Arthur Gibson was a Yorkshire-born businessman who captained Glamorgan during 1908 in the wake of Jack Brain’s retirement, before serving on the county committee and acting as the Club’s Secretary during their early years in first-class cricket.
Born in Yorkshire during the summer of 1874 to George Gibson, a coal and lime agent in York, Arthur learnt his cricket whilst living in the White Rose county, before briefly moving to work in Croydon, South London alongside his elder brother Thomas, who was the manager of a steel manufacturing and coal importing business. In his early twenties Arthur moved to north-east England where he set up a timber importing business, besides playing with distinction for West Hartlepool CC.
The Autumn of 1899 saw Arthur on the move again as he began operations in South Wales, with his company importing pit props from the Baltic through Cardiff Docks. He joined the town club and the following summer made his debut for Glamorgan, scoring 66 against the MCC at the Arms Park. This remained his career-best score, but the Yorkshireman proved to be a steady batsman and an astute captain in subsequent years, leading both Cardiff and Glamorgan. Fortunately, his business commitments allowed him to play on a regular basis , and having acted as a wise lieutenant to Jack Brain during 1906 and 1907, Arthur took over the reins in 1908.
The previous summer had seen Glamorgan reach the final of the Minor County competition, only to lose at the Arms Park against Lancashire 2nd XI. Under Arthur’s shrewd captaincy, Glamorgan reached the final again in 1908, but only after an additional match was arranged between Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, who were level at the top of the Western Division to decide which of the two teams should progress to the semi-final against Wiltshire at Chippenham.
Unfortunately, heavy rain limited play to just two and a half hours on the first day, with Glamorgan making 138. No play was possible on the second day with the MCC ruling, quite perversely, that Glamorgan should go through to the semi-final because they had topped the group the previous year. In the hope that Glamorgan would lift the Minor County title outright, Jack Brain had come out of retirement for the play-off against Monmouthshire, and with Arthur being unavailable for the semi-final against Wiltshire, the veteran batsman remained in command as Glamorgan routed Wiltshire for just 41 with Harry Creber taking 8/18.
Arthur was back at the helm for the final with Staffordshire at Stoke in early September, but Sydney Barnes took a fifteen-wicket match haul to see his side to a nine-wicket victory. Glamorgan reached the final again in 1909 – a season when Arthur shared the captaincy duties with Tom Whittington – with the Welsh county defeating Nottinghamshire 2nd XI in the semi-final at the Arms Park. Their victory though was based on first innings scores, with Glamorgan making 136 compared to the East Midlands county who made 92 in their first innings.
Rain then interrupted the contest, but events were not without controversy as Harvey Staunton, the Nottinghamshire captain, subsequently wrote to the Secretaries of both the MCC and the Minor Counties Cricket Association pointing out that some of his players had seen the Cardiff groundsman sweeping and tampering with the wicket early on the third day in contravention of the rules of the competition. Whether this was sour grapes or not is unclear, but Glamorgan secured a place in the final, against Wiltshire at the Arms Park.
Arthur lost the toss and saw the visitors secure a vital lead on first innings. With both Creber and Riches carrying injuries, Arthur saw the Wiltshire side amass a decent lead before dismissing Glamorgan for 159. He himself had filled the vacancy at the top of the order but he was one of six victims for Audley Miller as Wiltshire won by 164runs. With his business thriving, Arthur informed the committee over the winter months that he would be standing down from playing, with the game against Wiltshire being his last major match for the Welsh county.
Arthur continued however to serve on the Club’s committee until 1932. He also spent time during 1922 and 1923 acting as Hon. Secretary – a period which saw the Club’s officials trying to raise funds to ensure the long-term visibility of Glamorgan as a first-class county. Unfortunately, one of these schemes in 1923 subsequently backfired with Arthur appearing in court in Cardiff after a members’ sweepstake was deemed an illegal lottery.
The outcome of the hearing was that the Club were issued with a fine, but with shaky resources this was the last thing they wanted at a time when every penny was treasured, and Arthur duly spent the next eighteen months overseeing, with a combination of Yorkshire grit and nous, a series of other, low-key activities which helped the Club stay afloat.
Born – Danby, Yorkshire, June 1874.
Died – Swansea, October 1960.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 58 v Northumberland at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1906 and 1/6 v Berkshire at Reading, 1905.
Minor County Friendlies – 66 v MCC at Cardiff Arms Park, 1900.