Radyr Chain article

For club cricketers the time when all things ought to be in place is the middle of April. This is our D Day, when the check list is finalised and the preparations are complete. This year was slightly different because only a few weeks earlier the lockdown restrictions had been eased and the net facility reopened.  New players who in normal circumstances would have joined indoor winter training were still contacting the club whilst existing members, like creatures waking from their hibernation, were suddenly aware that the season was imminent. This winter at RCC had been like no other however. The reseeding of the second ground had taken hold and produced a better surface than ever before. With the new path along the river’s edge, walkers had their own dedicated avenue, which has allowed the outfield of the main ground to be the better than ever. New sight screens, mobile covers (paid for by grants from the ECB and the Community Council), a major refresh of the electronic scoreboard, new sets of stumps for all sides, a new clock on the second ground and a smell of new paint as the pavilion walls and shutters were given a major overhaul. The club was ready to go.

With April slowly disappearing the club invited Councillor Huw Jones, the Chair of the Community Council and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Rod McKerlich, to view the ground and the works carried out by the club. The Community Council have been so generous over the last few years, it was an opportunity to say thank you and show them both what the grant money had been spent on. The main beneficiary has been the pavilion extension, which alone with works carried out in the existing building, now gives the club four magnificent changing rooms, all with en-suite facilities plus an umpires room second to none. I also took advantage of their presence and the fact that it was the club’s first junior game of the season to arrange the presentation of the prizes to the two winners of the Xmas quiz, run in the December edition of the Chain. The attached photographs show the Lord Mayor presenting a shirt to Lydia Bell and the Chair of the Community Council to Mollie Richards. 

Disappointingly May didn’t play the game weather wise and early on more games were cancelled than completed: Saturdays were more conducive to wellingtons than flip flops. However what this hiatus allowed the members to do was chat about all things RCC and the issues affecting the villages. One such topic that kept constantly being raised, regarded the playing field and the “island” in Morganstown, and the railway works that could affect them for sometime to come. As someone whose formative years were spent in Heol Syr Lewis, the playing fields were my Cardiff Arms Park, Wembley and of course Sophia Gardens: Lord’s was an unknown joy, only to be discovered years later.  It was here that mine and some of my friends great love of sport, and especially cricket, dawned, as we all tried to emulate our particular heroes. It was from here that we started on our particular journeys, and which for a number of us ended up at RCC, so hence the interest.

However it was interesting that very few people realised the strong connection between the Morganstown playing fields and RCC and I thought the Chain’s readers might like an explanation. In 1893, some three years after the formation of RCC, a new club called Garth CC was founded, on what was known as the Tynant Estate. The exact location of the ground and pavilion are unknown, except to say that the records state it was near to the “island”. For over thirty years both sides competed separately, with Garth CC’s prominent period being before the Great War. However it became clear that the two villages were just too small to run separate sides and an amalgamation was arranged: in 1928, Radyr and Garth Cricket Club was formed, playing at the current ground. When the name simply became Radyr CC is unknown, though probably after the Second World War. However that is not the end of the story, as in 1995, the club’s emerging Third XI needed a temporary home, and they alighted at the Morganstown playing fields. The ghosts of Garth CC had returned home. If you are interested in more historic information about the club and Radyr and Morganstown in general, from 1890 to 2015, please get in touch with me and a copy of an amazing book that the club produced as part of its 125th Anniversary, can be purchased for £5 plus postage and packing. It was so well received that a version can be found in the MCC Cricket Library at Lord’s. My email address is christopherhitchings@btinternet.com

So those youngsters, who I mentioned above, gravitated quite naturally to RCC, in a time before League cricket, when the 1908 built pavilion was still standing and the facilities weren’t as cultured as they are today. Out of the playing fields emerged three club captains, who led the First XI with distinction and who are still stalwarts of RCC. The youngest of these is Howard Stone, probably better known for playing over 300 games for Cardiff RFC and winning a Wales B cap against France. However, with respect to Howard, it is the other two captains who I wish to concentrate on today: Carl Norman (left) and Peter Sullivan (right), and it is they who you see in the attached photograph, standing at the entrance to the club’s pavilion extension. It is these two who have given so much to the club over the years but recently using their building experience have managed the biggest project the club has ever entertained. Now I must be honest and say there have been hitches along the way, but they and quite a few others, have produced a building to be proud of, that will last the test of time. It is quite simply one of the best cricketing changing facilities in the amateur game in south Wales and without Carl and Peter, none of this would have been possible.

Christopher Hitchings

Radyr Cricket Club – Chairman