|Ground:||Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd|
Pontypridd entered the first-class cricket calendar in 1926, as Glamorgan`s officials tried to boost the club`s membership by taking county cricket into the valley communities. Ynysangharad Park staged an annual Championship fixture up until the late 1960s, followed by the occasional one-day game and then in 1994 a match against the South Africans and in 1996 a fixture with the Pakistanis. These games came about as a result of generous sponsorship from Taff-Ely Borough Council , and a lot of hard work by the officials from Pontypridd C.C. However, as in the match with the Pakistanis, it seems that every time county cricket ventures up the Taff Valley to Pontypridd, the heavens open, and the games end in rain-affected draws.
Cricket in Pontypridd dates back to 1858, and like many other clubs in these industrial communities, its origin was the result of the influx into the Valleys of English born and educated migrants. A few barriers existed to the development of the game with the shortage of suitable land and long hours of work at the booming iron foundries and steelworks, and the earliest games were often just glorified practice sessions. Things had improved by May 1870 when a formal club was established, and fixtures were gained with other recently formed teams from other valley towns. These games were initially staged in the grounds of Gelliwasted House, before a move in 1873 to a more spacious area of farmland owned by Gordon Lenox, the resident director of Brown Lenox, the town's largest ironworks.
Over the years, there has been a very close link between Brown Lenox and Pontypridd C.C. Gordon Lenox oversaw the laying of a decent wicket in one of the fields at Ynysangharad Farm (loosely translated as Angharad`s Isle) alongside the River Taff. The company, who manufactured anchors, chains and cables for the Admiralty, also acted as generous philanthropists by giving the cricket club money to buy equipment and also kit, knowing that many of the club`s members were men of quite modest means. Given this help, the number of members increased and in 1897 Pontypridd were able to enter the newly-formed Glamorgan Cricket League, playing fixtures with clubs from Treherbert, Treorchy, Merthyr Tydfil, Ferndale and Mountain Ash.
The farmland home of Pontypridd C.C. was transformed into an attractive parkland after the Great War, when hundreds of soldiers and servicemen from the town were killed. When the War finally ended, plans were set in motion for the creation of a War Memorial for Pontypridd, and in keeping with their role as generous patrons to the town, Brown Lenox offered their farmland at Ynysangharad. Public subscriptions and grants from the Miners Welfare Fund helped to finance the conversion of the farmland into a spacious park and public recreation ground. The War Memorial was opened on August Bank Holiday Monday 1923, and over the next few years a bowling green, rugby pitch, swimming pool, tennis courts and bandstand were added to the already existing cricket pitch and small pavilion.
The Park proved to be a popular attraction, and it was no surprise that when Glamorgan were looking to tap new support during the late 1920`s, they should choose the Ynysangharad Park ground. The attendances at the earliest county games were so good, that in 1929 Pontypridd was allocated the prestigious tourist match with South Africa, plus two other county games with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Indeed, in the latter game, George Geary recorded the best ever bowling figures against the Welsh county, taking 10-18.
As Glamorgan took county cricket into Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire, Pontypridd`s allocation was limited to one annual game. In recent years, this has been a limited overs contest, but in 1994 sponsorship from the Borough Council and local businessmen, saw South Africa return to Ynysanghard Park. During the previous winter, the old single-storey pavilion had been replaced by a modern two-storey brick building, and although Glamorgan have to install temporary seating and other facilities at the Park, the games at Pontypridd have been well attended.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 Dr.A.K.Hignell)
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