A journey to Hell?

One of the most colourful characters to ever play for Glamorgan was Frank Ryan, the Indian-born spinner who had been brought up in North America and had played for Hampshire shortly after the Great War before having a fall-out with the South Coast club and hitch-hiking his way to South Wales where he subsequently enjoyed a fine career with the Welsh county. Whilst being a talented spinner, Frank had his own little peccadillo’s, including a strong thirst and a ready temper, but the man-management skills of the Glamorgan hierarchy during the late 1920s and early 1930s brought out the best of the larrikin.

A cigarette card image of Frank Ryan. Image credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Like a good sailor, Frank had a friend in every town and, on one occasion, his wide circle of acquaintances came to Glamorgan’s rescue after the cricketers had endured an horrendous train journey from South Wales to Yorkshire in June 1926 during the aftermath of the General Strike. Their destination was Hull, but it must have seemed like they were travelling to Hell as their train from Cardiff General was late and overcrowded as the national network was still recovering from the effects of the labour unrest. The upshot was that they missed their connection at Derby, before eventually reaching Hull at 2 a.m.

Things then got worse as the weary Welshmen found to their horror that the owner of the hotel into which they had been booked had let their rooms, believing that the cricketers were not coming and with the Beverley race-meeting taking place, there were plenty of customers looking for a bed for the night. But Frank came to their rescue. “Don`t worry boys,” he said  “I know a little place around the corner, “ before disappearing for a few minutes to track down his friend’s pub and then returning with the news that he had arranged for everyone to sleep on the seats in the lounge.

 “Good old Frank” was the team’s cry the following morning as they all heartily tucked into breakfast which the publican was only too pleased to provide, but the combined effect of the journey and the lack of a decent night’s sleep eventually took its toll as the Welsh county were bustled out for 52 and 95 as Yorkshire recorded an innings victory inside two days.

Leave a Reply