Bumps and Bruises

Alan Jones and Alan Rees walk out from the pavilion at Sophia Gardens to open the batting against the 1967 Indians. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The move by Cardiff Athletic Club from the Arms Park, and the work on creating a new cricket ground and pitch at Sophia Gardens, was all financed by the Welsh Rugby Union, but the building work was not entirely trouble-free. In particular, there were problems in installing the new drainage system, with one of the channels running midway under the length of the square, parallel with the crease and causing a ridge to appear midway down the pitch.

There were also delays in creating the new dressing room complex and pavilion, and for the inaugural match starting on 24 May 1967, the players had to use a series of marquees for their match against the touring Indians. Rain washed out the first day`s play, and it was not until 3.35 pm on the second day that play eventually began. During these early years, there were complaints about the irregular bounce on the new pitches, and following visits by the MCC Inspector of Pitches, remedial work was undertaken by the groundsmen. However, it was not until the whole square was relaid during the late 1970s that these problems were finally eradicated.

Roger Davis (right) crouching at short-leg during Glamorgan’s Championship match against Gloucestershire at Sophia Gardens in 1968. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The pitch though had nothing to do with a near tragic accident in May 1971 during Glamorgan`s Championship match against Warwickshire as Roger Davis, the Glamorgan all-rounder, was hit directly on the temple by a firm legside stroke from Neal Abberley whilst fielding at short leg to the bowling of left arm seamer Malcolm Nash. These were the days before helmets, and after being struck, Davis collapsed, stopped breathing and went into convulsions. Fortunately, a doctor was sitting in the Members Enclosure at the River End, and ran onto the pitch to help Glamorgan’s medical team give Davis the kiss of life.  The unfortunate player was taken by ambulance to the Cardiff Infirmary, where thankfully he made a full recovery, but for a few agonising minutes it looked as if Sophia Gardens would enter the history books for all the wrong reasons.