An Introduction to
A HISTORY OF BRADSHAW CRICKET CLUB (CENTENARY YEAR)
J. B. Taylor
This history of Bradshaw Cricket Club is not a brief summary. It is an amazing and intriguing work researched, compiled and written by Mr. J. B. Taylor to commemorate the clubs centenary year of 1984. It traces the progress of cricket in the village of Bradshaw from around 1868 through Bradshaw Cricket Clubs formation in 1884, its entry into, and rise in the ranks of the Bolton & District Cricket Association, its part in the breakaway that lead to the formation of The Bolton League, all it’s triumphs and tribulations up to 1984.
We are grateful to Barry Taylor for letting me reproduce this on the site. I hope it carries you back to times gone by and gives you a feel of the club, the ground, the village and the people of Bradshaw
I am acutely aware that this publication does not include the names of all the officials, members and players who have served the club so well in its 100-year history. I hope those omitted will realise that this is not of intent, and that any attempt to do so would have been impossible. The club has been fortunate in being so loyally supported in so many different ways and its present sound and healthy state is a fitting monument to all, sung and unsung, who have made their contributions to its well-being.
For their assistance in the compilation of this history I would like to thank Bolton Reference Library and Bolton Evening News Library; former cricketers Mr. Arthur Hindle, Mr. Frank Atkinson and Mr. Bernard Tattersall; Mr Russell Wolstenholme (whose essay on “The Formation of The Bolton League” proved invaluable), Bradshaw local historian Mr. Jim Francis; and all others who have been able to offer documents or particular items of information, or who have merely confirmed the accuracy of facts gleaned elsewhere.
J. B. Taylor
BRADSHAW CRICKET GROUND
The land occupied by Bradshaw Cricket Club, was probably named “The Rigbys” after a family of tenants, of which there is evidence, and who were known to be small farmers or yeomen of Bradshaw in the early 1600’s. As such they would be tenant farmers of the holding incorporating the cricket ground, and owned by the Bradshaws of Bradshaw as part of the manor estate.
I have always been proud of my association with Bradshaw Cricket Club and I consider it a great honour to be Chairman of the Club, following such respected Chairmen as Arnold Hamer, Albert Kay and Ted Green who have served the club with distinction over many years. To hold the office of Chairman during the Club’s Centenary year is a privilege indeed.
The Club has been officially in existence for one hundred years but as many people know cricket has been played for over two hundred years, having its origins as a village pastime in areas like Bradshaw. During those hundred years countless dedicated people have helped to make Bradshaw Cricket Club what it is today, and I am proud to be able to pay my tribute to those people who have worked unselfishly and who are continuing with the work for the improvement of the Club.
Special thanks are due to Barry Taylor who has spent many hours on researching Club records, old minute books, sporting articles, and identifying players from old photographs to produce this historic and informative booklet on the Club’s activities.
I know that reading this book will revive happy memories for many people, ex players of Bradshaw and other clubs, our faithful supporters, and older residents of Bradshaw and Harwood. I hope that it will inspire future officers and players to achieve greater success for Bradshaw Cricket Club.
My thanks are also due to the Centenary Committee with our President David Farnworth and Ken Hardcastle playing the leading parts in organising a programme of events for 1984, and to the officers and committee of the Club for their support, dedication and continued hard work.
May I also thank our colleagues of the Bowling and Tennis sections for their friendship and assistance. May we work together successfully over the next hundred years.
But what of the next hundred years, can we survive?
Bradshaw is no longer the village it was when years ago practically everyone was a member of the Club, the area has grown enormously in the last few years but sadly the membership has not increased, in fact it is decreasing.
I often wonder when I see the surge of traffic down Bradshaw Brow in the evening rush hour whether the occupants of the cars realise that there is such a delightful oasis and peaceful haven just to the left of the bridge. Many newcomers to the area do not know of our existence or what we can offer.
The objects of the Club laid down in the 1930’s are to foster the games of cricket, tennis and bowls and other athletic pastimes and to afford the means of social intercourse and recreation for members of the Club and their bone fide guests. I am sure that this has been achieved over the years and continues to apply. The Club has a reputation for friendliness and sportsmanship with many fine traditions which have been preserved and carried on over the years.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week, one can count over a hundred young boys engaged in organised cricket practice, being coached and instructed by senior members not only the arts of cricket but in basic sportsmanship and character building.
But where are their fathers? Are they not interested in these aspects of their sons education? We would dearly love to have another hundred members, so come down some evening, you won’t be disappointed, for a small outlay you can join us, and even if you are too old to play I am sure that you will derive some pleasure in these lovely surroundings, indeed you may find – as others have done deep and lasting friendships.
Anyone who supported our Autumn Fayre could not fail to notice and be impressed by the number of young people, boys and girls, engaged in running side shows, serving teas, sweets and ice cream, washing up and assisting in many ways.
Many of the existing committee have served the Club for over twenty-five years, some have over thirty years service. I am sure that with this blend of youth and experience the future of the Club is in good hands and there is no reason to think that it cannot continue for another hundred years.
My best wished to you all in our Centenary Year.
J. H. Coupe
FORWARD BY PETER STAFFORD
BOLTON LEAGUE SECRETARY
The Bolton League and, by extension, its member clubs, have long been rich in incident, character, and indeed, legend. It is, however, a sad fact that during its fifty-three years of existence the League has suffered from a distinct lack of documentation of both its happenings and those responsible.
It was then, with considerable pleasure that I agreed to write the introduction to this, Bradshaw Centenary Brochure, which largely concerns itself with a comprehensive history of the club and its dramatis personae over the years. All of this, and the accompanying records which complement the facts, have been carefully written and put together by Barry Taylor, one of the League’s most enthusiastic historians. Whilst it has obviously been a labour of love, it has, too, been a long and painstaking project, and Barry is to be congratulated upon the extent and the depth of his research in the production of this booklet, which is immensely readable and fills a gap in the literature of our local game.
The Bradshaw story moves from the shadowy figures of its beginnings into the twentieth century, and finally emerges, via two world wars, into comparatively recent times, where the characters are better known and more easily definable. We are told of the club’s considerable involvement in the formation of the League; triumph and disaster are highlighted with complete impartiality; and comparisons are avoided, which is as it should be, for comparisons are odious. Was Billy Fletcher the equal of Brian Cole? Was Bobby Rae a finer professional than Duncan Worsley? How did Ken Holding and Brian Senior compare as wicket-keepers? Who knows? Who cares? They are all, along with hundreds of others, famous and obscure, players who have helped bring to life the tapestry of the club’s history over its first hundred years, a tapestry which has been woven against what is arguably one of the most picturesque settings in the whole of club cricket.
What, I wonder, will be the reaction of the players of 1884, as they look down and watch the Bradshaw team take the field for the first game of the Centenary season? They will note with general satisfaction that the overall appearance of the Rigbys which is so dictated by the banking and the stream, has hardly altered. They will envy their modern counterpart the facilities contained in both dressing-room and clubhouse. They will be more than a little puzzled at the field-placings, and at the current emphasis placed upon agility and fitness in that department of the game. And as the helmet makes its appearance, they will smile, half scornfully and half regretfully, as they recall the primitive wickets upon which they were called upon to play.
But above all, they will reflect on the timelessness of the game, and will, like us, take pleasure in contemplation and anticipation of the next hundred years of cricket at Bradshaw.
P A Stafford
“Bradshaw has been on the map of the cricket world for a good many years and the B.C.C. was once on a par with Eagley, Horwich etc., in their old time palmy days of 30 years ago.
The ground is a tip-topper as regards being well drained; indeed, one of the enthusiasts in the days of old – 40 years ago or more – said to me: ‘I have been on all the grounds in the Bolton district, and there is not a better one than this. It is our third season here, for we have been evicted from two other grounds in the vicinity. However, Mr. Thos. Hardcastle and his son Captain Hardcastle of the Imperial Yeomanry have helped us a great deal, and the enclosure is splendidly drained.’ And to think that three years ago that very field was a positive swamp!
This organisation, let it be remarked, was established eight years ago under its present colours, but there was a Bradshaw C.C. some decades back, as already noted.
As at Eagley last week, I dropped on men at Bradshaw to-day who would have been delighted to have seen our editor ‘Olympian’ because they remember when he used to bowl and bat with any of them. The cracks of 30 and 40 years since are as enthusiastic as ever – the Holts for example; and then there is Mr. Wright Greenhalgh, and Mr. William Smith, whom everybody in the district used to know as ‘Bill’ Smith when he was wont to go to the Bolton C.C. ground at Back-o’th-Bank, and antagonise none other than MacIntyre the Famous. Those were grand old days. So they say, I wasn’t in the swim then; but if I encounter many more of these veteran local enthusiasts, I shall soon feel as antiquated an old fogey as ever breathed.” Extracts from the Cricket and Football field, Bolton Evening News, Sports Edition. Bradshaw v Farnworth at The Rigbys 11.5.190
What then is known of this original Bradshaw Cricket Club, that existed “some decades back”, from 1901?
Well many cricket clubs were being formed in the mid-nineteenth century, with Bradshaw perhaps a late arrival on the scene. Nevertheless they played with considerable if somewhat brief success in 1870 and 1871.
The Buff of 1917 ran a series of articles under the title “Chats with Veteran Athletes”, the edition for 25th August featured “Wm. Smith – A Bradshaw Fast Bowler”, in which is to be found the following:- “The Bradshaw Cricket Club was, he thought, formed some time in the sixties. They played behind ‘The House Without a Name’ a public-house on the roadside beyond Bradshaw Chapel, but the land was ultimately taken from them by the farmer.
Then they took a field at Moss Hill and after laying a crease played there for three years. Then the farmer who had farmed their previous field took this over too, and gave them notice to quit – it was quite evident he was no lover of the summer pastime.”
Forerunning the formation of the first Bradshaw Cricket Club, cricket in Bradshaw started its recorded life with a match at Firwood on June 20th 1868, Bradshaw Hall batting twice for forty and twenty plus against Castle Hill’s one innings of fifty plus. Then in July Bradshaw Works C.C. played a match, Six of the 1st Eleven v 2nd team, with the result 62 for the Six, 24 for the 2nd, and in the same month Bradshaw at home comfortably defeated Albion in a two-innings match. Bradshaw Hall played and lost the return game against Castle Hill, totalling only 53 in both innings against Castle Hill’s 32 and 72. Bradshaw then had reported matches at home against Haulgh and Breightmet Sunday Schools, winning both these two-innings games.
Not surprisingly, practically all the same names appeared for all three teams. In 1869 all the matches accounted for were played under the banner of Bradshaw Works, Clarence at Bradford Park and at home, Christ Church home and away, Kensington at home; also Horwich, Little Bolton Alexandre and Hilliwell Perserverance, for which no venues are recorded. All of these games were won, with the exception of that against Hilliwell Perseverance who were in dire trouble when heavy rain intervened, and that lost by six runs to Clarence at Bradshaw in what must have been the last match of the season on September 18th. The only other recorded match of that summer was Bradshaw Works’ 2nd team v Young Albert, in which the Works side’s 28 and 6, were either just too much, or just too little for Young Albert’s 9 and 23 or 26, the second innings figure being indecipherable.
It is however in 1870 that this Bradshaw Cricket Club became established as such, with a wholesale transfer of the previous season’s Bradshaw Works’ side. Fixtures that can be traced were against the following:
Westhoughton Albert, Horwich 2nd, Woodside 2nd, Chorley, Clarence, Castle Hill, Derby, St. Georges and Claremont.
Eagle, Castle Hill, St. Georges, Horwich 2nd, Deane and Woodside 2nd at Daubhill.
The club also boasted a second team. All these home matches were won, the only defeats being at Eagley, Horwich and Dean, John Holt Jnr. and William Smith completely dominated the season’s bowling.
Bradshaw Band was reported to have performed during the interval against Horwich 2nd, during the match against Chorley, to have been in attendance at Castle Hill away, and “to have added greatly to the enjoyment” against Castle Hill at home.
The documented 1871 season’s fixtures are:
Derby, Harwood, Chorley, Hindle and Castle Hill.
Ramsbottom, Bolton 2nd, Egerton, Castle Hill, Eagley and Hindley: finally, Lever Bridge, whether home or away is not stated, but in which fixture played:
Tootill Snr, Tootill Jnr, T. Tootill and J. Holt Jnr, whilst the second team at Darcy Lever included – W. Holt, J. Holt, S. Holt, and B. Holt. The first team matches resulted in six wins and four draws, with loses to only Bolton 2nd and Egerton.
The fixture on May 6th at Bolton Cricket Club, a top-class side of the time, must have been quite an honour for the Bradshaw Club, and although only opponents of the 2nd Eleven, they played on the famous Back o’th’ Bank ground, scene of some outstanding matches, and graced by the finest cricketers of the day in ‘All-England’ Elevens.
The houses later built on this land and which stood for around 100 years are now all gone, leaving only a public house the ‘Cricketers Arms’ as a reminder of the celebrated site, now overlooked by Warburtons bakery
The Bolton Chronicle of the succeeding Saturday reported; “This the first match on the Bolton ground was played on Saturday and won by The Juniors in one innings and 18 runs to spare. Bradshaw won the toss and elected to go in. No stand was made by any of the batters against the bowling. Mr. Jones bowled 8 wickets for 3 runs, the total for the innings being only 19. Bolton scored 88 in the innings, Bromley 19, A. Monk 14 and W. Dutton not out 26. Bradshaw were equally unfortunate in run-getting in their second innings. A. Brown’s bowling was too good. There was a fair attendance”.
Bradshaw scored 51 in the second innings, T. Tootill 24 and J. Tootill 14. J. Holt with 5 and W. Smith with 2 were the wicket takers, the other batsmen being run out.
The preceding Saturday the team had travelled by spring-cart to fulfil the Ramsbottom fixture.
The stark result for August 5th in The Bolton Chronicle reads ‘Bradshaw 153 for 8, time called without Hindley batting’. Hindley’s feelings at this treatment can only be imagined. It must have been an achievement to travel from Hindley to Bradshaw, having presumably worked Saturday morning, in time to play a match, but to be sent away without even being allowed to start an innings can hardley have endeared the Bradshaw club to them. Maybe it was that Bradshaw just got carried away with their own excellence; 153 was a huge score in 1871.
In the same sporting context, on the Eagley v Bradshaw match of that year, the “Eagley Cricket Club Souvenir of Grand Bazaar and History of the Club”, comments
“The annual match between Eagley and Bradshaw was played at Eagley, but came to a rather abrupt conclusion. Bradshaw batted first and made 36 runs against the bowling of Bottoms and Woodhouse. On Eagley taking their turn at the wickets they fared very badly at the hands of John Holt, a slow under-hand bowler, and 8 wickets were down for 18, and all being victims to Holt’s “slows”. The Bradshaw umpire was very undecided in his decisions, and when after having given his decision as “stumped”, he called to the batsmen “Keep thi foot thear”. this proved too much for the Eagleyites, and the game ended in a tie, very much in favour of Bradshaw
This match, remembered and referred to elsewhere, certainly left its mark of notoriety, and was recalled in Wm. Smith’s reminiscences. So it is worth taking the independent view of the Bolton Chronicle report that day:
July 15th 1871. Eagley v. Bradshaw
“This annual match between these clubs was played on the ground of the Eagley Club on Saturday and resulted in a draw in favour of Bradshaw. Bradshaw won the toss and elected to go in against the bowling of Bottoms and Woodhouse which was good, but were not fortunate in making a large score. Their total only reached 36, of which T. Tootill 8 was their largest contribution. After the usual interval Eagley was represented by Wharmby and Knowles against the bowling of Smith (round arm) and Holt (slows). The bowling of the latter proved too much for the Eagley men, five wickets falling for 5 runs and eight for 18. At the fall of the eighth wicket the batter refused to submit to the decision of the umpire, which led to a dispute, and the result was The Eagley Club drew the stumps rather than submit to the decision. The Eagley Brass Band was in attendance during the match, and played a selection of music”.
T. Tootill 8
H. Hargreaves 1
Tootill Snr 6
W. Holt 0
Tootill Snr 3
Wharmby b Holt 2
Knowlesb Holt 1
Woodhouse run out 0
Brewster b Holt 1
Tetlow b Holt 0
Greg st Tootill, b Holt 1
Bottomsst Tootill, b Holt 7
Crighton not out 6
Gregory c Millington, b Holt 0
Meanwhile, in the reverse fixture at Bradshaw, Eagley 2nd, oblivious of the rumpus on their own ground, were losing by 36 runs to 24.
John Holt Jnr, the main participant in the drama, recalling the match shortly before his death in 1917 (in the same series of articles to which William Smith had contributed), remembers being subjected to scornful comments from the girls of Eagley Threadmills, who decried Bradshaw’s chances against their own first-class side. He states he practiced his slow breaks the whole week prior to the game. His satisfaction in gaining a moral victory over “the Eagley swells”, watched he thought by 1500/2000 spectators, comes through strongly in his Buff interview.
He also recollected walking to Horwich to play the Bradshaw fixture there.
These two seasons of 1870 and 1871 were, it would seem, the “palmy days”, after which the Club, now experiencing ground difficulties, slipped into decline.
Only two fixtures are to be found for 1872, a convincing victory over Haulgh on the Castle Hill ground, and a narrow defeat by four runs away at Harwood. No matches were reported in any of the Bolton papers of 1873, and an entry in the diary of Samuel Scowcroft of Longsight for 5th February 1873, more or less confirms this state of affairs by stating “A meeting held in the pavilion – it was decided to break up Bradshaw Cricket Club”.
The pavilion referred to was situated between Bridge House and Bradshaw Brook, containing seating for 1600, and was specially built for the consecration of the then new, present, Bradshaw Church on November 9th 1872, afterwards being used for Day and Sunday School purposes, until taken down when the “new” school opened in 1880.
On September 27th of 1873 the same diary has a single line entry – “Bradshaw Cricket Club Athletic Sports”, and on December 20th – “Cricketers entertainment in Pavilion Bridge End. The second part taken up by a company of local Christy Minstrels”. The cast in this extravaganza included Bones (Mark Millington), Sambo (Robert Allen), Pompey (William Bridge), Ginger (Edwin Scowcroft), Clem (Inv. Jackson) and Johnson (Willian S. Holt), all cricketing surnames of the day, and more than likely the same performers on stage as on the cricket ground.
The success of this show can be measured by a further diary entry from January 29th 1874 – “The Bradshaw Christy Minstrels gave entertainment at St. Ann’s School, Turton. Programme as December 20th 1873, for which they received £2.10.0d.” Finally, April 25th 1874 – “The Bradshaw Christy Minstrels entertainment in the Pavilion. There was a very good attendance. Joe Booth presided at the piano”.
Bradshaw Cricket Club, it seems was not to be “broken up” without a struggle.
Indeed on May 2nd they won at Egerton, lost to Lever Bridge at the Hacken ground on June 20th and, apparently having acquired a home ground, played return fixtures against these teams. Sandwiched between these games on July 11th Bradshaw played Sixteen of the District, “at the Bradshaw Ground”.
So from the humble beginnings of the Bradshaw Hall and Bradshaw Works sides of 1868 and 1869, to the formation and heyday of Bradshaw Cricket Club in 1870 and 1871, Bradshaw cricket had staggered to a halt by the end of 1874, and no mention can be found in the three Bolton newspaper journals of any cricket played in the village, for the remainder of the eighteen-seventies.
