The Great War and After

Glamorgan enjoyed a purple patch of form in the Minor County Championship, with the Welsh county winning the Western Group in 1907, 1908 and 1909, and in each year progressing to the final, only to lose to Lancashire 2nd XI , Staffordshire and Wiltshire respectively. Despite the three successive defeats, it was not all gloom and despondency within the Glamorgan committee, as the fact that they had reached the final on three consecutive occasions was evidence that Glamorgan were still amongst the best Minor Counties, and had every reason to hold lofty aspirations about bidding for first-class status.

Ever since the visit of the Australians to Cardiff in 1905, the Glamorgan hierarchy had been planning their campaign for first-class status. Staging high-profile matches against touring teams and other exhibition games at the Arms Park was part of their strategy, promoting both the playing resources in South Wales and the excellent facilities and wicket at the Cardiff ground. 1906 had seen the visit of both Yorkshire and the West Indies to the Arms Park, followed in 1907 by the South Africans and in 1909 by another plum fixture with the Australians.

A postcard of county cricket at the Arms Park in 1908. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The Glamorgan officials were also aware of the elevation to first-class status of Worcestershire in 1899 and Northamptonshire in 1905. After their success in the Minor County competition, the Glamorgan officials contacted the authorities at Lord`s, and were told that in order to become a first-class county, they would have to secure eight home and eight away fixtures with existing first-class teams. During the winter of 1909/10, a fund-raising campaign therefore began, headed by the Earl of Plymouth, the county’s President who issued a circular appealing for an increase in subscriptions and the pledging of donations.  Matches were also held during 1910 with two first-class teams – Worcestershire and Somerset – as well as various fund-raising matches and events, but the downswing in the local economy in 1911 and the start of a trade slump deal a blow to the energetic Glamorgan officials, and they had to put on hold their ambitious plans.

With the First World War having drawn to a close in 1918, life slowly returned to normal during 1919, and thoughts turned back towards cricket, and resuming the pursuit of first-class status for the Welsh county. The Glamorgan committee, which had overseen the wartime activities, assessed their credentials and agreed to the Club resuming their activities in 1920 in the Minor County Championship.However, there was still a desire for higher honours and first-class status.

With the local economy booming, there was also a feelgood factor in these immediate post-war years, with the Football League being expanded to include teams from Aberdare, Cardiff, Merthyr, Newport and Swansea. As a result, the Glamorgan officials began to make noises about their bid for first-class status and with Sir Sidney Byass giving the Club a £1,000 loan over a ten-year period, the Glamorgan officials had funds on which to draw in their quest of first-class status. Fortunately, there were no strings attached to Sir Sidney’s benevolence, so with his generous nest egg in the Club’s coffers, the Glamorgan committee instructed Tal Whittington to secure sufficient home and away fixtures for the MCC to recognise Glamorgan as a first-class county in 1921 .

A cigarette card of Glamorgan’s Hon. Secretary. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.