Eddie Bates was the first Yorkshireman to successfully throw in his lot with Glamorgan, with the right-handed opening batsman being a regular in the county’s Championship side between 1921 and 1931. In so doing, he also became the first Glamorgan batsman to reach the landmark of 10,000 first-class runs.
Eddie had moved to South Wales shortly before the Great War after playing 113 times for his native county between 1907 and 1913. During this time, he played some promising innings, but did not make the large score of which many believed he was capable. Indeed, in his debut season with Yorkshire, he scored 71 against Gloucestershire and 69 against Sussex, in addition to impressing with his swift and agile fielding, but according to contemporary newspaper reports, the right-hander gave his wicket away both times when appearing well-set.
Despite some large scores in club cricket, Eddie failed to reach three figures for the White Rose county, and at the end of 1913 his career average – despite eleven fifties for Yorkshire – stood at just 17. With his place not certain in the Yorkshire 1st XI, Eddie decided at the end of the season to seek new opportunities and more secure employment elsewhere and duly secured a post with Briton Ferry Steel CC for 1914. His presence was a boost for the Glamorgan selectors who chose the Yorkshireman for their friendly with Northamptonshire at Swansea in early July. Eddie duly marked his debut by top-scoring with 56 in Glamorgan’s second innings.
After wartime service, he remained in South Wales and having qualified through residence, Eddie made his Minor County debut for Glamorgan in their match against Surrey 2nd XI at The Oval. The following year, he was an-ever present in the Welsh county’s side in their first year in the County Championship, but a first-class century still remained elusive. However, in 1922 – at the ripe old age of 38 – he proved that perseverance pays off, as he recorded his maiden Championship hundred with an unbeaten 117 against Northamptonshire at Swansea.
In 1924 Eddie also made his first-class debut for Wales, as several of the Glamorgan professionals assisted the Welsh Cricket Union by appearing in their newly instigated side against Scotland, Ireland and other touring teams. It proved to be a happy experience as he scored another century against Scotland. Eddie duly added further to his tally of hundreds for Glamorgan by scoring 120 against Surrey at The Oval in 1925, plus an unbeaten 100 against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1926.
However, Eddie enjoyed a purple patch of form in 1927 during which he scored four hundreds, including a career-best double century against Worcestershire as aged 43, he fully realized the potential which he had shown as a young colt in Yorkshire. His fine run of form began at Leyton, where he scored centuries in each innings against the Essex attack, making 105 and 11, before scoring a superb 200* against Worcestershire at Kidderminster, and a fine 163 against Nottinghamshire at Swansea in a match when Glamorgan turned the formbook upside down and dramatically defeated the men from Trent Bridge and, in the process, prevented them from becoming county champions.
Eddie ended the 1927 season with what was at the time a record aggregate of 1,645 runs, but the following year he lost form and recorded just one century, with the Essex bowlers on the receiving end once again as the veteran opener made 105 at Swansea. For Eddie, the highlight of the 1928 season were career-best bowling figures, with the left-arm spinner showing that besides his batting skills having got better and better with age, the same could be said about his abilities with the ball with the hapless Essex side once again being on the receiving end as Eddie took 8/93 at Leyton.
He failed to reach three figures in 1929 during Championship matches for Glamorgan, but Eddie did post 102 when playing for Wales against the South African tourists at Rydal School. However, the 1929 season was a landmark one for Eddie who on August 28th during the match against Lancashire at Old Trafford scored his 10,000th first-class run for the Welsh county.
Eddie reached this milestone in what was his 393rd innings for his adopted county, and duly became the first-ever Glamorgan batsman to achieve this feat. But there is no place for sentiment in professional sport and the following month, the cash-strapped Glamorgan officials considered their playing staff for the following summer. With the Club looking to cut costs and prune their playing staff, some suggested that the 45 year-old might be surplus to requirements.
His modest form in 1929 meant that only a limited deal could be offered for 1930. There was a sweetener with the committee agreeing for Eddie to have a Benefit Year, but it was a clear sign that his county career was drawing to a close. Nevertheless, Eddie responded by bouncing back to form, besides making two substantial centuries for Glamorgan, as well as taking part in a double-century opening stand with fellow Tyke Arnold Dyson. Indeed, the pair must have taken great pleasure in sharing a stand of 233 for the first wicket against Yorkshire at Sheffield in 1930, as Eddie made a fine 146 against the powerful Yorkshire attack.
His efforts secured a one-year extension to his contract, with Eddie scoring 1001 runs in 1931, but with their expenditure still rising, the Welsh county released the veteran at the end of the summer. It had though been a summer when Eddie had become the first captain of an all-professional Glamorgan team, with the Yorkshire, in the absence of Maurice Turnbull and Johnnie Clay, leading out a team comprising eleven players from the paid ranks against Northamptonshire at Kettering.
His departure from Glamorgan was not though the end of Eddie’s playing career, as he joined the Boughton Hall club in Chester, and qualified to play Minor County cricket for Cheshire. He continued to play for them until 1936 and, whilst in the north-west, began coaching younger players. After the Second World War, Eddie secured a coaching position in Northern Ireland, where he remained until his death in 1957.
In his youth, Eddie had been a useful footballer, playing at right-back for both Bolton and Leeds United, and had it not been for his cricketing career, he could have enjoyed a longer career as a professional footballer. His son Ted inherited his love of football, playing with great success as an inside-forward for Southampton from 1937 until 1953, scoring 63 goals in his 202 appearances. After retiring, Bates then managed the South Coast club from 1955 until 1973, fully deserving the sobriquet ‘Mr. Southampton’ in recognition of his loyal years of service to the South Coast club, who he had joined as a nineteen year-old in 1937. Ted Bates died, aged 85, in 2003, and the Southampton club erected a statue in honour of one of their greatest servants.
Returning to Eddie, he was given the nickname of the ‘The Duke’ by his Glamorgan colleagues because of his sartorial elegance, and dapper appearance. He maintained these high standards throughout his Glamorgan career, and was always immaculately turned out after play as the Glamorgan professionals quenched their thirst and socialized during the evening.
BATES, William Ederick
Born – Kirkheaton, 5th March, 1884
Died – Belfast, 17th January 1957
Minor County: 56 v Northamptonshire at Swansea, 1914; 6/119 v Surrey 2nd XI at The Oval, 1920
First-class: 200* v Worcestershire at Kidderminster, 1927; 8/93 v Essex at Leyton, 1928.