Astley Samuel played in Glamorgan’s inaugural game as a MInor County in 1889, against Warwickshire at Cardiff Arms Park and bowled the first-ever ball in the Club’s history.
Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives / Dave Dow.
He had been one of the leading all-rounders in club cricket in South Wales during the 1880s and 1890s. His father, Dr. William Samuel was the headmaster of the grammar school in Llandeilo Fawr, and like his younger brother Edgar, Astley initially followed his father into the teaching profession. Whilst Edgar taught at Temple Grove School in East Sheen, Astley trained at Dublin University before teaching in the Uxbridge area. He returned to his native South Wales during the mid-1880s having accepted a post at the Collegiate School in Pontardawe.
He played cricket for the local club, as well as for Morriston CC before switching his allegiances to the Swansea Cricket and Football club, for whom he was associated for the remainder of his playing career. Astley also played tennis and hockey for Swansea, but cricket was his number one sport and after some decent bowling spells in club cricket, he was chosen to open the bowling in Glamorgan’s team for their inaugural match in 1889. He also made an impression with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 28 and, together with Dan Thissen, defied the visiting bowlers after they had scythed through the top order. He later claimed 3/56 when Warwickshire batted, and in their second innings, he added a further victim in his opening over before the English team secured an eight-wicket victory.
He appeared later in the summer of 1889 against the MCC at the Arms Park and was an ever-present in the Glamorgan side during 1890, taking 9/26 in the county’s opening match of the summer against Monmouthshire at the Arms Park at the end of May. He ended the season as Glamorgan’s most successful bowler, claiming 33 wickets at a shade under 15 apiece.
It proved to be a happy year in other ways for the youngster as in December he married Lucy Soloman, the sister of his Swansea colleague Herbert Soloman. The following year, the couple moved to the Clydach area where Astley had secured a post as Master of Tan-yr-Allt School. His academic and domestic commitments saw a reduction in his county appearances, with Astley playing just twice in 1892, once in 1895, and once more in 1896, with his final match being away to the MCC. He claimed five wickets in that game but had to retire hurt in the second innings after scoring a single. Limping off at Lord’s was not the most fitting of ends to a county career for the man who had bowled the first-ever ball for Glamorgan.
Astley and Lucy remained for over a dozen years in Clydach before Astley switched careers and moved back to Swansea where he became an auctioneer and estate agent. Once again, it proved to be a very wise move as he subsequently became one of the leading estate agents in the area and literally cashed in on the housing boom in Swansea, Sketty and Mumbles either side of the Great War.
After retiring from cricket, Astley became a useful golfer and, together with his good friend and former Swansea and Glamorgan colleague Dr. Edgar Reid, became a prominent member of Pennard Golf Club.
SAMUEL, Astley William.
Born – Llandeilo Fawr, Carmarthenshire, March 1861.
Died – Newport, 15 December 1937.