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A look at every Lancashire outground

A look at every Lancashire outground

LANCASHIRE’S OUTGROUNDS

In 2019 Sedbergh School became twelfth ground used by Lancashire to stage a first-class match away from our headquarters at Emirates Old Trafford. But the use of ‘outgrounds’ goes right back to beginning of the County Club in 1864 and a variety of grounds have hosted games since.

Ken Grime and Malcolm Lorimer take a look at all of the venues used by Lancashire over the last 156 years.

LIVERPOOL: WAVERTREE ROAD (1866)

In 1807 a group of young men banded together in Liverpool to form “The original and Unrivalled Mosslake Fields Cricket Society” and the original rules are still in possession of Liverpool Cricket Club. It was said that a cow-house served as a pavilion and dressing-room, and for refreshment they had milk. The ground at Mosslake was as the name suggests wet and only partially drained.  They played on two further grounds in the area before moving to the fourth ground, just north of Edge Hill station at Wavertree Road. The ground was opened in 1847 and that year played an England XI against Fourteen of Liverpool.

Further matches against the All England XI took place in 1857, 1858 and 1859. The social standing of the club was always high being drawn from the professional and merchant families of the area. By 1860 fixtures against the major public schools were being made, and the club’s famous Public School tour started in 1866.

Important matches were played on the ground with the Gentlemen of the South playing the Gentlemen of the North in 1859 and 1860 and also in 1872 between The South and the North when W.G. Grace scored 65.

In 1866 Lancashire played Surrey in a low-scoring match with Lancashire scoring 125 and 86 and Surrey 116 and 96-7. Griffith took 11 wickets in the match for Surrey and Appleby 6-31 and Roger Iddison 5-34.

The status of the club was considerably increased during their time at this ground and when the inevitable happened and they lost their ground again to the builders they were able to plan to purchase a suitable alternative-this time far enough out of the city centre to be safe. The encroachment of the railway and the gas works led to the ground’s closure at the end of the 1887 season. A few years later the site of the ground was marked by the street pattern of Spofforth Road, Giffen Street, Darling Street, Bannerman Street and Murdoch Street- names not without significance to any cricket follower. The Spofforth Public House had the portrait of the ‘Demon Bowler’ on its sign. The club went without a ground for three years while their new premises at Aigburth were prepared. Games were played on the beautiful ground at Croxteth Hall-the seat of Lord Sefton.

WHALLEY (1867)

Whalley Cricket Club was formed in 1860 and play at the delightful ground at Station Road. The Ribble Valley railway line is adjacent to the boundary.

In 1867 Whalley was given the honour to host the first of three official ‘Roses’ matches played that season largely due to efforts of Roger Green, an influential businessman who had represented Whalley C.C. when Lancashire County Cricket Club was formed at the meeting held at the Queens Hotel in Manchester three years earlier.

The reasons why Whalley were chosen were partly because of its geographical position of being near the border of the two counties. There was also strong feelings that Manchester C.C. were becoming too dominant and choosing its own players to play for the county. Frequently the cry would go up to take Lancashire matches to various parts of the county.

Against this background, selection for this first Roses match was not without controversy. The Manchester Courier thought it only right to point out that the team were not a fair representation of the county. A look at the Lancashire team that played at Old Trafford in the second Roses match the following week is instructive; only five who played at Whalley featured with the Manchester C.C. secretary Sam Swire, who would go on to fulfil the same role for the county club, returning to play one of his five first-class Lancashire games. Fast bowler Fred Reynolds was another who was absent at Whalley but returned for the Manchester game and when Reynolds, years later, published the first history of Lancashire CCC, he claimed the Old Trafford fixture as the first ‘proper’ Roses match with the Whalley game reduced to more of a footnote!

Contemporary reports also state that the Yorkshire committee had “nothing to do” with the Yorkshire team that played at Whalley “being in dispute with three of their professional bowlers”.  A comparison with the Yorkshire team that arrived in Manchester seven days later bears this out, with only three from the Whalley match selected. 