The various Bradshaw sides of the late eighteen sixties would almost certainly have played on the ground behind the House Without A Name, and the Bradshaw Cricket Club in its autumnal years of 1873 and 1874 at the Moss Hill ground.
A report of the 1927 flooding of Bradshaw in the Bolton Journal & Guardian said the village was flooded from two sources; the Slack Lane Brook and the brook which drains Moss Hill. This latter brook runs under New Heys Way along the bottom of the school playing-fields and into a culvert under the roadway by the Conservative Club. Moss Hill, according to locals, extends upwards from the Conservative Club in a direction through the school. Hamers duck or poultry farm sited at Moss Hill stood around the area which is now The Coppice. Just where the cricket ground was is unknown, maybe a flat area where Bradshaw Meadows comes onto New Heys Way, but this is only a guess.
If William Smith’s memory serves him correctly, and the cricket club did play for three years at the Moss Hill ground, then the matches of the two glory years of victories and brass bands were played on the former ground, now probably housing Lea Gate Close, and it was because of its withdrawal, and perhaps a forced move to inferior quarters, that brought about the Clubs demise, when this land in turn was denied them.
Notable cricketers of that bygone age, who represented Bradshaw’s first cricket club recorded for posterity, were;
John Holt Jnr
John Holt Snr
John Tootill Snr
Joe Tootill Jnr
“The night was fine and there was a cricket practice going on (a strange occurrence in Bradshaw). Notwithstanding, there was a very fair meeting.”
Thus began the report of the Temperance Society in the Bradshaw Church Magazine of June 11th 1884. The probability is that this practice was taking place on the land to the east of the old Bradshaw day school and including what now serves as the Conservative Club car park. The six cottages known as School Row standing on part of this site were not built until later, in 1889.
Miss Lizzie Ormrod, who at 97 is Bradshaw’s oldest inhabitant, recalls being lifted by her father onto the surrounding wall to watch cricketers playing on this plot of land.
Unfortunately the pioneering days of Bradshaw Cricket Club seem irretrievably lost. An existing anomaly is that the fixture card of 1904 states the club was established in 1880, and all the fixture cards until 1929 bear this information, although from 1916 the word “established” is replaced by “founded”. The 1930 card then shows the club to have been founded in 1884.
Whilst it would seem likely the compilers of the 1904 fixtures should be nearer the truth, perhaps it was because of some research done in 1930 with an eye on the jubilee year, that the club is now accepted to have been formed in 1884. This is certainly borne out by the Temporance Society scribe to whome a cricket practice would hardly have been a ‘strange occurrence’ had cricket been in evidence in Bradshaw from 1880.
So the cricket practice observed on that faraway June evening was almost certainly being held by the founder members of the present Bradshaw Cricket Club, who were soon to move from this, their first ground.
What evidence then is there of Bradshaw cricket in the eighteen-eighties? In 1880 the Bolton Evening News shows on April 24th Bradshaw Choiristers scored 12 against Windsor’s 40, but no further mention is made of a Bradshaw side until 1882, when on July 1st Harwood Juniors scored a victory over Bradshaw Juniors by 83 runs to 19. In May 1883 Harwood Silver Star, playing at home, won by 42 runs to 7 against a Bradshaw Selected Eleven.
It is however in the inaugural year of 1884 the the B.E.N. reports a Bradshaw team without any appendage. Playing away on May 17th and scoring 50 (A. Beswick 20, H. Howarth 17) Bradshaw lost to Haulgh Wesleyan’s 93. It could be that this is the first recorded match of the present Bradshaw Cricket Club.
In the same year, June 14h saw Bradshaw Silver Star 73 (Bateson 36) getting the better of Wellington United 28, and on June 28th the Bolton Chronicle gives the result St. Augustine 47 – Bradshaw 38, whilst lastly, for July 12th, the B.E.N. records Claremont 56, Bradshaw United 31
Which of these sides is then the original? Was Bradshaw United an amalgamation of Bradshaw and Bradshaw Silver Star? It is a possibility, supported by the fact that the only traceable matches the following season are all under the title Bradshaw United; defeats against St. Marks at Bradford Park and by Cable Street Wesleyans, and a victory over St. Pauls Temperance, 67 (Gorton 13, J. H. Dudley 17) to 32.
There is a real lack of information for the remaining years of the eighties; just one match on june 29th 1889: an XI of Manchester 23, Bradshaw 26 for 2 (W. Smith 10). Also that season a new name appeared, that of Bradshaw Victoria, who defeated Longsight by 64 runs to 19. This is an interesting result, for Andrew Kay, who was a member of Bradshaw Cricket Club in these formative years, states in an article reproduced later, that he first joined a junior side known as Bradshaw Victoria around 1886, “but the team existed for only three months”. Yet here is a printed result for a Bradshaw Victoria fixture three years later. Particular mention is made of this because of an anonymous, but well-informed, typewritten account entitled “Bradshaw Cricket Tennis & Bowling Club. A brief History”, written probably in the second-world-war years, the first line of which reads: “The club was formed in 1884 and assumed the title of Bradshaw Victoria Cricket Club”. If this was in fact the case it seems strange that no mention can be found of the team in the first five years of its life. It could indeed be that it was the junior team of Bradshaw Victoria that enjoyed only a brief existence, and that this was the side Andrew Kay joined.
Lending support to this theory is a B.E.N. tribute to Andrew Kay on his death, in which mention is made of two very narrow playing strips in a field running along Bradshaw Road, one for the younger players known as the Top Cottage, and one for the older players known as the Bottom Cottage, (inadvertently referred to as Bolton Cottage, in the authorless “Brief History”). These were in fact grounds on which the present Bradshaw Cricket Club played in its early days. The cottages would be the ones that stood outside the entrance to Bradshaw Works. The B.E.N. quote Andrew Kay: “The field slanted so much that a leg ball could be hit right down the steep incline to almost opposite Bradshaw Works entrance”. To view this land now and try to visualise a cricket match being played stretches the imagination to the limit
In the three remaining years of friendly cricket, 1891 reveals only 6 games involving Bradshaw sides, two each for Bradshaw Victoria, Bradshaw Choir and Bradshaw Union Star, leaving the impression that Bradshaw Victoria preserved the continuity of a Bradshaw senior side. Certainly many other minor match results were printed in the Bolton Evening News and Bolton Chronicle in the years from 1884 without Bradshaw teams attracting much publicity. It is therefore only an assumption, probably an accurate one, that Bradshaw, Bradshaw United and Bradshaw Victoria were the forebears of the present day Bradshaw Cricket Club.
In 1890 the Bolton and District Cricket Association had formed a first division of eight clubs, Astley Bridge, Eagley, Egerton, Halliwell, Horwich, Horwich L & Y, Farnworth and Tonge, who were to become the first champions.
Then in 1892 in addition to a first division, even in so short a time much changed in membership, a Junior section league competition had been formed. In 1893 the Junior Section comprised 36 clubs in six Sections A to F.
During the first of these two seasons Bolton Evening News, under the heading ‘Ordinary Matches’, shows Bradshaw defeated Claremont at Castle Hill by 81 (W. Greenhalgh 39) to 42 on May 21st, and one week later lost against St. Luke’s Albion 38-33. Bradshaw Choir were also twice featured in this category.
Finally in 1893, on the same May day that Bradshaw Choir were skittling Astley Bridge for 11, Bradshaw’s match finished: Castle Hill 59 for 5, Bradshaw 42. This was followed by a victory over Rose Hill by 41 to 70 (J. J. Whittle 20, N. Thornley 10) and on June 23rd, whilst scoring 91 for 8 (Whittle 15, Kay 14, Hargreaves 10) against unnamed opponents, the club was sufficiently strong to field a reserve side which proved too good for Halliwell Road Albion, scoring 84 (Derbyshire – a famous name of the future – 38, Entwistle 16), a fourth match ended Bradshaw 69 (T. Smith 17, W. H. Hargreaves 10), Trinity Wesleyans 63.
Even then when four Bradshaw C.C. match results were printed, Bradshaw Choir still managed six, and also included was a Bradshaw Albion game. In passing, Bradshaw Choir had the massive assistance of a bowler named Bennett who had reported figures of: 5 for 1, 9 for 9, 5 for 2, and 7 for 5. A clear case of divine intervention
So in this first decade of their existence, a hazy picture emerges of games in the first year of 1884 being played under the title of Bradshaw Victoria Cricket Club, on the land adjoining the old Bradshaw School, before a move was made to a plantation somewhere on the Bradshaw Road side of Bradshaw Works, for a brief stay, perhaps only one summer. Then onto the aforementioned Top and Bottom Cottages, maybe for two or three years. Again, to quote Andrew Kay: “Later on Thomas Hardcastle allowed the club to play on a large piece of land known as ‘the piggy field’ at Bradshaw Works, where one boundary was the river bank”. This was the bank on the Turton Road side of the brook. There they remained until 1893, during which time they became just Bradshaw Cricket Club. Bradshaw Sheet Metal Company now stands on part of this one-time cricket ground.
At this time the club applied for and were admitted to Division E, then the bottom section of The Bolton & District Cricket Association Junior League.
From now on the picture becomes clearer, with all subsequent results recorded. It is the ten year pre-league period that is so sketchy.
In 1894, now on a ground near Meadow Barn Farm, Adam Field, “where the farmer’s roller was pulled over a quarter of a mile to make the playing area playworthy”. Bradshaw C.C. began its climb to senior league status in Section E of the Bolton & District Cricket Association. The northern most houses of the present Bradshaw Meadows now occupy this land, nos. 254 and 256 if not on the actual wicket must be centrally positioned on the old field of play.
Bradshaw’s adversaries, in the order in which they finished behind them in the final league table were St. Bartholomews, All Souls, Blackburn Road Congregationalists, Bolton Osborne, Folds Road Independent Methodists, Holly Trinity and Neville Jones Jubilee.
Promoted to Section D in 1895, along with Blackburn Road Congregationalists and Holy Trinity who had finished 4th and 7th respectively, Bradshaw left Meadow Barn to play on the land situated between Bradshaw Brook and the Royal Oak Hotel. Just for this one season the conventional scoring of two points for a win and one for a draw was abandoned, and a novel system of awarding two points for a win but deducting two points for a loss was introduced. The three promoted teams took the first three places with Bradshaw again champions, above Bee Hive Mill Horwich, Bolton Parish Church, Bolton Combination, St. Thomas’s Farnworth and Hanover, who finished minus 22 points.
In an attempt to capture the spirit of that bygone age, an article in St. Maxentius Church Magazine in September 1923, related the events of a match played on July 13th 1895, read:
CRICKET MEMORIES: The first was many years ago when our cricket team was playing in the Junior Section of the league. We played on the ground which is now occupied by the District Council for the filter beds; in those days it was better known as the Shooting Butts. The crease was just a well-rolled piece of turf of the required length and the out-field was in its natural state; the tent was a small wooden hut with just sufficient room to allow the teams to undress, or should I say dress, and with a couple of seats and a shelf for the scorers to sit at, but we got good cricket in spite of adverse surroundings.
The day was bright and hot and the trees were in their beauty, but as the previous week had been wet, the ground was soft and distinctly a bowlers paradise. The conditions which are suitable for trees and grass are not so good for batsmen.
Our visitors were a team from Blackburn Road Congregational Church, captained by the Rev. Mr. Burrows, then a young man but now high up in the ranks of the Congregationalists. Some of our players on that day were Jack Greenhalgh, Andrew Kay, Tom Smith (our crack bowler) and his brother Frank. We won the toss and batted first, but the wicket helped the bowlers to such an extent that we were all dismissed for 27 runs, much to the delight of the Congregationalists who expected an easy victory. But when they went in to bat they too found runs hard to get, as the brothers Smith were bowling at the top of their form, and that was something really good. The score slowly mounted up and the wickets fell at regular intervals, until three runs only were wanted to win and the last man in.
I remember well that exciting over. Brother Tom was bowling from the Shooting Butts end, and the players and spectators were on tip-toe as he swung up to the wicket in his usual manner and delivered the ball. It was one of his specials which pitched on the leg wicket and swung away with his arm to the off, and the batter playing forward snicked it through the slips for two, amid the shouts of the Blackburn Roadites and the “Well run, Sammy”. of Mr. Burrows. That made the scores equal and I think the batter lost his head, for at the next ball he leapt out and smote it hard and loftily to the longfield. Another mighty howl from the boundary line, but the batters racing across the pitch had failed to see that out in the deep field was Andrew Kay placing himself steadily for the dropping ball.
He made no mistake, taking the ball well in his two hands. Then we shouted, for the scores were exactly equal and that rare event in cricket, ‘a tie’, was an accomplished fact.
If I say we gave way to exuberance, will you believe me? We danced and flung up our hats and caps. Jack Greenhalgh stood on his head and one of the spectators standing on the bank of the cut, fell in. It was a glorious moment which will live in some of our memories for a long time yet. There was bad blood between ourselves and Blackburn Road for some years after, but the passage of time has eradicated that.
In 1896 the top four, St. Mark’s Arkwright, Blackburn Road Congs, Bradshaw and Astley Bridge Wesleyans, advanced from Section C leaving behind Victoria Wesleyans, Holy Trinity, Rumsworth and Know Mill. Only the top two teams of Section B were promoted to Section A at the season’s end, Trinity Wesleyans as champions and Bradshaw as runners-up. Teams making up Section B that season of 1897, and left in the wake of Bradshaw’s relentless march, were St. Mark’s Arkwright, Blackburn Road Congs, Bank Street Unitarians, Park Street Wesleyans, Breightmet, Astley Bridge, Astley Bridge Wesleyans and Harwood.
So on to Section A and the vacating of the ground at the ‘Shooting Butts’ (required by the District Council for those filter beds) and the occupation of the resplendent new ground at The Rigbys, there to continue the onslaught for First Division cricket.
Success came in two seasons. The 1898 table ended:
P W L D Pts
Halliwell Rd. West 18 13 2 3 29
Gilnow Park 18 10 4 4 24
Trinity Wes. 18 9 4 5 23
Kearsley 18 9 6 3 21
Farnworth Parish Church 18 7 6 5 19
St. Marks 18 6 8 4 16
Heaton 18 5 9 4 14
Bradshaw 18 4 9 5 13
Farnworth S.C. 18 3 10 5 11
Slaterfield 18 3 11 4 10
But in 1899 (with the substitution of Victoria Wesleyans for Slaterfoeld) it was the First Division of the Bolton & District Cricket Association for Halliwell Road Wesleyans as Section A champions, and Bradshaw as runners-up.
Thus after six short seasons and 94 games of Section cricket, in which 53 were won, 28 lost, 12 drawn and one tied, the arrival of the 20th century saw Bradshaw as a premier Bolton cricket side.
A by no means comprehensive list of players who contributed to this rise in status includes:
Bridge, Fred Brockbank, Richard Entwistle (Australian Dick), William A. Fairclough, John Greenhalgh, S. Hargreaves (the only captain of the club whose christian name remains unknown), Andrew Kay, Samuel Pollitt, Peter Ramsden, Peter Roscoe, Albert Southern, Frank Smith, Tom Smith, Fred Waldron, James Whittle and John Whittle.
Bradshaw’s arrival in the premier League coincided with the introduction of the six-ball over, previously five balls had been deemed sufficient. Boundaries were arranged at grounds where it was considered necessary and allowances made for them. Bradshaw’s 1899 score book shows only six scoring shots of 4 were made all season, so perhaps The Rigbys allowance in those days was a 3 on three sides of the ground, with maybe 4 for a straight hit past where the tennis courts now stand
On Tuesday 26th April 1898 the Bolton Evening News had reported Gilnow Park visited Bradshaw to open their new ground. Bradshaw went in first and scored 68, R. Entwistle 29, P. Ramsden 11. Gilnow passed the score with only 7 wickets down”. Up until this time Bradshaw would have played on rolled out wickets, but with the outfields untouched. So that without boundaries unless agreed, poor wickets, and overgrown outfields it was not surprising the game favoured the bowlers.
Now with the challenge of top class opposition before them Bradshaw signed their first professional, Archie C. Young, who had held that position the previous season with Halliwell in the First Division.
Halliwell, who had been among the founder members of the Senior Division in 1889, and had performed with some distinction being Cross Cup winners in 1897, for some reason did not appear again in the League after 1899. Halliwell Road Wesleyans promoted that season with Bradshaw were a different team, who became Halliwell in their own right in 1905, and eventually Astley Bridge in 1921. Bradshaw’s debut in the ranks of the exalted was inauspicious, three batsmen shared top score of 7 at Great Lever and having “Young bowled by Smith for a cypher”.
The Late Mr. Harry Leather, a one-time committee man of the club, recalled a match in which Archie C. Young hit a ball straight, and over the river, where it now runs behind the tennis pavilion. This statement would take some believing, if it were not for the fact that there were no tennis courts in 1900, and maybe the wicket was positioned nearer the river. Nevertheless, still a prodigious blow. However, in trying to repeat this feat of strength Young was caught out on the rivers edge. The words of the outgoing batsman were to stay with Harry Leather all his life. Shaking his head as he disappeared into the dressing tent, Archie complained – “Bloody bat won’t dreeve”.
The teams Bradshaw played against in this their first season of senior cricket were Tonge (champions by beating Farnworth in a play-off), followed by Westhoughton, Great Lever, Egerton, Halliwell Road Wesleyans, Bradshaw and Eagley. Bradshaw won 4, lost 9 and drew 1.
To remain a moment with that season of 1900: the state of the wickets and outfield is emphasised by the fact that John Hamer won the club batting prize with 84 runs in 10 innings, with a top score of 23, and an average of 8.40. From the eleven regular players, 10 different opening partnerships were used. One batsman opened 4 times, whilst three others managed 3 times each. 10 of the eleven players opened the innings at some stage of the season, whilst the remaining player J. T. Scowcroft jointly top-scored with 86 runs, so presumably he just did not fancy the job.
The Club improved to finish fourth in 1901. The complete match report of the home game against Farnworth that year, as seen by Cricket and Football Field that day, parts of which have been quoted earlier, reads:-
“Bradshaw has been on the map of the cricket world for a good many years, and the B.C.C. was once on a par with Eagley, Horwich, etc, in their old time palmy days of 30 years ago. Farnworth have a galaxy of talent, and on paper their eleven ought to better anything in the local League, but they are a quietly determined lot at the old bleaching village, and they have been well coached (one night per week) by the present professional, Garside of Weaste and lately Saturday pro. for Bedford Leigh, that it was not with any awe that at five o’clock this afternoon they began to brace themselves up to wipe off and exceed the score of nearly a hundred which the Farnworth crowd had run up.
They reflected that the ground is a tip-topper as regards being well drained; indeed, one of the enthusiasts in the days of old – 40 years ago or more – said to me; “I have been on all the grounds in the Bolton district, and there is not a better one than this. It is our third season here, for we have been evicted from two other grounds in the vicinity. However, Mr. Thos. Hardcastle and his son Captain Hardcastle of the Imperial Yeomanry have helped us a great deal, and the enclosure is splendidly drained”. In fact when you begin to look around you perceive a running brook forms one of the boundaries, and it seems to me no herculean feat for a disciple of Jessop to whip the ball into the river. Thought I: What a nice cool job somebody has here in summer, diving in after the little leathern pilule! Or possibly someone has trained a retriever to fish the leather out of the bubbling and surging waters. Neither is the case, however. The difficulty is overcome this way: The umpire is provided with a spare ball, and when some mighty swiper lands the ball into the river it is pulled out with the aid of a fishing net – i.e. when the water is clear enough for it to be discernible. Meanwhile, play proceeds with the spare ball which the umpire has had in his pockets.
