Sir Herbert Merrett, or ‘HH’ to his friends, was President of Glamorgan CCC in 1948 when the Club were county champions for the first-ever time, besides being Chairman of Cardiff City FC.
Born in Cardiff during 1886, ‘HH’ had been raised in the inner suburb of Canton and had attended Radnor Road Board School. Together with his friends and brothers, he played cricket and football for a number of teams in the Canton area during the early 1900s including Cardiff Alpha, a team comprising former pupils from the school, and a cricket club whose members also created the Cardiff Corinthians, or Cardiff Corries, football team.
‘HH’ left school at the age of fourteen to work initially in the offices of Cory Brothers, one of the largest businesses at Cardiff Docks. During the inter-war period ‘HH’ went into business with some of his former school friends and colleagues from the Cardiff Alpha team, including members of the Price family. Their business went from strength to strength as ‘HH’ became one of the leading figures in the coal industry in South Wales as Chairman of Powell Duffryn besides serving as managing director of a series of collieries in the Rhondda and Taff Valleys.
As a young man, ‘HH’ had become a football referee and during the winter he blew the whistle in many of the eagerly contested matches which took place in the Cardiff and District League on the various grounds in the coal metropolis, as well as playing cricket for various teams during the summer months at these locations which included the Sophia Gardens Recreation Field, Llandaff Fields, Victoria Park and Thompson’s Park.
During the 1930s ‘HH’ also became involved with Cardiff City FC and, as Club Chairman, oversaw the rise of the club in the Football League after the Second World War. He also owned a number of greyhounds and took great delight in seeing them race at the track which ran around the perimeter of the rugby ground at the Arms Park. His most famous dog was Beef Cutlet which won many times at the Cardiff track besides winning the Greyhound Derby at the White City Stadium in London.
‘HH’ was also a member of the golf clubs at Southerndown and Royal Porthcawl, besides owing a significant part of the land on which the Dinas Powis course was laid out. He also persuaded Wilf Wooller, the precociously talented Welsh rugby international. to move during the late 1930s from his family’s home in Colwyn Bay in North Wales after he had graduated from Cambridge University to work in the coal trade in Cardiff, with Wilf learning the ropes in the business world alongside Herbert’s son Norman. It was a move which allowed Wilf to mix playing cricket as an amateur for Glamorgan whilst continuing to play rugby for Cardiff and Wales besides, to HH’s delight, appearing as a guest in fund-raising football matches for Cardiff City.
After the Second World War, Wilf became captain of Glamorgan, besides taking on the secretary’s duties and overseeing a number of improvements to the facilities at the Arms Park cricket ground. ‘HH’ continued to support Wilf in these ventures and helped him by financing the “Seating and Nursery” project which saw a series of long overdue improvements to the infrastructure for spectators at the Arms Park, as well as new practice nets and other equipment.
Besides being a generous benefactor, ‘HH’ also served as President of Glamorgan County Cricket Club from 1947 until his death in October 1959, and it was very fitting that he should be present at Cardiff General railway station in August 1948 to personally welcome back home the Club’s victorious team after their Championship-clinching victory over Hampshire at Bournemouth.
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