Accrington Cricket Club

Rockin' and rollin' into the 50s (1940 - 1958)

The Lancashire League decided to continue playing cricket during the Second World War but introduced emergency regulations. Clubs were not allowed to engage professionals again until 1945. Accrington lost most of their regular and up and coming players during the War. No less than forty playing members of the club served in the forces. The club had great difficulty in raising a team in those dark years and the results on the field reflected this. Accrington were bottom of the league in 1940 and 1941, 12th in 1942, 9th in 1943 and 13th in 1944. It was generally accepted that Accrington were the hardest hit amongst all the Lancashire League clubs with only Bert Walker of the established players able to play regularly throughout the War.

Ray of sunshine
In 1945 a ray of sunshine arrived. Accrington signed Jim Parks the former Sussex and England all rounder. In 1937, Jim had created a unique record in scoring 3,003 runs and taking 101 wickets. The same year he also played in his only Test against New Zealand at Lords. Now 41 years-old and an excellent coach, Jim was the ideal professional. In his four seasons at the club he was well liked and respected throughout the league. Jim's geniality and fairness endeared him to everyone who encountered him. In his first season Parks scored 351 runs and took 79 wickets at 7.3 each as the club finished 10th in the table. Although clubs were allowed professionals, some clubs chose not to engage one. Clubs without paid assistance were given three points for defeating clubs with professionals for this season, instead of the normal two points. Jim Parks began the 1946 season in great form, taking 14 wickets for just 58 runs in the first two matches. He followed this with his maiden century for the club in early May. Accrington finished the season in third place with 38 points, behind Nelson and East Lancs. Parks improved both his batting (442 runs) and his bowling (81 wickets at 8.8) figures on his first season.

By the late 1940s most of the players had returned from the forces to play cricket. Les Carter, Lindon Dewhurst, John Marsland and wicketkeeper Jackie Hope were finding their feet again. The team slipped down to 12th place in the table at the end of the 1947 season, but there were a couple of highlights that year. In the game at Todmorden, Accrington were in trouble at 96-8 when the last two wickets put on 134. Jackie Hope (67 not out), Frank Rushton (22) and Les Hartley (51 not out) took the score to 230-9 declared. In the remaining 120 minutes, Todmoden scored the required runs for the loss of 3 wickets. By an amazing coincidence, this game mirrored the same fixture exactly 50 years previously in 1897, which Accrington had won in an identical situation. Jim Parks took a hat-trick in his 8-47 against Colne. 1948 saw a move in the right direction as the club climbed to 8th in the table. John Marsland had a great season with the bat scoring 501 runs, including 116 not out against the formidable Fred Freer, who's 115 wickets guided his club Rishton to the championship that year. Les Carter also had a good year, scoring 437 runs at an average of 20.8. Jim Parks, in his final season as professional, took the first 9 Enfield wickets for 20 runs in the fixture at Accrington.

Quality overseas players
Jim Parks was the last English born professional until 1971. More and more quality overseas players were entering the Lancashire League. The 1949 season would see Everton Weekes at Bacup, Cec Pepper at Burnley, Bill Alley at Colne, Bruce Dooland at East Lancs, Manny Martindale at Lowerhouse and Vijay Hazare at Rawtenstall. Lancashire League cricket was about to take off in a big way. Accrington signed their second Australian professional, Reg Craig, the 32 year-old South Australian opening batsman. Craig made batting look easy. He scored 874 runs, including 108 not out at Burnley, and took 72 wickets with his leg breaks at 16.0 each in his one season with the club. Accrington's leading amateur bowler at this time was Ron Eckersley, a 23 year-old former Yorkshire and Cambridge University left arm medium fast bowler. Eckersley had five seasons at Accrington, his best being 1949 when he took 48 wickets at 16.7 each. Ron used to move the ball away from the right handers and he dismissed Everton Weekes several times this way. Accrington finished in 13th position in the table, having won 4 and lost 13 of their 26 matches.

'Barrister' Bob
'Barrister' Bob Christofani, the New South Wales middle order batsman and medium/leg break bowler, who had played in the Services Test Matches in England, was signed as professional for the 1950 season. Bob was an unorthodox batsman who was never afraid to leave his crease in the search for quick runs if the situation demanded them. He scored 635 runs and he took 65 wickets in a season that was regarded at the time as the wettest in the history of the Lancashire League. So many matches were lost to the weather in the first half of the season that the league took the unusual step of attempting to replay one set of matches over two evenings in the middle of the week. Accrington's game was at home to Nelson. The first evening was lost to rain, which left 2 and a quarter hours of possible play the following night. Nelson batted first in in 70 minutes made 89-3 declared. Accrington were left with 59 minutes to bat. The home side wasted no time in chasing the runs but were soon in deep trouble at 38-5. Undeterred, they continued their quest and managed to win the match off the last ball of the final over. Les Carter was the hero was the hero with 46 not out. 1950 was Les Carter's best season with the club. His magnificent total of 608 runs was the closest any amateur had been to breaking Billy Ormerod's 1904 club record of 643 runs. What made the total remarkable was the fact that Les only passed 50 twice. He also had five scores of over 40. Lindon Dewhurst in his second season as captain had created an excellent team spirit and was responsible for some very enterprising cricket as the team rose to 6th place in the league, having won 7 matches.