But about the game – Just to show that the wealth of Farnworth talent did not over-awe the men of the old village, even though they once belonged to such humble sphere as the last division (E) of the Junior League, from which they have gradually worked their way up into the senior competition, the Bradshaw skipper kept some of his bowlers back. He can call on eight of ’em at a pinch, but five were sufficient for Farnworth, who were anxious to record their first brace of points for the current season. There was some pretty strokes on the part of the visitors, and Sergt. Price struck everybody as a stubborn sort, not brilliant perhaps, but a sticker. He certainly helped to stay the rot at a quiet period, for when the fifth to the eighth wickets all went with little variation to the total, he thought it time to be very careful. and he certainly improved things a bit. Scholes, the man who got 37, has only played once before during 1901, and he got a dozen that time, so that Farnworth think well of him. Derbyshire did the bulk of the bowling, and is an invaluable man to the Bradshaw club.
This organisation, let it be remarked, was established eight years ago under its present colours, but there was a Bradshaw C.C. some decades back, as already noted.
As at Eagley last week, I dropped on men at Bradshaw today who would have been delighted to have seen our editor “Olympian” because they remember when he used to bowl and bat with any of them.
The cracks of 30 and 40 years since are as enthusiastic as ever – the Holts for example; and then there is Mr. Wright Greenhalgh, and Mr. William Smith, whome everybody in the district used to know as “Bill” Smith, when he was wont to go to the Bolton C.C. ground at Back o’th’ Bank and antagonise none other than MacIntyre the Famous. Those were grand old days. So they say. I wasn’t in the swim then; but if I encounter many more of these veteran local enthusiasts, I shall soon feel as antiquated an old fogey as ever breathed.
The Bradshaw players of today are as keen as their forbears, and in the little tent at 5 o’clock they whispered sweet confidences to one another. They are keen to do their utmost, because they know what a strong array of other good men will be elected for duty if they are at all remiss. I suppose that the Bradshaw C.C. boast 120 members, all of whome are at liberty to practice; and so good are 18 or 20 of them that the Selection Committee are at their wits’ end every week, for they don’t like to leave anybody out, yet they must only choose eleven. This is a healthy sign for Bradshaw interest. Farnworth did not score very slowly. Certainly the 10’s kept being added more rapidly than one would have thought after yesterdays rain. And to think, that three years ago that very field was a positive swamp! Willing and generous patrons have overcome that, as will be gathered from a preceding note about drainage.”
Bradshaw passed Farnworth’s total of 95 with seven or eight wickets down, before being finally dismissed for 108.
The Club was now to experience the worst season of it’s 100 years existence. In 1902 playing in what was to be the smallest First Division in the Association’s history, Bradshaw failed to record a single win.
An insight into that long departed era can be gained in the Bolton Evening News’ “Cricket & Football Field” series on “Prominent Cricketers, Captains of the Bolton League”. The subject was Andrew Kay, nearly 50 years away from becoming Bradshaw Cricket Club’s first life member.
ANDREW KAY (BRADSHAW)
Nestling peacefully in the hollow at the busy village of Bradshaw stands the ground upon which the fortunes of the Bradshaw Cricket Club have for the last five years been won and lost. Many glorious triumphs have been recorded, and many bitter defeats shared in by the staunch band of “flannelled fools” who have fought the battles of the village organisation on this ground, which hidden away from vulgar gaze, has been the theme of many tributes of admiration. The tranquility of the charming scene when clothed in summer garb is undisturbed save for the rippling of the placid stream which skirts the enclosure, and, like Tennyson’s brook, flows on forever. It was to this pleasant spot that the writer recently turned his attention and gleaned a brief history of the man who has acted as skipper of the little craft this season, which has, unfortunately, been the most disastrous the club has spent since being promoted to the senior ranks of the Bolton and District League. And yet before the first match was played the supporters of the club thought the team good enough for one of the best positions – on paper, and their disappointment has been great, for unless the club has gathered in the much needed complement of points from their Eagley rivals today they will be still
Without Their First League Victory, A number of unfortunate circumstances which have largely contributed to this undesirable state of affairs were related by Andrew Kay. They had hoped against hope, he said, for a turning in the long lane, and though frequently sent away empty handed they were pretty sanguine of making a ‘splutter’ in their remaining League encounters. Our subject has, though he first saw the light of day in Carbrook, Cheshire, 26 years ago, practically remained within the boundary of the village to follow the pastime of which he is so ardent a devotee. Before leaving Carbrook, he was a valuable member of a boys team, which, singularly enough, never was deemed worthy of a name, and so on removing with his parents to Bradshaw, now something like 16 years ago, he joined a junior club which went by the appellation of Bradshaw Victoria. This organisation existed not more than three months, and then finding himself a “free lance” Kay was prevailed upon to become a member of Bradshaw’s premier team. Today he is the only playing member who assisted to fight the battles of the club fourteen years ago, and it is fitting that he should now steer the team through troubled waters. There will be many grateful hearts amongst the cricket section of the inhabitants if he succeeds in just pulling the men clear of the last position. But it’s a Herculean task. When we remember that our subject was then still a boy, his many brilliant performances become all the more creditable, but space will only allow a recapitulation of a few of his best efforts. His club played near the Bradshaw works on what is known as the “Piggy field”, on the outfield of which grew what the inhabitants term “scowsers”. Visitors to the ground, however, found a different name for this superfluous growth, the “wild rhubarb” often proving a source of trouble to them. Kay on one occasion went in to bat against Chalfont Street after eight of his companions had been dismissed for twice as many runs.
He hit a ball into the “wild rhubarb” and whilst his opponents. Searched for the Ball he had crossed and re-crossed the crease eleven times. All Souls’ generally provided a capital game and in one of them Kay who was beginning to make his mark as a fast right arm bowler, secured seven wickets for thirteen runs, and was not dismissed himself until he had recorded twenty. His six wickets against St. Matthew’s second were obtained at a cost of seven runs, he dismissed four Draycott Street Wesleyans for two runs, and in the return engagement with St. Matthew’s half a dozen victims cost him thirteen runs. Application was made to join the junior division of the League in 1894, and the club was finally included in Section E. It was in one of these games that Kay achieved his best bowling performance against St. Bartholomew’s who were turned out for a dozen runs, five of which were scored off him for eight wickets. Then followed a list of phenomenal performances, six Bolton Combination wickets falling to him for as many runs, whilst five Holy Trinity wickets cost him only nine runs. In the tie of 27 each with Blackburn Road Cong. he made three smart catches, the last in the long field bringing the innings to a close with honours easy. His smart work had a lot to do with the promotion of the club to Section D in which sphere of operation he again distinguished himself, five Blackburn Road Cong. wickets costing him only eight runs. Further promotion found the club in Section B where many memorable struggles were fought out with Trinity Wesleyans. The latter once replied to Bradshaw’s 80 with 60 for four wickets, when Kay was put on, and dissolving a long and productive partnership he secured four wickets cheaply and won the match. He helped himself to an innings of 27 not out against Park St. Wesleyans; but it was about this time that Kay began to feel the strain of fast bowling, and finding at practice that he could make the ball break, he took to slow bowling, and for a time was just as successful as he had been when a “speed artiste”. With a delivery that broke from the off he was always a dangerous opponent, especially on a slow pitch and the first season the club spent in Section A enabled him to demonstrate his ability.
Six Heaton batsmen fell to his insidious slows for eleven runs; he went in last when seven runs were required to beat Trinity Wesleyans, and made five of them; dismissed five and six Wesleyans for 22 runs each time, and sent back seven of St. Mark’s for 25. From time to time he gave evidence that he was no mean exponent with the willow, compiling 32 against Farnworth Social Circle and 43 against Halliwell Rd. Wesleyans. The last effort enabled his side to boast 69 runs as the result of half an hours play. His captain – R. Entwistle – being his partner. He scored 37 out of 72 put on during his stay at the wickets against Gilnow Park, who were well beaten. Having worked themselves through the Junior Division, the League executive invited them to step higher three seasons ago, and they duly made their appearance in the Senior Division. They found out very speedily that the fight for points in their new sphere was very keen, and that their position would not be exactly a bed of roses. It was not surprising that though they accomplished one or two smart performances, they were out-manoeuvred by their more experienced opponents. Last season however, there was a manifest improvement in the play of the team, Farnworth were beaten chiefly by a capital innings by Kay who went in at the fall of the sixth wicket when 43 runs were required to win. These were hit off, Kay contributing a score towards them. His best effort was that accomplished against Tonge last season. The “Derby Day” had drawn a big crowd, and when rain came on and stopped play, Bradshaw had scored 114 for the loss of five wickets, Kay still unbeaten with 37 to his credit when hostilities ceased. Had Jupiter Pluvius delayed a few minutes more before before making his unwelcome interference our subject would have reached his fifty – an honour which he desired to gain. Kay has done very little bowling in senior cricket, though he has taken three Tonge wickets for a couple of runs. What his team wanted was a slow bowler. On the slow wickets predominating this season a bowler of that description would have been of inestimable value. Then again a good Wicket-keeper was required and if these weak spots could be filled Captain Kay is convinced that better results would be forthcoming. He recognises that the team is about the youngest in the senior section, all the players with the exception of vice-captain George Scott, being younger than himself; but with a few years’ more experience the combination will be a formidable one. He has a very high opinion of the abilities of the younger members of the eleven.
John Derbyshire, Will Roscoe, Ernest Whittle and George Kay – a younger brother. They have had, however, more then their share of misfortune. Three weeks ago John Derbyshire, the fast bowler, injured his arm and has since been unable to play. His services would have been useful on the hard wickets served up of late. Then again Garside, who was as nice a professional as could be met with, had been unwell during the greater portion of the season, and this had prevented him from showing his best form. He was not, however, much better and his return to form a week ago was particularly welcome. This is Kay’s first season as captain though he has on several occasions previously been invited to serve in this capacity. With the players he experiences no difficulty, and the only objectionable task is in having to face the spectators after the teams series of disasters. Here applies the old proverb never to kick a man – or shall we say a team – when it’s down. Kay has also played football occasionally as a goalkeeper with scratch teams, whilst priding himself upon being one of the eight selected in a billiard tournament on behalf of Bradshaw Conservative Club, after making a break of 64. But cricket has always been his game, and there is plenty of scope for him to add still further to a career which has always been meritorious if not dazzling in brilliance. In a connection with the club of close upon fourteen years, Kay has missed only a couple of matches, once being compelled to stand down through sickness and on another occasion through bereavement.”
Undismayed, the club continued work on ground improvements, and on 23rd July 1904, on the day of the Eagley match, the new pavilion was opened by Major H. M. Hardcastle. Bradshaw batting first, were all out for 96. When Thewlis, the awesome Eagley professional, was out cheaply hopes were raised, and once again the words of a dismissed professional were remembered by an ex-Bradshaw committee man – “Farmer John” Isherwood recalls the mighty Thewlis’s defiant words as he returned to the pavilion on another occasion: “They’ve got a lot o’ good lads to laik wi’ yet”. And so it was this time, Bradshaw’s total being passed comfortably. 71 years after this match “Farmer John” was duly awarded life membership of Bradshaw Cricket Club. Knighthoods are more easily acquired than are the honours Bradshaw Cricket Club bestow.
A bazaar was promoted to raise funds necessary to defray the cost of the new pavilion. Lord Derby opened the Sale of Work on December 30th 1904, the enterprise being well supported, with satisfactory results.
It was from the adversity of 1902 that the Club rose three years later to become League Champions, the first of two such successes in their 30-year membership of the senior section of the Bolton & District Cricket Association.
Towards the end of July 1905, Bradshaw played away at Egerton, as Harry Howarth “an old Egerton Stalwart” recalled in a Buff interview 12 years later.
“It was during the time Finney was professional at Egerton, and Wimpenny at Bradshaw, Egerton had scored 101 and Bradshaw was perilously near this score with nine wickets down. George Scott made a great drive that would have given Bradshaw victory had not the ball stuck in some cow dung on the edge of the boundary. Then Finney bowled Scott’s partner”.
Verification is in the match report:
“P. Roscoe led off Bradshaw’s reply with a patient 35, receiving admirable assistance from Wimpenny and Joe Derbyshire, but the remaining wickets fell cheaply, and when the last pair were at the wickets, there were still two runs required to win. These were not secured, and Egerton won by 101 to 100”.
This result left the league table registering Eagley and Westhoughton as leaders with 21 points each, and Bradshaw and Halliwell sharing second place on 20 points, so what had no doubt brought great relief to the cow had cost Bradshaw dearly…… Still it’s an ill wind.
The following Saturday, Westhoughton were victors in their match, and Bradshaw were taking no time at all to win at Great Lever (Joe Derbyshire 4 for 12, Wimpenny 6 for 19) whilst both Eagley and Halliwell lost. Now Westhoughton were sole leaders with Bradshaw on their own a point behind.
Incredibly on August 5th, Westhoughton, Eagley and Halliwell all lost, but Bradshaw bowled out Farnworth Social Circle in under 16 overs, (Wimpenny 6 for 12, Joe Derbyshire 4 for 14), to go one point clear at the top of the league above Westhoughton.
The scene was now set for the last league encounter of the season, none other than Tonge at home. The committee no doubt regretting their decision to “pool both gates”. Could there be a more gratifying championship victory? Unfortunately celebrations had to be withheld, for Tonge, not entering into the spirit of the occasion, won comfortably.
It is interesting to speculate when and how the news of Westhoughton’s defeat at Lostock arrived at Bradshaw that day. Would the players have left the ground, or would they have awaited the news after the match, fearing the worst? Would there have been some progress report so that they knew in fact that Lostock, batting first, had scored 174, F. Woolley 113 not out? That would have indeed eased the tension. Or is it more likely they would have just sweated it out? The Football and Cricket Field, predecessor of the Buff, had in most cases the whole of the Senior League matches covered with full batting and bowling performances of both sides included, where matches had finished early. So it seems unlikely they would have been printed in time to be on sale at the ground. But whenever the glad tidings arrived, the championship must have been very sweet to Bradshaw Cricket Club, still really only in its infancy.
Only John Derbyshire must have had mixed feelings, for whilst F. Woolley’s 113 not out had undoubtedly won the championship for Bradshaw, it robbed John of the League batting prize, Woolley’s average going from 16.1 to 27.4. John Derbyshire had gone into the match with an average of 28.7. Joe his brother won the League bowling prize with 59 wickets at an average cost of 6.22.
The Cross Cup Final was played each season between the League champions and runners-up. This rule had been in force since the League’s inception, and surprisingly was allowed to continue until 1921. Bradshaw had to await the play-off between Westhoughton and Eagley before contesting their first cup-final.
On Saturday, 26th August 1905, the Cricket and Football Field gave the results of the season’s matches for the final’s sides, and teams were printed with the birthplaces of each player added. Bradshaw’s team read:
George Scott (Eagley), John Derbyshire (Bradshaw), Joe Derbyshire (Bradshaw), Peter Roscoe (Bradshaw), William Roscoe (Bradshaw), John T. Scowcroft (Harwood), Edward Entwistle (Bradshaw), Richard Entwistle (Queensland), George Kay (Carbrook, Cheshire), Thomas Crossley (Bradshaw), and Wimpenny (Henley). Of the Eagley XI, seven were born in Eagley, two in Dunscar and one in Bradshaw, with Thewlis from Lacelles Hall, Yorkshire
William Roscoe and George Kay, continued to associate themselves with the club long after their playing days were over, and were eventually to become life members. As for the match itself, heavy rain prevented a prompt start, and several inspections were made by the umpires and players before play could commence at 3 o’clock.
“Joe Derbyshire devastated Thewlis’s stumps, when he had scored only 6 and Bradshaw’s hopes ran high”. Could this be the match of the Thewlis quote about the good lads still to laik wi’ yet? It seems so.
“The finest cricket of the day was witnessed when the brothers Warburton became associated. They were nicely set when 50 went up, and in just over half an hour had taken the score past 100” Brough back to bowl after he had reached his half century, “one of Derbyshire’s expresses shattered his stumps”.
“Completing his fifty Walter Warburton went on to punish the tired bowling and it was mainly due to his efforts that the second hundred was left behind. The last four wickets fell cheaply but Walter, scoring well, reached his century, and eventually carried his bat for a superb 112.
Although he has often displayed some ability with the bat the younger Warburton is a recognised bowler and his success was all the more gratifying to the supporters of the cup-holders because it was unexpected. A collection realised £5.10.6d.
The attendance was not so large as in recent years, the unpromising state of the weather in the morning doubtless keeping many away. Still there were fully 3,000 present and receipts at 5 o’clock totalled £30.”
Eagley had amassed 244, and the match was won. Before the close of play Bradshaw had lost Joe Derbyshire, and the ensuing Saturday saw them all out for a paltry 78, of which John Derbyshire scored 25. Walter Warburton made this cup final of almost eighty years ago a personal triumph with bowling figures of 13.4 overs, 4 maidens, 19 runs, 5 wickets.
This cup final is still the one won by the greatest margin of runs in the Bolton and District Cricket Association.
Walter Warburton whose fourth cup-final this was, was only really getting into his stride. He scored 141 in the cup final against Farnworth the next year, and afterwards had half-centuries in three finals out of five.
Joe Derbyshire at this time was establishing himself as an outstanding all-round cricketer as well as being a professional footballing full-back of some repute. A cricket club minute of August 1905 reads:-
Resolved that the secretary write to Preston N.E.F.C. asking them to grant Joe Derbyshire permission to play in the final”.
To quote from Mr. R. Wolstenholme’s dissertation on The Formation of the Bolton League, “Until 1939 the Association, through the influence of Edward Cross, was affiliated to the Bolton Cricket Club, which was the premier cricket club in nineteenth-century Bolton. An arrangement existed with the Bolton C.C. committee to the effect that they would, if possible, find a place in the first team for any local cricketer who by his play proved that he is worth a trial against a superior team. Also in keeping with this main objective of the Association, District Matches were arranged between Junior representative sides and Senior clubs and also, for example, between 16 chosen from the Senior clubs to play Bolton C.C..”
When in 1906 Bradshaw gained Silcock as professional from Bolton C.C. to begin his reign which was to last for nine seasons to 1914, The Cricket & Football Field said “Joe Derbyshire was to go to the Premier Club of the Town”. In the event a footballing injury prevented this move, and he did not play at all that season.
1907 was to be Joe’s last with Bradshaw. He had, along with Silcock, completely monopolised the bowling, when they had respectively taken 46 and 70 wickets, brother John with 9 being the nearest challenger to his amateur dominance. John Sofield, secretary of the club, wrote in the report and balance sheet of September that year:
It is also gratifying that one of our players, Mr. Joe Derbyshire, has taken up a position on the ground staff of the Lancashire Cricket Club. His loss to the Club will be great, but we wish him every success, and hope he will do honour to himself and his County”.
Joe Derbyshire’s return to League cricket in Bolton was with Tonge, where he played with distinction for many years.
This period from the turn of the century in Edwardian Bolton saw league cricket gaining in popularity and approaching its peak just before the First World War.
