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Bacup Cricket Club History

The story of Bacup Cricket Club began in 1860 with the formation of the club. The very first game was played that year on a field at the top of Lanehead Lane. This still remains the home of the club more than 160 years later. 


The club leased the sizeable piece of land, which then included the area on which the school is now built, for the first 63 years of its existence. In 1870 there was much consternation when the owner served notice that the yearly lease was not to be renewed. Club officials pleaded with the owner to continue the lease having recently spent a considerable sum of money on a new square and a hut. Fortunately the owner backtracked and agreed to a sub-tenancy at a cost of £26 per annum. There was even better news in 1883 when the annual lease was increased to a ten year lease providing the club with a little more security. Forty years later in 1923,  during a very successful period for the club on the field of play, four eminent local gentlemen purchased the ground and generously donated it to the club. Little did they know that 100 years later the club would still be thriving. 


The ground continued to develop apace now that the club owned the ground. The first pavilion was at the Blackthorn end and a later addition was the Ladies’ Tea Hut. The committee discussed whether it should be demolished in the early 1960’s, but it still stands today. A new pavilion was built at the Greensnook corner of the ground. This was an impressive classical wooden pavilion with a large hall in the centre and small changing rooms at the ends. This was modernised in 1971 providing more ample accommodation and showers for the players. This in turn was replaced, on the same footprint, by the current modern pavilion in 2006 and was officially opened by New Zealand Test all rounder Chris Cairns, the Bacup professional at that time. 


The current scoreboard building, which originally doubled up as a pay hut with a turnstile, was an addition in 1953. At the time, admission at the top end of the ground was more expensive than it was at the Blackthorn Lane side, owing to all of the facilities being there. In 2012 to move with the times the scoreboard became electronic. 


For many years players, officials and supporters socialised at the Bowling Club,  which was situated behind the pavilion just off Greensnook Lane,  where houses now stand, or at local hostelries in Bacup such as The Bulls Head, The Market Hotel and The British Queen. Then in 1966,  with crowds diminishing, it became clear that revenue from admission to matches alone would not be enough to keep the club afloat. Club volunteers combined with the Supporters’ Association to build a small social club in the prefab style. This allowed members to socialise together without leaving the ground and provided finance to help with running costs. 


In 1992 there was a major extension and refurbishment of the club at the cost of £120,000 which put the club in considerable debt but provided a facility which was to be the envy of the league. This proved to be forward thinking which has been a great asset to the club with the debt incurred soon to be repaid. 


The current committee has also worked hard in recent years to secure grants to continue to improve the ground and facilities. New off field practice facilities, a beer garden and a much improved drainage system have been welcome recent additions. 


2022 saw an impressive refurbishment of the social club providing a thoroughly modern venue for years to come. Meanwhile 2023 sees the installation of a brand new kitchen and cafe area. 


At Bacup Cricket Club we are proud of our history and excited about the future.



Bacup Cricket Club has a very rich and colourful playing history which includes many periods of success.


Before the introduction of organised League cricket, Bacup, like many other newly formed clubs in the area, played “friendly matches” in addition to entering the Lancashire Cup.  Matches were played against some of the current Lancashire League teams such as Haslingden, Burnley, and Walsden Fieldhouse along with other neighbouring clubs including Rochdale Union, Stacksteads and clubs further afield such as Southport and Poulton.


The club’s first trophy came in 1885 in the shape of the Lancashire Amateur Cup.  Six years later in 1891 Bacup became a member of the North East Lancashire League, before one year later becoming a founding member of the Lancashire League.  Apart from Todmorden exchanging places with Bury briefly before returning, the same 14 clubs competed in the competition for, remarkably, the next 125 years.


In that time, Bacup has been Lancashire League champions on 10 occasions, the 5th most successful club in the league’s history.  In addition, the prestigious Worsley Cup has been lifted 6 times. Not bad for a small town isolated at the top of a long valley!


The first league success came in 1899 under the captaincy of John Shepherd. In the days of much lower scores, John Midgley, who was to become a very successful captain many years later, top scored with 408 runs.  The last season before the league introduced the “One Professional Rule” the twin pronged professional attack of Sam Moss (98 wickets) and Ernest Needham (56 wickets) were influential in that first league success.


It was to be another 23 years before the arrival of the club’s second most successful period in our history.  In 1922, Bacup and Rawtenstall finished level at the top of the table and a play off took place to determine the champions.  It was to be a timeless two innings match. Bacup took a slight 1st innings lead scoring 142 to Rawtenstall’s 120 with Bacup scoring 155 in the 2nd innings, Rawtenstall required 178 to win.  After 5 days of cricket with Rawtenstall on 113 for 7 (65 runs short) a dispute in playing conditions ensued with one team turning up without the other and then on another day vice-versa until The League Executive decided that the title should be shared.