Fell away
Another Australian, Mick Raymer from Queensland was professional in the 1951 and 1952 seasons. Raymer, 32, was a left handed attacking batsman and a left arm spin bowler. In 1951 he scored 673 runs and took 73 wickets and then in 1952 he scored 686 runs, including two undefeated centuries, and he took 65 wickets. Lindon Dewhurst seemed destined to break the club batting record in 1951. After a great start to the season, including a brilliant 121 not out at Haslingden, Lindon fell away towards the end of the season, but still finished with 559 runs at an average of 27.9. He was also the leading amateur batsman at the club in 1952 when he totalled 449 runs at 23.6. In Raymer's spell as professional, Accrington finished in 10th and 13th place in the league. Amateurs emerging through the ranks in this period were medium fast bowler Jim Eland, wicketkeeper Jack Collier and batsman Frank Rushton.

Fast bowler
The club decided it was time to have a fast bowler who could also bat as a professional. The man who seemed to fit the bill was Arjun Nayudu, a 24 year-old Indian. He was a left arm medium fast bowler and a right handed opening batsman. Nayudu enjoyed only moderate success, scoring 316 runs at an average of 17.6 and taking 53 wickets at 17.2. John Marsland scored exactly 500 runs and Lindon Dewhurst (435 runs) and Les Carter (403 runs) also had excellent seasons. The amateur bowling also improved with Ron Eckersley (30 wickets) and several others chipping in with useful wickets as the team finished in a mid table position, which was to become customary until the end of the 1958 season.

Outstanding season
Ken Archer, a free scoring right handed opening batsman and medium pace/off spin bowler was engaged for the 1954 season. 26 year-old Archer, from Yeerongphilly which is of course in Queensland, Australia, was also a brilliant fielder and captain of his State team. He played in 5 Tests for his country. Archer had an outstanding season. He created a new club batting record, scoring 1116 runs at an average of 93.0. This included three centuries and eight half centuries. On opponents grounds, Archer played 12 innings, was undefeated 8 times in scoring 635 runs at an average of 158.8. Ken also took 51 wickets. Once again Dewhurst and Marsland topped 400 runs and a young Bill Haworth took 27 wickets at 14.5 each.

Around this time there was a lot of controversy within the club about the playing of Sunday cricket. All the league games were on Saturdays which left Sundays free. After much internal wrangling a Sunday Cricket Committee was set up to oversee the playing of friendly matches at home and away. This proved to be a profitable source of income. An annual fixture was played against Accrington Stanley which proved to be big money spinner for several years. Accrington also played teams such as Blackpool, Southport, Harrogate, Rochdale, Prestwich, Clitheroe and Read until eventually in the 1960s the Lancashire League introduced Sunday play.

Professional for the next three seasons was another Indian, Sayajirao (Danny) Dhanwade, a right handed batsman and leg break bowler. Danny was 31 years-old and had two years professional experience with Kendal. In his first season with Accrington he scored 415 runs and took 86 wickets at 13.9 each. Young players emerging in 1955 were Derek Mark, Derek Rushton and Russ Cuddihy. John Marsland scored 574 runs and Lindon Dewhurst scored his second league century against Bacup. Danny continued his good bowling in 1956 when he took 87 wickets at 11.2 each. He took a hat-trick in his 7-49 against Enfield and did even better against Lowerhouse when he took 4 wickets in 4 balls and 5 in the over in taking 7-40. Mid way through the 1957 season, Accrington were challenging for the title, but a spate of drawn games meant another mid table position. The feature of the season was the excellent win at East Lancs. The home side batted first and scored 154 all out. A hat-trick by Fazal Mahmood had Accrington reeling at 87-7. At this point in the game, most sides would probably have shut up shop and played for a draw but not Lindon Dewhurst's Accrington. An 8th wicket partnership of 68 between the captain (54 not out) and Dhanwade (37 not out) won the match with 20 minutes left to play. Dhanwade's final season yielded him 69 wickets at 15.0 each. Tragically, in January 1958, he died from a cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a blow to the head he received a t net practice fifteen days previously.

Another Indian, S.K. Girdhari, was engaged for the 1958 season. Off spinner Girdhari was one of only a dozen cricketers up to this point in time who had completed the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in the Ranji Trophy. Unfortunately, during the season he suffered a shoulder injury and had to miss many matches. Girdhari was only able to bowl 165 overs during the season, taking 38 wickets and scoring 314 runs. Jim Eland had a good season taking 34 wickets and two youngsters, Brian Rutter and Eddie Robinson were beginning to make their mark. The final year of the decade was to be a summer to remember.

Champions again (1959 - 1964)
Rising stars (1965 - 1973)
The Worsick Era (1974 - 1983)
The Bumble is back (1984 - 1989)
Put to the Test (1990 - 1999)
The New Millennium (2000 -09)
Back to Earth (2010- )
Junior Success
Accrington and District League Days

Early Days (1846 - 1890)
In league with the best (1891 - 1910)
The road to glory (1911 - 1916)
Between the wars(1919 - 1939)

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