THE HISTORY OF WALSDEN CRICKET & BOWLING CLUB – CRICKET SECTION
The early beginnings of Walsden Cricket & Bowling Club are shrouded in mystery. Although officially formed 1870 records can be found of matches played as early as 1856. It is believed that the club played at White Scack and Heights Houses prior to its move to the present ground in 1870. The addition of the Bowling Green occurred in 1895. The club joined the Central Lancashire League (C.L.L.) in 1892 despite the ground actually being situated in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Prior to playing league cricket the team played matches on both sides of the border travelling to clubs such as Padiham, Whalley, Elland, Fieldhouse, Littleborough, Bacup, Haslingden, Hebden Bridge and Newton Heath. The railway was then the main mode of travel. By 1883 the club was engaging professionals on a match-by-match basis but the first recorded professional on a seasons basis was in 1887 when Bracket was paid sixteen shillings per match (a princely sum!)
When the club joined the C.L.L. in 1892 it was guided into the league by the local vicar J R Napier who learnt his cricket at Marlborough College. Twice he played for Lancashire in 1888, taking seven wickets against Australia, and then at Sheffield he took four wickets for no runs against Yorkshire. For many years the club floundered in the lower reaches of the League, being unable to sign big name professionals, but it did produce its own crop of local heroes.
In 1915 Henry Smith scored 205 runs against Moorside, a record for amateurs which still stands today. It is interesting to note the opposition professional was a very young Maurice Leyland, who scored 53 and took four wickets for 108, bowling 18 overs.
Another famous local was Frank Scott, who was the local signalman. In a long career he scored 6,175 runs and took 966 wickets: his obituary claimed. “He never bowled a wide or a no-ball”. Frank Scott began a family trail (initially through the Scott and then the Barker families) which continues to the present day. His son, grandson, and great-grandson have all captained the first XI whilst his two great great grandsons have both recently made their first team debuts.
Being a small village (population 2,000), the club has always had to struggle to compete against the big town clubs like Rochdale, Middleton and Oldham because it could never afford the big name professionals, but in the past managed to keep afloat by organising bazaars, carnivals and field days. In 1910 the club purchased an old Salvation Army hut from Moorside for £12.10 shillings and transported it by horse and cart to the ground and re-erected it in time for the 1911 season. In 1912 the professional W Storah became the first Walsden player to take 100 wickets and stayed as pro up to 1914 and was reengaged again in 1919. His record for wickets stood until 1937 when J Hatchman took 123 wickets, a club record which is still intact. The club presented him with an inscribed ball which is still on display inside the clubhouse today.
Up until 1954 the club had no major trophy wins, although the second XI won the 2nd division championship in 1898 (undefeated) and again in 1915. In 1946 the club signed its first international player in Edwin St Hill (West Indies) and in 1947 despite not winning a league match the club reached the final of the Wood Cup but unfortunately lost heavily to Milnrow.
In 1950 Walsden signed a West Indian test player of Chinese descent, Ellis Achong whose previous clubs were Rochdale, Heywood and Burnley. Achong’s slow left arm bowling is accredited with inventing the “Chinaman”, a ball still feared today. He stayed at the club for three years taking 266 wickets but success still evaded the club.
Walsden professionals up to 1952 has been mainly bowling professionals and it is amazing fact that the first time a pro scored over 500 runs was S W Hunt in 1952, who scored 542 in his only season at Walsden.
In 1954 the club won their first major trophy, the Wood Cup. The professional Ronnie Wood was called up to play for Yorkshire and in his place the club signed the legendary Everton Weekes. The story of this final is so amazing that it is recorded on a separate web site page. [click here for “the Weekes Final”]
In 1955, struggling for success and still struggling to survive, economies at the club had to be made. As a result the club turned the clock back and resigned Hatchman for three seasons despite his advancing years. In 1960 things began to look up. A young Australian, Alan Preen, arrived on the scene and made an immediate impact taking 100 wickets with the club achieving a place in the top half of the table. In 1961 the signing of Bob Bartels was a major turning point. The arrival of this all rounder from Ceylon combined with an array of local talent including Len Moss, Jack Coupe, Will Barker, Peter Green and the Connor bothers formed a side to be feared. The club still faced financial problems but a local businessman, Wilfred Kingsbury, initiated a football lottery which helped the club to get out of financial trouble and enabled the building of new dressing rooms above the current club house which included, for the first time in the clubs history, a bar.
