By Chris Peregrine
The Bronwydd cricket story goes back to the 1940s and early 1950s when a team played at a number of venues in the community three miles north of Carmarthen. There were highs and lows, but Bronwydd’s first innings was eventually declared. There was a long gap until a public meeting late in 1977 ultimately led to the reformation of the club in 1978. There were just enough players to field a team and get a fixture list. So the club’s second innings began.
But with no home ground, the Bronwydd pioneers were forced to play friendlies away that first season.Then they got permission to temporarily use their current home, Cnwcyderi, which had been scheduled for building.
In 1982 Bronwydd became a founder member of the West Wales Cricket Club Conference, where the first and second teams competed until the club switched to the South Wales Cricket Association 10 years later. The club also co-founded the Gwili-Taf Midweek League and the Carmarthen Winter Indoor League. But off the field, the players were forced to change in a cowshed where tea ladies also operated in difficult circumstances.
By 1984 a pavilion had become a priority. Members raised £10,000 to match fund a Sports Council for Wales grant, and down came the cowshed to be replaced by a clubhouse built by willing volunteers from the membership. Luckily, all the skills associated with such a build lay within the club and the village. It was a hard winter. The snow was so bad on one occasion that they could not find the cement mixer. Everything was in place to officially open up in September 1985 with Glamorgan legend Alan Jones bringing a team that included former teammates Jeff Jones, Malcolm Nash and Jim Pressdee, and a young Tony Cottey. A bar extension inevitably followed.
A vigorous youth policy from the outset eventually saw a number of teams playing in the South Wales Junior League, while competing in the National Village Cup has also produced some moments. Bronwydd once bowled out the opposition for a mere 13 and got an honourable mention in ‘The Times’ for their efforts. Australian, New Zealand and Danish teams have visited to savour the ground, which boasts what is believed to be the first Welsh scoreboard in the world. Cwcnyderi, with the River Gwili running virtually alongside one of the straight boundaries and Gwili Railway steam locomotives chugging along within sight and sound, has become a favoured venue for a variety of representative games, with the MCC amongst the visitors.
New Zealand legend Sir Richard Hadlee was guest of honour at the club’s 21st anniversary dinner at Trinity College, Carmarthen, and Jimmy White arrived at the village hall to take on local snooker star Matthew Stevens in aid of club funds. Midsummer Madness, a longest day match from 4.20am to 10pm, raised money for local charities. In 2006 the England & Wales Cricket Board granted Bronwydd Accredited Status in recognition of its progress as a club, one of the first in Wales to gain the honour. By the 30th year, the ground had been bought to secure the future. But Bronwydd have always been keen to go on to the next level, and, once again, members and locals rolled up their sleeves to knock down and totally rebuild and extend the clubhouse, officially opened by Glamorgan legend Alan Jones – as he had done for the original pavilion – on the last day of the 2008 season on the visit of the Wales Over-50s.
By the 40th anniversary dinner, the club owned the ground and had bought the adjoining field to expand. So the renovation of both the square and outfield in 2018 became the logical next step.
All in all, it is a club that takes pride in trying to extend the boundaries.