Accrington Cricket Club

Rising stars (1965 - 1973)

Accrington enjoyed mixed fortunes in the mid sixties and early seventies as far as results were concerned. They did however, manage to tap into a rich vein of amateur talent which would go on to hit the high spots, both individually and collectively. The club would provide Lancashire with three outstanding players, two of whom would go on to play for England. Other players would grow into a unit that would enable the club to enjoy one of its most successful periods.

Professional captain
For the first time since John Berry in 1866, Accrington appointed a professional to captain the team for the 1965 season. The man in question was Ken Grieves, who had captained Lancashire in the previous two seasons. Grieves was a right hand middle order batsman and a leg spin bowler. In his First Class career he had scored 22,454 runs and taken 242 wickets between 1945 and 1964. His year at Accrington brought him 733 runs at 38.6, which earned him the league award for most runs, but only 32 wickets at 20.3 each. Once again the amateur batting failed to the extent that 45 year-old Jackie Hope was recalled to the team after years in the wilderness of 2nd team cricket. Jackie enjoyed an Indian summer, scoring 272 runs at an average of 27.2. David Lloyd was able to play enough matches to take 27 wickets and score 164 runs and Derek Mark (37 wickets) and Neville Richardson (29 wickets) enjoyed success with the ball. A young Ian Birtwistle took his first Lancashire League wickets and Geoff Hayhurst and Peter West were introduced but Accrington finished bottom of the league. 1965 was David Lloyd's last season with his home club until he returned as professional in 1984. He went on to play for Lancashire until 1983, scoring 17,877 runs and taking 234 wickets. David played in 9 Tests for England, scoring 552 runs with a highest score of 214 not out against India at Edgbaston in 1974 before encountering Lillee and Thomson at their fiercest in the Ashes Series the following winter.

Much improved
George Griffiths of New South Wales and South Australia was engaged for 1966, the year that England's football team won the World Cup. Success for George however, was limited. The right handed Griffiths scored 397 runs and took 74 wickets at 11.7 with his off breaks. Much improved amateur performances helped Accrington move up the table to 6th position with 8 victories and only 5 defeats. Russ Cuddihy (364 runs) and Brian Rutter (301) were the leading batsmen. Ian Birtwistle topped the club bowling averages in taking 23 wickets at 9.1 each, being well supported by Alan Worsick (30 wickets) and Neville Richardson (27 wickets).

1967 was quite an eventful year both on and off the field. For the first time the captain was chosen by a pre-season ballot of the players. Russ Cuddihy was elected and he would serve the club in this capacity until Eddie Robinson took over in 1970. Twenty-nine year-old medium fast bowler, Frank Misson from New South Wales was signed as professional. Misson had played 5 Tests for Australia in the early 1960s. His one season at Accrington brought him 340 runs and 50 wickets at 14.3. The season was marred by a tragic accident after the game at Bacup which saw scorer Graham Boardwell killed and Russ Cuddihy and Lindon Dewhurst injured in a car crash. On the field the team had a good season, finishing 3rd in the league, suffering only one defeat and reaching the Worsley Cup Final for the first time since 1936. The final was played at Accrington with Johnny Wardle's Rishton the opponents. Accrington batted first and were dismissed for 102 with only Eddie Robinson (22) offering any real resistance. Rishton passed their target with 5 wickets down.

Bobby Ratcliffe
Grahame Corling, who had played all of his 5 Tests on the previous tour of England in 1964, was engaged as professional for 1968. Corling was a 26 year-old fast medium right arm bowler from New South Wales. He bowled a good away swinger and it came as a surprise when he was not selected for the 1968 tour of England. Despite the fact that Corling took 67 wickets at 15.9 each and had a batting average in single figures, the club finished 4th in the league with 10 wins and a total of 53 points. Once again, this underlined the club's growing amateur strength. Russ Cuddihy (435 runs) and Lindon Dewhurst (457 runs) lead the batsmen and three bowlers, Geoff Woodcock (38 wickets), Alan Worsick (31 wickets) and Ian Birtwistle (29 wickets) did exceptionally well. Worsick left the area in mid season and in 1969 would play for Burnley. Sixteen year-old Bobby Ratcliffe made his debut as did Malcolm Taylor. Long serving wicketkeeper Jack Collier left at the end of the season to join Whalley in the Ribblesdale League.

