Wally Mendelson was another amateur with no residential qualification who played twice for Glamorgan during the Club’s early years as a Minor County. In fact, Wally’s roots could not have been further away from South Wales, as the son of a Polish Jew was brought up in Christchurch, New Zealand and played for Glamorgan whilst staying with relatives in Cardiff whilst a student at Jesus College, Cambridge.
The young Kiwi was an outstanding schoolboy sportsman excelling at athletics, rugby and cricket for Christ’s College, Christchurch, before reading Law at Otago University from 1891. Whilst at Otago Wally won a place in the university’s rugby and cricket side, and after some impressive performances in the XI he was chosen in the Canterbury side for the inter-provincial match against Hawkes Bay in April 1894. Wally made 7 in his only innings.
A few months later he travelled to the UK to commence his studies at Cambridge. Wally duly enjoyed an excellent first term at Jesus College, winning a place at full-back for the Varsity Match. Soon afterwards, he aggravated an old knee injury and had to give up rugby. However, Wally continued to excel at athletics, winning a long jump Blue in 1895 and in the process beat CB Fry, the well-known England cricketer. Wally also won a half-blue at billiards, and appeared for his college at cricket, but never made the Cambridge XI.
However, Wally had a taste of county cricket during 1896 when spending the summer vacation with relatives in South Wales. Each summer he joined the Cardiff club and in July 1896 Wally impressed whilst opening the batting against Weston-super-Mare. The Western Mail newspaper commented how the student “hit in splendid style, all round the wicket and repeatedly found the boundary. Everybody expected to see him make the coveted century, but when he was 97 he was bowled by a slower ball.”
His efforts helped Cardiff to a 103-run victory whilst his name went down in their official’s notebook as someone on which to keep an eye. The following week Wally made his Glamorgan debut as the Welsh county found themselves short after their captain Jack Brain failed to recover from a leg injury sustained the night before the match at the Arms Park against Surrey 2nd XI when he collided with a stone wall whilst out riding his bicycle near Fonmon Castle.
After arriving at the ground with bruises on his leg, Jack got a message to Wally’s relatives and the student hastily made his way to the Arms Park. It did not prove to be a fairytale start as Wally was bowled first ball by Walter Lees for a duck. Wally made 4 in the second innings, and during mid-August was chosen again for Glamorgan, this time on merit, for the match against Herefordshire at the Arms Park having played some decent innings opening the batting in club cricket with Jack Brain who was now restored to full fitness.
Opening the batting with Bertie Letcher he made 19 and 10 as the Welsh county won by six wickets. In 1897 Wally completed his legal training in the London area, and played several times for the MCC, before returning to New Zealand the following year and setting up a practice in Timaru. In 1902 he was on the move again as he travelled to South Africa to seek new opportunities, but within a couple of months of being in Durban, Wally was found dead at a boarding house.
MENDELSON, Wallingford (‘Wally’).
Born – Temuka, New Zealand, 29 December 1872.
Died – Durban, South Africa, 19 August 1902.
Batting and Fielding Record
Career Best Performance
Minor County Friendlies – 19 v Herefordshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1896.