Many football clubs in Wales began life during the late 19th century as cricket teams. The cricketers were looking to maintain their friendships and healthy recreation over the winter months so they formed football teams.
An example was Cardiff City FC having been developed in 1899 by the members of Riverside CC. During the closing decade of the 19th century, Riverside CC played at several parks and fields in the inner suburbs to the west of the town centre, including Sophia Gardens. They enjoyed themselves so much that they formed a football club which also played their early matches at Sophia Gardens.
The photograph below shows the team, known then as Riverside FC, in 1906 standing in front of what became the Mochyn Du pub in Sophia Close. Within a couple of years of this image being taken, Riverside FC had become Cardiff City FC and in 1910 they moved to Ninian Park – another area for recreation which has an association with the Bute Estate.
Cardiff Corinthians FC
One of the most well-known amateur football teams in Wales also began life as a cricket team in the western suburbs of Cardiff. Cardiff Alpha CC had been formed in 1894 by a group of enthusiastic sportsmen who lived in the Canton area. During the winter of 1897/98, the club’s members also played friendly matches on an informal basis.
They enjoyed themselves so much and kept in touch with their sporting friends that they agreed to formalize things and on 22 July 1898 a meeting was held at The Criterion Coffee Tavern on Cowbridge Road East in Canton. The first item for discussion was the name of the club – either Cardiff Alpha FC or Cardiff Corinthians FC. It was decided by a large majority that the name should be Cardiff Corinthians AFC.
Tragically, another motive for the formalisation of a football team which played on a regular basis may have been the health of Fred Price, their leading batsman. The Brecon-born clerk had suffered bouts of ill health since his teens and sadly in mid-May 1905 Fred died of tuberculosis aged just 29 .
Like Riverside FC, the Cardiff Corries played their initial games at Sophia Gardens, before using a variety of other locations in the city. In 1974 they finally secured a permanent home at Radyr CC .
Swansea Town FC
Swansea Town (or Swansea City as they are now known) had a flourishing football team in the inter-war era and into the 1950s as the professional footballers played cricket as a means of staying fit, and maintaining their team spirit, during the winter months. One of the youngsters from the Swansea area who after the Second World War mixed playing football and cricket was Jim Pressdee.
A number of leading cricketers in Wales were also good footballers
Morgan Lindsay – the first Welshman to play in the FA Cup Final
Colonel Morgan Lindsay was typical of the upper-class, sporting gentlemen of the late Victorian era. The grandson of Lord Tredegar, he played cricket for the South Wales CC besides playing football for the Royal Engineers, for whom he played in the 1878 FA Cup Final against the Wanderers at Kennington Oval. Colonel Lindsay subsequently enjoyed a distinguished military career, during which he fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1901 and was mentioned in dispatches.
He lived for many years at Ystrad Mynach House, where he created a cricket ground and organised his own team. Colonel Lindsay also created a cricket team for local boys, and he is seen in the photograph below standing with them at St. Fagans in 1924. Tragically, three of his four sons were killed in the Great War.
Born in Llandaff in 1894, Herbie played cricket for both Cardiff and St. Fagans in addition to appearing for Glamorgan in three Minor County matches in 1920, as well as the County championship match in 1922 against Worcestershire at the Arms Park.
Herbie’s football career began as an amateur for Cardiff Corinthians, with the wing-half winning one Welsh amateur football cap in 1922. He subsequently turned professional and played 94 times for Cardiff city, besides playing six times for Wales. However, his football career was plagued by injuries – in March 1924 he broke his left leg, whilst in August 1927 he broke his right leg. By this time, Herbie had left Cardiff City having joined Tranmere Rovers in 1926, and this second fracture sadly ended his career as a professional sportsman.
The jovial and energetic Allan Watkins gave yeoman service to Glamorgan CCC between 1939 and 1961.
During his outstanding career he became the first Glamorgan player to appear for England in an Ashes series, achieving this feat in 1948 by playing against Australia at The Oval. The following winter he also became the county`s first Centurion in Test cricket, scoring 111 in the Fourth Test against South Africa at Johannesburg. In all, Allan won 15 Test caps for England.
In his early years, Allan (seen below) mixed county cricket with professional football for Plymouth Argyle and Cardiff City. In fact, his maiden century for Glamorgan was achieved at Cardiff Arms Park in 1946 only after the Argyle manager had agreed to release the winger from training!
Between 1944 and 1956, Stan Montgomery played professional football as a centre-half for Hull, Southend United, Cardiff City and Newport County. During this time he was also on the staff of Essex and Glamorgan, for whom he made 29 appearances between 1949 and 1953.
Montgomery never made the first team in his time at Essex, and the right-handed batsman made his first-class debut in Glamorgan`s match against Derbyshire at the Arms Park in 1949. Later that season, he shared in what is still a club record fifth wicket partnership, adding 264 with Maurice Robinson against Hampshire at Bournemouth, with Montgomery scoring his maiden Championship hundred.
After retiring from League football, Montgomery (seen below) had a short spell with Llanelli, before becoming a coach at Norwich, Cardiff City and Cardiff University, and then from 1969 coaching at Bradfield School. He was also a scout for Bristol Rovers FC.
Len Hill mixed playing professional football with county cricket, representing Glamorgan between 1964 and 1976. Hill was a wing-half with Newport County from 1962 until 1973, although he had a brief spell with Swansea Town in the early 1970`s. Owing to his football commitments, Hill never played a full season for Glamorgan until the mid 1970`s.
The stubborn right-handed batsman enjoyed a successful summer in 1974 and won his county cap after a number of fine innings, including a match winning knock against Hampshire at Cardiff where the fiery Andy Roberts, the West Indian pace bowler, had reduced Glamorgan to 41/7 in their first innings. Hill (seen below) made a brave 90 in their second innings as the Welsh county made a successful run chase, and his doughty efforts were worthy of a century.
During the 1990`s Tony Cottey was one of Glamorgan`s most consistent middle-order batsmen, scoring 1465 runs in 1995 and 1543 the following year. His gritty determination resulted in many solid innings – he was also a fine player of spin bowling, with his nimble footwork, deft sweeping and rock-solid defence being hallmarks of his play.
He had a modest season with the bat during 1997 as Glamorgan became County Champions, but even so, he still shared a match-winning partnership with Matthew Maynard against Essex at Cardiff and helped to guide Glamorgan to a crucial victory.
Tony (seen below) made his Glamorgan debut in 1986 after a brief, but quite successful career as a professional footballer with Swansea City, during which time he won Welsh Youth soccer caps. After deciding to concentrate on cricket, he won his county cap in 1992, and the following year he hit the winning runs at Canterbury as Glamorgan won the Sunday League title. In 1999 Tony joined Sussex for whom he played until 2004.