Murray-Anderdon, the Honorary Secretary and President of Somerset, supported by Sir Russell Bencroft, the Hampshire Chairman, the group  recommended that Glamorgan should be awarded first-class status.

This was duly rubber-stamped and the formal announcement of their elevation into the County Championship for 1921 came at Glamorgan’s AGM on 19 March 1921 in the Grand Hotel in Cardiff. Amidst the back-slapping and applause after the statement from the MCC was read out, there were tears in the eyes of JTD Llewelyn that his dream of Glamorgan securing first-class status had finally seen fruition.

JTD Llewelyn – “the father of Glamorgan Cricket”. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archive.

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