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Burlesque Cricket

The East Lancashire Cricket League was first created in 1890 under the guise of the North East Lancashire Cricket League. It remained under this name for 2 years, when it became known as The Lancashire Cricket League.

In 1981 sponsorship became involved for the first time, and the league name was changed. The first sponsors were Matthew Browns Brewery. This sponsorship carried on for over 25 years……

The first meeting of the cricket League was held in the Commercial Pub in October 1890, when 13 teams were admitted to the league. 2 Weeks later Rishton were also admitted, making the teams which still play in the league as in 2004.

It was 1865 that the cricket club was first formed, and the first ground was based on the South side of the railway tracks, which is now part of the Golf Club.

After a few years the club eventually moved to their current ground on Blackburn Road. Our first cricketers were very keen on England’s national game, sometimes playing up to 2 games a day! During the 1870’s both Nelson and Colne were played and both teams defeated in the same day.

Viv Richards during the 80's

The clubs 1st professional player was T Melling, this was back in 1875, and he started a long, long line of great cricketers which have since turned out for Rishton Cricket club. These names include E. McIntyre, J. Ambler, E. Whipp, Jack Usher, Daff Whittaker, Sydney Barnes, Freddy Bull, Jack Newstead, A. E. Vogler, Jack Curtis, Bill Merritt and Fred Freer, and more recently Viv Richards the famous West Indies player, and still at the club Peter Sleep, the Australian International (2001).

Against Enfield in 1894, Jack Usher took 4 wickets off the 1st four bowls of the match, but then didn't take another wicket for the rest of the game! Sydney Barnes arrived in 1895 and stayed with the club for 5 years, four of these partnered with Daff Whittaker as co-professional. Rishtoners always maintaining that Daff coached Sydney on to greatness!

In the early years there were many amateurs, Tommy Edward Noble, Sylvester Sinfield, Arthur Dawson, Tommy Stapleton, Pat Gilmartin, Percy Nixon, and many many others. In 1919 Rishton were playing Rawtenstall and with the home side batting first, the first 5 batsmen all falling to Pat Gilmartin behind the "sticks", he always claimed that he had caught out Blackburn as well (a former Aston Villa Footballer) before he scored a run! Blackburn went on to make 100 runs that day.

On August 4th 1936, Percy Nixon retired from Lancashire League Cricket, after playing for Rishton for 25 years. He was 46 at the time of his retirement.

Plans were submitted for Lavatory accommodation on Rishton Cricket Field for Rishton Cricket Club. The plans were approved by the Rishton Urban District Council on the 1st June 1939, as a temporary building under the councils bye-laws for a period of three years.

An application for a building licence was considered from the Rishton Cricket Club, on the 19th June 1947, for a licence of 97 0s. 0d. for repairs, etc., to the stand fronting the Pavilion. The Council  Resolved That the application was granted.

On the 15th May 1948, Fred Freer, Rishton CC pro and Australian test cricketer took 9 for 3 against Enfield, a Lancashire league record. Four of these wickets were off 7 balls of an 8 ball over. Enfield finished on 30 all out.

Team

On the 16th April 1958 Rishton welcomed Alf Valentine, the famous West Indian spin bowler as their professional player.

On 28th September 1962, it was Johnny Wardles turn. The Yorkshire and England spin bowler signed for Rishton as a professional. Johnny signed for the club again on the 12th July 1964, to play in the 1965 season. Johnny Wardle finally announced his retirement on the 31st August 1968, after 6 years with Rishton and 4 with Nelson.

Club houses

Many famous names have played for the club, and indeed the whole league, not least of which was Richards in 1987. His appearances at the club not only made record season ticket sales, but also record turnover for the year.

In 1894 Jack Usher took 4 wickets with the 1st four bowls of the game, but failed to take another wicket for the rest of the match, finishing on 4 for 60 runs.

Sydney Barnes in 1895 stayed for 5 years and 4 of these he was partnered by Daff Whittaker, Rishtoners ever since have always maintained that Daff coached Barnes and laid the foundations for this bowlers greatness….

