DateLine: 16th August 2008
Merthyr Mawr was the spacious country home of old Etonian, John Nicholl, the son of the Conservative M.P. for Cardiff who was a leading member of the Bridgend club. After inheriting the estate on the death of his father in 1852, Nicholl organised a series of fixtures at Merthyr Mawr, and took steps to improve the wicket so that the standard of play improved.
Nicholl was also in contact with other leading cricket officials in South Wales, including Charles Bishop in Carmarthenshire and the Lloyd family in Breconshire. On several occasions he was asked to raise a Glamorganshire team to play these other so-called county sides, with the Nicholl family taking great delight in welcoming the gentlemen cricketers to their estate near Bridgend.
Flushed with the success of these matches, Nicholl started thinking about forming a proper county side to represent Glamorgan so in June 1868 he organised a two-day match at Merthyr Mawr between teams representing the West and East of the county. The East XI, comprising players from Cardiff and Bridgend, duly won by six wickets, as the contest showcased the talent in the premier clubs and confirmed the potential for the creation of a county side. Shortly afterwards, Nicholl also approached the All-England Eleven to see if an exhibition match could be arranged against a Glamorgan XXII which would help to raise funds to start a county club. Negotiations however broke down over the financial terms, and no dates were agreed.
Nicholl continued to be a keen supporter of cricket as J.T.D. Llewelyn, a fellow Old Etonian, instigated a Glamorganshire club. Country house matches continued to be staged at Merthyr Mawr into the early 20th century, giving talented amateurs a chance to show their credentials as county players. The games were also accompanied by grand dinners and balls in Merthyr Mawr House, with the socialising enjoyed by all concerned, including the young ladies of the house who dutifully hand-wrote a newsletter called The Tiddle Taddle, outlining events on the field, besides commenting on the post-match jollifications.
(Article: Copyright © 2008 Dr.A.K.Hignell)