County Cult Heroes - Glamorgan
(Glamorgan career 1950-72)
The Australians have their legendary Don and so do the Welsh. Don Shepherd took 2,174 first-class wickets for Glamorgan, mainly with offcutters, yet never won an England cap; never has such a weight of wickets gone unrecognised. It was while deputising as captain for Tony Lewis that Don had perhaps his fi nest hour, with victory over the 1968 Australians. Shep used all his nous in masterminding one of the greatest wins in the club's history - and all watched by a capacity crowd that had thronged into Swansea's seaside ground and caused such a jam that some players had to park almost a mile away and walk. But it was worth it. Welsh folk songs and hymns rang out as Don led his victorious team up the many steps to the old Swansea pavilion, where the victory was toasted long into the night, together with the feats of one of Wales's finest gentlemen - Don Shepherd.
Roland Lefebvre (1993-95)
"Roly is a Welshman, Roly is a Welshman, La la lah, La la lah" - that chant echoed round Glamorgan's grounds in 1993, as the team won the Sunday League title, and bore testament to how the Welsh public had taken the Dutch allrounder to their heart. Time and again Lefebvre would produce a miserly opening spell and, together with the offcutter Steve Barwick, another unsung hero, his accuracy would put batsmen under pressure. Then, as the opposition tried to hit their way out of trouble, Roly would more often than not hold on to a running catch in the deep - usually diving and rolling on the turf before rising with ball held high to tumultuous applause from his many fans. Sadly a severe groin injury ended his Glamorgan career prematurely but in the space of three fi ne summers the affable Dutchman had become an adopted son - and a most popular one.
Whenever Glamorgan were playing at home before the school holidays, countless excuses would be made so that youngsters could get to the ground in time to see Alan Jones bat. In 1968 he was enjoying the purplest of patches when the Australians arrived at Swansea, and the ground was packed with schoolboys young and old. As Alan reached 99 the clamour hit a fevered pitch and he charged to play a lofted drive against Ashley Mallett. There was a brief lull as the ranks of spectators realised their hero had been caught at deep mid-on before a deafening ovation, in recognition of a man described by John Arlott as "modest, kind, cheerful [and] personable". The England selectors continued to look elsewhere (Jones's 36,049 fi rst-class runs and no Test caps provided an unwanted world record) but his adoring fans throughout the Principality remained loyal.
Usually arriving to loud applause, `The Panda', as he was affectionately known because of his squat physique and shambling walk to the wicket, would regularly treat his fans to a display of bold and uninhibited strokeplay from the lower order. His stay was often brief but to the delight of his supporters he struck a career-best 80 in his benefi t match at the Arms Park against the 1951 South Africans. For a while, as his side followed on, it looked as though his display of fearlessness would bring a maiden fi rst-class hundred. Instead it became one of 11 fi fties in county colours, to go with 581 catches and 203 stumpings - often executed with a vociferous roar and followed by a mighty cheer from delighted spectators.
Johnie Clay (1921-49)
How many cricketers would say "No thanks" if invited to play for England, especially if it was for a Test against Australia? But that is what Johnnie Clay - the great Glamorgan offspinner - did in 1938, telling the selectors he was carrying a slight leg injury and, to be on the safe side, they ought to pick a younger and fi tter man. It followed a remarkable summer in 1937 when his powers of fl ight and spin resulted in a club-record 176 victims. But international success did not really interest Clay - his heart lay with Glamorgan, for whom he had spent many a long hour as treasurer. With his friend Maurice Turnbull he brought respectability to the club in the 1930s, converting a rising defi cit into a healthy profit. His high, classical action was copied by many youngsters. Sadly the Second World War intevened and Turnbull died in Normandy in 1944. Four years later, and by now a greyhaired veteran, Clay took the wicket that clinched Glamorgan's first Championship.
Andrew Hignell is Glamorgan's honorary historian and statistician