Pembrokeshire can trace its cricketing roots back to the first half of the 19th century. Clubs developed during the 1830s with Tenby formed in 1830 and Haverfordwest in 1838.
A Pembrokeshire side was created during the 1830s with “county” games often being held to coincide with other events when the gentlemen of the county were gathered together – as the image below from ‘The Welshman’ newspaper in 1843 shows, an example were matches held during the week when the Tenby Races were being staged.
By the 1840s, the clubs in Pembrokeshire had annual matches against the clubs from Carmarthen, Llandovery, and Llandeilo, as well as matches against the officers from the Royal Artillery based at Pembroke Dock. The success of these games led to a meeting being held in Haverfordwest during October 1847 at which a fully-constituted county club came into being. They subsequently staged their home matches on the pitch at Portfield Racecourse but, as the notice below shows, this may not have been the ideal location!
An important difference in terms of these games in the tourist towns of Pembrokeshire, such as Tenby, was that the playing season was much later than elsewhere with most of the matches taking place during July and August when there were a greater number of people of people staying in the towns. In several cases, a ‘Visitors XI’ was formed to play matches against the local residents with games also taking place during September and into early October – often after local people had gathered in the crops and undertaken the annual harvest.
Another boost to the game came from the presence of the military in Pembrokeshire. In the same way that tourism saw the influx of people well skilled in playing cricket, the presence of several garrisons and military bases gave clubs such as Pembroke Dock – seen in the image below – a chance to expand their fixture list besides selecting talented military cricketers.
The 1840s saw the creation of similar clubs in towns such as Pembroke and Haverfordwest, whilst the growth of tourism in areas such as Tenby gave cricket a further boost from the mid 19th century. The opening of railway lines and the presence of major garrisons in the Pembrokeshire ports, together with its trading links with Ireland, all gave a massive boost to cricket in the county. The image below shows the Laugharne CC side of 1889.
Cricket in Pembrokeshire was given a further boost during the 20th century by the creation of an inter-club competition for the Harrison-Allen Bowl, sponsored by the landed family at Cresselly House.
It gave the Harrison-Allen’s great delight when the Cresselly side won the local tournament and the image opposite shows Maurice Cole and Roly Edwards from Cresselly CC proudly holding the Bowl after they had won the 1978 Final.
After many years of inactivity, a fully constituted Pembrokeshire club was created in the Autumn of 1947. Ever since, the Pembrokeshire club has played a series of games against other county sides from Wales, including an annual match with Glamorgan 2nd XI.
County cricket comes to Cresselly
In 2007 Glamorgan staged their match in the Friends Provident Trophy against Surrey at the delightful Cresselly CC. With a population of less than a hundred in the nearby village, and a dairy farm alongside, this is one of the most rural settings in Wales at which county cricket has ever been staged.