The formation of Glamorgan CCC

JTD Llewelyn – the founding father of Glamorgan CCC. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

In March 1869, JTD Llewelyn, the squire of Penllergaer convened a meeting at The Castle Hotel in Neath at which a Glamorganshire club was inaugurated and the following summer a series of matches took place. However, the Glamorganshire club folded during the mid-1870s, largely as a result of rising costs in staging matches with many of the gentlemen preferring to appear instead for their clubs in matches against local rivals.

In many ways, the county team was similar to the South Wales CC – created in 1859 – which was a gentleman’s team, with games as a form of social entertainment, and a jolly gathering of well-to-do friends, rather than being representative of the talent in the area. This parochial outlook was summed up by `Old Stager` of The South Wales Daily News who wrote in April 1886 “when, oh when, shall we be able to put in the field an eleven sufficiently strong to oppose, with some prospect of success, a really first-class team? Not I fancy until the miserable cliqueism that at present marks the management of some of our leading clubs in swept away, and men are played simply because they know how to play and not because their names are Jones, Brown, Robinson and so on.”

His words followed a quite dreadful summer for the South Wales CC, who had lost all of their fixtures that summer. There was an air of resignation when the club`s officials met up at The Angel Hotel in Cardiff in December 1885 to review the events of the summer. Unanimously, they decided to discontinue the club`s activities, with members encouraged to go away and form county teams instead. It was a sea-level change in the outlook of the great and the good in cricketing circles within South Wales, and it was no surprise that within eighteen months Glamorgan County Cricket Club was formed and soon became Wales’ leading representative in county cricket.

A cartoon from the Western Mail of JP Jones. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The two men who were largely responsible for turning the situation around were JTD Llewelyn and John Price Jones, a prominent architect from Cardiff, whose vision and drive – both on and off the field – had helped the town club become established as amongst the premier clubs in Wales. He represented the dynamism and energy of the middle-classes of Victorian Wales, whilst Llewelyn was a symbol of the established order, and the gentry who had first played the game. The love of cricket was the common thread that bonded the pair.

It proved to be a potent combination, with their cause assisted by nationalistic feelings which had swept, like a tidal wave, across the region during the 1880s: an era which saw the National Eisteddfod Society become inaugurated to co-ordinate the cultural and artistic affairs, as well as a University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, plus the creation of the Welsh Rugby Union, for whom JTD had been one of instigators and acted as President between 1885 and 1906.

Indeed, it had been Jones who, at a meeting in 1886, had proposed dissolving the South Wales CC and forming  new county teams which selected the best players within the area, regardless of their social standing or aspirations. He was in the vanguard of change and soon made arrangements for a series of matches during 1887 at Newport, the Arms Park and Llanelly between a Glamorgan side and the Rest of South Wales. Nothing eventually came of the games at either Cardiff or Llanelly, but Jones was able to lead a Glamorgan XI into the field at Newport against an XVIII of South Wales.

The St.Helen’s ground in Swansea, as seen in 1903. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Jones also canvassed the support of other leading club officials and, most importantly, secured the backing of the Swansea Cricket and Football Club. Initially, they were wary of showing too close an allegiance to a scheme that would reinforce Cardiff, and the Arms Park ground, as the cricketing epicentre of the county. Given the excellent facilities which had been created from the mid-1870s at St. Helen’s, they were keen that Swansea had a slice of the action , and with the full support of the squire of Penllergaer, it did not take Jones too long to persuade William Bryant, the secretary of the Swansea club, that the formation of Glamorgan would be good for both the east and west of the county.

There was also talk amongst Tory circles that Jack Brain, the talented batsman from Gloucestershire and a member of the Oxford University team which had defeated the 1884 Australians, would soon be moving to South Wales to manage his family’s brewery in Cardiff. There were strong indications as well that Jack would be happy to throw in his lot with a new county club in South Wales, so in June 1888, JTD  Llewelyn wrote as follows to all of the leading clubs in the region:

“I have much pleasure in convening a meeting at the Angel Hotel, Cardiff on Friday, 6th July at six o`clock in the evening to consider the advisability of forming a county cricket club. I need scarcely say that it is essential that the meeting should be thoroughly representative of cricket in the county, and shall be glad therefore if you will do your utmost to attend.”

A carde de visite for the Angel Hotel where Glamorgan CCC came into being during 1888. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Over thirty representatives attended the meeting at which Glamorgan County Cricket Club came into being.  Fittingly, Jones was elected Chairman of the new club, with his team-mate William Yorath, the town`s coroner and a leading solicitor, being appointed Secretary. JTD agreed to act as Hon. Treasurer, whilst other leading figures from clubs in the west joined their counterparts from the east on the committee. After an approach from Jones, the Marquess of Bute also agreed to act as the club`s President, besides allowing the Club to use the Arms Park for their fixtures.