Jimmy Midgley, who for many years was Bacup’s leading run scorer, top scored with 713 runs, professional Archie Slater scored 554 and veteran skipper Johnnie Midgley weighed with 395 runs.  Derbyshire County player Archie Slater who had 500 first class wickets to his name, took a very impressive 107 wickets at only 7.16 each.


In 1923 Bacup won the title outright, losing only 1 match along the way, but pipping local rivals, Haslingden, by just 1 point.  In a wetter summer, runs were not as easy to come by.  Slater top scored with 470.  Batting protégé Jimmy Midgley, meanwhile, was again top scorer with 372.  Slater was at it again with 99 wickets at just 6.82 each whilst we see the emergence of possibly Bacup’s greatest ever amateur with 17-year-old Fred Hatley taking 64 wickets.


So could 1924 herald the treble for Bacup CC, albeit with the first championship being shared?  The answer was a resounding yes!  Bacup were unbeaten throughout the season in winning the title by 4 points ahead of Nelson.  Professional Slater scored 663 with Jimmy Midgley once again being top amateur scorer with 509.  On the bowling front, Slater took a back seat with only 45 wickets whilst Hartley unbelievably (at only 18 years old) took 88 wickets at only 7.48 a piece – an amazing feat.

Six years later in 1930, Bacup were champions for a 5th time, pipping a Learie Constantine inspired Nelson by just 2 points in losing only 1 match.  Australian Test Player Arthur Richardson, amassed 838 runs and took 84 wickets.  On the amateur front, Jimmy Midgley continued to show his batting prowess with 451 runs and by now was the captain with Hartley taking 69 wickets.


It was to be another 28 years, in 1958, when the title came to Bacup again.  Despite Sir Everton Weekes, a world class Test batsman, having been the Pro for several years and often the League’s highest run scorer, a lack of cutting edge with the ball meant the championship trophy eluded the great man.  He was not to be denied in his last season scoring 1033 runs and taking 50 wickets.  Opening partner, Stanley Entwistle, weighed in with 552 runs and BRGS school teacher, Jack Bridge, held the famous trophy aloft for the 5th time in Bacup’s cricket history.


It was only a 2 year wait until the next title came along in 1960, clinched with an exciting last day of the season victory against East Lancs to secure a 1 point winning margin, Entwistle was again top amateur batsman with 547 runs whilst Bob Bennett, later to become Lancashire CCC Chairman and England Tour Manager, scored 428.  West Indies Test fast bowler Roy Gilchrist scored only 159 at 8.83 but took an amazing 126 wickets at 10.02.  Captain and wicketkeeper Fred Mitchell had 34 wickets and weighed in with 272 runs.


Despite several great professionals and talented amateurs, the League trophy didn’t return to Lanehead for another 40 years when in 2000, under the captaincy of Neal Wilkinson and the guidance of influential Australian Test bowler Adam Dale, Bacup remarkably won the League despite losing 9 matches in an amazing rollercoaster of a season after being next to the bottom of the table in late May.  With 11 wins in the last 13 matches, the League was won in a dramatic last game of the season at a soggy Turf Moor with no other than the great Jimmy Anderson in the opposition’s ranks.  Professional Dale with 109 wickets and highly accomplished amateur bowler David Ormerod with 85, swept teams aside.  The batting was not so strong and games were often won by the tightest of margins.  Dale made 552 runs and ex skipper Peter Thompson weighed in with 469.  However it was the bowling and fielding prowess along with the determination to play in less than ideal conditions which won the day.

In 2001, the title came to Bacup again.  Adam Dale was unable to return, and so, on Dale’s advice the club engaged Tasmanian all rounder Shaun Young and what a signing he turned out to be!  With the addition of opening batsman from Rochdale, Dominic Ayres, Bacup were able to win matches with both bat and ball, losing only 3 matches yet winning the title by only 4 points from East Lancs who must have been disappointed, having only lost 2.  Young scored 1003 runs and took 94 wickets missing out on the coveted double, a feat achieved by only 4 players in the League’s history, by only 6 wickets.  David Ormerod excelled once more with 79 wickets whilst on the batting front, Ayres top scored with 516 with Thompson making 490.  Remarkably only 14 players represented the team all season.  With Shaun Young re-signed for 2002, thoughts turned to a historic treble.  Confidence was high and Bacup romped to the title ahead of 2nd place Enfield by 40 points.  Young scored 637 runs and took 66 wickets, but there were many other contributions.   Several games were completed in quick time with openers Peter Thompson (611) and Dominic Ayres (599) often at the forefront.  David Ormerod continued his immense form taking 82 wickets at 13.19 and finished as the League’s leading wicket taker, including professionals – an amazing achievement.


