Minding my own business in Builth High Street , a reader sidles up and tells me the blog has got too political, too much Wcrain.
"You need more Radnorshire stuff" I'm advised.
"What do you suggest?"
"How about the Radnorshire Cobdens?"
The friendly critic soon filled-me-in on the exploits of one Frank Cobden in the 1870 Varsity cricket match. Oxford needed three runs to win with three wickets in hand when Cobden stepped-up and took his famous hat-trick. If it happened today you'd suspect the involvement of far-eastern bookmakers. Instead they called it Cobden's match and although he was an Englishman there was said to be some Radnorshire connection along the way.
Cobden turned up in Knighton at the end of the 1870s. Heir to a small fortune and with a much older wife he rented The Cottage and took an interest in the market town's sporting activities, football and cricket. An early initiative was to restart the county cricket side, something that came to pass in 1884 - partial records of the team which flourished until 1889, when Cobden moved away, can be found here.
Playing its games at Bryn-y-Castell in Knighton - the town organised an annual August Cricket week - this reformed Radnorshire side was clearly dominated by a county elite educated in the virtues of the English public school. The Evelyn brothers of Kinsham Court, one an Oxford cricket blue, another a Welsh soccer international, were prominent in the batting line-up. We also find a host of Green-Prices from Norton Manor and the inevitable Cobden dominating the bowling.
With Cobden's departure from Radnorshire the county side folded. The cricketer moved to Capel Curig, where he is remembered in the name of the Cobden Hotel, formerly Tan-y-Bwlch. There's a photograph of him here.