Fanatical support grew for the village sides, the number of local lads in the 1905 cup final bearing testimony, and, with public transport in its infancy and no radio, crowds increased and derby matches were often rowdy affairs, as an extract from the C & F.F. for August 8th 1903 illustrates:
“The start was cautious but when the pair were nicely settled, Roscoe was finely caught at point, whilst Garside was out to a skier. Then a curious incident stopped play for twenty minutes; John Derbyshire had only just arrived at the wicket when the ball was overthrown. The pair started for a run when it is alleged Pilling the Tonge captain called out that the ball was dead. Derbyshire therefore turned back and was walking to his original wicket when a Tonge player upset his wicket and he had to go, despite the protest of the Bradshaw captain. The home supporters urged him to stop the game, but fortunately wiser councel prevailed and although Bradshaw felt very sore on the point the innings was continued. My impression was that Derbyshire was to be sympathised with.
Considerable feeling entered into the game and some of the Bradshaw men had occasion to complain of a section of the crowd “booing” and shouting.
During the interval the unpleasant incident that had brought about Derbyshire’s dismissal was a much discussed topic. That Derbyshire was out there could not be much doubt, but Bradshaw men objected and Objected Very Strenuously to the manner in which he was dismissed. Tonge did not view their task with much concern, though they had not forgotten many tight battles with their near and I had almost written dear rivals. The fact remains that Bradshaw have not yet beaten Tonge in a League Match”.
A report of the Bradshaw v. Eagley game on July 7th 1906 estimates the crowd at 2,000 and also relates that Silcock quilted the ball into the river, a not uncommon expression of the day, prompting recourse to the Oxford Dictionary – quilt, (sl.) thrash.
A photograph of this game shows the square to be mown, but the rest of the outfield to be cropped to about one inch, no doubt by grazing cattle. With the engagement of Silcock as professional and full-time groundsman for £3 per week, plus a benefit match, ground improvements continued.
It was resolved on August 7th 1906, that Silcock’s benefit from the Adlington match be made up to a net £7, and the club pay his expences. At the meeting on the 28th it was stated that Silcock would pay his own expenses and also give a donation of 10/-d to the club funds. The committee was unanimous in its thanks…. These certainly were the good old days.
In May 1908 it was decided to embark on the construction of a tennis court. Silcock was set to work on the project, and twelve months later, on the 8th May 1909 the court was opened by Major H. M. Hardcastle, This was a single lawn tennis court to which a second was added later.
At this time a tender had been accepted of £9.18.0d. to erect a tea room, and a later decision was taken to place it on three pillars at the further cost of 5/-d per pillar. This tea room was attached to the pavilion and many years later was used as a score-box.
That no expense be needlessly incurred was a constantly recurring theme in the early cricket club minutes. A typical entry is found in 1908: The Sec. read a letter from Robinson the printer to the effect that he had made a mis-calculation in estimating the cost of printing the balance sheet, and he would deem it a favour if the club would pay £1.2.6d., the estimate having been for £1.0.0d. net. The consistency of previous minutes is maintained and there is hardly need to pass to the very predictable unsympathetic response: “Resolved we pay the original estimate”.
Bradshaw’s balance sheets for 1907 and 1908 show that even though in 1908 three of the nine home matches were cancelled because of adverse weather conditions, gate receipts and subscriptions covered the professional’s wages and umpires’ fees. The professional, of course, was then also groundsman. Receipts from social events took care of lesser expenses, just keeping the club solvent.
By 1909 the ground had been enclosed. Negotiations were started to place a bridge over the brook at the tennis court end, the only access to the ground being over the footbridge by the cottages, or down from Rigby Lane via Turton Road. A mowing machine suitable for a pony was purchased from Silcock and Higham pre-season 1910 for £10 and Silcock the club professional (and presumably partner in the firm) promised to put in a roller as a present to the club.
The problem of the pony was solved when “a deputation appointed to wait on Mr. S. Slater re pony, reported that they had come to terms with him whereby he would allow the club to use the pony free, he to have the grazing free”.
For that season of 1910, 53 players were registered for the two teams. By the time the last match was played Peter Roscoe, the one remaining member who had played for the club in their ‘Shooting Butts’ days, had taken 24 catches, still 73 years later a club record. Remarkably, four years later he held another 23. In the away game at Radcliffe, two more batsmen fell to catches by “Roscoe”.
Brother Bill, who for many years lived in one of the cottages at the ground, also played in the same match, and all attempts to establish which of the brothers should be credited with the catches have failed. It is therefore possible, even probable, that Peter beat his own record in 1914.*
Peter Roscoe a superb fielder and good opening batsman, enlisted in the army as a grenade thrower – what else? – and tragically was gassed on active service. Returning from the war a shadow of his former self and his cricketing career virtually over, he never really recovered his health.
On the first Saturday of Bolton Holidays in the season of 1910, Bradshaw scored what must be their most sensational victory in the 100 years history of the club. W. C. Dakeyne, in the second of his four consecutive seasons as captain, played a remarkable innings at Eagley.
The Bolton Evening News printed the following:
“Bradshaw were left with 13/4 hours to hit off the 170 runs required to win, and certainly the accomplishment of such a feat seemed well nigh impossible, especially as the weather went dull as Bradshaw went in to bat. P. Roscoe was bowled by the first ball sent down by T. Cooper, who relieved Williamson at 46. Silcock partnered Dakeyne, who incidentally hit up 80 on his last visit to Eagley.
The attack was made to look childish, and for the most part fielders were engaged following the ball to the boundaries, both men playing cricket that was judicious to a degree. Dakeyne had scored three times faster than his first partner, and soon reached his 100, whilst Silcock turned the half century in quick time, though twice missed previously. Both men were awarded talent money. The match was over by quarter to seven, and a great ovation awaited them when the captain declared, just after Silcock had made the winning hit. The rate of scoring may be judged from the fact that Dakeyne hit 20 fours, and 5 couples, and reached the boundary 19 times out of 28 scoring strokes (one four no doubt being all run) whilst Silcock reached the boundary 13 times and scored four twos in 23 scoring strokes”.
To be borne in mind is that six hits had yet to be introduced, so if the Bolton Evening News is to be believed, Bradshaw scored 178 runs in 75 minutes. The C & F.F. on the day states the Eagley innings closed at 5.20 and Bradshaw were 9 runs from the first six overs. With the game at this stage the report went to print.
Commenting on the match one week later the C & F.F. says Bradshaw scored the runs in little over 100 minutes, and shows Silcock’s winning hit to have been a seven.
Which of the given times is correct? Well, matches at that time were played over 41/2 hours plus a tea interval, and starts were at 2.30p.m.
Bradshaw bowled 61 overs at Eagley in 2 hours 50 minutes, well under 3 minutes an over. Eagley had bowled 32 overs when the game ended. If the same rate had been maintained the innings would have lasted 11/2 hours, just halfway between the Bolton Evening News and the C & F.F.’s conflicting times.
In seeking a third opinion for the sake of accuracy, whilst favouring the C & F.F.’s 100 minutes as being more logical, The Bolton Chronicle’s claim that there was still half an hour left for play when the match was won, supports the original commentary.
It was little over one month later that the cricket committee, no doubt acting in good faith (as all cricket committees do – in spite of opinions to the contrary) and with the interest of the club at heart made a calamitous decision that was to cause much anguish and recrimination. The committee were considering a change of professional, and at a special meeting it was agreed to ask Silcock his terms for cricket professional only, i.e. to dispense with his services as groundsman. At the same time an advertisement was to be placed in the Athletic and Yorkshire Post for a weekly and Saturday afternoon professional. At the ordinary meeting one week later on August 4th, applications were read from Ingleby, professional of Tyldesley, Bent of Halliwell and a professional from Somerset whose name is not minuted. Silcock’s terms were £2.10.0d. for three days work, and he to give back 10/- for an assistant groundsman. Dickens, the Egerton professional, who presumably had been approached by the club, had asked £3.0.0d. plus a benefit.
Whether the question had been put incorrectly to Silcock, or whether his quote was in answer to the agreed proposal is not known. It was then decided to ignore the Somerset professional’s application. Bent received no further mention, and Ingleby was to be written to for more information, and to ask his terms.
In the interest of progress Ingleby’s terms were then assumed to be the same as Dickens. A vote was taken resulting in 6 votes for Silcock and 4 each for Dickens and Ingleby. In the second vote Dickens defeated Ingleby by 9 to 5.
The justification for only having two resolutions before a meeting, reached by a process of elimination, can be seen in the final vote of 8 to Dickens, 6 to Silcock, the only democratic way to have arrived at a decision. But democratic or not the news was greeted with such discontent in the village, that a protest meeting was called by the members and held in the school on the Monday night.
At the time this meeting was being held, the chairman Mr. H. Miller had called the cricket committee to a meeting of their own at the cricket pavilion, where the 14 assembled, together with W. C. Dakeyne the club captain, who had been absent from the earlier deliberations, the business being “To discuss the position the club committee should take regarding the protest meeting called by the members of the club in regard to the committee signing Dickens as professional”.
It was resolved that the committee stand by their decision and that no resolution passed at the protest meeting would have any effect. The secretary then asked if the committee would consent to meet a deputation from the protest meeting and it was agreed to do so.
At this stage in the proceedings a messenger arrived from the school requesting the committee to send a deputation to meet representatives of the public meeting the following night. The secretary and others promised to attend.
The outcome of the confrontation was reported later Tuesday night, by the deputation, to the full cricket committee. It transpired that during the meeting Mr. Miller had retired from, and Mr. Jethro Hamer had been elected to, the chair. The representatives of the protest meeting were to report to another full meeting of members on Thursday night but “That the committee still stood to their action.”
At Thursday night’s meeting Mr. F. Leigh was proposed to the chair and outlined the case, stating the result of the meeting with the cricket club deputation. Mr. Miller then reported on behalf of the committee. After considerable discussion, the committee retired, returning to say they were still of the same mind. More debate and the eight who had voted against Silcock’s re-engagement retired. On their return Mr. Miller asked for a vote to be taken for or against Silcock’s retention. The meeting by a large majority showed to be in Silcock’s favour. Mr. Miller then announced the cricket committee’s resignation. The six committee who had been in the minority were asked to stand again for election and agreed. Mr. Leigh then put a resolution before the meeting, “All those who were in favour of Mr. Silcock, and that the committee resign,” against an amendment by two of the retained committee men, Mr. F. Wild and the secretary Mr. John Sofield, “That the matter be allowed to drop”.
There was to be no reprieve, eight new committee members being elected to join the vindicated six
Five from this new body were appointed to meet Dickens the next day and report to the full meeting the same night. The conclusion of that eventful week came with the two minutes of Friday night’s meeting. “Secretary reported that the deputation had met Mr. Dickens, who for the sum of £10 has agreed to cancel his agreement”. Messrs Hulton and Coward were appointed “to see Mr. Silcock and get his most favourable terms”.
This whole episode reflects the feeling for and interest in the village club in a period when Bradshaw’s population was more parochial than now. Not only were eight cricket committee men immediately dispensable, but replacements were plentiful. An illustration of this is in the report and balance sheet for 1912 (i.e. two seasons hence) part of which reads:- “the Nomination Sheet for committee for next season is now posted in Mr. Hargreaves shop and candidates names must be posted along with the names of proposer and seconder”.
At the first normal meeting of the new committee it was agreed to engage Silcock at the terms he had originally stated, that he should be approached to lay a bowling green, and that each member to take a subscription book out to meet expenses incurred by cancelling Dickens’s agreement.
By the second meeting it was as if nothing ever happened, business as usual:
Re 2nd Eleven, Resolve that the club order 14 medals providing E. Cunliffe pays his subscription to the club”.
The Bolton Evening News saw enough news value in the week’s events to devote almost a whole page of The Cricket and Football Field to the subject.
August 20th 1910
Dicken’s Agreement Cancelled
SILCOCK AGAIN SIGNED-ON
“Oil has been poured on to the troubled waters at Bradshaw. A fortnight ago we intimated that the Bradshaw Cricket Club had signed Ernest Dickens, of Egerton as their professional for next season, and immediately the fat was in the fire.
Silcock at the present moment has taken more wickets than any player in Bolton and District League cricket this season, and the contention of a large number of Bradshaw members was that Dickens was not his equal as a bowler. It is in bowling that Bradshaw have been somewhat weak of late.
Meetings of protest have been held during the week, and the eight members of the committee who voted in favour of Dickens have resigned in consequence of the resolution passed by the members to approach Dickens, with a view to inducing him to cancel his agreement
A new Committee was formed, and last night Dickens was interviewed and prevailed upon to release the club, upon what terms it has not yet transpired. Immediately afterwards Silcock was invited to re-sign, and appended his signature to the necessary forms for his sixth year at the Rigby’s.
THE COMMITTEE EXPLAINS
We are requested to give publicity to the following letter:- Cricket Dispute at Bradshaw
Dear Editor – You are no doubt aware of the trouble our club is passing through at the present time, caused, we are sorry to say, by a certain portion of our players and members protesting against our action in engaging Mr. Dickens as professional for next season.
A meeting was held irrespective of the club rules, imputations were hurled at the Committee which are entirely without foundation; and we stand condemned by a portion – only a portion – of our members. We agreed to meet a deputation, who, we are sorry to say, did not give us a fair hearing, so the whole matter went before a general meeting.
This was presided over by a chairman who did not give fair comment and the meetings were duly reported to the press. These reports, we think, do not do justice to our cause, in that Mr. Miller’s report was not given the prominence its importance demanded.
A certain gentleman stated that the whole matter was cut and dried before it was advertised which he afterwards withdrew, but no mention of this withdrawal was reported.
Again, a member of our Committee was charged with not having paid his subscription when he voted, although they know it is an unwritten rule that members are given to the end of the season to do this, and numerous vice-presidents, players and members have not paid theirs to date.
As these reports are read by the public, who will judge us by such, we hereby enclose a copy of the Chairman’s report, together with his opinion of the situation.
We respectfully submit these to you as an independent and unbiased person, in the hope that you will publish in your paper such a fair report of our case as will enable the cricket-loving public of Bolton and District to judge us for themselves
G. H. DALTON
T. A. WALDRON
POINTS FROM THE CHAIRMAN’S SPEECH
Enclosed with the above letter was a copy of Mr. Miller’s speech. It is a lengthy document, which we are unable to give verbatim, but we have carefully selected the salient points he advanced in support of the Committee’s action. In stating their case, Mr. Millier said:-
On Thursday, July 28th the committee met to discuss the question of professional for season 1911. This being our first meeting on the question we devoted practically the whole time, viz. about two hours, to consider the advisability of re-signing Silcock. Each member of the Committee present was asked to state his views and any points he brought out as worthy of discussion and consideration was duly noted and afterwards taken separately and debated upon. The following were some of the points raised, viz:
1. Ground question. 2. Match wickets. 3. Assistance with ground. 4. His other business a hindrance. 5. Is he interested and keen; and also that there was a slackness in practice on part of the first team members, but as to the cause of this we could not state.
I will state briefly the nature of the debate on those points. I have already stated what the points raised by members of the Committee were. I summarise briefly the following points:-
1. Ground question. 2. Match wickets. 3. Assistance with ground. 4. His other business a hindrance.
You will observe that three of these refer to the ground. The other point “His other business” is, in the opinion of some, the root of the matter. As most of you are aware, Silcock has a business of his own, independent to his engagement as professional with the Bradshaw Cricket Club.
He is employed by the club, so states the agreement, “to play with the club when required, coach the players, and to keep the ground (i.e. the portion within the enclosure) in such order and condition as will prove satisfactory to the Committee of the said club”.
The Committee, or rather, certain members of the Committee, contend that he does not keep the ground in such order and condition as is satisfactory to them, and, judging from debate, are of the opinion that the time he devotes to it is insufficient. The point then arises as to the cause if this insufficiency of time. It is the opinion of some that his other business undertaking is a handicap to him in successfully carrying out his agreement with this club, so far as the ground question is concerned, at any rate.
I myself have no fault to find with him having another business; in fact, I agree with him. He will not always be able to undertake the duties of a professional cricketer that will earn him a competency, and I admire him in looking at the years to come. The point, however, is, “can he successfully undertake to cope with both duties satisfactorily?” If he is able, well and good; I say continue to do so. But if, on the other hand, in the carrying out of one duty he encroaches on the time he should give to the other, it will eventually lead to this, viz. “that one will have to be given up”.
There is one point more, “Is Silcock keen?” I mean is he as keen a cricketer as Bolton & District League cricket demands? League cricket, as you know, especially so when you are in the running, is very keen; in fact, it is its keenness which makes it distasteful to some. Now, I am not going to contend that what I now say is the opinion of the Committee; It may be, I do not know, but it is an opinion of my own formed from my own observations and backed up by others whose opinion is well worth considering. I have asked you “Is he keen?” Has he that keenness which this League demands? A winning team in this League has always to be in earnest, has always to be ready to force an advantage and maintain it. We will take this season as an example, although it is an opinion formed on more than one season’s observations. I will take the Tonge match. Look at it what way you will. I say that Silcock that day excelled in every way. He set our lads a good example; his hard work in the field his jumping for catches and running in the field, in addition to his success with the ball were such as to encourage anyone who keenly follows our summer sport. In how many matches this season has such zest and earnestness been displayed? If it had been in evidence regularly I for one feel sure that the Bradshaw Cricket Club would have top place at the present time, as I am of the opinion that were this zest and earnestness or keenness the rule rather than the exception it would be the best tonic our players could have.
We have a young team, the youngest in the League, and being young they require encouragement in addition to having good examples shown them. A keen and earnest player at any time exerts an influence especially when that player is a player of more experience than themselves. We look to our other players being keen and in earnest; on this depends their position in the team, and I say surely it is not looking for too much for our professional to be keen and in earnest.
After spending some considerable time over the consideration of the points raised, the advisability of convening a meeting of players and committee or a general meeting of members to discuss certain points only not to vote was also debated, but as the Committee were not willing for various reasons to adopt either of these courses they were dropped, as was also a suggestion to circularise the players asking their opinion on certain points. We therefore decided to see if Silcock would be willing to accept a position as coach and Saturday professional and on what terms, and accordingly a deputation of two was appointed to see him on the subject
We of course were still willing to consider his claims for the possition he at present occupies. We also decided to see if there was any truth in the rumour that Dickens desired to come to Bradshaw, and another deputation of two went to see him on the point, and it was also decided to advertise to see if there were any good and capable men in the market.
At this stage the meeting was adjurned to meet again a week later to further discuss the question.
The second meeting was held on Thursday, August 4th at which the report of the previous week’s meeting was briefly stated and the replies to advertisements read, and the reports of the respective deputations received. Silcock was willing, so stated the deputation, to come down Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – and play Saturday afternoon for the remuneration of £2.10s per week, out of which he was prepared to pay 10s per week towards the expenses of an independent groundsman, he to supervise. It afterwards transpired after an argument between two members of the Committee, that his offer and terms were to be the groundsman and professional to the club; he would come down Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, more if possible, and play Saturday afternoon for the sum of £2.10s per week out of which he was willing to refund 10s towards the expences of an assistant or under-groundsman.
Dickens (so reported the deputation) was willing to come for £3 and a benefit. The replies to advertisements were one from a person named Morgan (at present with Somerset County), one from Ingleby (The present Tyldesly professional) who, however, wanted to know the nature and length of engagement, salary prepared to pay, and what talent money was given for batting and bowling.
