LOOKING BACK: Record-breaking Charlie was class act

RECORD BREAKER: Charlie Griffith was a fearsome sight in full flight
RECORD BREAKER: Charlie Griffith was a fearsome sight in full flight

SUCCESS isn’t just measured by trophies, medals, belts or any other ornament suggesting victory or superiority.

Statistics have provided the scaffolding for the borough’s sporting architecture throughout centuries now.

Hark back to 1833 and the establishment of Burnley Cricket Club, a time before the formulation of competitive sport.

Although well-established by the time Burnley Football Club arrived at Turf Moor half a century later, it wasn’t until March 1892, the inauguration of the Lancashire Cricket League, that the sport accrued its emulous edge.

Since then records have been set, broken and retained, championships have been won and lost, while major landmarks set the benchmark for today’s game.

Battling through the pungent fumes commuting from the antiquated archives, one man who instantly stood out from the page was record-breaking Burnley professional Charlie Griffith.

The West Indies star inscribed his name among the league’s elite after beating the club’s aggregate wickets maximum and the league’s pre and post war record previously held by Billy Cook (1914) and Rishton’s S. P. Gupte (1955) respectively.

Express sports correspondent Don Smith reported the occasion as Griffith claimed 5-45 in the final day defeat against Enfield to take his tally for the campaign to 144 - the highest number taken since the league commenced.

Only three batsmen - all amateurs- reached double figures in a match that produced 202 runs for the loss of 18 wickets.

Batting first, Burnley were all out for 100, Smith scripted.

Neil Whalley was the backbone of the batting with 56 in 105 minutes after being dropped twice at eight and 29.

Edward Slinger (42) and G. Dixon (14) were top-scorers in Enfield’s reply of 102-8.

Enfield pro Lee Jackson had taken five Burnley wickets for 18 in 14.4 overs, nine of which were maidens.

But it was Griffith’s bowling prowess that captivated those present.

He equalled Cook’s record of 135 wickets when bowling F. Houlker, and beat it by ousting G. Holt with the next ball.

Griffith’s wickets had guided Burnley to a 10th Lancashire Cricket League championship, while at the same time earning himself a lucrative call-up for the match at Lords between a West Indies XI and an England XI.

The ball with which Griffith broke two bowling records was mounted and inscribed.

Burnley chairman Michael Brown said: “There’s pictures of Charlie bowling all over the sponsor’s room. It was a phenomenal achievement.

“I don’t think we took 144 wickets throughout the whole of last season!

“He’s been back to the club a couple of times - once in my early days at Burnley, and the next time he came to Todmorden to watch a game early in the millennium. He’s a very nice guy.”

Brown added: “It’s absolutely brilliant to have somebody like that associated with the club.

“It harks back to West Indian days of years gone by when a plethora of quick bowlers were produced - he and Wes Hall were the mould.

“Prior to that they were predominantly renowned for their spin bowlers.

“To have him play at Burnley is an honour and he will be one of the best professionals to have ever played for this club.”

Images from the September 16th, 1964, edition of the Burnley Express, headlined Record Breaking Charlie - But Champs Still Lose - shows captain Derek Riley congratulating Griffith and holding the ball with which he broke the record.

Looking on are team colleagues and Mr N. McLeod (vice-chairman of directors), Mr C. Maden (committee), Mr H.T. Langton (chairman of directors) and Mr T. Alston (chairman of the committee and league representative).