These off the field changes inspired the team and in 1962 the Wood Cup was back in Walsden. A dramatic last league match which was drawn and the League Championship was shared with Stockport. Bartels who scored over 900 runs and took 93 wickets then left for big money in the Staffordshire League but success at the club continued.
In 1964 the arrival of former Middlesex and Nottinghamshire batsman John Springhall combined with Walsden’s local talent saw the club finally win the league title outright, followed in 1965 by a losing Wood Cup final appearance. In 1968 aided by West Indian Keith Barker, Walsden again reached the Wood Cup final but lost out yet again, this time to Heywood. 1969 saw the club sign West Indian Cec Wright who stayed at the club for five seasons taking over 500 wickets and taking the club in 1970 to, yet another losing Wood Cup Final.
In 1975 still unable to sign big names because of their higher wage demands Walsden signed the then unknown Trevor Chappell who became the first player in Walsden’s history to do “the double” scoring 1,264 runs and taking 106 wickets. The Wood Cup returned to Walsden after defeating Werneth in the final at Littleborough with Chappell scoring 124 not out, and taking 5 for 32. He too moved on for bigger money.
In 1978 Walsden engaged Queenslander Rod Lawrence who brought fellow Queenslander Alec Parker with him. The side enjoyed a lot of success and amateur David Lord took a club record 93 wickets. The team eventually finished third in the league.
The late 70’s saw the introduction by the league of the controversial “overseas amateur”. This has led over the years to the batting talents of Parker, Toshack, Walsh, Skuse and Blake from Australia and Austin from the West Indies to name but a few, all visiting Walsden.
In 1981 yet another Cup Final defeat occurred at Middleton, this time to Werneth. West Indian all rounder, Neil Phillips, was Walsden’s professional. 1983 saw Walsden’s biggest capture when they signed Pakistans opening bat Moshin Khan shortly after his historic double century at Lords. He graced the crease at Walsden for four seasons breaking the club batting record by scoring 1,378 runs in 1984, and helped the club to the Wood Cup final in 1986 only to lose out yet again, this time to Littleborough and the legendary Ezra Moseley.
A lean spell for honours on the playing front followed in the late 80’s. However in the 1990’s the astute signing of economically priced professionals and hard work from the home players kept the club to the forefront of the league . Over the years the club gained a reputation for signing up and coming talented young players such as Andrew Dykes (Tasmania), Brad White (South Africa), Andy Bichel an established test player with Australia, Rohan Larkin (Victoria) and Paul Hutchison (Queensland), all of whom served the club well.
1995 was a celebration of the clubs 125th year, and what a year. The sun shone, and a relatively unknown Victorian Jason Bakker broke the club batting record, scoring 1,596 runs and also taking 85 wickets. Two amateurs Richard Eastwood (1154 runs which previously was the club amateur record) and Mark Hoosen (1,067 runs) also made hay. The season culminated in a memorable Wood Cup final victory over Ashton at Milnrow and a fourth position in the league, a great season! 1998 saw the club again let slip from their grasp the Wood Cup in a high scoring final defeat against Littleborough at Werneth.
Fast bowling South African, Deon Kruis, arrived on he scene in 1999 and became the second player in the history of the club to do the “double”. Amazingly scoring exactly 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets, but the club again only managed to finish mid table.
Professionals and overseas amateurs apart, most of the players representing the club over the years have been brought up in the village. In the 1960’s there were several occasions when four brothers of the Connor family were playing members and in the 1970’s four brothers of the Bailey family were in the first team. There are numerous occasions of father and son representing the club. Young sons will practise in the intervals and after the game and then eventually follow in their father’s footsteps through the clubs teams. Wives and other family members have turned out regularly to assist with fund raising and providing teas. This ongoing tradition with whole generations and families involved has been one of the major strengths of the club and is still very evident today.
