Glamorgan CCC’s First Ever GameMartin Chandler |
Author: Battersby, David
Publisher: Battersby, David
Rating: 3 stars
It is now three years since David Battersby first published one of his slim booklets about an aspect of our great game, and with this one he reaches number nine. The early ones were about aspects of England’s meetings with Pakistan, and there were a couple of intensely personal memoirs of events of 1977 and 1981. Of late however Battersby’s writings have delved into ancient history and, as its title suggests, the latest is certainly one of those.
Glamorgan joined the County Championship in 1921 and in doing so became the last county to achieve First Class status until Durham did more than seventy years later. The history of the county club goes back sometime before that, and 2019 is the 130th anniversary of the county’s first fixture, against Warwickshire.
As Battersby points out the basic story of the formation of the county club has appeared elsewhere, so he deals with that in short order before giving some background to a couple of other fixtures that were played before the Warwickshire match. One involved the ‘Old Man’ himself, WG Grace, and the other saw a village team, augmented by two leading Yorkshire professionals, humble the Glamorgan side. The main event of the booklet is then the organisation of the two day game against Warwickshire in June 1889 and, naturally, the match itself, won by the visitors comfortably enough in the end, but not before the fledgling county had put up a decent performance on the first day.
Extensive use is made of contemporary newspaper reports. The players names are not familiar, with two exceptions. Future England wicketkeeper Dick Lilley, then 22, was behind the stumps for Warwickshire and John Shilton, an interesting character, took twelve wickets for them and also scored some useful runs. The booklet concludes with brief looks at Glamorgan’s other three fixtures in 1889, two against MCC (one defeat and one draw) and the county’s first victory, against Surrey Club and Ground at the Oval.
Glamorgan CCC’s First Ever Game is not going to appeal to too many, but for those who like this sort of thing, and this reviewer makes no apology for being one such, it is certainly interesting. The ace up Battersby’s sleeve is the memorabilia he has tracked down, more particularly a total of 13 items of correspondence which are very well reproduced. The cricketing content contains nothing earth shattering, but it is fascinating to see the way in which formal letters were written over a century ago and, without exception, the quality of the handwriting is certainly a throwback to a bygone age.
There are 55 numbered and signed copies of the booklet available at £6 including UK postage. Any reader who does not know Battersby’s contact details should not hesitate to get in touch.