The match was not a good one for Lancashire who lost by an innings and 56 runs. Arthur Appleby was Lancashire’s star performer with 6-62. George Freeman and Luke Greenwood bowled out the Red Rose county between them for 57 and 75 but were then omitted from the Yorkshire side seven days later! The original scorebook can be seen in the library at Old Trafford.

Whalley have never since staged a first-class match but they have produced one of Lancashire’s most successful captains in Leonard Green. He captained the county from 1926 to 1928 and the team won the County Championship in all three seasons, a record which is going to be hard to beat!

Whalley remains one of Lancashire’s most pleasant cricket grounds. If you are in the Ribble Valley and can find time to call in at Station Road you will see good quality club cricket in unspoilt surroundings and be sure of a real Lancashire welcome.

ROCHDALE: CASTLETON CRICKET CLUB (1876)

Castleton Cricket Club was formed in connection with Rochdale Football Club in 1869. A piece of land was obtained at Sparth Bottoms Road for a ground and a pavilion built at a cost of £500.

Castleton successfully hosted prestigious matches with an England XI and also an unofficial Lancashire and Yorkshire (United) match in 1874. It was through that, with some surprise, that Castleton was chosen to host only the third county match outside Old Trafford since the formation of the club for the visit of Kent in 1876. Three gentlemen of the Castleton club, E.L. Chadwick, J. Leach and J. Schofield put up a guarantee to the Lancashire Committee for hosting the match, and they also played in a Lancashire team which included seven amateurs.

Despite the first day being lost to rain, a good crowd drawn from the local mills and tanneries turned up on the second. The visitors fielded a strong side captained by Lord Harris and included five players who would go on to play for England. Lancashire scored 181 thanks to 65 from A.N.Hornby and Kent were bowled out for 56 with William McIntyre and Alec Watson sharing the wickets. Following-on only Lord Harris with 82 offered much resistance to Watson whose 7-61 included the first hat-trick by a Red Rose bowler as Lancashire won by ten wickets by 4.30pm on the third day. Castleton C.C. lost money on the match and the guarantors were forced to stand the loss, and the club and Rochdale were never again to be graced by Lancashire in a first-class fixture.

A brass band was engaged by the club to entertain the spectators but as they were located at the rear of the scoring tent interfered with the scoring as wides etc were not signalled form the field but called out. Also in the club minutes it says “A suit be given to each professional out of the unclaimed clothes at the match.”

Castleton C.C. continued to play until 1966 in the Manchester and District Cricket Association, when the club folded and the ground was used by Rochdale A.F.C. as a training ground and latterly as an industrial park.

LIVERPOOL: AIGBURTH (1881-2019)

Aigburth Cricket Ground has been home to Liverpool Cricket Club since 1881 with the club spending £2,000 to purchase the site and a further £21,000 (equivalent to around £2.5 million today) on the ground layout and pavilion, designed by Thomas Harnett Harrison and now the oldest of any first-class venue.

The inaugural first-class match, arranged by Lancashire and Liverpool all-rounder Allan Steel, took place on 13th & 14th June 1881 when around 9,000 spectators witnessed Cambridge University win by seven wickets with Steel, a Trinity Hall man who had made his Red Rose debut four years earlier, captaining the University side and skittling his Lancastrian colleagues with 6-22 and 5-69. George Studd made the first century on the ground, carrying his bat for 106 in the University’s 187 all out. The students then took 43.1 overs to score the 38 runs required for victory on the newly laid and ‘indifferent’ wicket!

That reverse was to be Lancashire’s only loss of the season as they swept to the County Championship title and it took five seasons before the first Red Rose success at the ground when a century by A.N.Hornby and a fine all-round performance by Steel with 83 and figures of 4-101 and 7-95 led to an innings victory over Surrey, the first of 73 wins (with only 34 defeats) from the 185 first-class games played by Lancashire at Aigburth.

In fact during the first half of the 20th century Aigburth became something of a ‘fortress’ for Lancashire who went unbeaten at the ground for 43 games from June 1908 to July 1937, the third longest unbeaten period in the history of the County Championship behind Notts (49 unbeaten at Trent Bridge, 1928-31) and Surrey (67 at The Oval, 1920-26).

