Accrington Cricket Club

Early Days (1846 - 1890)

Shane Warne, Wes Hall, Bobby Simpson, Eddie Barlow, David Lloyd, Graeme Fowler and Charlie Llewellyn have all played cricket on the world stage, thrilling crowds wherever they played. All these great names have one club in common. They have all at sometime in their careers, played for Accrington Cricket Club. The roots of this club lay buried deep in time.

The club was formed in 1846 playing at Tewitt Hall, which is where the junction of Richmond Road and Richmond Hill Street now is. There is also evidence of cricket being played in 1841 where Eagle Street now is and later in the Scaitcliffe area.

Tall black hats
In those days long ago, bowling was under-arm and the players wore white ducks, flannel jackets, belts, spiked shoes and velvet caps or tall black hats. Matches were usually of two innings per side, starting early in the day and runs were known as notches. The club soon established a good reputation for being one of the best in Lancashire.

The earliest results on record are in 1847 when Accrington won and lost against Darwen. The club's first professional at Tewitt Hall is believed to be Willet 'Box' Harris from Manchester, followed by Little and Spratley, who were frequently involved in single wicket matches which were very popular at this time. The first Annual Cricket Ball was held at the Hargreaves Arms on December 29th 1848. Players from this era included Shearman, Thomas Taylor, Tom Holt and John Smith, who was also the man who introduced 'round arm' bowling to Accrington. Matches were arranged against teams such as Burnley, Heywood, Manchester, Preston, Todmorden and the 52nd Military Regiment from Burnley.

Peel Park
By the end of the 1859 season, probably due to the land being required for property development, the club moved along with its tent, to the newly renovated Peel Park ground. George Wilson was the first professional here, followed in 1862 by John Bray from Sheffield. The club now had 170 members and players were awarded travelling expenses of 6d. To away matches in addition to tribute money collected for good performances. In 1861, Gideon Holgate, Accrington's star batsman and wicketkeeper of the time, who also played for both Lancashire and Yorkshire, was rewarded with a new bat donated by the Club President for any player scoring 40 runs in an innings, for scoring 76 in the defeat of Burnley. William Barnes was rewarded with a copper kettle in 1862 for achieving the highest score of the season.

Controversy followed in 1863 when John Bray had been signed by major rivals Burnley. Accrington won the home fixture with some ease thanks to a good stand between Gideon Holgate and professional John Berry, the Yorkshire medium pacer. Bets had been placed on the scores of the rival professionals in both matches. In the return game, Accrington had batted first with Berry scoring 40. When Burnley batted Bray had scored 20 when he faced John Smith. The ball was a no ball which was missed by Bray. The ball went through to the long stop who returned it to Holgate, who made no attempt to stop it. Bray was swinging his bat which was hit by the returning ball. An appeal was made and Bray was given out for obstructing the field. Mayhem followed; the crowd invaded the pitch, the wickets pulled up and punches thrown. It was several years before the two clubs met again.

Far famed slow twist bowler
The County championship started in 1864 which was also the year that 22 men of Accrington and District held an England XI to a draw witnessed by 7,000 spectators. Three years later a return match was played with England winning by an innings and 135 runs. Accrington in the 1860s and 1870s had some delightfully named players such as Gideon Holgate, Ormerod Swarbrick, Cornelius Hargreaves and Hannibal Ramsbottom who was described as 'our far famed slow twist bowler,' James Sutcliffe, founder of the Lancashire League, also played for the club in this period.

The mid 1870s found the club involved in more controversy. In 1875, professional Jim Lindley was reported to have killed a sparrow by throwing a ball at it during a break in play. The team only won four matches and no player made a half century, which at the time was without parallel in the records of the club. Poor fielding was also causing the committee concern. Things got even worse the following season when the club were thrown out of their ground at Peel Park by landlords William and Tom Taylor of Bank Brewery. On August 14th, a single wicket match was played at Peel Park between Dick Roberts of Accrington and Henry John Ramsbottom of Enfield for a wager of £10 a side. When the Taylor brothers discovered this they forced the club to leave the ground immediately. Fortunately only one home match remained, against Bacup, which was played at Dill Hall Lane, home of Enfield.

Club Chairman John Moore headed a deputation to see Colonel Hargreaves of Broad Oak who agreed to lease the club its present ground for a nominal rent of one shilling per year.

