& Recreation Club
The club was
founded in 1906 at the time The Barlow Memorial complex was being built. The history of the club, with its recorded events, is
outlined below in four separate periods: 1906~1935, 1936~1954, 1955~1987
The club was founded in 1906 at the time The Barlow Memorial complex was being built. The history of the club, with its recorded events, is outlined below in four separate periods: 1906~1935, 1936~1954, 1955~1987 and 1990~2001.
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The cricket club paid an annual rent for use of the ground. In return, all maintenance, ground and wicket repairs were undertaken by the groundsmen employed at the Barlow Institute. Consequently, the public observed a discipline in their use of the area. The club became a member of the Bolton and District Cricket Association (in Division 2A) under the Presidency of Mr. J.H. Whitehead, whose influence and guidance were of great importance during the early years. During the first World War (1914~18), cricket continued at Edgworth, over coming the difficulties of that period and ensuring the club would be ready to compete again at the end of the war.
A talented and competitive team did not enjoy a trophy success until 1927 when they won the Isherwood Cup, but they had to wait a further seven years before success in 1934 in the same competition. Additional honours were enjoyed in that year when winning the Father Leighton Shield which was retained in 1935.
During this period Edgworth Cricket Club became members of the 1st Division of the Bolton and District Cricket Association. In 1938 the club signed its first professional, Bob Taylor, a fine cricketer whose inspiration and encouragement resulted in the team winning the championship in his first season at Edgworth. His service was short-lived however, for the outbreak of war in 1939 cause him to leave at the end of that season. Undeterred, the committee secured the services of J. Heap who, in the summer of '40 produced his own "blitzkrieg" against Walkden M.M. taking all 10 wickets for 31 runs and hitting the stumps every time.
During the 1930's and 1940's a number of cricket enthusiasts ensured the continued well-being of the club. Mr.W. Whitehead, son of the first President, was to take over that office until his death in 1983. Mention must be made of the major commitment of Mr. Whitehead throughout the whole term of his Presidency: Indeed, his valued support maintained the club throughout long periods of financial difficulty.
The war years 1939~45 were very difficult for all those concerned with activities at Edgworth, and the club will remain indebted to the late Mr. Charles Lill for his dedicated work and service during the period, and continuing years thereafter.
The return of Bob Taylor as professional for the Season 1946 contributed to the success in winning the Cross Cup, however, his renewed association was again short-lived, for in 1947 the club were fortunate to engage an ex-County player, J. Briggs. He had outstanding ability, clearly illustrated in the team again becoming League Champions, with the Professional's personal distinction of taking 120 wickets in one season. This record remained unbeaten for many years.
During the period following the championship success in 1947 the club engaged the services of other Professionals without further trophy or title victories. Conditions and upkeep of the area by The Barlow Memorial Trust were undergoing change at this time, with the club now requested to undertake the maintenance of the ground. Such agreement was given after a request to reduce the annual rent paid by the club was upheld. The following period of financial difficulty reflected the national austerity promoted by the war. The surrounding textile mills steadily reduced in number, so taking away what had been a reliable source of income in the club, namely the weekly draw. Once again, the enthusiasts rallied to the cause with organisation of entertainments and social events to help keep the club alive. Ground maintenance was undertaken by a quartet of experienced and knowledgeable people whose work preparing wickets on the limited area of the square at Edgworth continued enthusiastically for many years.
In 1955 the club signed Bill McKittrick, then an amateur cricketer at Leyland, as Professional, and so commenced an association that was to last for a number of years. Bill McKittrick proved to be outstanding, and one of the most respected Professionals the club has ever engaged. His expertise helped promote a good team spirit and all-round performance, reflected in the success of winning the League Championship and Cross Cup in 1957 and 1958 and the Championship again in 1961. Leyland amateur cricket also provided the club with Howard Gill as the next professional. Howard, a flamboyant and often "explosive" cricketer contributed in no mean fashion to the championship successes in 1962 and 1963 and victory in the Cross Cup in 1964. The decade was drawing to a close before the name of Edgworth featured again on the Championship's roll of honour in 1969, again with a double header as League Champions and Cross Cup victors.