The Secretary had received an application from Bent (the Halliwell professional). Silcock’s offer was again discussed, as was also Dickens’s offer. The two replies to advertisements were considered, and it was decided that Morgan’s application be left on the table as unsuitable, whilst Ingleby’s case was favourably received. It was secided that we could only offer him £3 and a benefit at the utmost, and of course, in regard to the rest, tell him the state of things that existed.
On the suggestion being made that the final decision be made by ballot, I replied that I must have a clean show of hands, and the question was accordingly put, with the result you all have known long ago, viz. 8-6 in favour of Dickens. A query was put as to whether he ought or ought not to have a small allowance made to him in case he wished to employ an assistant hand at intervals, on being put was decided in the negative. The Secretary was empowered to see Dickens and to ratify the Committee’s decision by signed agreement, which action was duly carried out. The outcome of it has been, as you know, that an indignation or protest meeting was called at a day’s notice, and the Committee criticised for their absence at the beginning of the proceedings at any rate.
I was the cause of their absence, I strongly disagree with the action taken in calling this public meeting, for such it was, without first of all ascertaining the actual facts of the Committee’s case and action. I was the cause of the Committee’s absence, in as much as I convened the meeting of the Committee to decide how to act and the result of that meeting was that we – the eight who voted against Silcock, along with the Captain – stand by our decision. The Committee, however were willing as you know, to receive a deputation from the meeting, and on a question being put by the Secretary as to what step we should take if we were asked by this public meeting to resign, we stated that if asked to resign we would do so.
Of Tuesday’s meeting I desire to say but little. I duly reported first of all the result of our weekly meetings, and here we attempted to discuss the debateable points in the Committee’s deliberations. We were calmly told that we had no case against Silcock; but we were eventually allowed to try and prove our case. One of the eight who voted against Silcock first of all brought up the question of the practice pitch for discussion, and was promptly told on three or four sides that the state of the practice pitch is not Silcock’s fault, but arises out of his inability to put this elsewhere owing to lack of room. The next point brought up for consideration is the match pitches, but we were again told that we should take no notice of a losing team’s complaints, which I may say had been made.
At this stage of the proceedings one member of the deputation rose and stated that what they had come there for was to know whether we were prepared to reinstate Silcock or still stand to our decision, and outlined the probable state of things that would exist if we abided by our decision. I thereupon stated to the meeting that it was quite evident from what the last speaker had said that we were condemned before our case was heard and this I still maintain, for although we were allowed to go on with our case, anything we brought forward was brushed aside practically without discussion. What the result of the meeting on Tuesday was the Chairman will tell you. It is for you to decide the position.
I merely say this, that we as a committee elected to look after the interests of the club, considered this question deliberately and carefully. I do not think any one of us denies Silcock’s capabilities or disposition; but we as a Committee must look at the question from a business point of view and not from a personal point of view. The point then arises “Are we getting the best services we can for the club?” If we think not then it is for us to endevour to secure the best we can. After our deliberations, which, I again maintain have been most careful and minute, we, that is the majority of us, at any rate, have decided on a change. I ask you as men not to condemn before trial.”
Before the 1911 season was to commence, the bowling green had been completed. for which membership was limited to 100, subscriptions being fixed at 7/6d over and above the cricket tennis and vice-presidents’ subscriptions.
A Meeting in March resolved the Club be re-named The Bradshaw Cricket Tennis and Bowling Club. This was ratified at the subsequent Annual General Meeting. Also a bridge built by members had been constructed over the river at the tennis court end of the ground, and was opened by Dr. Cosgrave in April.
The ensuing year saw a certain amount of ground levelling and a small rail erected round the perimeter of the ground along the river bank, which at that time possessed no trees. It was also deemed advisable to make a footpath between the tennis courts and cricket ground.
Gate money and subscriptions continued to take care of the professional and various unsatisfactory groundsmen, who were employed and dismissed.
1914 was to be Silcock’s last with the club. He left his mark in that he batted more innings, scored more League runs, bowled more overs, took more wickets (661) and held more catches than any professional had done before or has done since for the Bradshaw Club.
Before the onset of the season W. C. Dakeyne, again Club captain after a year as vice-captain to Peter Roscoe, offered to purchase caps for the first team, and expressed a desire to incorporate the President, Major Hardcastle’s Coat of Arms in the form of a badge. There are three towers depicted on the shield of the ‘arms’ of Thomas Hardcastle, and another as the crest. The top left-hand shield tower sports four crenels, whilst the top right-hand one, and the crest tower have three. The bottom central tower on the shield has only two.
The secretary promised to interview Major Hardcastle, and, although there is no further minute, a compromise must have been reached, and the two crenelled tower or castle at the base of the shield, beneath which the motto “stabilis” is inscribed on a scroll, and which together comprise the lower part of the Coat of Arms, was taken as the Club’s own signia.
Then at the end of the season, on 16th August, it was considered prudent to cancel the annual friendly home and away fixture between the second team and Hawkshaw Lane C.C.
The war was in its second week. Cricket was to continue throughout the war, although without professionals during the later years. Many junior clubs were forced to drop out of the competition, and one senior club, Egerton, resigned after playing in 1916 without a single victory. The same year Bradshaw contributed two unenviable statistics to the Bolton & District Association’s 94 years of records, by firstly being dismissed for 7 at Farnworth Social Circle, and later in the season at Farnworth allowing J. H. Hodgkiss, Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper, to have his name perpetuated by assisting in his feat of nine successive 4’s – 36 runs.
The teams that constituted the Bolton & District Cricket Association League in 1919 after an enforced four years of abnormality were Bradshaw, Darcy Lever, Eagley, Farnworth, Farnworth Social Circle, Halliwell, Heaton, Little Hulton, Little Lever, Radcliffe, Tonge and Westhoughton. Little Hulton having replaced Egerton from the pre-war formation.
It was before the commencement of the 1919 season that Bradshaw’s A.G.M. decided that because the General Committee, now comprising all members of all three sections, had become unwieldy, three delegates from each section, together with the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer would act as a Management Committee; a similar state of affairs, to that which exists today.
1920 marked the beginning of ten years of frustration felt by the better supported teams. The Bolton & District Cricket Association increased the League by re-introducing Egerton and including Hindley Green. This extension was looked on unfavourably by the more ambitious clubs who were seeking a higher standard, and before the 1921 season (after three Annual General Meetings of the Association and several suggestions for improvement) it was agreed to form two leagues, East and West, ostensibly to have two first divisions. The reality was that the old first division became the East section, with the exclusion of Hindley Green and Little Hulton and the inclusion of Kearsley.
The top teams in each section were to play for the championship, and for the first time the Cross Cup would be contested between all clubs on a knock-out basis.
Meanwhile Bradshaw C.C. under the supervision of two committee men, and with the help of numerous members, had extended the pavilion by adding a duplication of the existing one. The building was opened by Lt. Col. H. M. Hardcastle, when Kearsley were the visitors on 30th April 1921, and was to stand for 52 years, before being dismantled in 1973.
Twelve months later on 29th April 1922 Lt. Col. Hardcastle dedicated the ground to the cricket club in memory of the members who had fallen in the Great War. In a magnanimous gesture the Colonel had, a few weeks before on the 11th of March, legally agreed to donate the ground to the cricket club, and have trustees appointed to secure permanently the use of the ground for the cricket club. A memorial stone was unveiled at the dedication on which each member’s name was inscribed. Kearsley were again the visitors, and each year since on the date of the Bradshaw v. Kearsley match, the captain of each side has placed a wreath on the memorial at a ceremony during the tea interval.
It was on the dedication day that Billy Fletcher played the first of the 476 innings he was to record for the club in a continuous spell that lasted for more than a quarter of a century. That he was captain for sixteen of these years is testimony to the esteem in which he was held.
By 1923 the discontent by clubs in both sections of the league was gaining momentum. The East Section had begun to dominate the competitions whilst the West Section, with one or two exceptions, suffered by comparison, with inferior pitches, professionals and support. The East Section were therefore against any move to introduce relegation, whilst the West Section needed the more attractive fixtures of the East Section in order to survive.
In a season when 7000 spectators watched Eagley beat Astley Bridge in the Cross Cup Final, the contributor to St. Maxentius Church Magazine, after describing a match played 28 years earlier saw the Farnworth match at The Rigby’s thus:
“The second Saturday afternoon is in the present year and once again on Bradshaw Cricket Field. But what a difference! We have removed from the Shooting Butts and have pitched our tent at Rigby’s. Gone is the sketchy crease and the rough out-field, our ground is now laid all over. Gone is the little wooden hut, we have a splendid pavilion with separate scoring box and ample accommodation for players, and a first-rate tea room where tea is served in a manner to satisfy the most fastidious visitor.
We have a row of well kept Tennis Courts at one end, complete with tea-room and dressing-rooms, where our young folk play tournaments and club games, and once a year compete for the handsome cups presented by Mr. James Walsh. At the other end is the Bowling Green where the older members play the game and try also once a year to win the fine trophy presented by Lt. Col. H. M. Hardcastle. We have flower beds in front of the pavilion and a herbaceous border on the north side of the Green, and on the embankment we have a grand stand in course or erection. Just in passing, why do we call a place where we sit down a ‘stand’? A bit comical when you come to think about it.
Once again as in the days of old, the sun is shining and the day is hot, but the rain has softened the pitch and runs are hard to get. Our opponents are the Farnworth team who played in the senior division whilst we were struggling in E division of the Junior League, so we have made progress at Bradshaw. Farnworth have won the toss and elect to bat first and for a short time the scoring seems easy, until the effect of the roller having worn off, the batsmen are scratching painfully at the slows of Billy Hughes and nibbling at the fast ones of Fred Scowcroft. We have bred three rare bowlers in these days. Watch the long run of Billy’s, those two short steps half way, the quick change of the ball from left to right and the high-flung delivery. It looks easy to hit it out of the field but the ball does not come up to you as you would like. It is a nasty length, just on the blind spot and has a wicked habit of curling away from the bat to the delight of slip-fielders; and if you play forward to it, the ball seems to go straight to mid-off whether you want or not.
At the other end Fred is sending the expresses down and the batters do not seem to like his deliveries either.
With that long run up to the wicket, his arm swinging in a half circle and the ball delivered at the top of the final swing, with perfect length and wicket high, he is very bad to play today. Some days, like all bowlers, he gets off that length, but this is his day out. Our third bowler is another of the Smith family; Jim of that ilk. His bowling is quite different from either of the forgoing. Those few quick steps up to the wicket and the fierce fling of that deadly left arm have won matches for Bradshaw in the past, and we all hope will win, or help to win, many more in the future. No batsman likes fast left-arm bowling.
It would be of no use to go into the details of the match. We won, but the struggle was a great one, as the bowling and fielding of both sides was really excellent. The batsmen were always stretching for runs in a way which made some spectators say that it was slow cricket. As a matter of fact it was most fascinating to a real cricket lover, because making runs and capturing wickets do not constitute a charm in themselves. It is the effort of the bowlers to beat the batsman and the well-played stroke which is a real delight. Of course the slogger will always be popular with small boys and with the unthinking part of the crowd; but mere slogging, as distinguished from scientific hard hitting, will only come off at intervals. Give me the man who makes a few runs week after week, under all sorts of conditions and against all sorts of bowling. He is the one to win matches and help the team to a high place in the League List.”
Before the 1924 season the need for reorganisation of the league was seen to be paramount, and a sub-committee was formed by the Bolton & District Cricket Association to explore various possibilities. When, after a close vote, the decision was for status quo, the writting was on the wall. That an attempt would be made to form another league was now more than a possibility.
Season 1925 saw two resignations from the West Section reducing the league to ten clubs.
Bradshaw contemporaneously, were having a crisis of their own. A selection committee of four, inclusive of the first team captain, had been elected. This was an innovating for the club, which through the years had alternated between the whole committee choosing the team, or just most of them.
By May 12th, after only two matches, the committee had a resolution before them “that three more committee men be added to the selection committee”. The result of the vote is not stated, neither is a reason given for these cryptic proposals. Perhaps the general committee contained a prophet, for early in July the selection committee of four (or maybe seven) made the astonishing decision to leave the professional out of the first team. A look at the figures prior to this sensation shows the professional Billy Hughes to have taken 30 wickets for 500 runs. Joe Walch was leading wicket taker with 44 wickets at a cost of 540 runs, Fred Scowcroft being the next most successful bowler with 12 for 247. Only one batsman, Frank Walsh, had scored more runs than Hughes, 182 to 157.
It would be interesting to know the reaction of players, committee and supporters of the club, when the omission of the professional became public knowledge. There may have been extenuating circumstances, but, on the face of it, it seemed harsh judgement on a man who only two seasons previously had taken 85 wickets when playing as an amateur for the club. This record still stands today. As professional the season before, his 58 wickets had cost 11.5 runs each. He had also been the club’s highest scorer with 383, a fair number in those days. It is difficult to imagine how the club could field eleven better players. The incident closed with yet another tantalising minute:
“Re selection committee decision in leaving professional out of team. After a long discussion the matter was left in the same position”.
1926 was to be the last of the East and West 1st Division Leagues. The attempt to cater for too many clubs had proved unsuccessful, the West Section now being depleted by yet another withdrawal, to nine clubs.
For Bradshaw however it was a red-letter season. Having for the first time since the war signed an outstanding professional in Jack Threlfall, who not only captured over 100 wickets at a cost of only 8.8 each but also hit 742 runs, the club won the championship by beating Horwich R.M.I. (undefeated in the West Section) in an exciting play-off at Heaton. With Horwich all out for 137, Bradshaw’s hopes of a second championship, must have seemed slight when Joe Walch joined Jim Smith at 92 for 9.
In the village notes, the Bolton Journal and Guardian commented: “Tennis courts, bowling green and cricket ground were all deserted on Saturday in eloquent comment on the last big cricket test in which the village was engaged at Heaton. Bradshaw, now league champions, had no lack of support in the match against Horwich, and this in fact was never more demonstrated than during the final last wicket stand between Jim Smith and Joe Walch, with the aid of whom Bradshaw won the match. These players proved that Bradshaw is certainly not a “one-man” team. Threlfall as usual played an important part with both bat and ball, but the match was actually won by those two tried servants of the club, neither of them accounted batsmen yet both defying the Horwich attack and scoring valuable runs. Smith’s success is especially pleasing, because hitherto his change bowling has scarcely been needed and on that account his part in the team’s achievement has noticeably been a small one. At the right moment he came out to play a big part, and it must be said that the role of match winner was very becoming. Yet it is thanks to every man on the side, not one alone, that the league flag flies over The Rigby’s”.
For the Darcy Lever match at The Rigby’s that year, any colliers who were members of the Darcy Lever club were allowed on the ground free, Bradshaw’s only proviso being that Darcy Lever had a gate man in attendance, presumably for identification purposes. A sign of the austere times of 1926.
The following season 20 of the 21 teams that had formed the East and West sections were included in a mammoth first division in which each club would play 22 matches. The six teams each club avoided would be on their fixture list in 1928.
This new league system was viewed with some suspicion by the better clubs, their reservations being justified when the public did not support the less attractive fixtures.
Egerton must have wished Bradshaw had not been on their fixture list in that season of 1927, when Threlfall took 8 wickets against them for 3 runs at Longworth Road, Billy Baines proving more expensive with 2 for 5. It was also this season that Billy Drinkwater, playing in a second team game against Atherton Collieries, took 9 wickets for 0 runs, the one he missed being the last to fall. Not feeling fulfilled, he smote the first ball of the Bradshaw innings into the brook and the match was won.
At the end of June an advert was placed in the local paper, “First-class amateur stumper for first-team work”. The regular wicket keeper did not appear again in the team that season, and it is a matter for conjecture whether he had left the club, or was dropped. Perhaps he read the Evening News and could take a hint.
The results of 1928 were as successful as any in the clubs history. 14 league matches were won, to be equalled only in 1945 and 1963. Only one league match was lost, again as in 1963 and also 1976. Surprisingly Bradshaw finished only as runners-up to Radcliffe, who won 16 matches but lost 12. Heaton in third place won 15 games, yet neither were on Bradshaw’s fixture list. Attendance’s continued to fall and 1929 (when Threlfall’s haul of 109 wickets brought his total to 378 in his four seasons with the club) was Bradshaw’s last in the Bolton & District Cricket Association
The final analysis of the unbroken 30 year First Division membership read – 201 league matches won, 239 lost, 175 draw and 1 tied. Of the seventeen cup-ties 7 were won, and 10 lost.
Not without a show of some ill-feeling by the Bolton & District Cricket Association on behalf of the clubs not included, the Bolton Cricket League was formed in 1930. The reasons given by the ‘exclusive’ twelve clubs for their move were:
To increase the attractiveness of the entertainment they had to offer by forming themselves into a new league, to improve grounds, to engage good professionals, and last but not least, to have control of their own affairs. A particular concern was to avoid any form of relegation, a condition on which they would have had to agree had the same clubs been set up as a first division under the jurisdiction of the Bolton & District Cricket Association.
Bradshaw played a prominent part in the ultimate breakaway. Following a meeting on the 27th August 1929 in the cricket pavilion, during which the “present system of the B & D.C.A.” was discussed, it was agreed “to leave the matter in the hands of John Sofield”. Mr Sofield then invited representatives of Astley Bridge, Eagley, Farnworth, Heaton, Kearsley, Radcliffe, Tonge and Westhoughton, to a meeting at Rockwood House, Bradshaw, the home of Councillor Thomas Lomax JP, the chairman of Bradshaw Cricket Club. The conclusion reached at the gathering was that “A change must be made in the present system of the B & D.C.A., for the season 1930”. Thus the seeds were sown for the formation of the Bolton League in a house that stands at the Bradshaw Brow end of Oaks Lane.
It was agreed that the new First Division of the new league should be formed from clubs already in the B & D.C.A. and subsequently Little Lever were invited to be the tenth side, and with a later decision to extend the league to 12, Egerton and Walkden, who were also the choices of Bradshaw, were voted as the final members.
‘Jack’ Sofield, who it seems was so instrumental in the forming of the Bolton League, had a long connection with Bradshaw Cricket Club. He can be seen on a 1901 photograph as scorer to the first team. He made his first team debut in the first match of 1906 and continued to play in at least some of every season for the first team until June 1927. This span also covered the years he was secretary to the club, combining the club captaincy, 1916-19, and for the first half of 1927. With this sort of service to the game, it was perhaps fitting he should be appointed the first chairman of the Bolton League.
He continued to serve on the Bradshaw cricket committee until 1952, the year Mr. T. Lomax, in his 25th term as club chairman, requested a vice-chairman be elected. This honour was accorded to Jack Sofield. At the A.G.M. that year, Mr. Louis Ingham, in making the proposal, read a letter from Mr. Richard Cuerden, who himself had held the cricket-section chairmanship for 15 years, outlining details of Mr. Sofield’s 53 years with the club. Mr. Cuerden died suddenly the next day, leaving Mr. Sofield to serve his last year as cricket-section chairman. With Mr. Cuerden, Mr. Sofield was an original member of the Management Committee, and was elected a life member of the club in 1953.
