Born a couple of days after Glamorgan’s inaugural match against Warwickshire at the Arms Park in 1889, Harry Symonds had an outstanding record in club cricket for Cardiff, besides making over 60 appearances for the Welsh county and, in later life, acting as Racing Manager of the Arms Park Greyhound Racing Company.
The son of a Devon-born shipowner, Harry made his debut for Glamorgan as a nineteen year-old in 1908, In all, the left-hander played in eleven games and showed much promise as a batsman and spin bowler as the Welsh county pressed for higher recognition.
After leaving school he worked initially as a coal merchant’s clerk, and in 1911 he made 55 against Carmarthenshire at Swansea, followed by an unbeaten 73 in the friendly with Staffordshire at the Arms Park, with local journalists impressed by the crispness of his driving and deft placement, as well as the agility of his ground fielding. 1911 also saw him play for the South Wales side against the Indian tourists at the Arms Park, before the following summer he made his first-class debut at Swansea playing for the South Wales side against the South Africans.
His promotion within the coal trade at Cardiff Docks prevented the amateur from taking off time to assist Glamorgan during 1913 and 1914, but he continued to be a heavy scorer in club cricket before the outbreak of War. He subsequently enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the Welch Regiment and given his athleticism he became a messenger cyclist in the 7th Battalion. Harry undertook training in Milford Haven before heading to the Western Front.
Harry returned from the Great War and as a member of the next generation of Cardiff cricketers, he took over as the club’s captain. He also took part in some of Glamorgan’s games during 1920 as they prepared for life in the County Championship. He proudly appeared in their inaugural first-class match against Sussex at the Arms Park, and secured enough leave to feature on a fairly regular basis for the next two seasons. His finest hour in Glamorgan’s ranks in the Championship came in 1922 against Worcestershire at the Arms Park where he scored a handsome 76 against Worcestershire.
It was fitting that the Cardiff venue should witness his career-best because the Arms Park became an increasingly important part of his life, following the creation later that year of the Cardiff Athletic Club and its subsequent management of sporting activities at the city centre ground. Harry duly became the Racing Manager of the Arms Park Greyhound Racing Company whose track ran around the perimeter of the rugby field and hosted regular races until the 1960s.
His regular involvement with Glamorgan in Championship matches declined as a result, with Harry making a couple of appearances during 1925. He still appeared in Club and Ground matches and, as a good friend of Norman Riches, he also turned out for the Wales side against Ireland in 1926, and against the MCC in 1929. In his youth, Harry had also played football for Cardiff Corinthians.
SYMONDS, Henry George
Born – Cardiff, 24th June, 1889.
Died – Cardiff, 1st January, 1945.
Minor County: 73* v Staffordshire at Arms Park, 1911; 1/24 v Surrey 2nd XI at The Oval, 1920.
First-class: 76 v Worcestershire at Arms Park, 1922; 2/41 v Surrey at The Oval, 1923.