Wilf Wooller was the man who took over the Glamorgan captaincy from Johnnie Clay in 1947 and laid the post-war foundations from which the Welsh county won the County Championship in 1948. His actions however were not solely restricted to those of captaincy, as after retiring, Wooller went on to be the club`s Secretary and latterly served as President.
Wooller was brought up in Rhos-on-Sea, and he played his early cricket for Rydal School and Denbighshire. His success also led to a brief trial with Lancashire 2nd XI, but it was rugby which Wilf shone at as a young man. Whilst still a schoolboy at Rydal, he was included in the final Welsh trial in 1932/33, and 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.
In the autumn of 1933, Wooller went up to Cambridge, where he won Blues for both cricket and rugby, and he continued to live life to the full. After coming down, he worked in the coal trade, both in North Africa and in Cardiff, and he furthered his rugby career by joining the city`s famous rugby club. Initially, Wooller had little time for county cricket, playing just at the weekends for the St. Fagan`s club. Maurice Turnbull knew of Wooller`s prowess at cricket, and he persuaded the burly all-rounder 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 refuelled his enthusiasm for the county game. The following year, the Wooller hit 111 in two hours against the West Indies, and helped to steer Glamorgan to a 73 run victory.
Wooller spent much of the Second World War in a Japanese P.O.W. camp, and when he returned to the U.K. in 1945, he valiantly tried to resume 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, and becoming the county`s leader for the over the next two decades.
Under his leadership, Wooller moulded a more successful squad, blending the local talent with astute signings from other counties. He became a ruthless and at times quite outspoken captain, and Glamoragn cricket was never dull when Wilf was at the helm. He always led from the front and was never afraid to ask anyone to do anything that he himself would not think twice about doing himself. Indeed, Wooller was ready to do 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, he also made himself into an excellent all-rounder and in 1954 he achieved the coveted Double at the age of 41!
Wilf also acted as a Test selector from 1955 until 1962, during which time he also helped to choose a highly successful England side. In 1960 Wooller retired from playing for Glamorgan and took over as Secretary. He mixed his administrative duties with running an insurance business as well as sports journalism. He had been writing for many years on rugby and cricket, and after retiring, Wilf became a highly respected correspondent for "The Sunday Telegraph". He also pursued a career as a broadcaster for BBC Wales, and it was Wilf who was at the microphone in 1968 when the BBC cameras captured the amazing six hitting feat of Gary Sobers at Swansea.
Wilf continued to voice his forthright views on air or in print, showing that he still passionately wanted to see Glamorgan become successful again, and despite several whiffs of controversy, his tenure as secretary saw Glamorgan defeat Australia in 1964 and 1968, become County Champions in 1969, and reach the final of the Gillette Cup in 1977.
(Article: Copyright © 2000 Dr.A.K.Hignell)
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