The ground also has the unusual distinction of having hosted an international football match, played just two years after it opened when England defeated Ireland 7-0 in 1883 in front of 2,500 spectators. It was the most suitable venue in the area at the time, as Everton’s ground on Priory Road was little more than a fenced off field and Liverpool FC had not even been formed!

Aigburth holds a wealth of great memories for Lancashire supporters past and present with many exciting victories, including against both Australia and South Africa in 1912 and a further success against the South Africans in 1929. The one-day match against West Indies attracted 7,633 to cram into a sun-drenched Aigburth in 1984 to see Gordon Greenidge hammer an unbeaten 186, the year after he scored centuries in both innings on the ground for Hampshire. That game is one of 17 one-day games played at Liverpool since 1970 when Northants were beaten by six wickets, and two T20 matches-both against Leicestershire-have been staged in recent times.

Sussex and Hampshire have visited Aigburth the most, 18 times, and two matches against the latter stand out. Lancashire have only twice won a first-class match by just one run, and one hundred years ago when Hampshire had reached 53 for 3 needing just 66 for victory, the game seemed all but over. Incredibly Harry Dean and Lol Cook combined to take 7 wickets for 11 runs in a sensational finish to snatch victory. The crowd invaded the pitch in celebration that day, and similar scenes were enacted 91 years later when Simon Kerrigan turned in the performance of a lifetime with 9-51 on the final day to clinch victory with moments left – and keep Lancashire’s title hopes alive.

“They were crazy scenes towards the end,” said Kerrigan. “There was a bit of panic setting in when we only had four minutes left to get that last wicket.” By then Hampshire last pair Neil McKenzie and James Tomlinson had held out for 45 minutes attempting to draw the match before Kerrigan struck with the final wicket and Aigburth erupted.

Lancashire won four of the six games played at the ground in 2011, with Old Trafford unavailable while the square was turned, including another last ditch victory-and pitch invasion-over Yorkshire, on their way to a first outright title for 77 years. It was an outstanding season and Aigburth played a central role in a memorable success.

BLACKPOOL (1905-2018)

Blackpool Cricket Club were formed in 1888 and originally played at Raikes Hall Pleasure Gardens before repairs forced a move to their current ground, then named Whitegate Park in 1893. The new ground, covering an area of 150yds by 130yds, hosted its first recorded match that year when Blackpool played the touring Australians.

The inaugural first-class matches in 1905 were played in an August festival week with The North v The South followed by Lancashire’s first first-class match on the ground against an England XI, and what an exciting game this proved to be! After Archie MacLaren had dazzled the crowd hitting two sixes and 13 fours in a “thrilling” innings of 93 on the opening day, the England XI set Lancashire a target of 169 to win on the final afternoon. After falling to 25 for 4, Frank Harry hit an unbeaten 64 and with Lol Cook took Lancashire level in the last over of the day. Amid much excitement, Cook was caught off the fourth ball of the over attempting to hit the winning run, and with no time left for a new batsmen to come to the crease the match was declared a tie under the rules that existed before 1948, even though Lancashire still had three wickets to fall.

The first County Championship match at the ground came twelve months later against Leicestershire, a convincing innings victory, and Lancashire have now played a total of 87 first-class games at Blackpool, winning 29 with 15 defeats.

Significant changes arrived in 1925 when the 256-acre site known as Stanley Park was gifted to the Blackpool Corporation and, as part of a massive development, this attractive tree-lined ground located off West Park Drive was incorporated into the new park and a pavilion and stands were built. In 1957 an additional stand, at a cost of £6,000 was constructed, and attendances for both club and county matches have generally been healthy with a record 13,872 at the 1950 Championship match against Glamorgan.

In 1953 left-arm spinner Bob Berry took all ten wickets in Worcestershire’s second innings at Stanley Park, the third and last Red Rose bowler to achieve this feat. His 10-102 led Lancashire to an exciting 18-run victory in the seventh minute of the final half hour of the match.