The first year of Bolton League cricket resulted in Bradshaw occupying a modest sixth position but, after disposing of Tonge at Castle Hill in their very first Hamer Cup tie, their second round match against Walkden proved an extraordinary affair
The first two nights of the tie were taken by Walkden’s uncompromising march to a final total of 282. By the third night Bradshaw seemed to be fighting a lost cause. Prospects had been a little more hopeful when Arthur Hindle was sharing a 76-run sixth wicket partnership with Bill Baines. “Both played fine cricket, Hindle cutting and glancing neatly, while Baines drove straight and hit to leg with great power”. But Billy was “well caught on the boundary” and when another wicket fell the evening ended with Bradshaw 169 for 7: Arthur Hindle 57 not out and Joe Walch 1 not out.
Because of the intervention of the next week’s League night matches, followed by the Bolton Holidays, the match is picked up three weeks later with Hindle now 63 and Walch 31. Joe Walch went on to score his first half century for the club, and, when he was out for 64, he had hit 12 fours. Arthur Hindle was then 85 and the stand had realised 94 match winning runs. The next batsman failed to make any contribution, and still 16 runs were required from the last pair. Joe Gerrard, who had played and sat whilst 548 runs had been scored, being Hindle’s nervous partner. “Amidst wild excitement the match was won, one more over enabled Hindle to reach 100, both batsmen, being carried off shoulder high”.
Although Arthur Hindle could not claim the privilege of scoring the first Hamer Cup century, the honour going to Metcalf, Walkden’s professional, who had made 117 in their innings, at least he holds the distinction of being the first amateur centurion of the competition.
Perhaps unfortunate in their choice of professional in their second year, Bradshaw finished next to the bottom of the league but after a further season in the wilderness in 1932, the period to the outbreak of the second world war was to be particularly fruitful. It was no coincidence that these were the halcyon years of Joe Gerrard, a slow left-arm bowler, who in 1931 to 1939 captured 544 wickets, and by the time of his retirement in 1943 had totalled a prolific 643, over 200 more than his nearest amateur challenger. They were also the years of an exceptional wicket-keeper in Kenneth Holding. The Mitchell brothers, Harry and Norman, together with Bill Fletcher and Johnny Isherwood, were the batsmen of the era with support from Harold Shippobottom in the early, and Billy Baines and Billy Cunliffe, in the late thirties.
A young Bobby Rae was the club’s professional from 1933 to 1935 and he certainly played his part with both bat and ball, taking 256 wickets and scoring 1233 runs. In his first season the club struck a purple patch, with a glut of run scoring. Mid-way through June, Harry Mitchell made a club highest League score of 122 not out against Eagley at home, during which innings with Rae (54 not out) he created a club record 4th-wicket stand of 157 unfinished.
Two days later, at Westhoughton, in the second round of the Hamer Cup, Harry Mitchell scored 84, this time setting a club Hamer Cup opening-partnership record of 153 with Billy Fletcher 65 not out. Mitchell had also scored 80 in the first round at home to Eagley. Less than two weeks later Rae, 82 not out was making the club’s best last-wicket stand of 72, with Ken Holding at Farnworth. Then came a quiet spell to the end of July. (If Mitchell’s 88 against Radcliffe on the 15th is discounted), before W. Fletcher (74 not out) and Rae (107 not out) broke the seven-week-old 4th wicket stand by adding 162 runs against Egerton at Bradshaw. Another century by Rae at Heaton the next week, means the he, in splendid isolation, is the only player ever to score successive hundreds for the club.
Bradshaw won the Hamer Cup this season of 1933 when Joe Gerrard had 9 wickets in the semi-final at Astley Bridge against Heaton.
Little Lever were the beaten finalists, also at Astley Bridge, when 3000 spectators were present on the first night. An extract from a description of that nights events reads: “A feat of endurance from Joe Gerrard, who kept on from start to finish, maintained splendid length and accuracy, which brought him high reward in the shape of 5 wickets for 41 runs, in 25 overs. At 48 Cranfield lost his wicket in unfortunate circumstances. He played a ball from Rae, which had so much pace on it, that it beat mid-on for what should have been a perfectly safe single. Cranfield called for it and ran, but Hampson’s eyes were glued on the ball and he failed to respond. Meanwhile Cranfield was more than half way across, and turned back too late to save his wicket, when Rae secured Gerrard’s return and threw the ball to the other end. Cranfiel swung his bat in vexation as he retired”.
Little Lever’s all out total was 87. A thunderstorm the next night halted play at 5 for 0, but this was enough time for the unfortunate Hampson, fielding at short square leg to receive “A vicious pull” from Motchell in the chest. “He was carried off in great pain and taken home in a motor car”.
Although on the third night Bradshaw slumped from 70 for 2 to 71 for 5, losing both Mitchell brothers, who top-scored, and Rae for 0, the result was never seriously in doubt.
Two years later Bradshaw were again the cup winners. Heaton again suffered in the semi-final at Astley Bridge, this time falling to Rae’s 7 for 18 in a total score of 35 all out.
When Billy Fletcher won the toss at Astley Bridge in the final, it must have started to become more like a second home ground to Bradshaw. Wickets had fallen too quickly and regularly, when Ken Holding joined Rae at 26 for 6, and just when matters were improving Rae went with the score at 57. So in the circumstances, when the score stood at 91 for 9, it was better than could have been anticipated.
Frank Atkinson, who had joined Bradshaw after the Bolton Holidays, had played the first half of the season at Egerton. Now, after clawing his way up the batting order to number 10, by virtue of the 17 runs he had scored in his six innings for the club, he had this day had to bow to the greater experience of Joe Gerrard, and was again down to number 11, but cometh the hour… Frank was 30, and full of runs, when Ken Holding was out for 54, with the score a respectable 154.
At the close Radcliffe were 54 for 7, a predicament similar to the one Bradshaw had been in hours earlier. There were, however, to be no heroics like those performed by the Bradshaw tailenders. The following Saturday Frank Atkinson, used in the match as only third-change bowler, quickly brought the game to a close with final figures of 6 for 11.
A coach laid on by the club, then rushed the triumphant team to Burnden Park, where, with 20,000 others, they saw goals by Milsom and Cook beat Everton by two goals to nil. Returning the players to a celebration tea at the cricket pavilion, the coach was first driven round the village, with skipper Fletcher holding the cup aloft through the sunshine roof.
In 1936 professional Billy Allan, signed as an all-rounder, took only 23 wickets, and yet the club remarkably won it’s first Bolton League Championship. Billy Baines and Frank Atkinson played supporting roles to Joe Gerrard the main wicket-taker, whose haul included all ten when Astley Bridge visited Bradshaw. Ken Holding also excelled, stumping 22 of his 36 league victims. Both players walked away with the League prizes, Ken Holding’s second success, and for good measure, Norman Mitchell won the catching prize.
Astley Bridge had played at Bradshaw earlier that season, having been drawn there in the Hamer Cup and, no doubt taking advantage of Joe Gerrard’s absence, had amassed a formidable 247 runs. On the night Bridge were finally dismissed, Bradshaw had only time to reach 20 without loss. The next evening had seen the loss of two cheap wickets when Norman Mitchell joined brother Harry with the score at 27. They remained together until the close of play at 139 for 2, When the match resumed, they had taken the score to between 181 and 185 (the exact stand proving elusive) before Harry was out for 92, and as so often happens, he was followed by Norman 85, without addition to the score. After a flurry by Johnny Isherwood, 16 in boundaries out of 22, there was a collapse, leaving the overnight score at 230 for 9. On the last evening, with the impossible almost achieved, Ken Holding fell to Sharples, only 9 runs short of the Astley Bridge total.
In 1937 the club were runners-up, but now Allen took 28 wickets, Frank Atkinson and Billy Baines again assisting Joe Gerrard in the role as main wicket taker.
Half-way through the season, the club lost the services of Ken Holding, and for the remaining fixtures he was replaced by 18 years old J. R. Gradwell from Bolton Cricket Club. The same John Gradwell was to break the Bolton League record for the number of league and cup victims in a season, for Farnworth 18 years later. His stay at Bradshaw, just 10 matches, was enough to ensure that in one of these games he took more victims than any other Bradshaw wicket-keeper had done in one match when at home against Kearsley he stumped three batsmen off Joe Gerrard, before catching three more.
It was Hamer Cup year again in 1938. Tonge were beaten in the first round at Castle Hill. Then there was a scare in the second round, when, after Bradshaw scored 216 at The Rigbys, Egerton were 191 for 5 in reply before succumbing, to 204 all out, Syd Greenhalgh’s century being in vain.
Farnworth, in the semi-final, after professional James Heap had taken the first 3 wickets for 8 runs, recovered to a suspended score of 135 for 3. Bradshaw’s reply was 130 for 4, of which Billy Baines had scored 85 not out, his first 50 runs taking only 45 minutes. On the third night Farnworth collapsed to 198 all out. Bradshaw at 189 for 5 and having the match all but won, lost 3 wickets for one run, including Billy Baines, run out for 114. Fortunately the gravity of the situation did not transmit to Joe Gerrard, who facing at 193 for 8 proceeded to score 4 and 5 off successive deliveries.
The cup-final at Heaton with Horwich as opponents proved to be the easiest round. Bill Cunliffe 67 not out, and James Heap produced an unbeaten stand of 91 to pass Horwich’s total of 115, scored off 53 eight-ball overs, 13 of these runs being conceded in Frank Atkinson’s last two overs in a final analysis of 6 for 26. Ken Holding caught four of these batsmen, to add to the one off Heap that broke the opening partnership at 66.
The finances of the club were helped considerably in the thirties by an Annual Autumn Gala, held on the cricket ground, and run jointly with the Tennis and Bowling clubs. A fairground-type entertainment on a Friday evening, and then from 2.30 p.m. Saturday, the stalls included a Coconut Shy, Breaking Pipes, Shooting Gallery, Darts, Chinese Laundry, Rolling Pennies, Penalty Kicks, Fishing in Bottles, All Press and Tall Hat.
Competitions in the form of American Bowls, held on the cricket square, tennis, golf, skittles and a balloon race, took place, whilst a refreshment-room and a sweet-stall provided sustenance. Other attractions were a fortune-teller, a concert-party and jazz-bands. Dancing was allowed until 11 p.m. In 1936, advertised as a Garden Fete, admission was Adults 6d, Children 3d and the gate-money alone realised just over £60. After expenses of some £100 were deducted, the balance sheet showed a profit of £93.2.8d, on the face of it insufficient rewards for the effort and organisation involved. But when it is considered this amount almost covered the professional’s wages, it would be more than justified in relative terms.
In 1939, and now classed as a Carnival and Gala, the event included Monday and netted a disappointing £64.4.1d: the war was only six days away.
All however did not run smoothly even in the more leisurely days of the nineteen-thirties. It is now 50 years since the secretary of Bradshaw Brass Band felt it necessary to address this postcard to his opposite number at the cricket club:
“I am writing to let you know that I am having bills printed why we are not playing at the gala, for I have been advised by a few people of Bradshaw where I will distribute the bills telling of the mean tricks that have been done to the band by your committee, because we refuse to help to pay for the Bridge which we do not use. We will also claim a percentage on the stalls for we worked for them as well as you”.
As far as can be gathered from the minutes, Bradshaw Cricket Club’s only concession to the early war years, was a resolution in August 1940, that no club prizes would be made for the duration. As it was, the war years were to be brightened by two rays of sunshine. Fred Hartley’s initial years as professional (1940-41), and then his return for the years 1944-45, four seasons in which he won the Bolton League professionals’ prize. Fred, unarguably the finest professional the club ever had if figures are to mean anything, never took less than 100 wickets in any of his four seasons with Bradshaw, feats which tended to over-shadow his outstandingly good batting. Always the club’s leading run-scorer, he was sometimes considered so, his 660 in 1945 for instance being more than twice the total of his nearest colleague. He also captured 119 wickets that year.
1941 was the season in which he claimed all 10 wickets at Farnworth, helping his total to 128, a League record that still stands 43 years on.
In his first season as professional, Fred took part in a match that still continues to go forward in the Bolton League Handbook as the one in which most runs were scored in a Hamer Cup-tie. Batting first Farnworth, the home team, had suspended their score at 131 for 3, on the opening night, Bradshaw making 14 without loss.
By the end of the second night, the game was evenly poised with Bradshaw 131 for 4. On the third evening, against such formidable opponents as Fred Hartley, Joe Gerrard and Roy Tattersall, Farnworth had advanced to an almost unassailable 309 all out, whilst Bradshaw had lost two more wickets for the addition of 23 runs. Billy Baines had made 57, with useful contributions coming from Hartley and Billy Fletcher.
With the score at 154 for 6, and the match clearly as good as over, there was a sparse attendance at Bridgman Park on the Friday evening, even one or two of the Bradshaw players considering the journey as not being worth while. Johnny Isherwood, whose score had stood at one overnight, held very different views. Losing his partner, who failed to add to his score, he unleashed a furious attack on the bowling, and within an hour, had 91 runs to his name, having added 107 runs with a nineteen-year-old Arnold Hamer. It was then, with the freedom of Bradshaw in his grasp, fate took a hand, maliciously decreeing he be run out off a no ball. Although Arnold received some support from the remaining two batsmen, he was undefeated on 41, with the score a heart-breaking 5 runs from the Farnworth total, when the last wicket fell.
On the 1st December 1941, the long awaited trust-deed conveying the cricket ground to the club was signed by the club’s first trustees, Col. H. M. Hardcastle, Sir William Clara Lees, Bart., C. S. Parker Esq and T. Lomax Esq JP A new constitution was now considered necessary, and a Management Committee was formed in the proportion of three cricket members to one from each of the tennis and bowling sections. Although in the past there had been committees formed from representatives of the three sections in order to keep in touch with each other’s affairs, the control of the club was now vested in the new committee, and any major decision taken by any of the three sections had to have their stamp of approval. The Management Committee in turn obligated themselves to the wishes of the Trustees.
On the playing field, the club twice won the Hamer Cup and the Championship once during the war years.
In the first Hamer Cup year of 1941 Tonge, Horwich and Heaton were all beaten on their own grounds, before Westhoughton, who could muster only 64 runs, lost in the final at Green Lane. Bradshaw lost only 13 wickets in the whole competition, four of these falling in the suspended score of 134 in the final. Ronnie Ashcroft took 5 for 29 in this game and completed his only full season for the club as leading amateur wicket-taker with 40 victims to his name. He was to play only twice more for Bradshaw when home on leave in 1943. A highly promising young cricketer, he was killed serving his country
The cup safely in custody, Bradshaw came to the last match of the season one point in front of Westhoughton, at the top of the league, requiring to win at home against Horwich, a middle-of-the-table side, in order to secure the Championship. Fred Hartley also needed only two more wickets to break the league record. Winning the toss Bradshaw elected to bat and scored 141. Despite using six bowlers, they were unable to make in-roads into the Horwich innings, and at close of play had dislodged only four batsmen for 109. Westhoughton meantime were in the process of beating Farnworth by 6 wickets at The Tyldesleys, 36 years having passed since Bradshaw had pipped them in similar circumstances.
The consolation for Fred Hartley was that he captured the two wickets required to pass Frank Harrison’s total of 127, acquired in 1936, when professional for Westhoughton. Also, in the final reckoning, Charlie Sedgeick had created the still-standing league record of 30 stumpings in a season, no doubt the vast majority off Fred Hartley, yet astoundingly he did not win the league prize. Anglesea of Westhoughton with less than half these stumpings, had held 15 more catches. Charlie rectified this matter in 1943 when keeping to Ellis Achong, who also took the professional’s prize.
1945 was a milestone in Bradshaw Cricket Club’s history, when the club had the distinction of being both League Champions and Hamer Cup holders. 18 matches were won in the season; then, as now, an all-time high for the club.
It is difficult to imagine how this was accomplished, with only one half-century coming from an amateur batsman, even taking into consideration that runs were not so easily come by 40 years ago as today.
The championship was probably clinched at Heaton. The home side were two points clear of Bradshaw, with seven matches to play. The crowd was one of the Bolton League’s largest and the Buff reported “Spectators occupied all vantage points” and “Treasurer Ken Redfern came in high glee to tell me £50 was already ‘in the bag’ and the spectators were still coming in, ‘look at ’em, hundreds of cricket folk enjoying a good match in perfect weather’.” Heaton scored 151. Bradshaw passed the score with seven wickets down, but not without some heart-stopping moments, the score slumping from 140 for 5 to 140 for 7, when Hartley was out for 64, and another wicket fell four balls later. Hartley’s collection was £21, about four or five times his match fee. Envisage that in relative terms to today.
Little Lever must have fancied their chances in the cup-final, having dismissed Bradshaw for 33 in the league match, 10 of these runs being byes. Hudson the professional who had taken 5 for 16, was also to have figures of 7 for 35 in the return league match at Bradshaw. Little Lever were responsible for two of Bradshaw’s three defeats, Heaton having already won at The Rigbys earlier in the season.
The cup-final was a different story, seventeen-year-old Frank Tattersall taking 5 for 9, to add to his haul of 7 for 22 in the first round at Eagley, and 5 for 30 in an exciting semi-final against Westhoughton at Tonge. Fred Hartley had denied him in the second round match at Tonge, by helping himself to 8 wickets. When Little Lever’s total of 68 was overtaken by Lloyd Messado and Hartley, two wickets were down, and they had scored 45 and 25 respectively
Evan Hulme was helped by Fred Hartley to the League wicket-keeping prize this season, 25 of Hulme’s 28 stumpings coming from his bowling.
At the end of 1944 and early 1945, a scheme to improve the ground was first proposed at an estimated cost of £1,500. In the autumn of 1945 an Appeal Fund was started with £2,000 as the target, and a house-to-house canvas was made round the village. By the spring of 1946 £540 had been accumulated. During this time the club had become indebted to the generosity of Captain A. Seymour Hoare, who on the 22nd January 1946 honoured an agreement reached three years earlier and sold to the cricket club, for a nominal fee of £15, land he owned behind the cricket pavilion, a stipulation being that it not be used for football, horse racing, trotting, dog racing or coursing. The club also acquired land in the embankment area from Andrew Hamer, and with all the legal formalities from these transactions out of the way an Appeals Committee was formed under the chairmanship of John Sofield, and with Mr. Harry Aspinall, a life member of the future, as secretary. This included all the contemporary cricket committee.
Some eighteen months later the Management Committee decided that a smaller body should replace the unwieldy Appeals Committee, and six cricket members were elected, with two members from each of the other two sections making the number up to ten. One of the cricket section members, Mr. John Holt, was to act as secretary. Mr. John Harrison acceded to a request to act as chairman to this newly formed group, who were to be known as the Memorial Committee. That is a brief outline of the events that led to the widening of the ground, and to the terracing and seating of the embankment, six and a half years, and many fund-raising efforts, after the ideas were first mooted.
In 1948 tenders had been invited for the erection of stands on the embankment, but the matter was not pursued, the cost no doubt being prohibitive. By the time work was to eventually start on the terracing, two quotes which still survive, though neither was accepted, were for £3,750 plus and £4,000 plus. So, with all other expenses that had been incurred, the £2,000 originally appealed for seems to have been an optimistically modest assessment.
