1951: A trip down Lowerhouse Lane

England in 1951 saw the end of the road for the post-war Labour government. Although the N.H.S. was created, it wasn’t an easy time to govern a near-bankrupt nation trying to recover from the war-time devastation. Many products were still rationed even though there had been six years since the armistice. Clement Attlee was the out-going P.M. famously described by Churchill (who returned as the country’s leader) as “a modest man with plenty to be modest about.” Attlee was from a class and generation who believed in helping others rather than lining their own pockets. Quite a contrast with a certain recent leader of the same political party.   Famous births in 1951 include yet another Labour leader, Gordon Brown; footballer Kenny Dalgleish and cricketers Derek Randall and Andy Roberts. The model for “Citizen Kane “publisher William Randolph Hearst died in 1951, as did musician Ivor Novello.

The Lancashire League of 1951 saw Roy Marshall in the first of his 2 year stint at the ‘House and George Tribe in the second of his 2 seasons at Rawtenstall.  GEORGE TRIBE was born in a suburb of Melbourne in 1920. He came to England to play for Milnrow in 1947, where he stayed for 3 years. His slow-left arm chinamen baffled local amateurs, and he took 136,148, and 150 wickets in his respective seasons in the Central Lancs before joining Rawtenstall in 1950. Any doubts that his skills wouldn’t be as effective in this new League were soon dispelled and he took 126 wickets during the 1950 season. In 1951 he only achieved 110 but his improving batting saw him score 800 runs. A brilliant all-round performance. Tribe was an engineer by trade and while working in Northampton he was offered terms with the County side. He became a big hit there and his first-class record was outstanding. He did the “double” 7 times and in 1955 set what remains the County record of 175 wickets in a season. His remarkable 15-31 against mighty Yorkshire is Northants best ever match bowling performance. When Tribe’s trundling was finally done he had taken 1378 wickets at 20. Add over 10000 runs to that and his great fielding at short leg and you have a real star of a player.

ROY MARSHALL was born in Barbados in 1930. He made a quick name for himself as a young player in the 1950 West Indies team. He scored a superb century versus Hampshire and they obviously remembered it because they signed him in 1953, after his 2 ‘House seasons. Roy’s 1951 season at Liverpool Rd saw him taking a surprisingly good 49 wickets but his primary skills were in batting and 426 runs at 20 was a mediocre return. Lowerhouse obviously saw enough in him to bring him back in ’52. This paid dividends and he scored well over 900 runs to set a new pro record.  Marshall embarked on a long, successful County career with Hampshire. Like Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge who followed him, Roy was an attacking and entertaining opener. His trademark shot was the cover drive but he wasn’t shy in taking on any fast bowlers who bounced him with his strong hook shot. He retired at Hants after 20 years, scoring 35,725 first class runs and making 68 hundreds. His part-time bowling skills nurtured at Lowerhouse saw him take 176 first class wickets. If he had a weakness it was in fielding; he was bespectacled and often looked clumsy.

In the final placings of 1951 Rocky was third, behind champs East Lancs and Nelson, whereas the ‘House was twelfth, with only Rammy and Rishton below them. The head-to-heads between Tribe and Marshall occurred on April 28 and August 4. The first game at Bacup Rd was weather affected and a draw resulted. Rocky scored 158-3 with Tribe out for just 3 and ‘House’s brief reply saw Marshall out for one. The reverse fixture saw Rawtenstall bat first again making 145 all out. (Marshall 4-29) George Tribe scored 64 of that before he helped skittle Lowerhouse for 58. (Tribe 6-27 including the wicket of Marshall for a duck.)

George Tribe and Roy Marshall had a common thread in their cricketing careers. Both had very brief unsuccessful Test stints before spending all their time in England, thus virtually disqualifying themselves from consideration and redemption on the international scene. Tribe, inexplicably, took just 2 Test wickets for 330 runs in his 2 matches and Marshall scored only 143 runs in 4 games.

In those days England was the only country where a player could make a living out of the sport. The downside was other countries shunned these players when selecting their national teams and many potentially fine Test players competed in little or no Test cricket. Those great mates Cec Pepper and Bill Alley were prime examples.   Roy Marshall retired to Taunton after his Hampshire career had ended. He died of cancer aged just 62 in 1992. George Tribe was the second oldest Aussie Test player when he died in 2009 aged 88.


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