By contrast Stanley Park holds the record for the slowest-ever century in the County Championship when Jason Gallian produced a mammoth 454-minute hundred to try and save the game against Derbyshire in 1994. He very nearly succeeded, scoring 118 and well supported by Neil Fairbrother who made 136, helping Lancashire post 589, their highest second-innings total and the highest by a team following-on and losing. In an exciting run chase Derbyshire reached their total of 186 with three wickets left and six balls to spare.  

The last first-class game at Blackpool was memorable for a century by Steven Croft on his home ground (plus fifty in the second innings) against Worcestershire as Lancashire triumphed by 98 runs on their way to the Championship title in 2011.

A total of 11 one-day matches have been played at the ground and remarkably Lancashire have never lost to another county, the only defeat coming in a one-wicket reverse against India ‘A’ in 2003. The first game, against Sussex in 1976, was won easily by nine wickets thanks to a century opening partnership between David Lloyd and Farokh Engineer while Middlesex (1988) and Glamorgan (1989) were swept aside in front of full houses as Lancashire chased the Sunday League title in both seasons, with success arriving in the latter. Blackpool seems to produce thrilling finishes too with narrow victories coming against Derbyshire by one wicket in 2002, Middlesex by 2 wickets (2005) and Derbyshire again, a last-over three wicket success in 2017.

LANCASTER (1914)

For a county town, cricket came late to Lancaster, the first club being formed in 1841 but it folded quickly. In 1852 The Lancaster Rowing Club was formed out of it and a further indignity was the cricket equipment was sold to buy a barge!

The Rowing Club did however continue to play the occasional cricket match and it wasn’t until 1879 that the present club was formed and the ground at Lune Road secured. 

The club prospered and important matches were played with 18 of North Lancashire playing a Lancashire County XI.

In 1914 Lancashire allocated a county match against Warwickshire to Lancaster with the proviso that it should be financially successful. The game was in August and the club embers worked hard in putting the game on.

On the first day the gate rose to 2,300 which wouldn’t have shamed Old Trafford. Warwickshire scored 342 but Lancashire were dismissed for 128. Over 1,200 attended on Friday, the second day and Warwickshire didn’t enforce the follow-on in order for the match to go into the Saturday.

Resumption of play on Saturday was delayed because of rain but Lancashire again collapsed and were all out for 187, Warwickshire winning by 173 runs.

That same weekend hostilities with Germany began and at 2pm on Wednesday 5th August 1914, war was declared. First-class cricket never re-appeared at Lancaster although the Second XI have played on the ground on a regular basis.

It would be over 100 years before first-class cricket came to the area again but this time it was in the Yorkshire Dales at Sedbergh. 

NELSON (1925-1938)

The reason why first-class cricket came to Nelson was due to their professional Ted McDonald. It could be argued that without him Lancashire would not have won four County Championships in five years. Lancashire wanted to sign McDonald after he performed so well in the Lancashire Leagues in the early 1920’s. Part of the payment was that Lancashire would play at Nelson in 1925 and 1926.

The matches were considered a great honour for the town with 10,000 spectators present on the first day against Derbyshire. Neville Cardus describes the day.

“Hard work by the Nelson CC made the event happy and prosperous; in the plenteous sunshine a big crowd and everybody was accommodated. The Nelson cricket field rests in a valley; around there are hills and trees and fields. To approach the ground you must walk through arrow streets that wind up and down. Authentic Lancashire! The crowd on Saturday was Lancashire in its homeliness; everybody acquainted with everybody else and all used the Lancashire and not the Manchester speech. I found it pleasant to see Lancashire cricket in a setting so full of ‘county’ flavour; here could we enjoy more than ever the rough and jolly shape of Richard Tyldesley; here we could understand and appreciated such ‘Lancashire lads’ as Iddon, Duckworth and Hallows. The crowd watched the match with the interest and enthusiasm of true lovers of the game. Lancashire cricket springs out soil that is honest and rich as any in Yorkshire; let us only cultivate it like conscientious gardeners.”