In the winter of 1876 - 7, which incidentally was when the inaugural Test Match was played between Australia and England, John Berry, William Boothman, Jim Howarth, William Henry Cronshaw and John Moore worked hard to get the new ground ready for the opening fixture of the season against Church.

Unknown Buckinghamshire man George Nash was signed as new professional and what a signing he would prove to be. The committee had been to watch Nash play for 22 of Barrow against W.G. Grace's United South Eleven. George was a left arm fast bowler and hard as he could try, he could not get Grace out. Then someone in the crowd shouted to to him to bowl a slower ball which he did and he bowled the Doctor. From then on, Nash became a slow left arm bowler, able to move the ball both ways quite sharply. Highly impressed, the committee engaged George for £3 per week. In spite of losing the first match on the new ground against Church, Nash was a huge success bowling out Bury for 10, Keighley for 16 and Bacup for 14. He was regarded as the first great bowler to appear in East Lancashire. During 1880 and 1881, Lancashire had called on Nash, so the club decided not to re-engage him for 1882. In his five seasons at the club, George Nash was the club's most successful bowler ever. A total of 541 wickets at 5.1 each, including a record 132 in 1881 preceded a six year career with Lancashire which was to see him claim 202 wickets at 12.4 each.

John Moore was becoming Accrington's leading amateur batsman, being the first home player to score both a half century and, in 1885 against Church, a century. Moore turned down several invitations to play for his county. Another left armer, John Parnham, was signed up for 1882 to be followed by one eyed Alf Rogers from Oxford who played for two seasons. Sam Rayner of Derbyshire was the 1885 professional and he was succeeded by Robert Lindley from Barnsley, who due to his lack of success, went home mid season.

Football was played on the ground from the beginning of October until the end of March around this time. Accrington F.C., with Colonel Hargreaves as President, played their first match against Church on September 28th 1878. On November 13th 3,000 spectators watched Accrington F.C. play Church under electric lights. The cricket and football clubs enjoyed a fairly tempestuous relationship over the years until Accrington F.C. folded in 1894. During their tenure on the ground, Accrington were of course one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888. On October 6th, Accrington v Wolverhampton Wanderers was the first Football League fixture to be played on the ground.

Highest score
Most professionals at this time were bowlers. Batting was favoured by the more well off gentlemen who would engage working class bowlers to bowl to them at their club. Fast bowler Frank Whitworth from Nottinghamshire was selected as professional for 1887 and 1888 when the club also decided to engage a batting professional. Whitworth recommended a friend of his from Worksop called Willis Cuttell, a batsman with a good defence, strong on the off side and who played with a straight bat. Cuttell soon showed his class, scoring 141 not out at Bacup, the highest score ever made for the club out of a total of 300-6. Four seasons at Accrington brought a return of 1616 runs at an average of 19.5 and also 306 wickets at 8.0 each. Willis Cuttell was a genuine all round cricketer bowling medium pace and off cutters. After being professional for Nelson in 1892 and 1893, Cuttell had eleven highly fruitful seasons with Lancashire between 1896 and 1906. He was the first Lancashire player to do the double in 1898, in all scoring 5,389 runs and taking 760 wickets in his career. Cuttell also played in two Tests in 1899.

The 1888 season saw the club reach the final of the Lancashire Cricket Association Amateur Cup. An easy First Round victory over Brooksbottom was followed by a five wicket win at Whalley in the semi final. Bobby Calvert top scored with 23 and Billy Eastham scored 15 not out to secure a place in the final which was to be a two innings game played against East Lancs at Enfield over two days. Both teams scored 49 in their first innings with Cornelius Hargreaves scoring 26 for Accrington. In their second innings East Lancs were dismissed for 85. Accrington scored the runs for the loss of 3 wickets with Bobby Calvert scoring 39 not out. After the match East Lancs lodged a formal protest against Accrington alleging two cases of professionalism amongst the players. The cases were subsequently proved and the match was ordered to be replayed. Accrington refused and the Cup was awarded to East Lancs.

From the 1889 season, overs were increased from four to five balls and declarations were allowed. The following year, the club decided to join a league. In 1891, Accrington would play in the North East Lancashire League.

In league with the best (1891 - 1910)
The road to glory (1911 - 1916)
Between the wars(1919 - 1939)
Rockin' and rollin' into the 50s (1940 - 1958)
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

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