|Ground:||Steel Company of Wales Ground, Margam|
The Steel Company of Wales ground at Margam played host to three championship matches and two other first-class friendlies between 1953 and 1963. The ground is part of the company's purpose-built recreational complex half a mile to the south of the village of Margam, and close to the town of Port Talbot. The sporting complex itself lies in between the M4 motorway to the north and the Margam Abbey works to the south, which are now owned by British Steel and run in tandem with the giant Llanwern Works to the east of Newport.
Cricket was first played on the steelworkers in the early 1920's, shortly after the opening of the Margam Abbey works. Originally called Port talbot Steelworks C.C., they played in a field close to a pub in the village of Margam, before moving to the purpose-built ground in 1946. The move followed the acquisition by the Steel Company of Wales of 40 acres of farmland for a recreational complex, and in 1947 the cricket club's name was changed to S.C.O.W. Margam, as the company spent money on providing decent sports and social facilities for their employees.
The decision by Glamorgan to take first-class cricket to the Margam ground in the 1950's followed the offer of financial backing by the company at a time when the club were eager to boost their funds and help finance decent coaching and practice facilities at a number of clubs in the area. In 1951 the Glamorgan Club and Ground XI played for the first time at the ground, and after being impressed with the facilities, and the offer of cash from S.C.O.W., the county's officials allocated the friendly fixture with the Gentlemen of Ireland over the Whitsun Bank Holiday period to the Margam ground in 1953.
5,000 seats were installed and a scoreboard built by the company's apprentices, but rain washed out the first day's play and interupted proceedings on the other two days as well. Batting on the wet wicket was a lottery, with the county batsmen scoring 81 and 81-6, whilst the Irish amateurs replied wth 67 and 81-9. The Glamorgan officials were naturally concerned about the quality of the Margam wicket so it wasn't until 1960, after remedial work to the square that county cricket returned to the steelworks ground. In that year it staged the Championship match with Sussex, followed by matches with Leicestershire in 1961, Gloucestershire in 1962 and Cambridge University in 1963.
The wicket played a lot better in these games, but even so, the attendances were fairly thin, and there were problems as well with smoke billowing over the ground from the steel complex. Indeed, in the match with Cambridge University in 1963, the batsmen appealed against the conditions as a series of smoke plumes descended on the ground as they were trying to save the game.
The smoke eventually cleared, but a more pressing concern was the low attendances at these games. Despite the support from S.C.O.W., it was relatively expensive for the county to stage fixtures at the ground, and in 1964 Margam was deleted from their first-class calendar. The ground has continued to stage 2nd XI games, and the club have continued to play with success in the South Wales Cricket Association. Amongst the Glamorgan professionals to have been attached to the club are Euros Lewis, Alan Rees, Don Ward, and Alan Durban - the latter being attached in 1959 and 1960 whilst on the county's staff, before concentrating on a career as a footballer, and in more recent time, a football manager.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dr.A.K.Hignell)