ROMILEY CRICKET CLUB: A Brief History
By John Duddy
Romiley Cricket Club was founded in 1898 on an area of land on Birchvale Farm, the very same site on which it lies today. This was used for a few years as a small cricket ground although after a few years it fell into disuse. In early spring 1912, a small, enthusiastic group of cricketers met together to try and reinstate cricket in Romiley. At first, games were played on the recreation ground at the bottom of Sandy Lane – nowadays Romiley Park. However, it was obvious to everyone that this was a solution that could not last and later in the same year the club finally managed to acquire possesion of the land at Birchvale. The wicket was cut with hand shears and the first pavilion bought for £6.00.
In 1914, many of the club’s young cricketers were sent to fight for Her Majesty’s Forces in the Great War. Of these, 6 men made the ultimate sacrifice:
– Thomas Ashton
– Norman D. Howarth
– John William Lundy
– Andrew Bernard Smith
– Richmond Morgan Smith
– Tom Watson
They shall be forever remembered within the club.
In the 1920’s & 1930’s, Lancashire County Cricket Club would visit Romiley on an annual basis. This was due to W.A. Fallows who was president of Lancashire during this period. He lived in Romiley and was connected with the club. The Lancashire stars at the time that would grace the ground included A.C. McLaren (a talented batsman), the Tyldesley brothers and George Duckworth (wkt) who all played for England. Ted McDonald (Australian fast bowler) and the great West Indian cricketer Learie Constantine also appeared.
The crowds for these annual games, was I understand, in excess of 1,000 people. When Learie Constantine came in to bat, a young local quickie bowled him first ball. The umpire quickly called no ball. The young man said “that was not a no ball!”. The umpire retorted that ‘the spectators had not come to watch you bowl, they’ve come to watch Constantine bat’. He then proceeded to hit a century!
Neville Cardus who was Cricket Correspondent for the Guardian between the 1920’s and 1960’s wrote many articles on Romiley. There is one framed in the pavilion.
In 1946, John Fallows (W.E. Fallows’ son) captained Lancashire for one season as an amateur.
In the 1950’s there were the Smiths. Stan Smith was an old pro in Lancashire League and also the Yorkshire League. He came to live in Romiley with his two sons Don Smith & Colin Smith. They were the backbone of the club between the late-forties and mid-fifties. Colin finished at Lancashire for 5 seasons, opening the bowling with Brian Statham. He retired after 1957 to concentrate on his career as an architect, he also played for CambridgeUniversity. Colin Smith was later knighted for his work in the field of architecture ( he was one of only three British architects to receive a RIBA gold medal). He advised on the building development at Lord’s Cricket Ground. He then went to Cambridge and won a blue every year
Don Smith also had a couple of seasons at Lancashire, although mainly in the 2nd team. He made his debut for Lancashire in 1951 as a left arm fast medium bowler and played in three games. He came back to Romiley in the mid 70’s when the club were in the Lancashire and Cheshire League.
During the 1950’s & 1960’s there were a talented array of cricketers. Dan Birkett a prolific opening batsman won the league batting averages in the Derbyshire & Cheshire League in his first season.
Some other people of note include Sam Booth (opening bat and swing bowler), David Warrington (all-rounder) and Dennis Ridyard (fast bowler, I mean very quick!) who was offered terms with Northants to open bowling with Frank TYPHOON Tyson, but declined because he was an industrial chemist. There was also Jeff Marsden (opening bowler) and Barry Davies (opening bat) during that era.
In 1959, the juniors won the Championship beating New Mills in the final.
George Bissenden who served the club as a player, was coach for many years. The Bissenden trophy was inaugurated in 1969.
In 1972, the club resigned from the Derbyshire & Cheshire League and became members of the Lancashire and Cheshire League who were expanding their league system.
In 1973, they secured 12th place in the first year, so they were playing 1st division cricket in 1974.
During the next 6 seasons, Romiley did have some very good sides, especially bowling featuring Dennis Ridyard, Len Dewhirst, John Duddy, Andy Mcintosh, John Burrows and Tim Taylor (slow left arm).
In 1975, Romiley had their professional. It was Murray Lennie. The club had a good season; but not as good as 1976!
Again we had a strong side, with the team compromising of an old Yorkshire pro John Booth, Murray Lennie, Duncan Phillips, John Burrows, Neil Holden, John Duddy, Stuart Carr, Harold Fairhurst, and Tim Taylor to name a few. We were runners-up in the League, lost in the Final of the Wallden Cup, and lost in the Semi-Final of the Cheshire Cup to Oxton by 4 runs.
In 1977, with the exception of two players, Richard Cragg became professional, bringing Howard Walker. Romiley were still a good side but the Captain was negative and as a result, we were relegated.
In 1978, we bounced right back and in 1979 we were again back in Division 1, where we again finished runners-up. Romiley continued in the League until 1993 when the League decided to become the LancashireCounty league. All the Cheshire clubs at the time had to seek other leagues. During this time Romiley were in decline. Many players had left with the club being run on a shoe-string.
They eventually went into the South Lancashire League for a few seasons before joining the Glossop & District League. Then in 2000, they amalgamated with the Derbyshire and Cheshire Leagues where Romiley stayed until the end of 2009.
In 2010, the club joined Division 3 of the Cheshire League and by the start of 2013 had worked our way up to Division 1.
Today we are in the very fortunate position of having some of the best facilities in the region, the centrepiece being our new pavilion that has what must be one of the most beautiful balconies in club cricket, overlooking the ground and the leafy surroundings of the club. The pavilion also houses fantastic function rooms that can be adapted for a wide range of events and have played host to countless memorable days and evenings.