A number of professionals have featured since 1965, all helping to provide Edgworth cricket successes in competition, notably the Cross Cup winners 1972~74. Off the field, however, a new chapter in the club's fortunes was to unfold, for in 1971 the Urban District Council informed the club of the removal of restrictions concerning the sale of alcohol contained in the covenant of the Barlow Institute. This obstacle overcome, the club was able to consider provision of a new pavilion and so dispense with the facilities of the Institute where tea had been expertly and faithfully provided by two ladies for many years.
Pavilion facilities had, through lack of finance, deteriorated to the point of the Association requiring their substantial improvement or the club being removed from the league. After much effort by a number of people, including provision of initial capital, new premises were located and erected using member's labour and expertise. The pavilion was opened in 1981 by the President, Mr.W. Whitehead, and the event celebrated with an invitation game featuring opposition drawn from professionals of previous seasons. One interesting fact emerging from the match saw the appearance of three brothers on the Edgworth team sheet.
The club now received a steady income which ensured an independence not previously enjoyed, and in consequence has been able to promote a programme of building and ground improvements throughout the period from 1981. The welcome addition of changing rooms with shower facilities and a score box with large equipment store have been added as resources have allowed. At the beginning of the '87 season, a synthetic strip was provided to satisfy demand of the increasing number of junior matches, and to accommodate the requests for suitable wickets for friendly games. The club does not own the ground and cannot obtain tenure of lease, the area being managed by Blackburn Corporation for the Memorial Trust. From financial resources raised through voluntary commitment over the years, considerable work, on ground drainage and improved spectator comfort, has been carried out on an open area which is misused by the varying and decreasing standards of public conscience and responsibility.
Championship success in 1984 was enjoyable supported with victory in the Halliwell Shield, the double achievement being rewarded for a club keen to maintain a place amongst the top positions. Evidence of that consistency is provided by qualification for the Lancashire Knock Out in successive years.
Since the 1980 season, Edgworth has been fortunate to have had the professional services of Andy McIlroy, an association successful both on and off the field, with his popularity proven by his continuous retention at the club. The consistency of performances from a player still young in cricketing life has enabled annual discussion concerning choice of professional to be mere formality.
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Throughout the 1990's the club continued to function to a moderate standard, endeavouring always to fulfill its responsibilities to the best of abilities available both on and off the field.
Required by the Association rules to organize and field competitive teams of young players commencing at under 11 age group, the club has been consistent in its youth policy. The practice nights held weekly have regularly entailed organisation to accommodate an average of sixty players which has required both diligent and dedicated attention by senior players and club officials. Throughout the period several players of high promise have emerged from the junior ranks to progress to senior sides. Net practice indoors has commenced in the winter in preparation for the early opening of the season in April.
It has become increasingly common in many clubs to experience a faltering of progress and availability of players between 15 and 18 years as educational priorities, with other interests, dictating sporting involvement. Good players are lost in the process which has caused withdrawal of a number of under 18 teams within the league. Championship title honours have eluded the club throughout the 90's decade, however some successes have been recorded. The second eleven secured the Halliwell Shield in 1997 and 1998 and the Vimto Trophy, a first eleven competition, took Edgworth's name in 1997. The trophy was sponsored by the Vimto Company and also included a welcome cheque to the winners.
Increasing concern over the deteriorating condition on the pavilion accommodation throughout the decade signalled a lengthy and tedious attempt to resolve the main difficulty of the club occupying an area of Trust property and not having benefit of a lease. Years of endless correspondence with the relevant authorities failed to secure a satisfactory solution until a meeting with the Charity Commissioners insisted upon and arranged by the Clerk to our Parish Council produced a successful agreement. The main obstacle of the transfer of lease resolved, future planning for the provision of new accommodation may hopefully be concluded, so ensuring a continuance of the game of cricket by a club approaching its century.
Throughout the summers a series of mid-weekly fixtures is organised and played by the "Taverners Eleven", a section of enthusiasts forming an integral part of the club. A competitive spirit is maintained throughout, always recognizing enjoyment of the game as it is intended and finding a full programme, with some away fixtures, invariably producing a full and entertaining day for all involved. The club is appreciative of the strong financial support given by the Taverners since they formed some years ago.
Optimistic in mind and attitude the cricket club faces a new century determined to preserve its existence and build to secure a bright and successful future.