Billy Spiller

Billy Spiller, seen in his Cardiff rugby jersey. Photo Credit – Cardiff RFC Museum / Glamorgan Cricket Archives

The son of the Vicar of St. Fagans had led Glamorgan in their inaugural county match in 1889 so it was with a delightful element of coincidence that a player who had been christened in Rev.David’s church should score the Welsh county’s inaugural Championship hundred. The man in question was Billy Spiller, who by then was serving in the South Wales Constabulary having enjoyed an outstanding sporting career which had also seen him win honours on the rugby field with Cardiff and Wales.

Billy`s century came in July 1921 against Northamptonshire at the County Ground in Northampton, and it occurred during an extended two-month break that the 35 year-old, regarded by many as the finest batsman in club cricket in South Wales, had been able to secure in an attempt to assist the Welsh county during their inaugural season as a first-class club. The prolific batsman at club level had told Norman Riches, his Cardiff colleague and county captain that he would do his best to get eight weeks of leave during July and August, and he did not let his friend down.

Billy began his sabbatical by travelling to Kidderminster for the away match with Worcestershire before heading to Northampton for the next game, where on July 26th 1921 he made his maiden Championship hundred and the first for the county with an all-run four on the legside after batting for a shade under three hours. His efforts though were unable to see Glamorgan to victory as they lost the contest at the Wantage Road ground by 244 runs.

A cigarette card of Billy, dated 1921. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

It had been sixteen long years earlier that Billy had first appeared for the county in the Minor County Championship. However, his police duties restricted his appearances to just two games in 1905, plus one each in 1906 and 1908 – the latter being the final of the Minor County Championship as the Welsh county travelled to Stoke to play Staffordshire. His presence bolstering the middle order could not however prevent the home team securing a comfortable nine wicket victory.

Billy had more time during the winter months to play rugby and from 1904 he featured in both the Cardiff line-up as well as the Glamorgan Police team. His strong running in the centre and deft handling skills saw Billy win the first of ten Welsh caps against Scotland at the Arms Park  in February 1910 . Three seasons later, he was appointed captain of the Cardiff side and he celebrated his elevation by scoring the only try of their match against the touring Springboks at the Arms Park, touching the ball down barely a six hit away from the cricket square where he had shone during the summer months.

After his batting exploits during, the Glamorgan hierarchy were hoping that Billy could secure enough leave to play on a more regular basis, but this was not to be and he only made a single Championship appearance in each of the next two seasons, playing against Yorkshire at Headingley in July 1922 followed by the game in June 1923 against Gloucestershire at the Victoria ground in Cheltenham. In later life, Billy also represented Glamorgan at bowls and eventually retired from the Glamorgan Police Force with the rank of Inspector.

Billy and his wife enjoying a seaside paddle! Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

SPILLER, William

Born – St.Fagans, 8 July 1886

Died – Cardiff, 9 June 1970

Career-bests:

In Minor County cricket – 24* v Surrey 2nd XI at Swansea, 1905; In first-class cricket – 104 v Northants at Northampton, 1921.

MINORunsAv.10050CtSt
First-class461469.201
Minor County1322041118.68117
Above WJ Spiller’s batting and fielding record for Glamorgan.
BallsMRunsWAv.5wI10wM
First-class240310
Above – WJ Spiller’s bowling record for Glamorgan.