Fan Stories

For the longest time anybody associated with Lowerhouse Cricket Club, whether players, officials or supporters, had to put up with the infamy of never having won a senior trophy. In truth by the end of the last century there’d been only a few close calls. In League terms the ‘House came near in 1910 and more particularly, in the well-remembered summer of 1982, with Kiwi Evan Gray as pro’. Lowerhouse had been to just one Cup Final in 1980, where they put up a respectable performance without threatening to derail an East Lancs victory.    What is not as well remembered is how close the Club came in 1997 with the remarkable but controversial Corrie Jordaan as professional. The South African was a big ungainly man who was both a poor batter and fielder. But boy could he bowl! His slow-left arm bowling was the talk of the League and I can’t recall anybody mastering him or taking liberties all season long. Looking back on that campaign the pivotal game was played on July 5th at Liverpool Rd. It was played on a wicket that wasn’t the best giving help to all types of bowling. Haslingden were ‘House’s opponents and as usual, in those days, were League favourites. The visitors batted first and were skittled for 76.Lord (14) and Dearden(21) were the only 2 batsmen to achieve double figures. Another day at the office for Corrie resulted in 6-24, and Matt Hope and Ryan Hesketh shared the other 4 wickets to fall. At half-time most ‘House fans thought although by no means a simple task, that the winning runs could be cobbled together. If you’d have known opener Nick Hope would score 39 then mortgages would have been bet on the home side. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be! Sub-pro’ Andy Pick, out of favour for Notts’s first Eleven, bowled a great spell taking 5-30. He was backed up by ‘Dasher’ Dearden who knocked over the tail with 4-13. A turning point was when Stan Heaton(15) became Mick Tracey’s only wicket. Stan was the only one with the defensive technique to handle Pick with any degree of comfort. Apart from Hope and Heaton no ‘House batter passed 3! and we went home dejected. Any beer drunk that night had a salty tang to it as tears were shed for our Championship credentials.        Although a severe setback, it wasn’t quite the death knell of our hopes. Going into the last round of fixtures there was a scenario whereby ‘House could tie for points with Haslingden. Lowerhouse had to win at Alexandra Meadows and hope that a strong Enfield team could beat Hassy at Dill Hall Lane. If that happened Lowerhouse and Haslingden would play a winner takes all play-off at Accrington the following Sunday.    I remember well that last game at East Lancs. It was as if the Lowerhouse players and fans didn’t believe in the fairy tale ending. Lowerhouse went down with a whimper and seemed to treat the game as a fag end game to be got out of the way. Lowerhouse’s loyal supporters were no better and many didn’t make the journey. For the record ‘House were 104 all out. Nick Hope was again the mainstay with 44 and deserved better support. East Lancs had little bother cruising to a 9 wicket win. Jordaan took his 100th League wicket to add to his 11 in the Worsley Cup. It was actually a generous l.b.w. decision by the umpire but he deserved the accolade for his season’s bowling efforts. The frustrating thing I’ll take to my grave was the news, when heading back from Blackburn, that Enfield had indeed turned over Haslingden. At that stage a big what might have been moment in the history of the Club had come and gone.           The off-season after 1997 was to say the least interesting. The players disagreed with the decision to re-engage the South African. Rumours had circulated for most of the year that it wasn’t the happiest of dressing room atmospheres. Pro and anti Jordaan factions emerged and the AGM that year saw an almost even split between them which possibly threatened the ‘House’s future as a Cricket Club. It is a credit to David Wren and his Committee that those stormy waters were negotiated and just 17 years laterwe are in pole position for a fourth League title added to 2 Worsley Cups. Certainly if I’d have had any inkling of that future success I’d have felt much less despair on that sorrowful journey home from East Lancs in September, 1997.

You may also like...