If Maurice Turnbull was the architect of Glamorgan during the 1930`s, Wilf Wooller was the man who laid the post-war foundations and watched the club flourish from 1948 when, under his astute leadership, the Welsh county won the Championship title. Over the next 50 years, Wilf lived and breathed Glamorgan cricket, fulfilling almost every role within the club, from player to Secretary and latterly as President.
Wilf learnt his cricket in North Wales, playing for Rydal School and Denbighshire, as well as having a brief trial with Lancashire 2nd XI. He was also a most talented rugby player, initially for Sale, and after some impressive performances, the schoolboy was included in a Welsh trial in 1932/33. Remarkably, a fortnight later the Sixth Former won the first of his 18 caps by being a member of the first Welsh side to defeat England at Twickenham.
IDuring the autumn of 1933, Wilf went up to Cambridge, where he won Blues for both cricket and rugby, and continued to live life to the full. After coming down, he worked in the coal trade, both in North Africa and in Cardiff, where he joined the city`s famous rugby club. Initially, Wilf had little time for county cricket, playing just at the weekends for St.Fagans CC. Through a friendship with Maurice Turnbull, Wilf agreed to turn out for Glamorgan in 1938, when the side was badly affected by injury. He had an immediate impact, taking 5/90 on his debut against Yorkshire, and this refueled his enthusiasm for the county game. The following year, the aggressive all-rounder hit 111 in two hours against the West Indies, which helped to set up a 73-run victory.
Wilf spent much of the Second World War in a Japanese POW camp, and when he returned to the UK in 1945, he considered resuming his sporting career. However, his loss of weight meant that he had to retire from club rugby, but he agreed to help Johnnie Clay rebuild the Glamorgan side. He took on various administrative and fund-raising duties, before taking over the captaincy in 1947, moulding a successful squad with a mix of local talent and astute signings from other countries.
He was a ruthless and at times very outspoken captain, leading from the front and never afraid to ask anyone to do anything that he himself would not think twice about doing himself. Indeed, Wilf was ready to anything in the side`s best interest, whether it was opening the batting, bowling for hour after hour as a stock bowler, or fearlessly standing at short-leg, letting the opposition batsmen know what he thought of them! By sheer application and tenacity, Wilf made himself into an excellent all-rounder and a measure of both his ability and durability was that in 1954 he achieved the coveted Double at the age of 41!
A measure of the high regard in which Wilf was held was that he acted as a Test selector from 1955 until1962, during which he also helped to choose a highly successful England side. In 1960 Wilf retired from playing for Glamorgan and took over as Secretary. He mixed his administrative duties with sports journalism, with Wilf becoming a respected writer on cricket and rugby for “The Sunday Telegraph”, as well as broadcasting for BBC Wales. His forthright views on air or in print showed that he still felt passionately to see Glamorgan become successful again, and despite several whiffs of controversy, his tenure as secretary saw the Welsh county defeat Australia on consecutive tours, win the County Championship in 1969, and reach the final of the Gillette Cup in 1977.
Born – Rhos-on-Sea, 20th November, 1912.
Died – Cardiff, 10th March, 1997.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 128 v Warwickshire at Neath, 1955; 8/45 v Warwickshire at Ebbw Vale, 1953.