By Paul Hargreaves
Partly inspired by our visit to Bentgate this Sunday but mostly by Ben Heap’s great and historical innings last week, we shall take a look at the match where Tommy Shutt set the original batting record. Before any of you cynics out there speculate whether I actually was an eye witness to this game or whether Blez played in it; the answer is of course NO. The oldest Lancashire League fan I know is Ted Marshall who in his 102nd year is still getting on to support his beloved Accrington C.C. Haslingden versus Lowerhouse played on June 16th, 1905 took place over 10 years before even Ted was born in Altham. Lowerhouse batted first on the day but were in some trouble at 30-3. Joseph Cook went for 10 and the same bowler, F Tattersall, bowled the ‘House pro’ Ernest Vost for a duck. Cook was Lowerhouse’s most prolific pre-War batter. Vost was in the last of his 3 consecutive seasons as our professional. He was a steady, competent all-rounder. He didn’t play at First Class level but after leaving Lowerhouse had 5 seasons with Staffordshire in the Minor Counties. At 30-3 it was a case of cometh the hour cometh the man as Lowerhouse’s best all rounder Tommy Shutt came to the crease. He was very much the local hero having been born in the village and had reached Second Eleven status with Lancashire. Tommy was a better bowler than a batter but could occasionally, to put it crudely, ‘go off on one’ with his attacking batting. In his only season at Burnley the previous year he’d made 2 centuries including one where he made 164. So what happened next was by no means a complete surprise. Tommy made 173 not out from the 256 runs that were scored whilst he was in the middle. There were no 6’s awarded for balls clearing the boundary in this era so what the modern equivalent would have been for Shutt’s final score we’ll never know. We can strongly suspect Ben Heap would have needed much nearer 200 to break the record! The best partnership was an unbroken one for the sixth wicket of 109. This was dominated by Shutt and his partner Harry Hemingway just made 22 of those runs. Hemingway was a Yorkshireman from the East Keswick district of Leeds. He had left Lowerhouse in 1892 but had returned for a 3-year spell starting in this 1905 season. When his cricketing days were over he made a name for himself in crown green bowls. The pinnacle of his career in that sport was in 1917 when he contested the final of the sport’s chief tournament namely the Waterloo Handicap in Blackpool. Haslingden had tried everything to try to stop the Shutt bandwagon and 8 bowlers were used but to little avail as the onslaught went on. A demoralised Haslingden were soon 2-2 in reply with both catches going into Hemingway’s safe hands. Hassy’s highest scorer on the day was their star amateur George Parker with 25. On any list of the Lancashire League’s best ever amateur batsmen, which would include our own Chris Bleazard, Parker’s name is sure to figure. In a bowler friendly era he set a then record of nearly 13000 League runs. Most of his career was at Haslingden but he also had significant success at Accrington. The rest of the Bentgate outfit offered little resistance. Vost earned his fee with 5-39, the irrepressible Shutt had 3-19 and Hemingway chipped in with 2-25. Haslingden were gone for 93 and the ‘House’s margin of victory was a daunting 193 runs. We can only speculate if they allowed themselves a few celebratory drinks in the Woolpack before the journey back to the village. I’d like to think they did as they’d earned it. Maybe Shutt’s collection went over the bar! It had been a game to remember for all those concerned with a proud Lowerhouse Cricket Club but with the scoring system as it was they’d just picked up a mere 2 points! Let’s hope they can get more than that total this Sunday as 112 years and a handful of days later they visit the same Bentgate ground again.