Robert Rooney was the younger brother of Teddy Rooney and followed him into the family’s thriving construction business in Cardiff during the late Victorian and Edwardian era. With an office near the Arms Park, and good links with the Bute Estate – the major landowners in the Welsh capital – the Rooney’s were a well-connected family.
Like his brothers, Robert played cricket and rugby for the Cardiff club, although he was a better cricketer than a rugby player, appearing initially at the age of 20 in 1893 for a Colts side in a trial match against a Glamorgan XI at the Arms Park. It was not the first time he had played against the county’s team as in 1889 he, along with other young members of the Cardiff club had been called into the MCC side to play against the Welsh county at the Arms Park.
In 1893 Robert played in Glamorgan’s rain-ravaged game at the Arms Park against Herefordshire, before appearances in 1894 against Monmouthshire at Rodney Parade in Newport and Wiltshire at the County Ground in Swindon. Pressure of work meant that he was unavailable to play for Glamorgan again until 1899 during which season he played against Monmouthshire as well as travelling to Reading for the game with Berkshire.
1900 was easily his most successful summer in Glamorgan’s ranks, with a half-century against the MCC at the Arms Park, plus several other decent innings. His final match for the Welsh county came in 1901 away to Wiltshire, but he continued to play with success for the Cardiff club, and on several occasions appeared in the Gentlemen’s team with met the Players of Glamorgan.
Robert had lived initially in Womanby Street, where the family also had an office, before marrying Clara Nicholls, the sister of Welsh rugby legend Gwyn Nicholls who was the manager of the nearby Grand Hotel in Westgate Street, and opposite the Arms Park. Robert subsequently moved from his lodgings in the nearby street to live in the Hotel, before he and his wife lived in the thriving suburb of Canton.
He subsequently built a more substantial property in Whitchurch, called Treoda Villa, where he and Clara lived until the 1920s. His final match of note came in May 1923 when he featured in a Glamorgan Club and Ground XI which played a Cardiff XI at the Arms Park. After retiring from playing for Cardiff CC, Robert became associated with the St. Fagans club, for whom he acted as umpire.
ROONEY, Robert Alexander.
Born – Stoke Newington, 2 September 1872.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 30* v Berkshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1900.
Minor County Friendlies – 54* v MCC at Cardiff Arms Park, 1900.