Frank Ryan was one of the most colourful and charasmatic characters ever to walk onto a cricket field, and in the modern age, his exploits off the field and little antics on it, would surely have filled inches after inches of tabloid space. Had the Club not released him as an economy measure in 1931, Frank would probably have become the first Glamorgan bowler to take 1,000 first-class wickets.
Born in India, Frank Ryan was educated at Bedford Grammar School, and served with the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War. In 1919 he joined Hampshire as a left-arm spinner, but after two years in county cricket, punctuated by stories of a ready temper and drinking excesses, Frank literally walked out and hitch-hiked his way to South Wales.
He duly made his Glamorgan debut during 1922 and wary of not losing another county contract, Frank showed more self-discipline, besides building a better rapport with his Glamorgan colleagues than he had with those at the South Coast club. His happiness was reflected in his bowling figures, with Frank taking a career best figures of 8/41 against Derbyshire at the Arms Park during 1925.
In all, he claimed 133 first-class victims during 1925, followed by 106 in 1926. There were however still times when his socialising affected his play and annoyed the Glamorgan hierarchy. During one away match, he was found fast asleep under the covers having forgotten where the team were staying, whilst on another occasion after play against Lancashire, he carried on drinking with his friends until the early hours of the morning, before travelling by taxi to Swansea to rejoin the rest of the side. He apparently entered the Glamorgan dressing room saying “Ryan never lets you down”, and handed over the taxi bill to the county`s Treasurer!
Nevertheless, Frank built up a great friendship with Maurice Turnbull and flourished, albeit briefly under his gentle and humane captaincy. It hurt the young amateur to say farewell to Frank and other professionals as an economy measure at the end of the 1931 season. Hoping that the financial situation might improve, or that the Club would have a change of heart, Frank remained with his wife in Cardiff until the Spring of 1932, by which time it was clear there was no chance of a contract with the Welsh county and he agreed terms with Barnsley to play in the Yorkshire Leagues. He continued to play in League cricket in Lancashire and Yorkshire for several summers, before serving in the Intelligence Corps during the Second World War.
RYAN, Francis Peter
Born – Tundla, India, 14th November 1888.
Died – Highfields, Leicester, 5th January 1954.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 46 v Northamptonshire at Northampton, 1925; 8/41 v Derbyshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1925.