The match was very successful with Lancashire taking £1,000 in gate receipts as well as beating Derbyshire by 97 runs with McDonald on his home ground taking 4-27. Essex came the following year in a drawn game when Ernest Tyldesley scored a century and A.C.Russell 171.

Because of the success of these two matches further fixtures were allocated to the ground over the next three seasons. These saw victories over Warwickshire in 1928 and 1929 with Hallows scoring centuries in both games. In 1930 Leicestershire were beaten by 180 runs with McDonald taking 8 wickets in the match. In 1931 Richard Tyldesley took 13-152 in the match against Somerset, but when the match was transferred to mid-week they proved not so popular with spectators. The recession had hit Lancashire mill towns badly and the number of spectators at county matches declined.

Unfortunately the 1932 match against Warwickshire was ruined by rain. This coincided with Nelson’s most prolific form, when they had four championship victories in five years thanks to their new professional Learie Constantine.

In 1938 Lancashire agreed to play once more at Nelson after a guarantee of £200 was put up by the council. The match against Somerset was a disaster with only 3 hours play possible in three days. This ended county cricket at Nelson with Lancashire complaining that they never received the £200 guarantee and after many attempts to obtain the money it was written off as a bad debt in 1942.

Playing at Nelson had worked well for both Lancashire, with McDonald helping the county win four championships in five years, and Nelson whose release of the great fast bowler meant they could sign Constantine instead.

BLACKBURN: EAST LANCASHIRE CRICKET CLUB (1932-1935)

The East Lancashire Cricket Club was formed in 1863-4 on Alexandra Meadows by the Officers of the 2nd Lancashire Rifle Volunteers.

The ground is close to the town centre and yet quite rural in outlook, being set into the hillside adjoining Corporation Park. It has a large playing area, a well-appointed pavilion extensively modernised and ample terracing for spectators.

Blackburn Rovers also leased the ground for some of its earlier matches before moving to Ewood Park and a famous clash against Darwen F.C. at the Meadows led to major supporter clashes which caused the match to be abandoned! In 1881 the ground hosted its only football international when Wales beat England 1-0.

Early cricket matches included one against the Australian Aboriginal side in 1868 and in 1875 there was a visit from Casey’s Clown Cricketers and the club still possess the attractive poster.

The club staged its opening first-class match in 1932 when Lancashire played Glamorgan but the match was spoilt by rain.  In 1933 Lancashire played Worcestershire with Frank Watson scoring 186 in Lancashire’s total of 414 to help them win by innings.

The following year Northants were the visitors, and again Lancashire won by an innings with centuries from Eddie Paynter and Ernest Tyldesley. In 1935 Glamorgan returned, bringing with it the rain that limited to played to just five hours and prevented a ball being bowled on the third day.

The Committee recorded later that year, its regret that the county match previously allotted to the Club would be played at Preston in 1936. No further first-class fixtures have been played there although the second eleven have played there on a regular basis. 

PRESTON (1936-1952)

Cricket was said to have been played in Preston in 1821 and in the 1830’s the early matches were played on the Marsh, Penwortham against Manchester, Liverpool and Broughton. They also played two matches against an England Eleven, the home side fielding 22 players. The most tangible reminder of these matches is the water colour painting by Nicholas Wanostrocht who played in the game. The original is at Lord’s.

In 1859 the present ground of West Cliff was purchased and was at the time only swampy waste land. Great efforts by the members through the years brought the ground up the standard required for first-class cricket and in 1936 Preston were rewarded with their first county match against Gloucestershire. They brought with them the great crowd puller Wally Hammond and Lancashire were at full strength. Wet weather and a drying pitch meant that batsman were always at a disadvantage. Hammond scored 65 out of 138 and Lancashire collapsed for only 45. They were set 307 and lost by 175 runs.

1937 saw a visit from the New Zealanders who were well beaten by an innings and 74 runs. Centuries from Jack Iddon and Buddy Oldfield with Eddie Paynter making 94 helped Lancashire to 443.