Apart from all these great Pros Rishton has had plenty of great amateur players as well, Tommy Edward Noble, Sylvester Sinfield, Arthur Dawson, Tommy Stapleton, Pat Gilmartin, Percy Nixon, and many, many others, who have all earned their place in Rishtons roll of honour.

Club houses

It is said that Pat Gilmartin may have been one of the greatest ever wicket keepers to have ever played in the Lancashire League, or indeed any other league. In 1919 it was Rishton v Rawtenstall, and Rawtenstall were put in first. The 1st five batsmen all fell foul to this great wicket keeper, and he always claimed that he had caught out Blackburn (the 6th batsman) as well (a former Aston Villa football player) who went on to score a century.

In 1890 the club was admitted to the North East Lancashire Cricket League, just 2 years before the league was renamed the Lancashire League.

During 1898, 1912, 1944, and 1948 Rishton won the league championship, with E Hacking being the captain for these last two. They have since gone on to win the league many more times since.

Rishton were Worsley cup winners in 1922, and 1932, and won the Lancashire Junior Cricket League in 1913 and 1933. They when on to win the Worsley cup for the 6th time on the 7th August 1973, when they beat Enfield in the final.

The Crowd

Mr W Fletcher had been a servant to the club for over 70 years, 30 of these were spent in an official capacity and showed a spirit which epitomised the support. His leadership in his support for the club, and Wilf Woodhouse after him should show guidance to the younger generations who will hopefully play a part in preserving the institute in which Rishton should be justly proud.

There were many others like him, Joe Brown, Mr. Wilson, Albert Nicholson, Robert Gilroy, and one time Chairman of the club, Councillor F. Worsley.

A memorable match took place on 13th August 1938, when Accrington scored 50 (Rae 9 for 22) to beat Rishton who only scored 32 (Bailey 7 for 14).

In 1953 the club made a firm offer to the Indian Test player, S. P. Gupte, asking him to join them as professional for the forthcoming season. Gupte was a spin bowler and a member of the Bombay Cricket Association. He was a member of the Indian team, which had toured the West Indies in the winter of 1952. Chairman, Councillor Fred Worsley was confident of the capture.

Around the Ground

On the 22nd January 1962, Councillor F. Worsley resigned as president of Rishton CC after the clubs decision to play Sunday matches.

On Sunday, the 7th September 1997, MASKED raiders armed with a crossbow tied up the cricket club steward and stole cash from the club's safe.

The steward had been putting the day's taking in the safe at the Cricket Club when confronted in the building by two raiders wearing balaclavas at 12.50am. Mr Ian Stephenson, who had only stepped in as steward for the night, was threatened and forced to lie face down on the floor while the robbers took 3,500 from the safe.

The robbers, one of whom had a crossbow, told the 42-year-old he would not get hurt if he did not move.

Score Card

Mr Stephenson, who regularly works in the club's bar, was then tied up with adhesive tape before the raiders fled the building. Mr Stephenson, a mechanic at Hoyle and Dean Haulage Contractors, Accrington, said: "They taped my arms and legs behind my back. They told me to stay put for two minutes, but after about a minute I freed my arms and pushed the panic button. At first I couldn't believe it was happening and then I was waiting to be hit. I didn't know what to expect."

Armed police attended the scene but were not needed. The men were described as white and in their mid 20s. One was believed to have a slight Liverpudlian accent. The raider with the crossbow was wearing blue trousers and brown moccasins. Police are keen to find out if the raiders used a vehicle to leave the scene.

Club president Mr Eric Whalley said 3,500 in takings and other money had been taken in the raid.

