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ASHTON CRICKET

Email: ashtoncricketclub@gmail.com


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OUR HISTORY

MOVING TO REYNER LANE - 1874

During their last season at Moss Lane, the club suffered the tragic loss of one of its players. Their professional bowler Arthur Shaw who first played for the club in 1867 - and had turned out for them for several years - was found dead at his Blandford Street lodgings on June 12th 1874.  Mr. Shaw had teamed up with Ashton once again at Easter and the start of the season and it was while playing a game against Stockport on June 6th that he suffered an injury to a finger of his right hand which restricted his bowling. Later that night, although complaining about the pain and his hand becoming somewhat swollen Mr Shaw would not allow anyone to examine to it. As the week progressed he found that he was unable to use his right hand at all. While drinking at the Moss Side Hotel on Thursday 11th June he explained this to landlord and cricket club member Thomas Wolfenden. Ironically, Mr Shaw in conversation had made comment about a friend who had once gone to bed feeling fit and well but was found dead the next morning. Before leaving the pub that night to head home to his lodgings just a few doors away, Mr Shaw showed some of the pub regulars his injured finger. Although his hand was still quite swollen he informed them that he felt it was getting better. The following morning Mr Wolfenden at around 7.30am called around to see Mr Shaw was up and out of bed - upon being told he had yet to arise he offered to go up and wake him. The reason for Thomas Wolfenden's early visit was to show Arthur Shaw a newspaper report of the Nottinghamshire match in which his brother J. C. Shaw had played. On his arrival at the bedroom he immediately discovered Arthur lying dead in bed - with the body still warm it was apparent death had occurred only recently. It appears that just some time earlier he had suffered severe haemorrhaging which resulted in a severe heart attack - whether the haemorrhaging was a result of his injury and swollen hand was never disclosed. Arthur Shaw came from a sporting family with his brother James Coupe Shaw being regarded by W. G. Grace as the best fast bowler of that period. He played for Nottinghamshire and took part for them in every consecutive game over a ten year period. J. C. Shaw as he was known also represented the 'All England XI' for many years and when playing for them against Ashton in 1867 was instrumental in the dismissal of his brother Arthur for a duck with a brilliant catch.

 

 

A special General Meeting was held at the Moss Side Hotel - the then club house - to consider the position of the club in view of the imminent loss of their ground. The turn out for such an important meeting must have been most disappointing for those who did attend. In fact, even today, with hindsight knowing the importance of such imminent events one has to wonder why the attendance was so meagre. David Cordingly (club secretary), J. B Rayner (vice-president), Alderman Oldham Hulme and Thomas Wolfenden being the only four members present. Mr Rayner spoke for some time on the club's predicament and with such evident lack of interest in the club's fate he believed it was not desirable or indeed possible to carry on any longer and face the cost of preparing a new ground. The others present fully agreed and a resolution was then carried that the club should be dissolved and consequently the Ashton-under-Lyne Cricket Club ceased to exist - well for a short time anyway. The saddened foursome returned to the bar and after several drinks began to reminisce about games gone-by. As their mood changed everyone it seems was soon regretting the decision to close the club. Although in their minds it was the right decision in their hearts it was not. With Mr Wolfenden's finest ales flowing freely it was decided to reopen the meeting. D. C. Cordingly once recalled, "Although everyone present felt that the course taken was the only one circumstances  warranted, no one seem satisfied. All agreed that though their cricketing days were coming to a close, the abandonment of the club would be a great loss in the enjoyment of life".  In what perhaps was the most memorable meeting ever held in the club's history the previous resolution was rescinded and once again the club was in being. The morning after in the cold light of day, the task that lay ahead seemed mountainous and with no available funding, almost impossible to achieve.

 

However, as quickly as possible a new site was found and funding to help turn it into a cricket pitch was sought. In contrast to the meagre support which had been received at the special meeting, the response for financial commitments from members on this occasion proved most encouraging. Enough was initially raised to satisfy the principal contractor George Colbeck that work could commence on the field at Reyner Lane. The field, like most in the surrounding area was wet and marshy with the remnants of countless trees which had flourished long ago in a bye-gone age. The cost of draining, levelling and fencing the field in readiness for the start of the next season was immense, far more than had been raised. In order to save money the pavilion which had been used at Moss Lane was dismantled and re-erected at Reyner Lane. As the season got underway the club started life in their new surroundings heavily in debt, a situation which would remain for some time. Although Reyner Lane was not far from the old ground, the extra distance from town coupled with the bad approach roads, resulted in poor attendances for most of the early years.

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