1938 saw a rain-spoilt match with Sussex resulting in a draw and in 1939 with war clouds gathering Glamorgan were beaten by ten wickets. Eddie Philipson made his highest score of 113 and Dick Pollard took a hat-trick.

1952 was the last first-class match with Glamorgan the visitors in a drawn match spoilt by rain, Don Shepherd having match figures of 11-101.

Second team fixtures have been played on the ground since then.

SOUTHPORT & BIRKDALE (1959-2018)

In late August 1959, and seven years since their last match at Preston, Lancashire returned to the region to play Worcestershire at Southport & Birkdale CC meaning the county now held regular games both north and south of the River Ribble.

The well-appointed Trafalgar Road ground in Birkdale, a couple of miles south of the centre of Southport, was an established venue with the Southport and Birkdale clubs having amalgamated in 1902 and joined the Liverpool Cricket Competition in 1919.

That first game was blessed with dry weather and the wicket reported as ‘excellent’ and Ken Grieves had the honour of scoring the first first-class century on the ground, reaching it in 135 minutes and going on to make 142, including six 6s. Don Kenyon also made a century for the visitors as the match was drawn, and the only negative aspect was that the Saturday attendance clashed with, and was affected by, football with the match gate £340 short of covering the £1,000 guarantee made by Southport Corporation.

Undeterred, Lancashire returned to Trafalgar Road every season until a rota of outground matches was introduced in 1991 as the number of home games in the County Championship began to be reduced. A total of 45 first-class games have now been played with Lancashire having won 17 and lost 13 and games at Southport are rarely dull with the last 11 between 1990 and 2018 all finishing with a positive result.

Trafalgar Road also hosted an international team in 1967 when Lancashire played the touring India side captained by the Nawab of Pataudi and Lancashire supporters enjoyed a first look at Farokh Engineer, the dashing opening batsman and wicketkeeper who was to become their first overseas signing the following year. Engineer did not disappoint, memorably pulling and hooking Brian Statham during his two innings, and making a big impression.

One of the most remarkable matches in the history of the County Championship took place at Southport in 1982. On a blazingly hot opening day Warwickshire pair Alvin Kallicharran and Geoff Humpage both scored double centuries as the visitors racked up a mammoth 523 for 4 declared, the pair adding 470 for the fifth wicket, still a competition record. Lancashire replied 414 for 6 declared on the second day, with Graeme Fowler scoring 126 and even though Les McFarlane took two late Warwicks wickets the game looked destined to be a draw. What happened on the final morning was stunning. In hot and humid conditions McFarlane and Steve O’Shaughnessy found big swing and seam movement to shoot Warwickshire out for just 111, McFarlane finishing with a career-best 6-59. Fowler, who had batted with a runner throughout both innings, struck another century (128 not out) as he and David Lloyd (88*) scored the 226 required to record the most unlikely of ten-wicket victories ever seen.

In terms of close finishes, the 1988 contest against Surrey would be hard to beat. It was a game dominated by Wasim Akram who became the first Lancashire player to take a hat-trick and score 50 in the same match. Set 272 to win in 70 overs, Wasim came close to hitting the fastest century of the season hitting 4 sixes and 9 fours in his innings of 98 before, and with three balls left, he was caught on the boundary going for the winning hit with the scores level. The final two balls, both leg side yorkers, denied Lancashire victory with Warren Hegg run out attempting to snatch a bye to the wicketkeeper as the match ended in the closest of draws.

Arguably one of the best innings on the ground came in 1994 when, on a pitch which favoured the bowlers, John Crawley scored a majestic 281 not out against Somerset, with the visitors including Pakistan spinner Mushatt Ahmed in their side. Wasim, who seemed to revel playing at Southport, took 5-117 and a stunning 8-30 finish Somerset off early on the fourth morning.

Southport has also hosted five one-day matches between 1969 and 1987 with the first one the most memorable. An estimated 10,000 spectators, with many more locked out, crammed into Trafalgar Road to see Lancashire play Glamorgan in a John Player League match that was also televised live on BBC2. They were not disappointed as Engineer hit a dazzling unbeaten 78 in a nine-wicket demolition as Lancashire marched on to the inaugural Sunday League title.