And so, with games to spare, captain Neal Wilkinson received the Championship Trophy and Bacup achieved the historic treble, becoming the most successful team in the club’s history.


The Worsley Cup has been won on 6 occasions with the double being achieved in 1923 and 1930.  In 1923, the Cup was won at East Lancs with the opposition being bowled out for 82, Bacup won by 6 wickets.  In the 3 games played, pro Slater with 17 wickets and Hartley with 11, did most of the damage.


In 1930, the Cup was won at Church.  After Bacup suspended their innings on 134 for 2 with pro Richardson making 54 and skipper Jimmy Midgley 40, Church was all out for just 68.  Hartley was again prominent in the cup, taking 16 wickets with Richardson taking 14.


The next Worsley Cup triumph was in 1956 and it was Bacup’s only home win to date in Worsley Cup Final.  The great Sir Everton Weekes, more renowned for his masterful batting, took 6 for 61 and then scored 119no to take the team home.  Weekes scored 300 runs at 100 in the cup run and took 8 for 80 in an earlier round.  Meanwhile Dick Dunham enjoyed 2 five wicket hauls with his off spin.


Cup success next came in 1972 with Australian Test leg spinner Tony Mann as pro.   He was outstanding in the competition scoring 239 runs with only being dismissed once as well as taking 11 wickets.  John Beaumont took 13 wickets in total and bowled unchanged in the final at East Lancs taking 5 wickets along with fellow amateur Kenny Lord with the pro not being required to bowl.


Bacup’s most recent triumph came in 1993 at Rawtenstall.  This was West Indian Test all rounder Roger Harper’s only success despite 7 seasons of scintillating cricket at Lanehead.  Harper took 3 wickets as Rawtenstall scored 192 for 8.  In the gathering gloom with rain falling, Bacup won comfortably by 9 wickets with Harper 104no and Mark Taylor’s 62no winning Man of the Match.  In earlier rounds, David Ormerod took 6 for 68 in the semi final at Burnley and John Nuttall took an amazing 6 for 12 during the previous round at Haslingden.


We await to see when our next success will be and who will be the name to write themselves in to the proud history of Bacup CC.


We have been blessed with a plethora of top class home and overseas professionals over the years, many of them star performers on the international stage. 


From the formation of the Lancashire League in 1892 until 1899 each club was permitted to play two professionals. The standout professional from this era was fast bowler Sam Moss. Professionals at that time tended to be bowlers and often from the north of England. Moss, born in Salford, was certainly in that mould, averaging only 8.07 with the bat. However, in his four seasons at the club he amassed 415 wickets at the astonishing average of just 7.2, including 98 wickets at only 6.92 in Bacup’s very first championship season in 1899. Moss plied his trade around Northern England, the Midlands and Wales and has the distinction of being Bacup’s first professional to win a trophy. 


Australian Alex Kermode from New South Wales was our first overseas professional from 1910 to 1914. Again predominantly a bowler, he took 430 wickets at 11.8 in his five seasons with us. He was the first of four players in our history to take all ten wickets in an innings with his 10 for 20 v Church in 1913. 


The most decorated professional was Derbyshire all rounder Archie Slater. He enjoyed seven seasons at Lanehead from 1921 to 1927 and then a further season 

thirteen years later just before the war in 1939. A right arm medium pacer, he took 600 wickets at 10.24 and added 3743 runs at 23.84. He twice took ten wickets in an innings with 10 for 44 v Church in 1921 and 10 for 47 v Ramsbottom in 1926. His fine contribution led to three Championships and one Worsley Cup. 


1949 saw the arrival of undoubtedly our greatest ever professional. West Indian Test Everton de Courcy Weekes was arguably the best and certainly the most elegant batsman to grace the Lancashire League. His phenomenal statistics of 9069 runs at an unbelievable average of 91.6 with 32 centuries and a top score of 195 not out would bear testament to that. Add to that 1145 runs at 95.41 in the Worsley Cup with a top score of 225 not out and you will understand just how good a player he was in an era when the League abounded with world class players. 


Not originally a bowler of any great repute, Weekes adapted to bowling on the often damp pitches to the extent that he plundered 453 wickets at 15.3. However, it was in the main his explosive batting which won matches, often with the opposition leaving Bacup a seemingly impossible limited amount of time to get the necessary runs, only for Weekes to confound the odds and take his team to victory. 


