The son of a coal miner from Leeds, Joe Hirst was a well-travelled cricket professional in Northern England before moving to Cardiff in 1906 and spent most of the rest of his life in South Wales.
He first came to prominence with his older brother Billy in the Durham area, with Joe’s prowess as a free-scoring batsman with Tudhoe and Sedgefield winning him a place in the Durham Colts side in1889. But whereas Billy went on to enjoy a seven-year career with Durham, Joe secured a professional appointment with Bishop Auckland before moving to Scotland where he played for the Ferguslie club. He then spent time in the Lancashire Leagues with Burnley and Accrington before, in 1906, the hard-hitting right-handed batsman joined Cardiff CC.
Joe made a promising start with his new club and in early May played for South Wales against Yorkshire at the Arms Park. But, batting at number three, he failed to score against his county of birth. 1907 saw the Yorkshireman play for Neath – it was a summer when he made an unbeaten 100 against Gorseinon besides making six successive appearances for Glamorgan, starting with the contest against Monmouthshire at Newport during the final week of May. He then went on the West Country tour to Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, with Joe making 43 in the opening match at Penzance. It proved though to be his only innings of substance and, after making a pair in the return match against Dorset at the Arms Park, he was dropped by the county’s selectors.
Joe was attached to the Tondu club in 1908, before returning to Cardiff in 1909 before spending a year with Chippenham. He was back however in the Welsh capital prior to the Great War, attached to the Cardiff Alpha club and coached football, hockey and cricket at both Cardiff Intermediate School and Monkton House.
After the War, he continued to mix his coaching duties with work as an orderly at Cardiff Mental Hospital. He also became an umpire of repute in local club cricket, as well as a referee of local football games. In 1927 Joe was called upon to officiate in Glamorgan’s first-class friendly against HDG Leveson Gower’s XI at Swansea. He was believed to also have been a relative of George Hirst, the famous Yorkshire and England bowler.
HIRST, Joseph Owen.
Born – Woodlesford, Leeds, 8 May 1867.
Died – Cardiff, 12 March 1948.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 43 v Cornwall at Penzance, 1907.