A brief history of Clitheroe Cricket Club

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CLITHEROE Cricket Club will hope for a repeat of their successful 2006 campaign this time around.

The Chatburn Road side played out undoubtedly the most successful season in its history two years ago.

They claimed the Ribblesdale League title, and added to it both the Ramsbottom Cup and the Twenty-20 Cup.

And while the march to the league title turned into something of a stroll, the cup success was more dramatic on both fronts.

Clitheroe failed to defend any of their titles in 2007, but will hope for better this time around.

Cricket has been played in Clitheroe since the mid-1800s, but it was not until 1862 that Clitheroe Cricket Club was formed.

Since then the club has embraced the sport and now has three senior teams in the Veka Ribblesdale League, as well as a flourishing youth system that boasts teams from Under 11s level through to Under 18s.

Success has never been in short supply at Clitheroe either, as with the exception of the infamous 1902 season, the club has been a member of the Ribblesdale League since its conception and tasted 10 championship victories throughout the years – the third best record in the league.

Before the 2006 season, the club's triumphs came in four bursts spread across the last century, with the last two demonstrating that if history was to repeat itself, a league triumph was due this year.

The first period spans the turn of the 20th century when the League Championship trophy was held aloft four times, 1899, 1901, 1904 (shared with Whalley) and 1907.

The second fell some 50 years later during the 1950s when they took the league honour in 1953, 1954 and 1958. This had much to do with the captaincy of Ted Hodgkinson, the brilliant batting of Wilf Davies and the performances of professional Allan Entwistle – to this day Clitheroe's longest serving professional with nine seasons.

But it was the fortunes of the 1980s and 1990s that pointed to great things this year or next, as Clitheroe won both the league title and the Ramsbottom Cup 20 years ago in 1986 – retaining the league cup for the following two years.

And the last time the league trophy was held aloft was in 1994, a year after they won the Ramsbottom Cup for a fifth time, so a triumph around the mid-mark of this decade was perhaps due from the current in-form league leaders.

The present club came into being by the amalgamation of two forerunning sides, Clitheroe Alhambra and the local Rifles Corps.

The former was so called due to the fact that it played its games on a field behind what was the Wheatsheaf Inn on Whalley Road, close to the church of St James', which was the location each year of a visiting circus called the Alhambra.

And before moving to their current site, Clitheroe played its fixtures on land leased to the landlord of the Brownlow Arms.

This was on Chatburn Road, not the present field, but the one immediately below it.

But after a year or two, enough subscriptions had been gathered to move to the next field and the club's current home.

The club's fixture list was far more extensive in the distances they had to cover in those early years as they played Great Harwood, Settle, Leyland, Haslingden, Bacup, Rishton, Church, Whitefield Stand (Manchester), Cob Wall (Blackburn), Eagley, Whalley, Skipton, Keighley, Sabden, Gargrave, Egerton and Calder Vale.

Games in those days also started earlier and were longer as they consisted of two innings each.

Away trips also took much longer.

Trips to play Settle in the Ribblesdale League today can be done in under an hour, a day out to Settle then was a major event as a horse drawn waggonette had to be hired, prior to the extension of the railway, and players didn't arrive back in Clitheroe until the following morning, having drunk the night away in Settle.

All cricket at this time was friendly, but nonetheless keenly fought, so when the introduction of the Ribblesdale League came about in 1892, Clitheroe, like many sides at the time, reluctantly accepted the regimented fixture list.

Many traditionalists thought the idea of tournament cricket was "novel and crack brained" and would destroy the ethic of gentlemanly cricket.

It was felt that the serious struggle for points in a league system would make teams the "slaves of their supporters" who would be more interested in success than fair play.

But as ever, monetary arguments won out as the increase it brought in gate money could not be ignored.

Clitheroe as a club will be forever indebted to the Southworth family who purchased the Chatburn Road site and removed the threat of building development.

John and Walter Southworth bought the land early in 1920 and bestowed it to the club, and in the event of the club's extinction, the land reverts to the citizens of Clitheroe as a recreational open field.

No sooner had the first pavilion been erected in 1862, in the form of a big tent, than demand grew for bowls to be accommodated on the ground.

A green was laid and another tent was erected.

Two wooden pavilions later, the present facilities were completed in 1981.

Tennis courts were laid in the 1920s, and the game has flourished at Chatburn Road since, with the site proving to be a real multi-sport facility what with Hicks Gym and all-weather pitches also now on site.

Last year's title success came in light of the club's professional, Shahid Nawaz.

The experienced paid man holds the remarkable feat of having scored over 10,000 runs in the Ribblesdale League in his time with Read, Ribblesdale Wanderers and Clitheroe.

He broke his own club record in 2006 before deciding to retire from the game after an incredible season.

And alongside him were a host of All Stars including former Cherry Tree professional Naeem Ashraf, former Whalley paid man Josh Marquet, also now an amateur, as well as a host of leading players who hold amateur records in the league – 2006 was definitely Clitheroe's year!

Address: Chatburn Road, Clitheroe, Lancashire

Clubhouse telephone number: 01200 422896

Chairman: Mick Cox

Treasurer: Neil Bolton

Secretary: David Musson

League representative: Mick Cox

Junior organiser: Farouk Hussain

First team captain: Neil Bolton

Second team captain: John Green

Third team captain: Fred Green

Professional: Paul Turner

Main sponsors: TBA