Weekes broke records throughout his career. The 1518 runs he scored in the 1951 season was a league record for many years and is still a club record. In each of his seven seasons at the club between 1949 and 1958 he surpassed 1000 runs and his 195 not out remained a record until very recently. On the world stage he remains the only player to complete five consecutive Test Match centuries, failing in his attempt for a sixth being run out on 99! 


Despite his prowess with the bat, in his time at Bacup he only won the Worsley Cup once in 1956 and the League in his final season in 1958. In the era of time cricket it was usually a top class bowler who brought the League Championship to their club. 


Whilst at Bacup in 1951 Weekes received the honour of being Wisden Cricketer of the Year and was later knighted for his services to cricket - Sir Everton Weekes of Barbados and Bacup! 


The next cricketer to have a long lasting impact on the club was another high profile West Indian Test and ODI player in the name of Roger Harper. Roger was Bacup’s longest serving professional, gracing Lanehead for eight memorable seasons between 1989 and 1996, scoring 8602 runs at 57.73 and taking 595 wickets at 14.59. His efforts certainly deserved more than the one Worsley Cup success in 1993, when his 104 not out, alongside Mark Taylor (62 not out) took Bacup to victory in the final at Rawtenstall. 


There are four other professionals who are more than worthy of a mention, being instrumental in championship winning seasons. 


Arthur Richardson was professional for four seasons from 1928 to 1931 including the 1930 championship season. The Australian Test all rounder scored 3316 runs at 48.05 and captured 317 wickets at 11.43 and un the title winning season he even outperformed the legendary Sir Learie Constantine with both bat and ball. 


Another championship winning professional was West Indies Test fast bowler Roy Gilchrist who had a fearsome reputation striking fear through opposing teams. A large majority of his victims were clean bowled, as edges behind were often too quick for the slip cordon. Gilchrist often bowled with no fielders in front of the wicket. Roy ran in from the sight screen at one end with the wicket keeper almost in front of the sight screen at the other end! His batting was nothing to write home about, scoring only 520 runs across his three seasons at an average of only 10.4. However, his devastating bowling garnered 338 wickets at only 10.43, including 10 for 75 v Church in 1962. In the championship season of 1960 he took 126 wickets; incredibly 76 of these were clean bowled. Controversy followed Gilchrist around and sadly disciplinary problems resulted in a relatively short Test career. 


Fast forward forty years to our next title winning professional in the form of Australian Test and ODI fast medium bowler Adam Dale. The League was won with a dominant bowling display from Adam and amateur David Ormerod who who bowled virtually unchanged throughout the season. Dale took 109 wickets at just 9.99 apiece with his metronomic swing and seam bowling being the best the league had seen for many a long year. 


Sadly Dale was unable to return the following season, but, in his place, he recommended the wily, battle hardened Australian all rounder Shaun Young. Shaun continued the success set up by his predecessor and was our professional for the next three seasons, being a League winner in his first two seasons at the club, helping Bacup to complete a hat trick of championship wins. Shaun had extensive experience, playing first class cricket for Tasmania, with one Test Match appearance for Australia, and also for Gloucester in the County Championship. Add to that previous league cricket experience in England and you could see why he was so successful for Bacup. His statistics over three wonderful seasons were exceptional. He scored 3025 runs at 59.31 and took 211 wickets at 13.44, thoroughly enjoying his time in a Golden Age at Lanehead. 


Undoubtedly the highest profile player in many seasons was legendary New Zealand all rounder Chris Cairns. He played in 62 Test matches and a staggering 215 ODI’s and held the record for most sixes in Test cricket. In 2006 at Bacup he scored 953 runs at 63.5 and picked up 87 victims at 10.4. A brilliant 144 which single handedly won a match against Haslingden was one highlight amongst many. Several rained off matches prevented him from becoming only the fifth player in League history to achieve the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. 


Cairns was followed through the door by New Zealand compatriot Chris Harris, who, incidentally, several years earlier had achieved the coveted double at Ramsbottom. Harris was one of New Zealand’s best ever ODI players and although he was maybe a little past his best, he scored 1340 runs at 46.2 and captured 175 wickets at 12.44 in his two seasons at Lanehead. 


Many other professionals have added colour to the rich tapestry of Bacup’s history, with Test players such as West Indians George Headley, Manny Martindale and Basil Butcher, Pakistanis Khan Mohammed and Israeli Ali, Australian Tony Mann and Sri Lankan Ashanti de Mel all playing their part down the ages. Who will be the next professional to make a lasting impression and bring success to our beloved club?

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