Although the clubs 1st and 2nd XI’s play their senior cricket in he C.L.L. mention must be made of the contribution of the 3rd XI which was formed in 1978. The team started as an outlet for older retiring players and grooming younger players, but has created great benefits for the club as some players who took up cricket later in life have progressed into 1st and 2nd XI cricket and became active within the club off the field as well. The 3rd XI joined the Halifax Cricket Association and won promotion to the first division at the first attempt. They spent the next twenty four years in and out of the first division. Their best season was in 1991 when they ended runners up in division one and also won he Calder Valley Cup. The team played its first few years at Dobroyd Castle and then Calder High School before settling back at Walsden for their home matches. The team joined the C.L.L. 3rd XI league in 2002 and won the knock out trophy at the first attempt.
The Millennium Suite
The club made a decision in the year 2000 despite having been turned down twice for lottery funding to demolish the old wooden pavilion, which was originally built in 1911. A great fund raising effort, club support and generous donations and loans from the late Allen Marshall and the club president Gordon Rigg, resulted in sufficient funds being raised to demolish the old pavilion in April 2000. The pavilion had served the club so well for over 80 years as dance hall, tearoom, cinema and as a venue for many other varied events.
The new function room (The Millennium Suite) opened on New Year’s Eve 2000 to herald a new era for the club and was officially opened by the club president, Gordon Rigg, at the A.G.M. in January 2001.
Walsden had a good season in 2003 when a very useful pace bowler and late order batsman, Paul Hitchcock who played ODIs for New Zealand was engaged and Mark Hooson in particular had a brilliant season with the bat winning the Sir Frank Worrell trophy for most runs in the league with 807 runs.
In 2004 the club signed the young Australian batting star Shaun Marsh (son of Geoff Marsh). His all-round ability coupled with talents of some very good senior players including Hooson, Blake and Hanson, and some emerging young players resulted in Walsden winning the Wood Cup final by beating Heywood at Milnrow’s Lady House ground. Heywood batted first on a poor wicket and scored a modest 116 runs with wickets being shared by Blake, Marsh, Hooson, Plane and a young Stevie Barker. Walden’s run chase faltered with the loss of early wickets including Marsh, but the resolute Hooson and Nick Barker batted Walsden to victory. Mark Hooson was named player of the tournament and saw his emergence as a real quality all-round cricketer, arguably the best the club has produced along with the late Lenny Moss. Hooson also won the best all-round cricketer award for the league in 2004.
In 2006 with South African swing bowler Jandre Coetzee as professional the club became a real force in the league and achieved second place, the best since 1978. In the same season skipper Dave Blake had a prolific season with the bat winning the Sir Frank Worrell trophy for the most runs in the league, 1206 runs which at the time was also a record for a Walsden amateur. Sadly Heywood narrowly pipped Walsden to the title, however a very strong second team meant that the club won the aggregate trophy for the first time in their history. This feat was also achieved in 2008 when the club engaged in the services of the all-rounder Janaka Gunerathne from Sri Lanka along with Matt Thomson (son of Jeff) as overseas amateur. Matt came over from the Toombul club in Brisbane, a club that has provided a long list of distinguished overseas amateur players for Walsden.
In 2010 local batsman James Rawlinson achieved a major feat by breaking the club batting record held by Blake (1210 runs) by scoring 1376 runs which was the most runs in the league thereby winning the Sir Frank Worrell trophy, following in the footsteps of Toshack (1987), Hooson (2003) and Blake (2006).
After another mid table finish in 2011 expectations for 2012 were high with the return of several players and the recruitment of an exciting left arm spinning all rounder. The expectations were fulfilled and Walsden won the League for the first time in 48 years. For the full story of season 2012, please click here.
In 2013 the Club had the most successful season in its history when the First team won the League again & reached the Wood Cup final, the Second team won the League and reached the Burton Cup Final. The club also won the Aggregate Trophy for the fourth time in seven years. For the full story of season 2013, please click here.