LYTHAM (1985-1998)

It was only as a result of a dispute in 1984 with the nearby club at Blackpool, who staged a joint benefit match for Ian Botham and Geoffrey Boycott without first consulting the county, that Lancashire decided to leave Blackpool, where they had played since 1905 and move a few miles down the coast to Lytham.

The club was founded in 1855 by the squire of Lytham and was developed on the estate workers and for the local Lytham people.

First class cricket came to Lytham in 1985 with the visit of Northants but before then second XI matches and benefit matches for Lancashire cricketers had taken place on the ground. The first day was ruined by rain and the highlight of the game was David Makinson hitting seven sixes in an innings of 58 not out.

Nine matches were played at Lytham and the crowds were usually very good, while the club went to a lot of trouble to provide good facilities with sponsors marquees and seating provided by the local council. The press waxed lyrically about Lytham’s addition to the list of first-class grounds. It was described in the Times as “the most attractive with its evergreens, pines and oaks, facing an array of sponsors’ tents”.

Highlights of the matches included John Crawley scoring 172 against Surrey and 108 against Worcestershire in Lytham’s final match, a two-wicket Red Rose victory.  Jack Simmons took 7-79 (10-145 in the match) out of 156 for 8 to almost win the game for Lancashire against Glamorgan in 1986. Mike Watkinson took 7-25 to help win the game against Sussex in 1987 as Lancashire chased that elusive Championship title, finishing as runners-up. Carl Hooper scored 166 not out for Kent in 1993 and Min Patel took 12-182. Of the 9 first-class matches Lancashire won 3, lost 4 and 2 were drawn.

Two curious incidents occurred at Lytham, one after a well-meaning helper decided to paint the seats that came from the council. The only trouble was they completed it two days before the match and the paint didn’t dry properly, leaving Lancashire with a large dry-cleaning bill! Then in 1987 against Sussex the Public Address system started to broadcast the communion service from the local parish church next door-complete with hymns and readings! The players and spectators were bemused as nobody at first realised what was happening.

When Blackpool Cricket Club made their peace with Lancashire, and the reduction in the number of Championship matches meant outgrounds went on a rota staging games more infrequently, the days of Lytham were numbered and the last game was in 1998.

SEDBERGH SCHOOL (2019)

It was Cameron Bancroft who, neatly and succinctly, encapsulated the charm of the Sedbergh School ground. “It’s a picture postcard wherever you look,” said the visiting captain after the conclusion of the inaugural first-class match at the venue between Lancashire and Durham and also the first first-class ever played in Cumbria.

The earliest record of cricket at Sedbergh was in October 1841 when the Westmorland Gazette recorded that a team had been formed at the school. The earliest matches were against Kirkby Lonsdale but within a decade the field of opponents had widened to include Settle C.C.; Penrith and the Royal Grammar School, Lancaster. The current pavilion, completed in 1913, was named after and donated by Eric Walter Knowles who was a pupil between 1901-1905. Notable cricketers to have attended the school include Somerset’s M.S. ‘Mandy’ Mitchell-Innes, former Red Rose all-rounder Jordan Clark and Yorkshire’s Harry Brook.

Cumberland have staged Minor Counties matches on the ground and indeed were due to play Lancashire in a one-day warm-up game at Sedbergh in 2020 ahead of the county’s Royal London One-Day Cup match against Middlesex on this picturesque ground set amidst the Baugh and Howgill Fells on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales, some 11 miles east of Kendal.

For now we will have to content ourselves with memories of an excellent and competitive match in last year’s Specsavers County Championship that had seen the fortunes of both teams fluctuate before ending with honours even. Bancroft made the highest score with an unbeaten 92 to go with his first innings’ 77 while Red Rose counterpart Dane Vilas led the Lancashire batting with 72 & 85. The bowling honours went to Lancashire’s Graham Onions who took seven wickets in the match, including 5 for 93 in the first innings, against his former county. 

Malcolm Lorimer & Ken Grime

 
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