Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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BANCROFT , WILLIAM JOHN ( 1871 - 1959 ), rugby player and cricketer .

Born 2 Mar. 1871 , son of William Bancroft , Carmarthen Arms , Waterloo Street , Swansea , the eldest of 11 children. He plied his craft as a shoemaker . He was born in Carmarthen but was brought up in the shadow of Saint Helen's sports ground , Swansea . He played for the local youth team, the Excelsiors , before playing his first game for Swansea on 5 Oct. 1889 . After only 17 games, and without a trial, he was chosen to play for Wales against Scotland in Feb. 1890 after the first choice, Tom England of Newport , was injured.

Bancroft proceeded to gain 33 caps in consecutive matches between 1890 and 1901 , a record which was not broken until 1954 , by Ken Jones ( Newport ). He was an incomparable back with the keen eyes and sure hands of a professional cricketer ; he spent long hours perfecting his kick, and it was his penalty drop-kick which won the match against England in 1893 , when Wales gained the triple crown for the first time ever. He led Wales to its second crown in 1900 . He was one of the first to be employed as a professional player by Glamorgan Cricket Club (founded in 1888 ) in 1895 at £2 per week. He d. 3 Mar. 1959 at Swansea .



His brother, JACK BANCROFT ( 1879 - 1942 ), was a notable back for Swansea and Wales , winning 13 caps between 1908 and 1912 .

Sources:

  • J.B.G. Thomas , Great rugger players, 1900-1954 (London, 1955) ;
  • David Smith and Gareth Williams , Fields of Praise. The official history of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981 (Cardiff, 1980) ;
  • J.H. Morgan , Glamorgan County Cricket (London, 1952) ;
  • South Wales Evening Post , 4 Mar. 1959 ;
  • South Wales Echo , 4 Mar. 1959 .

Author:

Professor Gareth W. Williams, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001