On Saturday July 21st 1951, at the Bradshaw v. Heaton match, the extension of the cricket ground was dedicated, by the Rev. E. Bradshaw Clark, as a memorial to those who gave their lives in the Second Worls War. A wreath was laid by the cross on the terracing by Councillor Thomas Lomax, Chairman of the Cricket Club, Mr. Derek Boult, read out the names of the Fallen.
these years that had passed since the end of the war, so profitably devoted to the War Memorial ground improvements had shown a sharp decline in playing fortunes. The club with only two players left from the triumphant 1945 team, finished bottom of the league in 1948, and repeated the performance in 1949, with a record for the club of 15 Bolton League losses. Billy Baines was now the only link with the “double” side. The death of Col. Hardcastle in 1948 brought to and end his remarkable 46-year Presidency of the Club
Miraculously, in 1950, without too much alteration to the strength of the side, the club were runners-up, although without ever really threatening Walkden. Much of the improvement stemmed from the bowling of two young amateurs, Harold Monkhouse and Bill Holt, both of whom averaged under 10 runs per wicket, Harold’s slightly better figures winning him the League prize, whilst Bill had to content himself with the League catching prize. Left to his own devices the next season, Harold having moved on, Bill Holt made no mistake, and is at present the last Bradshaw player to have had the honour of winning the Bolton League bowling prize.
On May 2nd 1953, just about the time Kenneth Wolstenholme was roaring Stanley Mathews on to produce Blackpool’s winning goal against Bolton Wanderers, in the cup final at Wembley, David Hindle, making his first appearance for the first team, was walking to the middle at Little Lever, as another debutante Denis Hobson, who as No. 10, was firmly established with three runs to his name. David managed to score a run and Denis added another two to his own total, when, perhaps as Hanson was retrieving the ball from the back of the Bolton net, David was caught and bowled. Who could imagine what pleasures these two sixteen year olds were to provide for cricket lovers? They were then 18 years away from sharing the club record stand of 190, when, now occupying more respectable Nos. 1 & 2 positions, they batted through the innings at Heaton.
Although no records survive to show why it was deemed advisable, and we now have the benefit of hindsight, it does seem to have been a monumental blunder to sell, as the season ended, the Rigby cottages, acquired with the ground in 1941 for £230 and £240.
The turnover in players at the club continued apace, and by 1954 only three of the 1950 side remained in the team. The league table after nine matches read as follows:
P W L Draw Pts
Eagley 9 5 1 3 18
Horwich 9 4 1 4 16
Farnworth 9 4 3 2 14
Walkden 9 4 3 2 14
Westhoughton 9 4 3 2 14
Astley Bridge 9 4 4 1 13
Kearsley 9 4 4 1 13
Heaton 9 3 3 3 12
Tonge 9 3 4 2 11
Egerton 9 2 3 4 10
Bradshaw 9 2 5 2 8
Little Lever 9 1 6 2 5
There was not on the face of it, much interest left for Bradshaw. That a game, or in this case a championship, is never won until it is lost, is never more manifestly illustrated than in this season. Bradshaw did not lose another match, in fact winning 10 of the remaining 13 fixtures, and topping the league by two points. Incidentally Kearsley were second and Tonge third. Only Little Lever maintained any consistency.
At the end of the campaign Sigsworth’s 780 runs had become a club record, surpassing Threlfall’s 1926 total. Ernie Steele, in 1947, had been the only other player to score over 700 runs in a season for Bradshaw, enabling him to win the league’s professional prize, as had Sigsworth this season. Bradshaw also featured in the Bolton League’s first two-legged final in 1954. They had already played four cup-ties, by tieing with Farnworth at home and winning a low-scoring replay at Bridgeman Park, and then disposing of Westhoughton at Bradshaw, before the semi-final was won at Astley Bridge, where Bob James bowled out the first five batsmen and hit the stumps again later in the innings in his 7 for 52.
The first leg of the cup-final at The Rigbys resulted in Bradshaw (thanks to Sigsworth’s 7 for 26, and an excellent 52 by Harold Hornby) taking a 62 run lead to Kearsley. John Roberts, later to become Bradshaw’s professional, took 6 for 8 in the second-leg, Bradshaw’s lowest-ever cup total of 38 all out leaving Kearsley only 100 runs in arrears, a target reached comfortably with the loss of only one wicket.
With the exception of finishing runners-up to Westhoughton in 1956, when Brian Fairclough shared the league prize with 12 catches, (a surprising statistic this; the Bradshaw score book shows quite clearly that David Hindle took 15 catches, a careful check establishing none to have been taken as deputy wicket keeper), the years from the middle-fifties and into the sixties provided only average performances on the cricket field, co-inciding with a period of general inactivity at the club. 1957 was the last year of Counc. T. Lomas’s 30-year reign as Club Chairman.
There was concern at the inadequate number of third team players in 1958, and at the A.G.M. of 1960, The secretary lamented the apathy shown by the public to cricket.
1959 had seen an amateur player score the highest number of runs in an innings for the club, when Denis Hobson scored 124 not out against Kearsley in a Hamer Cup-tie at Bradshaw.
A year later a significant innings took place at home against Tonge, when a young player making his debut for the first team, and down at No. 4, was called on to avert a hat-trick after the first four balls of the innings had been bowled. Denying Vinoo Mankad this glory, he carefully defended another 19 deliveries before adjudging one from Mankad that from which to open his account. And what an account! This was Brian Cole’s first run for Bradshaw; nearly 10,000 more had yet to come. David Hindle also chose this season to become the first Bradshaw player to win the Bolton League batting prize. At the end of the 1961 season Mr. Jack Holt, after 28 years unstinting dedication to the cricket club, retired from the secretaryship of the Management Committee, a position he had held for the 20 years that has passed since its inception. Prior to this appointment Jack Holt, had become cricket secretary in 1936 and continued in that post until 1950. It was for this latter service he had been made a life member in 1951.
A “New-dressing-room-fund” committee had been formed in 1960, but little progress had been made in the first year, and even 12 months later in 1962, when permission was sought from the Management Committee to approach a brewery with a view to a long term low interest loan, there was little significant change. The Management Committee in any case declined to allow the brewery scheme to mature.
After a successful Autumn Fair that raised £350 between the three sections, and with donation of £100 from the ladies committee, plus a transfer of £300 from the General Account, the Dressing-Room-Fund stood at £800, and it was agreed to go ahead. The estimated cost of the project was £1,100.
The 1962 season, the second of Peter Greenwood’s six as professional to the club, had seen an upturn in playing fortunes and the side had completed the term in second place. Now with the promise of a new and necessary building, it seemed fresh life was breathed into the club. Practical help on the dressing room building included assistance from many of the players, and enthusiasm spilled over to the cricket field, and into social events.
The 1963 season began unrewardingly at Walkden with Bradshaw unable to match the home side’s 123. But this was to be the only defeat of the season, and 14 of the remaining games were won. The club became Bolton League Champions for the fourth time, continuing the nine-year-pattern that had begun in 1936. Peter Greenwood, Brian Cole, Denis Hobson, David Hindle and Tommy Croft, shared the batting honours, whilst Peter Greenwood, Ken Whittle and Stan Wilson took the bulk of the wickets, which is not to say that Tommy Hughes, who captained the side, George Elson, Garry Stockton and wicket keeper David Morris, who completed the side, could by any stretch of the imagination be classed as make-weights.
A historic event took place at The Rigbys on August 17th of that year when Peter Greenwood took 10 Little Lever wickets for 11 runs out of a total of 74, creating a Bolton League record and contributing to his selection for the professional’s prize
Only three weeks previously, Westhoughton, very much championship contenders, had visited Bradshaw in a make-or-break fixture. The ground, a fine setting on a sunny day for such a match, was thronged with spectators. Over 1,000 attended the game, and 30 or 40 forms were borrowed from Bradshaw Mission to provide extra seating. Although Stan Wilson had reduced Westhoughton from 54 for 2 to 55 for 5, in a spell of 3 for 0, in their innings of 114, David Hindle was the day’s hero with an undefeated 54, ably supported by David Morris, who had joined him at an unpromising 65 for 6, and stayed until the match was won. When the crowd had dispersed, and before the celebrations, professional Peter Greenwood was to be seen helping to carry forms back to Bradshaw Mission.
Secretary Owen Bradbury reporting at the A.G.M., following this successful season, began:”Bradshaw were indeed a Champion Club, and in more respects that in cricket performance. We were lucky to have a champion set of ladies, and a committee, who along with helpers were a champion set of workers. It was also gratifying to note the happy atmosphere that had been created.”
Yes, Bradshaw C.C. reached one of it’s peaks in 1963.
The remainder of the sixties was a period that saw a change in the whole concept of Bradshaw Cricket Club, a time not without its acrimony.
In the spring of 1964 an attempt had been made to obtain an occasional licence to sell intoxicants at a social event at the club, in spite of Management Committee approval, the Trustees had refused permission, stating that it was not in the interests of the club. Meanwhile £1,650 had already been spent on the new dressing rooms, and an estimated further £200 would still be needed to complete the job, far in excess of the anticipated or budgeted for total.
The Trustees, under more pressure from the cricket committee, had declined to discuss the club rules in relationship to the sale of intoxicants at the ground, but agreed to meet the Management Committee.
A diversion from the bar obsession occurred in July when on Saturday the 18th the heavens opened, Bradshaw Brook became a raging torrent, and the cricket ground was flooded. Photographs taken from various vantage points, show no exaggeration is being made in Frank Millhouse’s account, written 16 years later, of that disastrous afternoon:
“It was July 1964, when the “great Flood” hit the town and most people can remember exactly where they were on that day. Most of us worked Saturday morning in those days and I well remember travelling from Manchester round about mid-day. I reached the Nab Gate and saw the ominous rain clouds in the distance. As I travelled down Hardy Mill Road large rain spots spattered against the pavement and by the time I reached Bradshaw Church it was coming down in “stair rods”. There was no point calling at the Ground for my usual chat with John Hodgon so it looked like a leisurely lunch was the answer.
I attempted to get to the Ground by the usual route round about 2.15 and already there were a few people who had given up and decided that it was impossible. Eventually, I got round to the Pavilion via Rigby Lane and the sight was truly amazing. The river had overflowed its banks and water covered the entire ground! The Sight Screen had been moved perhaps 30ft from its original position at the tennis courts end of the Ground and Tom Croft’s old van was all but submerged. By this time several players and officials had also made their way to the Pavilion and talked excitedly on the day’s events. The umpires were there and for once had the unanimous support of everyone present for one of their decisions!!
The game was abandoned. One wag produced a League Handbook and muttered something about a game not being called off before 5 p.m., before he was quickly despatched by the mob. The Village Policeman was struggling to rescue the inhabitants of the cottages and it seemed he was well above knee-deep in water as he crossed the footbridge. By now the conversation had turned to whether we would ever play again and certainly there could be no hope of staging a fixture on the ground during the rest of the Season.
That evening, plans were made to assemble at the ground the next day and a working party would begin the awful job of clearing the debris. Sunday morning produced a large army of volunteers and with the waters having subsided, we were faced with two or three inches of mud caked across the cricket square. By sheer hard work most of the clearing up was done on that day so that on Tuesday evening, following repairs, preparations were underway for the next game. Two Saturdays were in fact missed if memory serves correctly and it was a tribute to everyone concerned that so little cricket eventually was lost.
Three memories remain; first was immediately after the storm, when the scent of flowers filled the air; the second was on the Sunday morning, when Tom Croft started that old Ford van almost the first attempt; and finally, I later learned that of all things they played at Eagley on that dreadful day!.
In September the new dressing rooms had been opened, although not completed to everyone’s satisfaction. £1,975 had now been spent and £260 was outstanding. In 1965 Solicitors were involved and legal action was taken against the club. Still no progress had been made with the Trustees, who remained unconvinced that a bar at the club was a necessity, but by October, prompted by Mr. Albert Kay, who was chairman during these traumatic times, the promised meeting with the Management Committee had taken place and permission had been granted.
New rules were now legally required and these resulted in a shift in power. The control of the club was now vested in the Management Committee, elected as before in the proportion of three from the Cricket Section and one each from the Tennis and Bowling Sections, the Trustees, along with the President of the Club and the Secretary and Treasurer of the Management Committee, becoming ex-officio members. Trustees of the Club had through the years nominated their own replacements; now as in other matters this onus would be on the Management Committee.
The new rules were approved in July 1966, and arrangements made with Threlfall’s Brewery to have a bar installed in the new building which was being used solely as dressing rooms.
The bar was opened on 2.11.1966 by Geoff Pullar the Lancashire and England cricketer. By this time a summons had been issued against the President, the Secretary and the Treasurer of the Club for £190. Six months later £100 was offered to settle out of court.
The cricket team, after the heady days of 1963, had lapsed into a middle-order side, but had won the newly instituted Crumblehulme Cup in 1966, a trophy awarded after taking into consideration the league positions of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams of each club.
Until this year, Sigsworth’s 780 runs in 1954 had stood as the most any player has scored in a season for the club. Now, Brian Cole’s bettering of this total, led him into the ranks of the professionals. Previously, in 1964, Tommy Hughes had shared the League catching prize in a three way tie.
The new bar so keenly sought as a financial aid to the club, had brought its attendant problems of organisation and voluntary manning, causing irritations and a degree of discord. The year ended with the Chairman appealing for more harmony between members and a more united effort on club affairs.
In the year that followed, a halt had been called to the legal proceedings, with the intervention of the liquidator of the building company, and a lack of support effected closure of the bar for the winter months.
A minute from an August meeting in 1968 suggests relationships at the club were still strained, and it was at this time a decision was taken to employ a bar steward.
In the spring of 1969, Mr. Syd Adams’s offer to run a coaching scheme for 10 to 14 year-olds was to lead the club into the industrious 1970’s. Just a couple of announcements in the local press, stating that youngsters interested in cricket coaching should be at the ground at a given time, brought an overwhelming response, and a realisation that the future of the game would be secure if every club were as lucky as Bradshaw in having a member prepared to give so freely of his time. The benefits were not all one-sided, for youngsters inevitably bring parents, some of whom, like what they see, stay and involve themselves in the club affairs, witness present-day secretary Reg. Wharton.
New building projects, varying from £10,000 to £12,000 grant-aided sports complexes, to extending the new dressing-room building, were examined for an 18-month period, during which the cricket team suffered the ignominy of being dismissed for its lowest Bolton League total of 19 at home to Horwich early in season 1970. Frank Millhouse, fresh from completing a spell as club secretary, and one of the day’s violated, sitting in the yet early afternoon, surveyed the empty cricket ground, and, his eyes straying to the club shield displayed on the wall, suggested ruefully the the motto (Stabilis) would be more appropriate written backwards.
Finally in 1971 alterations to the new dressing-rooms were approved and facilities were made in the old pavilion for the players to return there. By the autumn a definite plan had been formulated: to extend the bar area, and build a kitchen on the back of the new building, which henceforward would serve as a club-House and tea-Room, with new dressing-rooms to be erected over a storage garage on the site of the old pavilion. It was considered the whole scheme would cost £7,000-£8,000.
At this time Mr. Albert Kay, who had guided the club so successfully through the sometimes difficult but rewarding past ten years, retired from the chairmanship but not from the committee of the club. Commitments in other fields made this a necessary move. Mr. Arnold Hamer was elected his successor to preside over the next ambitious phase of the Club’s new look.
It was at about this time that Robin Marler, the Sunday Times cricket correspondent, was bemoaning the lack of any form of cricket coaching in schools. The secretary, in response to the article, had written him relating the Bradshaw Club’s experience when Mr. Adams had started his coaching activities, at the same time pointing out that youngsters could show plenty of interest in cricket if encouraged. Robin Marler passed the letter on to the Lancs. Playing-Fields Association. the eventual lucrative spin-off being a grant from the L.P.F.A. and The Lords Taverners. A grant was also obtained from the Brewery, whilst the Club President, who had been closely informed of the Club’s aspirations by the Chairman, offered an interest-free loan of £5,000.
The Club was relieved therefore of the difficulties that had accompanied the first building scheme
The score-book shows that in the second match of 1972 Kennedy, the Heaton professional, and future Lancashire opening bat, was caught by Brian Senior, off Ken Standring, ex-Lancashire. Further investigation discloses that Alan Lansdale, playing in the season after the two in which he had first equalled and then beaten the Bolton League wicket-keeping record for most League victims in a season, was appropriately Brian Senior’s first stumping in the Bolton League. These were the forerunners of Brian’s record number of victims for Bradshaw Cricket Club. They also took place with playing fortunes at their lowest-ever ebb, when 15 matches went without a win. Yet in this mediocre season Denis Hobson repeated his feat, achieved eight years earlier, of winning the League batting prize.
Unfortunately, after the club’s first, and, in spite of the weather, very successful venture in staging the now annual firework display, the bar was shown to have incurred a net loss pf £474, even the fruit-machine being £124 down. The new extensions were completed for the season 1973, and the new dressing-rooms and storage were to be started at an approximate cost of £10,000
Then came the Sunday morning, when the old pavilion so proudly opened in 1904, and used as a tea-room from 1921, was sadly razed to the ground, leaving its newer extension replica to survive a few more months. The wreckers, members all, tackled the task with so much gusto and muscle, and so little sentiment, as to make nonsense of any suggestion that cricket is a game graced by gentlemen.
So, only twelve-months old when it housed Bradshaw’s first championship side, the structure had seen the large crowds of before and after the first world-war come and go, and had proudly witnessed the deeds of professionals, Silcock, Threlfall, Rae, Hartley, Steele, Sigsworth and Greenwood; it had savoured the arts and crafts of Hughes, Walch and Gerrard and delighted in the stroke play of John Derbyshire, P. Roscoe, Donny Davies, W. Fletcher, the Mitchell brothers, D. Hobson, D. Hindle and B. Cole, and enjoyed the less subtle approaches of Joe Derbyshire, W. Baines, John Isherwood and B. Senior and oh so many others. The same ‘old pavilion’ that had watched over retired players and members reminiscing on its balcony through the mid-week summer days for 69 years past, now lay in ruins.
In 1974 the new building stood in its place. The Chairman, Mr. Arnold Hamer, commented at the A.G.M. that year, that his term of office had seen the club obtain a modern kitchen, up-to-date changing accommodation and a storage room, at the expenditure of £13,000, the President was still owed £4,000, having written off £1,000 as a gift, and the next priority was to clear this debt. Arnold’s sights though were firmly set on improving the cinder track round the ground, obtaining a motor roller, and building a new scorebox.
In the eight years that had passed since the bar had become a reality, and whilst concentration had been on developing and replacing existing buildings, the cricket team had barely finished in the top half of the league table. There was now to be a dramatic change in fortunes. Brian Cole, back from flirtations in the professional field, had played in 1974, and then in 1975 Michael Hardcastle, having played his third team cricket at Bradshaw, had returned to the fold from Farnworth, and was followed by Brian Wallwork. Third teamer Stuart Adams was emerging as a force with both bat and ball, and Ian Cowap was the new professional, making his mark with a monumental, innings of 166 at Walkden to break the 20-year-old Bolton League record. This also eclipsed the 130 that James Heap, the Bradshaw professional immediately before the war, claimed as a club record by virtue of his innings at Horwich in 1938. Ian Cowap’s triumph at Walkden was also the day Bradshaw scored its highest-ever league total of 275. Three weeks prior to this Brian Senior had equalled John Gradwell’s six wicket-keeping victims in the home match with Tonge with 4 catches and 2 stumpings.