2014 Was anticipated to be another good season with the same Team as 2013 plus Sri Lankan Spinner Batsman Umesh Karunaratne as Pro. Unfortunately Norden CC had strengthened their Team significantly as well. They ran out as League Champions with Walsden First & Second Teams being League Runners-up. Walsden also reached the Semi Final of the LCB Trophy whilst the Second Team were again Runners-up in the Burton Cup Final. A successful season but no Trophies!
2015 Was the final season of the CLL with the CLL joining the Saddleworth League to form the Pennine League from 2016. The 2015 season was a near mirror image of the 2014 season, with Walsden again being runners-up in the Premier League and again LCB Cup semi finalists. The Second Team were again runners-up in the 2nd Eleven Premier League.
2016 Was the first year of the newly formed Pennine Cricket League (PCL) which was an amalgamation of the Central Lancashire League and Saddleworth League, comprising 2 divisions of 12 Teams. Walsden First Team, again with Umesh as Pro had the most successful season in the Clubs history, winning both the Premier League (outright), and the Wood Cup in a thrilling final verses Rochdale at Redbrook. The Second Team also had another successful year to become runners-up in the Second Eleven Premiership. The combined success of both Teams meant that the Club won the Aggregate Trophy for the fifth time in the last eleven seasons. A very successful year! For the full story of season 2016, please click here.
2017 Was another very successful year for the first team (with the second team finishing 4th). Despite early Cup exits (2 due to Bowl outs) the First Team lost only 1 League game all Season and won the Final PCL Premiership by 7 points. Professional Umesh had a superb Season accompanied by the very strong Amateur side. Walsden CC became the only winners of the PCL Premiership before the PCL finished at the end of the 2017 Season with the majority of the PCL Clubs joining the Greater Manchester League and 7 Clubs (including Walsden) joining the Lancashire League for the 2018 Season onwards. For the full story of season 2017, please click here.
NEW ENLARGED LANCASHIRE LEAGUE
2018 was Walsden’s first season in the new enlarged Lancashire League of 24 teams. It was a wonderful season when the sun shone for most of the season and Walsden as a club lost very few games. The first team lost only one game all season to become league champions at their first attempt. Our second and third teams were also crowned league champions with the seconds also winning the Telegraph cup. This was the first time in Lancashire League history that all three teams had won their league in the same season. For the full story of the season please click here.
The first team also got to the last 8 of the Lancashire Cricket Board trophy losing in a tight game to eventual Liverpool competition winners Northern CC.
2019 Was another relatively succesful year with all 3 senior teams ending the season as runners up. The first team could count themselves a little unlucky having 4 games rained off against the champions Burnley CC only leaving 2 games lost to the weather. Nevertheless Burnley were worthy champions.
2020 This season didn’t start until August due to the Covid pandemic. Teams competed for the Presidents Trophy. Walsden firsts performed well and were beaten in the semis by eventual winners Church CC, whilst the seconds lost to Clitheroe in the final on Walsden. Our third team were regional group winners.
2021 This season depsite managing to play a full season (with some Covid restrictions) was a somewhat disappointing season with all 3 senior teams eventually coming fourth in their respective divisions. The first team led the league for a large part of the season but a disappointing final few weeks resulted in a slip down the league. Both our seconds and thirds were competitive but never really threatened the league title. This was the first season at the club without any senior silverware for quite a while.
Interesting facts in the Clubs History
The Rev Russell Napier represented Lancashire twice scoring 48 runs and taking 11 wickets for 102 including 4 for 0 against Yorkshire
With six seasons as professional only leg spinner Jimmy Hatchman served longer as professional than any other Walsden professional. Jimmy had two spells of 3 seasons 1937-38-39 and remarkably again in 1955-56-57.
In 1937 Hatchman took 123 wickets, a club record which stands today.
Overs – 577
Maidens – 81
Runs – 1761
Wickets – 123
Average – 14.7
The club has only ever produced one player who has gone on to play county cricket
Sydney Starkie left Walsden to join Northamptonshire in 1951 playing until 1956 mainly in 2nd X1 cricket.
