Chris Aspin writes about the History and achievements of HCC.
In cricketing countries throughout the World people talk about Haslingden and the club that has nurtured the great game since 1853. ‘Hurrah for Bentgate!’ greeted a supporter, who was invited into the Australian dressing room during a test match between the wars; and in that country, the West Indies, South Africa, India, New Zealand and Pakistan, men whose names are known to millions remember Lancashire League matches and the talented players they have met in friendly combat.
Opponents in the early days, when play often began at 10.30am, included Darwen, Blackburn Britannia and Lowerhouse Garibaldians, who played like their hero in red shirts. Haslingden wore white trousers with blue stripes; so the debate bout coloured clothing is hardly new. Only the middle of the ground was mown; and fielders often shouted ‘Lost ball!’ when a shot landed in the deep. The scorers then credited the batsman with six runs. All the bowling was underarm until overarm was permitted in 1864. Teams rarely reached three figures and two innings games were the norm.
Working men were allowed to bowl at practice, but it was some time before they held regular places in the team; and for five years in the 1860s a breakaway club for the less affluent played on Laund Hey. The merging of the clubs in 1866 prompted a new rule: ‘That any member found either during practice or during matches playing in clogs be fined 2s 6d’. The club’s first full-time professional, Thomas Redfern from Yorkshire, joined the club in 1865. He received 30s a week. As well as making some big scores, he troubled opponents with what papers called ‘slow twists’.
During the 1870s and 80s, “derby” games against Bacup attracted huge crowds and provided the two towns with the first stirrings of civic pride. Both clubs engaged brass bands to add to the entertainment. In 1879, a Bacup newspaper commented on the “bitter spirit of rivalry” and the “deplorable ill-spirit and ungovernable excitement on the part of the spectators”.
The 1880s also saw the start of knock out cricket; and in the third season of the Lancashire Cricket Association Amateur Cup Competition, Haslingden beat Accrington, Ordsall Hall, Bacup and Church to carry off the trophy.
Haslingden were founder members of the Lancashire League, and here is a potted history of the highlights since then.
1894: W.Hall (sub pro) took 10 for 13 v Nelson.
1895: Junior champions.
1896: Sam Moss (pro) took 99 wickets at 6.20. Against East Lancs at Bentgate, he took five wickets in eight balls, including a hat trick.
1900: League champions. Jack Usher (pro) took 143 wickets at 6.93.
1906: Assets included a horse valued at £7. George Parker scored 164 against East Lancs at Bentgate.
1908: George Parker scoured 1013 runs to become the first player in the league to top 1000. Walter Hargreaves took 72 wickets, still the most by an amateur.
1914: Haslingden scored 309 for 8 at Rawtenstall.
1915: Harrison (sub. pro) took 10 for 18 against Burnley.
1919: Haslingden scored 314 for 5 against Rishton at Bentgate. Ted Riley (151 not out) and day (91) added 209 for fourth wicket.
1920: League champions. Only 13 players used.
1921: Worsley Cup winners and Junior champions.
1922: Ted Riley (pro) scored 100 in 45 minutes against Todmorden.
1924: Leslie Warburton, aged 14, in his first game for the second X1, took 5 for 13 at Burnley.
1925: Worsley Cup. Haslingden scored 395 at Rawtenstall.Albert Rhodes 220.
1929: Home game against Nelson watched by 5,135 paying spectators. “gate” £150 8s 3d. Leslie Warburton scored 100 not out and took 7 for 27 at Rawtenstall.
1931: Nineteen games drawn. Warburton (pro) second in both league batting and bowling averages
1934: George Headley, the West Indian known as the “Black Bradman” signed as pro. Fee £500 (The Town clerk of Haslingden earned £500 a year). Membership doubled to 893. Some 24,102 people paid to see home games. One enthusiast travelled by motorcycle each week from Birmingham.
1937: Headley hit five centuries and made 1360 runs.
1939: Old pavilion and tea rooms used as classrooms for evacuees.
1946: Harry Robson (pro) took 10 for 21 against Nelson at Bentgate.
1948: Junior champions.
1950: Junior champions.
1953: League champions. John Ingham topped league bowling averages. Vinoo Mankad (pro) second.
1955: Mankad (pro) took 7 for 2 at Lowerhouse.
1962: Billy Aldred retired, having kept wicket since 1936. He had 513 victims: 324 caught, 189 stumped.
1963: 2nd X1 shared Junior championship with East Lancs.
1977: Worsley Cup winners and Junior champions.
1979: Mick Malone (pro) took a record 25 catches
1981: Junior Champions. Bryan Knowles scored 1050 runs for the 1st X1, becoming only the third amateur to achieve this feat since the league was formed. Ian Cocker scored 172 not out for the 2nd X1 against Lowerhouse.
1982: Junior Champions. Rod Taylor took 9 for 42(seven bowled) at Colne. Bryan Knowles and Rob Bentley (pro) shared an unbeaten broken stand of 200 at Church to win cup game. The same pair took part in five 100-plus stands during the season.
1984: Bryan Knowles scored 147 not out against Todmorden.
1985: League Champions. Ian Austin (149 not out) and John Entwistle (106 not out) put on a league record partnership of 268 for the third wicket against Church at Bentgate.
1986: Alan Barnes took four wickets in four balls at Bacup. Hartley Alleyne (pro) took 9 Todmorden wickets for 25 at Bentgate.
1987, 1988, 1989: League Champions.
1990: Mike Whitney (93 not out) and Neil Grindrod (37 not out) put on 111 seventh wicket, club, in cup match at Rishton.
1991: League Champions. On successive days, Phil Simmons (sub pro) scored 178 at Nelson and 135 at Rawtenstall. Against Church in the Junior Cup, the 2nd X1 scored 344, Charles Lord hitting a record 195.
1992: Four trophies won. Worsley and Holland Cups and the 2nd X1 championship and knock-out cups. Michael Tracey took 9 for 28 at Burnley, the best ever return by an amateur.
1993: League and Junior League champions. Patrick Lord (110) and Michael Ingham (101) shared a second wicket stand of 209 against Church at Bentgate.
1994: Worsley Cup winners.
1996: Graham Knowles scored a record 183 not out at Rawtenstall helping Haslingden to reach 301 for 1.
1997: League Champions and Worsley Cup winners; Junior Champions. In the Worsley Cup final at Burnley, Steven Dearden and Jack Simpson both scored centuries.
1998: Inter-League Trophy winners and Junior champions. Hamish Anthony (120) and Charles Lord (39) shared a record fifth-wicket stand of 157 at Rishton.
2000: Junior champions.
2003: Graham Knowles (130) and Michael Ingham (74) put on a record 216 for the first wicket against Lowerhouse. Against Church Knowles (170*) and Ingham (100*) made 273 for the second wicket, the biggest stand in League history. Michael Ingham became the league’s most prolific run scorer when he passed the 14,951 by Peter Wood, of Rawtenstall. Ian Cameron took 10 for 21 in the 2nd XI game against Rishton.
2004: League champions and Inter-League Trophy winners.
2005: Inaugural 20/20 champions. Junior champions and Third Eleven champions. In the 20/20 final at Bentgate Haslingden chased Lowerhouse’s 196 to win with one ball to spare.