This influx of new talent enabled the club to finish the season third in the league, thus qualifying for the Lancashire Knock-Out Trophy, the annual competition open to four clubs from each of any of the Lancashire leagues (the Bolton League’s choice being the three clubs occupying the top league positions, together with the Hamer Cup winners).
This season of regrouping of forces suggested little of what was to come. The club was to go through 1976 losing only one match in the League and Hamer Cup competitions, yet only just pipping Tonge by two points for the Championship, Tonge winning five more matches than Bradshaw.
Statistics from that victorious year show that Mike Hardcastle’s 692 runs were the most by a Bradshaw amateur, excluding the 1966 record of Brian Cole, who now surpassed this feat by totalling 934 including 10 fifties. Brian Senior equalled J. R. Gradwell’s League record of 49 league and cup victims in a season, and, for the first time ever, two amateur bowlers, Stuart Adams and Bernard Clossick, took 50 wickets for the club in the same season, Ian Cowap and Denis Hobson also doing their fair share.
Two matches stood out. Firstly the Hamer Cup semi-final between the two top teams, when Stuart Adams had figures of 6 for 19 off 16 overs in a surprisingly low Tonge total of 71 at Castle Hill. Then, just when Keith Eccleshare, the Tonge professional, was threatening to run riot, having dismissed Cowap, Wallwork and Hobson in the space of nine balls, Brian Cole took the match by the scruff of the neck. As though unappreciative of the state of the game he scored 32 of the next 34 runs to come from the bat from the 37 deliveries he received, quickly dispelling any developing anxieties.
Secondly, the Cup Final at Egerton produced an anachronism by being won by slow bowling. 35 runs had been scored when Bernard Clossick was brought on and he immediately removed Arthur Sutton the Westhoughton professional. At 44 Denis Hobson took over from Stuart Adams, and 55 runs later the innings was over, Clossick 6 for 27, Hobson 4 for 30. An opening stand of 74 then ensured victory, achieved with a single from Ian Cowap, leaving Mike Hardcastle 47 not out, and Bernard Clossick man of the match.
Looking back at the data for that season, in the nine league matches Bradshaw batted second, eight were won; in the other nine completed league fixtures in which they batted first only one match was won. These facts emphasise the strength of the batting of this 1976 side, whereby any opposition total was always within reach, but the sometimes massive score Bradshaw were always likely to achieve batting first could prove over-facing for the opposition. No fewer than seven batsmen averaged over 20, Brian Cole, Mike Hardcastle, Brian Wallwork, Ian Cowap, Stuart Adams, John Forrest and Brian Senior, some very comfortably so.
By mutual consent, the club then parted company with the popular Ian Cowap and opted for the proven skills of Duncan Worsley, a move approved by his future team mates, whose respect for him cushioned the departure of Cowap. But how do you follow that season?
Follow that they did though. It was half way through the season before defeat at Horwich brought to a halt an unbeaten run, started almost 12 months earlier, of 31 matches. By this time the club were on their way to another league and cup double.
Again conquered in the Lancashire Knock-Out quarter finals by another Bolton League club (Kearsley being the one triumphant the previous year) Bradshaw were within 9 runs of Egerton’s 197 with one over remaining, and Stuart Adams desperately needing to get the bowling. Only four balls were left when this aim was achieved but his boundary and single left Bradshaw 3 runs short. Goslin’s catch on the edge to dismiss Wallwork when the latter was in full flow with 55 runs to his credit was undoubtedly a match-winning contribution.
Adding to the honours gained by the first team in this year of 1977, the second team won the second of their hat-trick of Championships, and to round off this glorious season, the under-15 side also did the double. Naturally the Club retained the Crumblehulme Cup
Brian Cole and Mike Hardcastle harvested their usual glut of runs, Brian Wallwork held a club Bolton League record of 23 catches, which also won him the League prize, and again the batting was supreme. Three batsmen averaged in the 30’s, Denis Hobson, Chris Isherwood and Mike Hardcastle, three in the 20’s, Duncan Worsley, Stuart Adams and John Forrest, whilst Brian Cole, in the 40’s, won the Bolton League batting prize for the third consecutive year, to join batsmen of the stature of Billy Farrimond and Jeff Fearnhead, who also accomplished this notable ‘hat-trick’.
Duncan Worsley’s 98 wickets helped him to the League’s professional prize, and Stuart Adams’s 59 were enough to see him on the way to the professional ranks. A never-to-be-forgotten cup semi-final was perhaps the highlight of the season. Walkden the league wooden-spoonists, even on their own ground, should not have been a match for the almost invincible Bradshaw, but with only nine runs on the board and Cole and Hardcastle out, it suddenly seemed a much more even match. Worsley and Wallwork retrieved the situation to some extent, but Stuart Adams’s 53 was the innings that was needed to bring a respectable total of 155.
Walkden 9 for 3 (Worsley 3 for 3) was more like it. But first Bissex and Ian Seddon, then Seddon and Jim Berry, helped the score along to 143 for 5. 13 runs for victory, 5 wickets in hand, and Berry still there with 48 not out. The game had slipped away. Then a wicket for Stuart Adams, and four overs remained. Another run, and another wicket, this time to Duncan Worsley. Three more runs, and a ball hit in the air was within reach of Brian Wallwork, so that was out. Three more runs obtained and Stuart Adams to bowl the last over. 5 runs to win 2 wickets to fall. A single off each of the first three balls was enough to show the effort had been gallant but in vain. But then came an incredible stumping by Brian Senior standing up to Stuart. Now four balls left, three to win and the last-man facing. Who are favourites? Bradshaw, if Berry can be kept from the bowling. No score from the next ball; 3 to go, and everyone on the ground counting, although not all of them getting it right.
Then the required single to bring Berry to face the last two balls. So it really had been in vain after all. No use considering miracles, but bated breath just in case, as Stuart runs in, One to tie, two to win. Then, what’s this? Players jumping up and down. Surely not another stumping? No! This time no super-human factor involved – Berry bowled Adams 52.
The final after this had to be something of an anti-climax, Adams, Wallwork, Sharrocks, Hobson and Worsley, all scoring runs, before Little Lever, after a reasonably good start, lost all 10 wickets for 29 runs. Duncan Worsley loosening up for the first six of his 13 overs, before ruining the game as a spectacle with 7 wickets for 15 runs, six of these runs a defiant blow off the penultimate ball of the match. His final figures of 7 for 31, no way detracted from Stuart Adams’s 3 for 18 in his 13 overs. Bradshaw now became Hamer Cup holders for a record seventh time.
Again Bradshaw batted second on only 5 occasions in the season, winning four of these matches. The other 14 completed fixtures in which they batted first brought only four victories.
Chairman Arnold Hamer had not let these two magnificent playing seasons deflect his aim of continuing the ground improvements, and a tarmac path now enclosed the ground from the tennis courts to the club house. Progress was also made by a small committee formed early in 1976 when a fund had been started for a new scorebox.
Concern was still being shown at the general lack of supervision over bar matters, resulting in Mr. & Mrs. Denis Hobson taking charge on a percentage basis about Christmas 1976. Satisfaction of this arrangement was reported by mid-1977.
All Club members were greatly saddened in that otherwise happy and successful season by the death of Club President, Mr Thomas Markland. His regular, and at times overwhelming (but never at all obtrusive), generosity to the Club in his twelve years in office had been so much welcomed and appreciated.
On a May day in 1978, a dismal run of results at the Tyldesleys, home of Westhoughton Cricket Club, was ended when Bradshaw won there for the first time in nine years, an isolated victory when the 5 performances of 1982 are taken into consideration. Denis Hobson took 7 wickets for 23 runs, which earned him the League award for the best bowling performance of the year and he was still at the wicket with 19 not out when Westhoughton’s total was passed. No-one could have guessed then that such a distinguished career was almost at an end. Only a handful of games remained. Perhaps though the writting was on the wall when he was unable to play the next day on the same ground, Westhoughton’s revenge in his absence being the 207 they scored to be the first club to defeat Bradshaw in a Hamer Cup tie for three years
In July came the shattering news that the Club Chairman had died on holiday. Bradshaw Cricket Club aside, the hearts of everyone who had had the privilege of knowing Mr. & Mrs Hamer, went out to Margaret and their son Stephen. From the day Arnold played for the third team in 1932, through his times as captain of the first and later the second teams, when he served 13 years on the committee before taking over as Chairman, and onto his becoming Chairman of the Management Committee, and so to the final honour of Trustee, Bradshaw Cricket Club had had one of its best-ever servants. It would be too difficult to write an adequate tribute; suffice it to reproduce Mr. Harry Coupe’s record of the events at Bradshaw that sad evening.
“The meeting due to be held on the 12th July was cancelled due to the sudden and tragic death of the Chairman of the Club, Mr. Arnold Hamer.
Mr. J. B. Taylor, Vice-Chairman, gave a moving address to the committee members present, in which he paid tribute to the character and personality of Mr. Hamer, who was dedicated to the welfare and well-being of the Club.
One could not look around the ground to find a project with which he had not been connected, and it was due to his energy, inspiration and leadership that the Club enjoyed its good name and high standing in the League.
Bradshaw Cricket Club had suffered perhaps the greatest loss in the history of the Club, but nevertheless the club must go on, and Mr. Taylor called for renewed determination in completing the work commenced by Mr. Hamer, notably the new scorebox on which he had so actively been engaged, and to maintain the high standard set by Mr. Hamer before his untimely death.”
The scorebox on which Arnold had been working so assiduously, was completed, and dedicated to his memory, at a ceremony at the ground, and bears the inscription.
THIS SCORE BOARD
WAS DEDICATED APRIL 1979
TO THE MEMORY OF
WHO DEVOTED A LIFETIME OF
SERVICE TO THE CLUB
There was never a better example of the mighty fallen than in 1979, when the team won only four matches, and although the club never had a Bolton League season in which it won less, this experience had been shared in 1931 and 1949. It was also the year Egerton “quilted” the Bradshaw bowling for 262 runs, coming closest to Little Hulton’s highest-ever score against the club of 279 in 1918. In spite of this adversity, Dave Edmundson, at the end of July, and into August, strung together four consecutive half centuries, unprecedented by a club member.
Finally, just 27 years and another 400 innings after making his first appearance for the club, Denis Hobson, an almost unique one-club man, walked from the wicket appropriately enough on his own ground, for the last time, having 7,516 runs, 218 wickets and 96 catches under his ample belt.
In the New Year of 1980 it was becoming more and more apparent the wise choice the Cricket Club had made in electing David Farnworth as its President. Only the sixth in its 100-year history, he had brought a different kind of Presidency, than the Club had enjoyed from his distinguished predecessors, unobtrusively and gradually taking over the guidance and direction of the club. With the help of a superb team of workers he had gathered round him, more improvements were on the way. Through the introduction of ambitious, enjoyable and successful entertainments, the club had begun to reap both financial and social benefits.
There were high hopes for the 1980 season. Duncan Worsley stayed with the club, and played as an amateur, and Jim Mitchinson, after years of professional cricket, which had included two with Bradshaw, returned to the club. With a new professional in John Hemstalk, and Phil Isherwood, who had shared almost equally with Duncan Worsley 109 of the 130 wickets to fall in 1979, the side appeared to be better placed than ever for bowling. The batting that had been able to take care of itself in recent years, would also be strengthened by two new additions.
Even allowing for the loss of captain Mike Hardcastle through injury, finishing in the league fourth-position was a disappointment, that was exceeded only by that in a fantastic Hamer Cup semi-final at the Rigbys, when Horwich needed more than 50 runs off the last four overs, still had the luxury of a ball in-hand when the winning hit was made.
There had been a record-breaking match at home against Tonge earlier, when the game ended with Bradshaw 254 for 6 yet three runs behind Tonge’s score, the total runs being 30 more than the highest aggregate previously recorded in a Bolton League match. Housley with a century, and Engineer 57, had led the way for Tonge. Paul Sharrock launched a savage attack on Hohns the Tonge professional, in Bradshaw’s reply, before leaving 122 runs later with 77 runs to his own name including 5 sixes and 7 fours. Brian Cole and John Hemstalk also scored half-centuries.
A bitterly cold Sunday in April greeted the first match of 1981, a National Knock-Out first round game at St. Annes. A leg-bye off the very last ball brought Bradshaw’s score level with the home side’s total of 168 and Bradshaw went forward by having lost one less wicket; a very finely judged victory.
There was no such luck in the Hamer Cup final at Eagley. The sun did shine this day but not on Bradshaw. In trouble at 33 for 4, the situation had hardly improved at 109 for 9, when an exciting last wicket stand by John Hemstalk and Phil Isherwood added 54 valuable runs. The damage however had been done and the batting of Egerton’s professional, Mir, unbeaten with 72, was far too good for the bowling.
On the credit side Dave Edmundson shared the League catching prize. The debit was a farewell to Duncan Worsley, who, back to his best bowling form, left the club to take up a professional engagement with Heaton.
In the early eighties the club, enriched by the services over many years of four of its members, had chosen to honour them by bestowing life membership. The first was Mrs. Nellie Ward, who, in over a quarter of a century’s association with the club, had, in addition to the work done in the tea room, been secretary of the Ladies Committee for twenty years, before serving five years as its Chairman or Vice-Chairman.
Mr. Albert Kay and his wife Connie, were elected in 1981. Albert, who has held most of the important club offices, started with Bradshaw as a player in 1950, after having been with Westhoughton. He captained the first team in 1957-58 and three times won the club batting prize, before retiring from playing in 1960, by which time he had already served 5 years on the Cricket Committee, of which he became Chairman in 1962.
By 1966 he was combining this duty with that of Club Chairman, holding both positions until 1971. From 1973-75, he was one of the cricket club’s representatives on the Management Committee, and in 1976 he accepted an invitation to fill the vacancy left by the death of Mr. Fred Lomax in the required number of four Trustees.
Irrespective of the above services the Club could with justification have similarly honoured Albert for the work done over most of these years in his capacity as voluntary-groundsman.
Connie Kay, from the beginning, involved herself in the club’s affairs, working each home Saturday in the tea-room, whilst acting as the Ladies Committee’s Vice-Chairman for seven years, its Treasurer for three, and Chairman for two, before taking the onerous responsibility of Cricket Club Treasurer, and holding the position for five years.
Finally Ray Sugden was elected in 1981, after 29 years as a committee man of which 25 were spent as a Cricket Club representative on the Management Committee. Ray, who has organised and operated endless money making ‘swindles’, is the man a succession of Chairmen have relied on for advice and guidance, when procedure has been in doubt.
1982 passed uneventfully, but mention should be made of Mr. Harry Coupe’s elevation to the Chairmanship of the cricket committee, a body he had served for 23 years, and Mike Hardcastle’s scoring of 823 runs, a staggering total even by his own standards. Brian Cole notched another first for Bradshaw, when his half-century at Horwich meant he had scored a first team 50 on every ground in the Bolton League, and Brian Senior’s last stumping of the season enabled him to pass Ken Holding’s haul of 67. The last match coincided with the diamond jubilee of the war memorial ceremony, and Andrew Kershaw, reporting for a local newspaper, wrote as follows:
“KEEN rivals they may be, but, for two minutes on the last Saturday of the season, the members and officials of Bradshaw and Kearsley cricket clubs joined together in a moving ceremony they have shared for the last 60 years.
For two minutes in the lovely late-summer sunshine, the only sound to be heard at Bradshaw’s picturesque ground off Turton Road was the rippling of trout-filled Bradshaw Brook as it meandered through meadows behind the scoreboard.
And as the spectators stood quietly by, the players faced each other, heads bowed, and observed two minutes’ silence in front of the club’s stone Cenotaph bearing the inscription ‘Their names liveth forever’.
Afterwards, the captains each solemnly laid wreaths at the base of the memorial before the officials left the field and battle was once again joined by the men in white.
It has been that way each year since 1922 whenever Kearsley have visited Bradshaw’s ground to play in the Bolton League. For on April 29th that year Bradshaw’s Cenotaph was unveiled, bearing the names of 23 members killed in the Great War.
Kearsley happened to be the visitors that day and after the religious service of dedication they too joined in the two minutes’ silence of the wreath-laying ceremony. The following year, when Kearsley visited Bradshaw again they once more brought a wreath and the teams both paid their respects with two minutes’ silence after the tea interval.
Since then, that same simple but very moving ceremony has been repeated each time the teams have met at Bradshaw. Said Kearsley captain Brian Quigley: ‘It’s marvellous this ceremony has continued spontaneously for so long. All the players feel deeply about it, and these days every little bit of respect surely helps’
For 80-year-old Arthur Hindle of Birtenshaw Crescent, Bromley Cross, the ceremony held special meaning. Though Arthur was playing at Kearsley with Bradshaw’s 2nd XI that day in 1922, he remembers well the 22 players present who are all dead now.
THE captain was H. D. ‘Donny’ Davies, he recalls. ‘He was a fine man and a fine cricketer. But as a sports writer for ‘The Guardian’ he was later to die in the Munich Air Disaster
I remember all the others who played then, as well as some of those whose names on the Cenotaph we are here to honour.
This is a special occasion for me, and although I haven’t been to any other matches this season because my legs are no longer so good, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this ceremony’.
As Bradshaw chairman Harry Coupe commented afterwards:
‘There’s something special and very nice about this tradition. It’s a thing the players always remember, and something that has also greatly strengthened the friendly rivalry between the clubs’.
And the rivalry was the name of the game after the tea interval. For when Kearsley went out to bat chasing Bradshaw’s total of 194 .. Bradshaw went out determined to skittle them as quickly as possible.
Kearsley needed two points from the match to win the Bolton League Championship … which they did! But as Bradshaw captain Mike Hardcastle said with a sporting wink following his own innings of 94 vital runs:
‘It’s a great tradition, but perhaps when Brian Quigley was laying his wreath he wondered too whether he was laying down his last hopes of the title for this year’.”
The labours of the President and his hard working band bore fruit when, with the arrival of 1983, the club-house, now extended, sported a new games/committee room, built onto the kitchen, whilst at the other end a beer-store was incorporated joining the building with the dressing-rooms. So, with the addition of a porch, the whole exterior had taken on a more attractive appearance. Inside, the decor to the new interior expanded to embrace the old, the outcome being a clubhouse of which Bradshaw could be proud. The project had cost upwards of £17,000, the original building fund having been augmented with the proceeds of many social functions, a now-annual Autumn Fair and loans from members.
Unfortunately the club’s hundredth season of cricket was disasterous. The season closed with the fewest number of wins it had ever registered in any Bolton League season: three only, which strangely included two victories over Westhoughton.
John Hemstalk played his last match for the club, having taken more catches (46) than any other Bradshaw Bolton League professional.
Cole and Hardcastle’s century partnership in the Tonge home fixture, leaves Westhoughton as the only club in the League against whome they have not had this honour, although next year this claim will no longer be valid, for then the twelve clubs who formed the League 54 years ago (with the exception of Horwich, a replacement for Radcliffe in 1937) will be joined by Farnworth Social Circle and Greenmount in the sponsored “Vaux” Bolton League.
So when the stumps were drawn at the end of Bradshaw’s one hundredth season, the up-to-date statistics of matches played in the Bolton League read:
Won 455, Lost 368, Drawn 368, Tied 7. Only Farnworth and Tonge can claim more wins.
Hamer Cup results are Won 58, Lost 48, Tied 1.
The night is fine, it is 1984, and there is a cricket practice going on.