Tommy Morgan was an obdurate batsman and occasional off-spinner who played for Glamorgan either side of the Great War.
His family lived at Belmont House in Creigiau, now a dormitory suburb of some 5,000 to the north-west of Cardiff, but during the late nineteenth-century, a village close to the local quarry and pottery. The Barry Railway opened a station at Creigiau with Tommy’s father running the Temperance Hotel which stood close to the station. During the Edwardian era, Hotel Creigiau subsequently became very popular with cyclists and other tourists, especially the afternoon teas served by Tommy’s mother and other staff on the spacious lawn at the rear of the building from which there were commanding views to the south, the Severn Estuary, the city of Cardiff and other settlements in the Vale of Glamorgan.
He had shown good promise as a batsman and an occasional spin bowler whilst at Monmouth, besides representing the school at rugby, Hockey and football. In 1908 the school’s magazine praised his application as a cricketer, saying “though small of stature, he bats with great confidence: as a rule, watches the ball carefully plays back in orthodox fashion, a good field and a safe catch.” The Monmothian, though, was less complimentary about his hockey – “a rather rash goal-keeper and uses one hand too much. He has not yet learnt the correct hockey stroke, and uses his stick too much like a cricket bat.”
After leaving school, Tommy trained as an auctioneer and estate agent in Cardiff, and after some promising innings for the town club he made his Glamorgan debut against Kent 2nd XI at Bromley. Despite making a duck, Tommy re-appeared during 1914 and played some promising innings but without going on to post a sizeable score. On the outbreak of War, Tommy initially became an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy before switching to the Royal Welch Fusiliers, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After surviving the horrors of life on the Western Front, Tommy returned to South Wales, and resumed his work as an estate agent together with his cricketing career.
A technically correct batsman, he had become a great foil to Norman Riches, and others in Cardiff’s top-order, and his attritional efforts once again led to his selection for Glamorgan, with Tommy making 59 against Monmouthshire at Ebbw Vale in 1920 besides living up to his nickname of ‘Stonewall’ with a series of resolute innings.
Tommy made his first-class debut against Northamptonshire at the Arms Park in June 1921 – his sole appearance during the Welsh county’s inaugural summer of Championship cricket – but he secured further time off in the next couple of seasons, and became a regular face in Glamorgan’s side during 1922 and 1923. In the former season, Tommy carried his bat against Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lancashire, whilst he repeated the feat in 1923 against Leicestershire with an unbeaten 87 at Aylestone Road, with local correspondents describing his batting as “cautious but effective in quelling the effects of the home bowlers.” This remained his best effort in first-class cricket and had he received greater support from his colleagues, Tommy might have made it to the highly-prized three figure mark.
In July 1925 Tommy scored his 1,000th first-class run for Glamorgan during the game against Gloucestershire at Fry’s Ground in Bristol. He made 5 and 20, opening the batting Cyril Walters, but their efforts could not prevent the Welsh county from succumbing to a heavy defeat by 296 runs. It proved to be his final match for Glamorgan, and he could have been forgiven for having far more weightier matters on his mind as his father Tom was suffering from ill health. Tommy duly returned to his family home in Creigiau and after his father’s death in September, Tommy took over the running of the hotel, which by now also boasted a golf course.
Tommy duly switched trades and became a licensed victualler, with the Creigiau Hotel becoming a popular watering hole for his wide circle of sporting friends and others from the business community in Cardiff. He died in hospital in 1975 after suffering a coronary thrombosis.
MORGAN, Thomas Rees
Born – Pontypridd , 11 April 1893.
Died – Aberkenfig, 6 April 1975.
Career-bests for Glamorgan:
Minor County – 59 v Monmouthshire at Ebbw Vale, 1920; 2/35 v Carmarthenshire at Swansea, 1920.
First-class – 87* v Leicestershire at Aylestone Road, 1923