Albert Freethy, a schoolmaster from Neath played fourteen times for Glamorgan but he won fame and notoriety in the world of rugby, becoming the first referee to send off a player in an international match, with the incident taking place in January 1925 during the match between England and New Zealand.
The son of an railway inspector, Albert was educated in Neath, and shone as a young sportsman, excelling for the town’s cricket and rugby clubs. An injury cut short his rugby career but after qualifying as a schoolmaster, Albert’s success for Neath CC prompted his call-up by Glamorgan for their friendly against Wiltshire at the Arms Park in July 1908.
His next appearance came on his home turf at The Gnoll, as Neath hosted Glamorgan’s match against Surrey 2nd XI, with the Glamorgan selectors no doubt hoping that the inclusion of the talented local batsman would help to swell the attendance.
Another appearance came the following summer at St. Helen’s against Carmarthenshire, before playing again against Wiltshire at the Arms Park in July 1912. During 1914 Albert appeared in three home games, against Essex, Monmouthshire and Surrey 2nd XI, before playing in three further matches in 1920.
During his school holidays in July and August 1921 he duly made his first-class debut for Glamorgan, appearing against Worcestershire at Swansea, followed by the visits to Weston-super-Mare to play Somerset and Hastings for the match with Sussex. Although past his best, he made a composed 31 opening the batting with Norman Riches in the match at St. Helen’s and sharing an opening stand of 89 against the Worcestershire attack.
By this time, Albert’s stock as a rugby referee had risen, with the schoolmaster from Alderman Davies School officiating his first international game, between France and England in Paris during 1923, before acting as the referee in the final of the 1924 Olympic Games between France and the USA.
FREETHY, Albert Edwin.
Born – Swansea, 27 April, 1885.
Died- Cimla, 17 July, 1966.
Minor County Championship – 30 v Wiltshire at Marlborough, 1920.
Minor County Friendlies – 15 v Wiltshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1908.
First-class – 31 v Worcestershire at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1921.