league with the best (1891 - 1910)
by the success of the Football League, formed two years previously, the
annual conference of local Lancashire Cricket Clubs, held at Mr James
Sutcliffe's Bull Hotel in Burnley in October 1890, agreed to adapt the
league principle to cricket in the area. Representatives of the thirteen
clubs decided to call it the North East Lancashire Cricket League. In
its first season the winners of the league could not be settled on points.
Due to the fact that most clubs had already completed their arrangements
for 1891 it would not be possible for all the clubs to meet each other,
so the winners would be decided on a percentage of possible points. Clubs
would only be allowed to have two professionals, unless they had already
engaged three, in which case their opponents would be allowed to engage
extra assistance. G.W. Briggs of Leeds was enlisted as Willis Cuttell's
partner for the 1891 season. Briggs was a very erratic bowler who enjoyed
little success and by mid season the club had parted company with him.
George Walton of Leicestershire stepped in until the end of term. In their
first season of league action, Accrington finished bottom of the table
having played 20, won 4 and lost 9 which equalled 37.5%. East Lancs were
champions having played 13, won 6 and lost 1 which equalled 69.23%. The
league meeting held at the Commercial Hotel, Accrington on 16th March
1892 decided to change the name to the Lancashire Cricket League.
With Willis Cuttell having signed for Nelson, Accrington turned to Leicester
born batsman William Tomlin to partner his county colleague George Walton
for the 1892 campaign. The club's first game in the Lancashire League
was at Rishton on April 23rd. The home side batted first and made 94 all
out. Johnny Bank returned the best bowling figures with 3-8 off 5 overs.
Accrington won the game with some ease, finally making 131-6 with Tomlin
scoring 97 not out.
Play in the early days of the league continued until 6pm even if a result
had been achieved earlier. Sometimes a second innings was commenced although
performances from subsequent innings were not included in the averages.
The first nine games yielded seven victories and two losses, including
an early season double over Enfield, the second of which included a remarkable
bowling performance by a substitute. Walton and Tomlin were required by
their county, so Accrington engaged Yorkshire off spinner Saul Wade as
substitute professional. Enfield needing 55 to win, were dismissed for
14 with Wade taking 7 wickets for 6 runs in his 6 overs. Saul's services
were required several more times during the season and on one of these
occasions, against Lowerhouse on July 23rd, he scored one of the first
Lancashire League centuries (104 not out). The home game against Church
the previous week was a nail-biting affair. George Walton took 9-24 to
dismiss the visitors for 41 but when Accrington batted they were bowled
out for 38. Rivalry between the two clubs, even to the present day, has
always been quite intense. A tradition carried out for many years, until
1975 when the law stepped in, was the whitewashing of the scores on the
boundary wall on what is now Blackburn Road. So serious was the rivalry
in the 1890s that in 1893 the Church supporters ambushed their counterparts.
When they arrived to tar out 1892s defeat and replace it with victorious
whitewash the Accrington supporters were stoned. The latter half of the
1892 season was not a happy one for Accrington, they lost their last eight
games to finish the season in 10th place with 18 points.
So impressed were Accrington with Saul Wade that they signed him up for
the 1893 season along with John Beaumont the former Yorkshire and Surrey
fast bowler. Beaumont was 38 years-old with a high action which enabled
him to extract steep bounce from helpful wickets. In his one season with
the club, he took 94 wickets but only scored 137 runs at an average of
5.2. For Saul Wade, however, this was to be the first of many full seasons
at Accrington. Although he was not engaged for the following season, Wade
returned as an amateur in 1897 and continued in this capacity until 1904.
During his time at Accrington, he scored 2058 runs and he took 94 wickets.
In 1910, Saul Wade scored 49 against Accrington when playing for Church.
Johnny Bank had the distinction of being the first amateur in the Lancashire
League to score a century when he made 111 not out at Rishton on July
8th 1893. John Redfearn of Yorkshire and home grown Fred Whittaker were
the 1894 paid men. Neither player could bat but Whittaker did take 68
wickets and resolved to return as an amateur when league rules allowed,
in 1896. The club had had four poor seasons of league cricket and the
185 members demanded better. The club decided to sign a top class player
to revive interest. Jack Mee from Nottingham was engaged for 1895 along
with Yorkshireman Walter Taylor. This proved a successful combination,
Accrington being runners up to Nelson. Team members at this time included
Johnny Moore (captain), Bobby Horne, Johnny Bank, Bobby Clegg, Enoch Hacking
and S.M. Holden.
