1974: From the Archive

We are indebted to past Captain Alan Holden who has brought us some press cuttings form his era. Alan was an inspirational captain circa 1980 for a good number of years. Prior to the 2004 cup win and subsequent trophies, Alan captained during the club’s most successful period. The cuttings cover the 1980 Martini Cup final v East Lancs (Worsley cup), 1980 Express Cup win and 1982 Lancashire League runners up season.

We begin with the 1974 team. 1974 was an unusual season for the club finishing next to the bottom of the league, yet getting to the cup semi-final. In the league, the club were desperately unlucky. Draws were commonplace and under today’s rules we would have won many more than the 2 victories we had. We lost only 6 games.

For you youngsters, drawn cricket meant that if the team’s score in the first innings wasn’t overtaken or the side batting second wasn’t bowled out it, was a 1-point draw. It wasn’t uncommon to see scores of 150-5 play 90-9 = Match drawn. It was probably the best decision the league took to move to limited overs and win cricket. It also wasn’t uncommon for matches to see 70 all out beating 50 all out and scoring 150 runs was probably the equivalent of scoring 225 now. Covered wickets, the use of loam, bowler restrictions, and more overs per innings are all some of the reasons for increased scoring. All of these have changed a batsman’s approach too. Pinch hitting or Twenty20 style stroke play were unknown in the 1970s.

The club had a very popular and successful professional in Tasmanian Tony Benneworth. Tony was the league’s leading run scorer ahead of the great Collis King. He was a mean bowler too. Alan Holden took 50 wickets and Trevor Boardwell was also successful; all 3 being in the top 30 bowlers in the league. No Lowerhouse amateur featured in the top 30 batsmen but Brian Higgin and Mick Swift must have been pretty close.

Brian and Mick put a 106 opening stand on against Rishton. This was the first century opening stand since 1959. Incredibly Peter Wade was in that 1959 opening stand and played in this very game 15 years later. Peter later coached at the club in the 2000s.

From the team pictured left to right back row.  When last I heard Trevor Boardwell was in Spain, Jack Stott (dad of our supporter John) is no longer with us. Trevor Jones still watches us. Tony Benneworth passed on a couple of years ago. Alan Boardwell (Burnley area). Scorer Norman Dale is believed in the Nelson area.

Front row left to right. Duncan Hall,(sadly deceased), Mick Swift (dad of former player and supporter Chris) still lives locally and is a friend of the club, David Hartley (Preston area) Brian Higgin – needs no explanation, Peter Wade (sadly deceased), Joe Holland (likewise). If anyone has an update on any of the players, please let me know.

Alan Holden was presumably unavailable.  

The club got to the Worsley cup quarter final and were undone by an innings of 125 by Collis King. I was a 15 year old second eleven player at the time but was an experienced scorer and did the scorebook in this semi-final at Nelson. I recall Tony Benneworth taking a huge skier on the boundary edge and in order to avoid stepping over, was facing the speedway ground when it nestled in his hands. Second eleven player Peter Scaife had the Bridge Pub (down town) at the time and we gathered there after the game for a drink. It was my first pint in a pub. Peter is sadly no longer with us. Wife Maureen, daughter Claire and grandchildren Harry and Tom Halstead are well known at the club.

The quarter final was a remarkable win. It was a tie but we won on fewer wickets at Enfield. The game looked lost until non batsman Trevor Jones hit 17 off the penultimate over from the Enfield super pro Sulaiman Dik Abed. (See me to find out his nickname).

The team was full of characters. Mick Swift and Brian Higgin were a double act and both played hard, played well but were as daft as, off the pitch.

At East Lancs, the tea room made the mistake of sending the tea over early. A covered plate came over with 24 tiny patties on it. When the East Lancs team came off for tea, they lifted the tea towel to see just one patty in the middle of the plate. Joe Holland and Brian Higgin had eaten the rest. As the East Lancs players stood agog, Joe pushed his way through, reached over, snaffled the patty and said “we can’t leave that “

Trevor Boardwell moved to Colne after Lowerhouse and came up against Brian Higgin in a league match at the Horsfield. Brian hit so many sixes into the wall of the houses on the main road that a resident who was up a ladder painting his windows, waved his white handkerchief and gave the job up on health and safety grounds.

In a second eleven game at Todmorden the ball was hit into the covers and square leg Alan Boardwell took the opportunity to unfasten his pants and tuck his shirt in. Unfortunately the poor throw went whizzing past him and he had to scamper after the ball pulling his pants up at the same time.

Norman Dale was an aggressive scorer and woe betide anyone who questioned if the scoreboard was correct. Common decency prevents any of those tales being published here. Similarly some of the Mick Swift tales. 

Trevor Jones was a serial practical joker. In a game for his midweek team at Towneley, he bowled at one end and came on immediately at the other end. After the first ball the umpire said to him “I don’t know why you took yourself off at that end, you were bowling well “.

On another occasion he gathered the team into a close catch field, encircling the batsman. He then bowled a full toss with a soft beef tomato and splattered the lot. 

Happy days

Stan Heaton

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