Bare foot
Twenty-three year-old South African Peter Swart was next in the hot seat. All rounder Swart was a right handed batsman and a right arm fast medium bowler recommended to the club by Eddie Barlow. Peter could often be seen walking around the town in his bare feet as he was used to doing back home. Swart scored 738 runs at an average of 35.1 and took 66 wickets at 12.9 each. Accrington slipped down to 8th in the table. Captain Russ Cuddihy scored 515 runs, the first time this had been done since John Marsland scored over 500 runs in 1955 and Eddie Robinson, on his return from a stint as Fleetwood's professional, took 56 wickets. Eddie was the first Accrington amateur to take over 50 wickets in a season since Dougie Allen in 1943. Ian Birtwistle took 49 wickets at 11.2 each, being robbed of his 50th victim when Nelson professional Neil Hawke was controversially given not out inspite of strong Accrington appeals for a catch at second slip in the final match of the season. Peter Swart would return to the Lancashire League as professional with Haslingden from 1974 to 1977 and East Lancs in 1980. He also played County Cricket for Glamorgan.

The dawn of a new decade was to see Accrington's best season since 1961. For the second time in the club's history, Accrington won the Worsley Cup. So confident were the committee with the team's bowling strength, with the return of a rejuvenated Alan Worsick, that batsman Bruce Francis was signed as professional. Bruce was 22 years-old and opened the batting for New South Wales. He had an enormously successful season, scoring 1101 runs at an average of 61.2 to finish top of the Lancashire League batting averages. Bruce learned to tailor his batting to suit the needs of the team, enjoying tremendous success in the Worsley Cup run, scoring 374 runs in four matches. Four amateurs had outstanding seasons and three others had very good ones in 1970. Alan Worsick took 83 wickets at 10.8 each, Eddie Robinson took 75 wickets at 14.4 and Ian Birtwistle took 34 wickets at 16.6 each. Terry Neville broke the club wicketkeeping record with 41 victims and left handed opening batsman Geoff Hayhurst scored 592 runs. Obviously benefitting from batting with Francis, Geoff's total was the nearest to Billy Ormerod's record since Les Carter threatened it in 1950. Russ Cuddihy also enjoyed a good season scoring 359 runs.

Great strides
Accrington were top of the league after four wins in the first five matches. Worsick and Robinson were snapping up wickets and runs were flowing from the bat of Bruce Francis. Russ Cuddihy scored a magnificent 84 not out in the 5 wicket win at Rawtenstall, surely his best innings for Accrington as the league leadership changed hands several times. Alan Worsick took 8-53 against Haslingden to win the 'Telegraph Tankard' award for the best amateur bowling performance of the season. Bob Ratcliffe also made great strides during the season. In the 1st Round of the Worsley Cup, Accrington had to travel to Bacup. The home side batted first and were all out for 165 with Ian Birtwistle taking 4-38. In reply, Accrington made a good start cruising to 61-0, until Hayhurst was out for 28. Cuddihy soon followed as did Dewhurst. When Francis fell for 63, things were not looking good for the visitors. Brian Rutter saved the day for Accrington by scoring 34 valuable runs, until he was run out to leave Accrington 156-8. Terry Neville finally made the winning hit to give Accrington a narrow 1 wicket victory. The 2nd Round saw a much more comfortable victory at Church thanks to a splendid 134 by Francis and 6-33 by Worsick. Accrington's 117 run victory earned a semi final home tie with Rishton. Accrington batted first and totalled 173 with Francis top scoring with 93. Rishton were bowled out for 74 with Worsick taking 4-27 and Birtwistle 3-1.

Memorable season
Nearly 3,000 people witnessed the final as Accrington entertained eventual league champions Burnley on Sunday August 9th 1970.

It was a game dominated by Accrington's Australian professional Bruce Francis as he scored 84 of his teams 169-9. Francis hit 12 boundaries and one six in his 141 minute stay at the crease before Joe Fletcher bowled him. Soon after his dismissal, Accrington were 129-6 but Russ Cuddihy and skipper Eddie Robinson and together they took the score to 148 until Cuddihy's dogged innings ended for 30.

Accrington's innings closed when Ian Birtwistle was run out off the last ball of the 36th over. Eddie Robinson finished with 18 not out. Fletcher took 4-86 in a marathon 18 over spell and Rawstron 4-18 for Burnley.