Jack Mee's partner in 1896 was another Yorkshireman Johnny Briggs who
regularly didn't turn up for matches and was dismissed in August. After
several years of trying to sign him, Walter Hall of Derbyshire was finally
secured for the following season. Hall was a lower order right handed
batsman and a right arm medium pace bowler with a low action, able to
extract lift and movement from the wicket. He was considered one of the
finest league professionals of his time. In his first season at Accrington,
he took over 100 wickets, just as Mee had done in 1895. The best game
of 1897 was at Todmorden. The home side declared at 5pm on 202-9 leaving
Accrington 95 minutes to get the runs, which they did for the loss of
2 wickets, Walter Hall scoring 87 not out and J.F. Knutton 80 not out.
During the season there had been problems with Jack Mee and he was not
re-engaged. His replacement was controversial Yorkshire and England left
arm spinner Bobby Peel, who had been sacked by Yorkshire for being drunk
on the field. Not surprisingly Peel only lasted one season to be replaced
in 1899 by medium pacer Alfred Eldridge who had played for Glamorgan and
Wiltshire although he came from Kent. From 1900 onwards clubs were only
allowed one professional and for Accrington that could only be Walter
Hall. The club's amateur strength was now increasing, Billy Ormerod from
Church (1898) and Harry Heaton from Colne (1899) were both to prove highly
successful amateur batsmen, capable of scoring heavily and consistently.
Young all rounder Jack Finney was emerging and Jim Ingram, former Enfield
professional joined the club from Church. This improvement in amateur
standards along with the success of Hall, who from 1900 to 1902 took over
a hundred wickets a season, including a record breaking 126 in 1901, meant
that Accrington were now one of the leading clubs in the league. The club's
amateur batting aggregate record regularly changed hands between Billy
Ormerod and Harry Heaton, increasing it to over 600 runs for the first
time. Jim Ingram became the first Accrington amateur to take 50 wickets
in a season, a feat he achieved in 1902.
In the local derby at Church in 1901, Jack Finney scored a club record
149 and then took 5-26 in a big win for Accrington. The 1901 season though
really belonged to Walter Hall. His 126 wickets were achieved in only
23 matches, as three were rained off. Four times he took eight wickets
in a match, twice he took seven, six times he took six and three times
he took five to give him a total of 126 wickets at 7.6 runs per wicket.
On no occasion that season did Hall take less than three wickets in a
match. The following season, the devastation continued. Haslingden were
bowled out for 11 (Hall 6-3), Nelson for 13 (Hall 8-12), Enfield for 14
(Hall 4-11), Church for 28, Bacup for 38 (Hall 8-21) and East Lancs for
46 (Hall 6-23). In the tied game against Rishton, Walter took 9-44. The
season yielded exactly 100 wickets for him as Accrington were runners
up in the league. The following season though, the club slipped down to
5th place, the amateurs didn't perform as well as in 1902 and Hall only
took 65 wickets, so a new professional was sought for 1904.
Taylor was engaged and enjoyed two seasons with the club, taking 101 wickets
in his first season and 72 the year after. The highlight of Taylor's spell
were two outstanding achievements by
1904 he raised the amateur batting aggregate record to 643, a total that
stood until Graham Beech broke it in 1977, and in 1905 he achieved a record
score for the club of 169 not out against Haslingden at Accrington on
June 12th. This innings is still the highest on record at the club for
an amateur and has only been bettered by Charlie Llewellyn's 188 not out
Left arm medium pace bowler George Littlewood was professional between
1906 and 1909 enjoying some success with the ball, but very little with
the bat and as a result Accrington were languishing in the lower reaches
of the league. Positive action was needed. The club signed Tom Rushby
the Surrey right arm fast bowler, who in 1909 had taken 119 wickets for
his county. This created great excitement in the town. Unfortunately,
Rushby and the committee didn't always see eye to eye and after a season
in which he took 109 wickets at 7.2, he returned to his native county.
Around this time the young amateurs emerging were all rounders Johnny
Pollard, Alec Jackson and Billy Brown and left handed middle order batsman
Arnold Chadwick. A new era was about to begin.
road to glory (1911 - 1916)
the wars(1919 - 1939)
and rollin' into the 50s (1940 - 1958)
again (1959 - 1964)
stars (1965 - 1973)
Worsick Era (1974 - 1983)
Bumble is back (1984 - 1989)
to the Test (1990 - 1999)
New Millennium (2000 - 09
Back to Earth (2010- )
and District League Days
Days (1846 - 1890)
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