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ASHTON CRICKET

Email: ashtoncricketclub@gmail.com


With the new pavilion now opened and having finished third in 1971 the club welcomed the 1972 campaign with high expectations. Throughout the season the pavilion certainly impressed visitors to Reyner Lane, far more than did the cricket - For, with the exception of the rare inspired performance from the odd player, there was very little to excite the club’s followers as the team slumped to finish 12th in the table.

 

A considerable improvement was made the following summer when they finished seventh but the cricket was hardly inspiring. Amateur player Malcolm Rosewarne headed the Central Lancashire League’s amateur bowling averages for the season and was really the club’s only challenging bowler having little support. Most Ashton batters suffered from inconsistencies and the club’s new professional Alan Jones from Queensland failed to maintain the standard he had set in his first match at Radcliffe. A similar season followed when again the side ended their campaign in seventh place.

 

 

The summer of 1975 may well be remembered for producing bright sunshine every weekend, however, the side’s performances though were anything but bright. In reality the season was a total disaster with the team only avoiding finishing bottom of the league on the very last day of the campaign. Within the club the only real highlight was the introduction of a new junior team, the under 14s into the new Central Lancashire League’s competition. After an encouraging start the form of the club’s new professional Derek Vincent Parker deteriorated along with that of his team mates.  However the all-rounder and right hand batsman, mixing leg spin and seam in bowling did manage to knock 315 runs and take 77 wickets. He gradually settled in and with the next campaign he scored 358 runs while collecting 100 wickets as Ashton made some progress to finish eighth.

 

Without doubt the one highlight of the decade was the 1977 season when the club finished runner-up to Littleborough. If rain had not washed out the final day’s games for both clubs and Ashton had won and Littleborough had lost, both teams would have been join-top with the same number of points. Littleborough however, would still have been crowned champions by way of having most outright wins. Captain Charlie Moore lead by example and his aggregate of 904 runs saw him top the league’s amateur batting averages at 45.20, winning him the Frank Worrell Trophy. Moore’s highest knock was against Milnrow when he finished on 103, he also hit 93 in a Lancashire Cup match which left him just three runs short of reaching 1,000. Derek Parker turned in his best campaign since joining Ashton, hitting 504 runs along with a total of 130 wickets. Writing this in 2006 no one at the club has come near to beating that number of wickets. A native of Preston, Parker had been on the staff at Old Trafford from 1968 – 1971 making a number of 2nd XI appearances. Too many people it was a surprise when Lancashire released him especially in view of his consistently good form at CLL level. While with Ashton, in July 1977, Parker made a return to Second XI Championship cricket when he made an appearance for Glamorgan in Cardiff. In his last two seasons at Ashton when the club finished 5th and 12th Parker took 106 and 103 wickets scoring 401 and 405 runs respectively.

 

 












With the departure of Parker at the end of the 1979 season, the club enlisted the services of C. Kuhn as the new professional. In his first season the team improved on the form shown in 1979 by finishing 5th in the league. Amateur player David Mellor took 64 wickets and was joint winner of the league’s bowling prize.  Ashton’s Bob Arrowsmith also picked up this honour in the following year with his 73 wickets – the team however, could not maintain the improvement shown in 1980 finishing the campaign in 11th position. 

 

A great loss occurred in 1981 when at the hands of mindless arsonists they lost the tea pavilion. Over the years this had been a great asset to the club and to those of the tennis and bowling sections in particular. With the opening of the new pavilion in 1971 the mood within the club had been good and everyone was focusing on taking the club forward. On the field the remainder of the decade did not live up to expectations however, which lead to the enthusiasm of members diminishing. As with most sporting clubs success on the field of play always has great bearing on support off the field. Not only did the club lose support at the gate, they gradually began to lose the support of members. The loss of the tea pavilion in the early 1980s was to affect the club and was partly responsible for the demise of the tennis section.  The bold thoughts and plans of many to take the club forward had in a ten year period changed. Now the thoughts were how to keep the club in existence. By the mid 1980s with the club never finishing higher than fifth in the league support was hitting an all time low. On the field for the remainder of the decade the team played very little inspired cricket as the final league positions showed from being in 8th place in 1985 they slumped to 14th in season 1986 and 1987 were bottom in 1988 and next to bottom in 1989.

 

At the AGM held in February 1986 Ashton CC faced a genuine crisis when the running of the club was described as pitiful with only a handful of people doing all the work. If it had not been for four or five committee members the club would not have survived the 1985 season. The general apathy was shown in the turn out for the AGM with just a few over the required number for a quorum attending. At one point it seemed that the club would fold as no one was prepared to step forward to undertake the secretary’s job. After some persuading during an adjournment Mr Andrew Ratcliffe agreed to take on the role if given guidance. As a result the club could continue. The apathy of many members came under fire from Brian Priestly chairman who said, “We have soldiered on for some time, and refused to face the reality of the lack of interest. “The players have to get together and everyone must look at themselves and say are we going to let the club go down the nick”. Concern was also shown to the club’s financial position as the bad weather of 1985 had resulted in a loss of £2,373. Martin Frost speaking as the secretary and treasurer informed everyone that the club was at crisis point and that it was essential that activities in the next year should be wholly towards fund raising. As before in the club’s history, this crisis was overcome.

1970's and 1980's

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The Tea Pavilion (right) - burned down in 1982