Glamorgan secure the lease of Sophia Gardens

Majid returns to the Sophia Gardens pavilion after his brilliant innings against Worcestershire in 1969. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

On 5 September 1969, Glamorgan defeated Worcestershire by 147 runs to win the County Championship for the second time in the club`s history. Their victory was set up by a truly magnificent innings of 156 from Majid Khan, with the Pakistani looking completely at ease on a wicket of quite variable bounce. Despite the loss of partners at regular intervals, Majid scored a century before lunch and completely dominated the bowling in an innings which many still consider the finest to have ever been played at the ground.

It was also the venue of the famous Sunday League match in September 1976 when Somerset arrived in Cardiff, needing to beat Glamorgan to secure their first ever title. Given the Welsh county`s poor form and lowly standing in the League, it seemed a mere formality and thousands of visiting supporters were already sat in the enclosures at Sophia Gardens by the time the Glamorgan stewards arrived at the ground, all expecting to later see the west Country side secure their first piece of silverware. However, the game proved to be a far more evenly fought contest than many thought, and it culminated in a pulsating finish with Graham Burgess run out off the final ball to leave Glamorgan the victors by one run.

Adrian Dale (left) acknowledges the crowd as he walks off with Viv Richards after their unbeaten stand of 425 against Middlesex at Sophia Gardens in 1993. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Sophia Gardens was also the scene of the highest partnership in Glamorgan’s history as Viv Richards and Adrian Dale shared a stand of 425 for the fourth wicket in the 1993 County Championship match against Middlesex. By this time, the ground still looked very similar to the urban parkland that the Welsh county had first used during 1967, but ahead of Glamorgan’s Centenary Year in 1988, plans had been set in place for improvements and some new facilities appeared at the ground, including a set of offices adjacent to the entrance by the National Sports Centre with the conversion of a series of portacabins used previously during the creation of the Ely Link Road.

The Glamorgan offices relocate to Sophia Gardens. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

However, the most important development came during the winter of 1995/96 as Glamorgan secured the head lease for the Sophia Gardens ground, with the acquisition allowing them to embark on an ambitious development plan. Building work began during the winter of 1998/99 after the club secured £2.8 million of lottery funding, with a three-story administration block, together with sponsors boxes and dining facilities, plus an Indoor School, with seven lanes of indoor nets.