James Horspool kept wicket for both Cardiff and Swansea, besides making five appearances for Glamorgan prior to the Great War. From 1924 he also served as secretary of the Cardiff club and, together with his wife, ensured that the off-field arrangements ran smoothly, especially the catering when the Welsh county played at the Arms Park.
The son of a brewery foreman in Burton-on-Trent, James left school at fourteen and initially worked under his father as a telephonic clerk. He subsequently left Staffordshire and moved to South Wales to work at first in a brewery in Merthyr Tydfil. He played for a summer for the Hill’s Plymouth team before securing a sales position with a brewery in Swansea. James duly joined the Swansea, and further developed his wicket-keeping skills under the tuition of Dan Thissen.
His neat glovework soon attracted the attention of the Glamorgan selectors and when Sam Brain was unable to keep during the middle of the 1905 season, James made five appearances for the Welsh county, with his debut taking place at the St. Helen’s ground against Northumberland. Through his links with both Sam and Jack Brain, James secured a sales position with the Cardiff brewery, switched his allegiance to the city club, and remained in the Welsh capital until his death during 1960.
James was appointed captain of Cardiff CC in 1913 and during July returned to the county side for the match against Monmouthshire at the Arms Park. After serving in the defense unit at Cardiff Docks during the Great War, James led the Cardiff club again in 1919 and also joined the Glamorgan committee. His prime role with the county club, was to oversee arrangements as they moved into the first-class world, whilst his wife Gladys also played a role behind the scenes, especially with the catering.
In her youth, Gladys had been captain of the Cardiff Ladies water polo team, and by the 1920s she was now a leading light with the tennis section of Cardiff Athletic Club, whose courts ran alongside the boundary at the Westgate Street end of the Arms Park ground. However, during county matches, Mrs. Horspool’s chief role was overseeing the work of the wives and girlfriends of the other amateurs in ensuring that the players were adequately fed and watered during the lunch and tea intervals, often at no cost to the cash-strapped county club.
James served as secretary of Cardiff CC until 1945, and in the words of The South Wales Echo, proved to be “one of the most loyal, efficient and popular officials connected with any sports organization in South Wales.”
Born – Burton-on-Trent, 6 August 1874.
Died – Cardiff, 10 September 1960.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 11* v Surrey 2nd XI at The Oval, 1905.