In reply, Burnley were soon in trouble at 32-4 with Alan Worsick and Robinson taking 2 wickets each. Roland Harrison made 20 before Terry Neville snapped him up behind the wicket for 20. Substitute professional Duncan Carter hit Burnley back into the match with an innings of 75 in just over an hour at the crease. Carter hit seven fours and two sixes.

The total proved too much for Burnley and Accrington finally won the match by 26 runs to claim the Worsley Cup for the first time since 1936. Robinson took 4-50, Worsick 3-70 and young Bobby Ratcliffe, soon to join Lancashire, took 1-20 as Burnley were dismissed for 143 in the 34th over. To the delight of the wildly enthusiastic crowd, Accrington skipper Eddie Robinson received the trophy. The gate was £385 19s with Francis earning a collection of £29 12s 6d and Carter picking up £22 17s 7d.
Match scorecard

The team finished a memorable season in 4th place in the league, having won 11 games to give them a total of 55 points. Bruce Francis went on to tour England in 1972 when he played in three Tests for Australia. In 1971 and 1973 he played County Cricket for Essex, scoring over 1,000 runs in both seasons.

The Lancashire League introduced a two year experiment with limited overs cricket beginning in 1971, a suggestion first mooted by Accrington in 1968. The John Player Sunday League was introduced to County Cricket in 1969 and prior to that, the original limited overs competition, The Gillette Cup had begun in 1963. A third competition, the Benson and Hedges Cup would begin in 1972.

Accrington continued with their policy of signing batting professionals when they engaged David Bailey for 1971. Not to be confused with the famous photographer of the time, Bailey had played for Lancashire in 1968 and 1969 and before that he had played for Durham since 1961. He came with the reputation of being a forceful right handed middle order batsman and an oustanding cover point fielder. 27 year-old Bailey played some nice innings for the club, but was unable to play the vital match winning innings that his predecessor had, scoring 542 runs at an average of 30.1. Alan Worsick had another superb season, taking 75 wickets at 10.5 and winning the Lion Brewery second bowling prize. Read stepped in and signed Alan for the next two seasons during which he led them to the Ribblesdale League championship on both occasions. Russ Cuddihy continued to be the mainstay of the amateur batting, scoring 431 runs at 27.0 as Accrington maintained 4th place in the table with 13 victories. Ian Birtwistle took 32 wickets at 9.8 each and Eddie Robinson took 38 at 18.7. Newcomer John Kearsley scored the club's first century by an amateur since 1955 when he hit 103 not out against Bacup in the Worsley Cup. Bob Ratcliffe played his last 1st team game for the club in 1971. He went on to play for Lancashire between 1972 and 1980, taking 205 wickets at 26.4 each and scoring 1,072 runs, including one century, in his First Class career of 82 matches.

Graeme Fowler
The following season would churn up another star who was destined to go right to the top in the cricket world. 15 year-old left hander Graeme Fowler made his Lancashire League debut at Colne in 1972, when he was the youngest opening batsman in the league. Graeme played 7 innings in his first season with a top score of 34. Les Varis from Western Australia had a poor first half of the season, most of his success coming in the second half. He scored 458 runs and took 77 wickets at 11.0 each. Accrington finished 6th in the table, having won 12 games. Russ Cuddihy, in his last season before moving to East Lancs, was again top run scorer with 357 runs and Geoff Woodcock was the leading bowler with 33 wickets.

Wind of change
The wind of change was blowing through the club in 1973. Peter West was appointed as captain and the younger players like Malcolm Taylor, Tony Gallagher and Alan Kennedy were beginning to mature. Left handed all rounder Alan Seiler, from Victoria, Australia, was engaged as professional. Alan had a fine season, topping the Lancashire League batting averages in scoring 1,023 runs at an average of 51.2 and taking 62 wickets at 13.5 each. Ian Birtwistle was the pick of the bowlers, taking 50 wickets for the first time. Graeme Fowler scored 333 runs and Peter West 336, as Accrington finished 5th in the league. Partly due to the club's financial situation, the committee decided to engage a home grown professional for 1974. That man was already quite well known to the members.

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)
Rockin' and rollin' into the 50s (1940 - 1958)
Champions again (1959 - 1964)

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