His figures in first class matches were as follows:
Matches – 95
Inns – 110
N.O. – 33
Runs – 857
H.S. – 60
Average – 10.71
He took 166 wickets at average 34.25. Best bowling 6-33. Catches 64.
P B Wight played as an amateur in 1951 for ten matches. A West Indian he went on to play for Somerset and later became a first class umpire.
Dick Pollard played two matches as an amateur for Walsden. Pollard had played for Lancashire from 1933-1950 and represented England four times against Australia.
Cec Wright who was professional for 5 years 1969 to 1973. He took a remarkable 538 wickets for the club. His figures are as follows:
Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Averages
1969 345 61 1104 116 9.51
1970 396 57 1273 114 10.72
1971 332 56 1208 114 10.59
1972 389 35 1225 90 13.61
1973 378 53 1265 104 12.01
Totals 1840 262 6075 538 11.29
The eighth ball over was still in place meaning Cec took a wicket every 3.5 overs or every 27 balls.
After only 12 games professional Paul Hutchison had taken 62 wickets and looked set to break the league record. A dislocated shoulder meant that he could not bowl for many weeks and he finished the season with 75 wickets.
Left arm Spinner Ranil Dhammika took an incredible 119 wickets at an average of 7.9 runs per wicket. The 119 wickets are an overs cricket record beating Ces Wrights total of 116 in 1969 & was only 4 wickets behind the all time Club record of 123 wickets by Jimmy Hatchman in 1937. The miserly average of 7.9 is certainly the best by any player in the Central Lancashire League for the last 10 years and may be one of the best averages in the history of the League.
A short history of Walsden C&BC written by A S in Oct 2018
Walsden Cricket and Bowling Club
Season 2018 is one the players and members of Walsden Cricket and Bowling Club will never forget. The club became champions of the famous Lancashire League at their first attempt, losing only one match in the whole campaign. In addition the second and third eleven also won their respective leagues with the seconds also winning the Telegraph Challenge Cup. This was the first time in Lancashire League history that all 3 teams had become champions of their leagues.
The village club has come a long way since its foundation in 1870. The club became a founder member of the Central Lancashire League in 1872 competing against large towns such as Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and Stockport. Success was a long time in coming and not until 1954 did the club win any silverware when they won the Wood Cup Competition (aided in no small way by a certain Everton Weekes).1962 saw the club become joint League Champions and Wood Cup winners followed by becoming outright League Champions in1964. There were no more league championships until the successes of 2012 and 2013, although there were three more Wood Cup successes in between. Following the demise of the Central Lancashire League in 2015, the club joined the newly formed Pennine League where it won the Premier League both in 2016 and 2017, before moving to the Lancashire League and the championships of 2018. The club has always prided itself on the fact that the vast majority of its players have been born or lived in the village with the exception of the professional. Although known for their prudence in signing professionals some stars of the Test Arena who have graced the Scott Street ground as Walsden professional include Everton Weekes, Trevor Chappell, Mohsin Khan, Andy Bichel and Shaun Marsh.
Off the field the Club has always been the centre of Walsden village life, along with St Peter’s Church. The original wooden club pavilion built in 1910 (a converted Mission Hall from Oldham) purchased for £25, was over the years used for weddings, funerals, plays, dances and many more events. In the late 1950’s the club was close to folding, but in a bold move with a superb fundraising effort the new dressing rooms and bar were added alongside the 1910 building. As the years went on the team became one of the harder clubs to beat on the field and off the field the club managed to stay in the black due to a great team of hard working committee and members. By the 1990s the old Mission Hut was really showing its age so with the Millennium looming the Committee decided to demolish it and with the help of Lottery Grants and donations from local residents and local businesses the new Millennium Suite was built and opened in 2000. The new building remains the centre of village life for the local community and has recently had a major facelift. The building is environmentally friendly with solar panels and air source heat exchange system. All weather practice wickets and a digital scorebox have been installed on the ground and great emphasis has been placed on coaching and coaching facilities for its five junior teams.
The future of the club looks well set for the next generation but it will take a monumental effort to top the triple league winning season of 2018.
Author: Allan Stuttard Nov 2018.