On Thursday 15 January 1998, RISHTON CC suffered a loss of 6,330 last season reflecting their poor performances on the field after two successive Lancashire League championships. With a deficit of 2,696 in the Social Club - after a 5,800 donation to cricket - the total loss topped 9,000. Although expenses were cut by around 7,000, with professional Meyrick Pringle costing 13,000 compared to 22,316 for Allan Donald the previous year, Rishton's income plunged even more to 23,973 (34,213 in 1996). Gate receipts were halved at 3,253 (6,136), the donation from the Social Club was down to 5,800 (8,576) and other income decreased - though there was a rise in money from subs at 5,851 (4,818). Bar takings fell to 100,466 (115,175) and 2,823 cash stolen in a burglary - only 1,200 was recouped from insurance - also hit profits.

On Wednesday 11 February 1998 it was announced that CORRIE Jordaan was to make a shock return to the EW Cartons Lancashire League the following summer as professional with Rishton. The South African spin bowler was originally set to come back to Lowerhouse where he hit the 100 wickets mark in the 1997 season at an average of 9.44. But those plans were scrapped by mutual agreement and Rishton have stepped in.

Chairman Rod Simpson said: "As soon as we saw the story in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph that the deal with Lowerhouse had been scrapped we made inquiries. We established first of all with Lowerhouse that he was free to negotiate with other clubs and we have agreed terms with the player and his agent. All that remains now is for us to get a signed contract back and arrange a work permit. He is a proven performer and we are delighted to have agreed terms."

Jordaan, who played for Eastern Transvaal, will succeed another South African Meyrick Pringle who had a disappointing summer at Blackburn Road.

On Wednesday 19th June, 2002 Eric Whalley brought his two teams together (Rishton Cricket Club and Accrington Stanley Football Club) for a charity cricket match -

Rishton defeat brave Stanley

Stanley Director Frank Martindale hits a four

Accrington Stanley lost to Rishton Cricket Club in a friendly game of cricket this evening, though the footballers still managed to put on an impressive display. Australian Peter Sleep and striker Paul Mullin opened the batting for Stanley in the first of 20 overs that saw them make a total of 141. Batters were forced to retire at 25, a figure reached by both Peter Sleep and Stanley manager John Coleman.

Rishton reached their target with 5 wickets and just over 4 overs to spare, despite some outstanding fielding from the footballers. Goalkeeper Jamie Speare looked particularly at home on the cricket field with two great catches and Accrington Stanley may even have faired better had one or two of the dubious decisions from umpire and Stanley Chairman Eric Whalley gone their way.

Peter Sleep came over to England in 1990 as Rishton Cricket Club's overseas Professional. In 1991 he broke the all - time Lancashire League batting record with an aggregate of 1,621 runs.  On the 11th September 2005, still playing for Rishton (although he had played for someone else inbetween), Peter added the amateur batting record to his Professional one. At the age of 48, Peter needed just 47 runs against Rawtenstall in the final game of the season to pass the 1990 record set by Craig Smith, who had amasted 1,069 runs during that season. He totalled 60 runs before being out leg before wicket, to set the record at 1,083 runs. In his final day tally he hit 10 fours and a 6.

In March 2008 Rishton Cricket Club were hailed by the Lancashire Cricket Board on their achievement of becoming the 50th club to be awarded ECB & Sport England Clubmark accreditation as a ‘great success’. The award reflects Rishton Cricket Club's position as one of the strongest clubs in Lancashire, with a thriving junior section.

The ECB & Sport England Clubmark accreditation scheme is a national programme that seeks to recognise ‘safe, effective and child friendly’ practices within clubs. With it came a range of benefits, not least the profile the scheme brings and the positive messages it sent to the local community, schools, community groups, local authorities and other local funding agencies about the quality and safety of the club's junior section.

Rishton CC was identified as a Focus Club by the Lancashire Cricket Board in recognition of its achievements, as well as its ability to deliver the development objectives of the County. It had a proven track record in administration, player and facility development.

Sources

H Booth – Rishton on Record 1951.

An Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Ladham

Lancashire Evening telegraph 8th September 1997, Thursday 15 January 1998.

Accrington Stanley Website

Council Minutes (1939 - 40)

Lancashire League Web Site

Lancashire Cricket Website1