Games to Remember – versus East Lancs 1992

By Paul Hargreaves

Much as been written about Lowerhouse’s eventful 1991 season, featuring Manoj Prabhaker and then some very interesting games with sub-pros at the season’s end. The last game of that year was in September at Seedhill, Nelson. It is rightfully a well-remembered match with England all-rounder David Capel helping Lowerhouse to an impressive victory.        

Today’s ‘game to remember’ is actually Lowerhouse’s very next Lancashire League fixture albeit over 7 months later on April,19th 1992 at Alexandra Meadows, Blackburn. The ‘House were up against a strong East Lancs team and an ex-pro of our their own in Tony Dodemaide. Dodemaide was an exemplary, hard-working player for Lowerhouse back in the 1986 season. He took a brilliant 94 wickets and scored a more than decent 570 runs. Only Corrie Jordaan in 1997 has taken more wickets in the last 60 years. It wasn’t a surprise to ‘House fans that within 2 years Dodemaide was an Aussie Test player. This was Tony’s second foray into the Lancashire League but it would end abruptly just after mid-season when he was called home. Just 3 years before this Mansoor Elahi’s return home had caused a furore but sadly such things were quickly becoming the norm. I well remember the ex-Lowerhouse batsman Brian Holmes, who had been a particular friend of Tony Dodemaide giving him a bit of friendly stick. The polite version was that he and his mother were miffed that he should sign for this Blackburn Club.          

Meanwhile Lowerhouse, probably for financial reasons, had resisted the Mark Whitehead-led campaign to have Robert Haynes signed for the 1992 season. Haynes would return to Morecambe in the Northern League. Lowerhouse did sign the promising South Australian Cameron Williamson. He had played for his country at Under-19 level and was considered a fine all-rounder prospect. He turned out to be a very solid and enthusiastic pro’ for the Club scoring 1437 runs and taking 134 wickets over 2 seasons. Australian cricket was in resurgence, and it shows their strength in depth that Williamson, although easily of County standard in England, only played 2 First Class matches for South Australia. With only 6 First Class teams many good cricketers failed to make it passed Grade Level.              

 I was about a half hour late for the game and before going through the entrance gate jumped up to see what I’d missed on the scoreboard. Not sure I could still do that! I saw it was 25-4 and felt immediately worried until I glimpsed one of our amateurs in the outfield. That made paying at the gate so much easier! I got a quick catch-up from a couple of ‘Houser’s. Williamson was looking good with 3 wickets and Dodemaide had been run-out. I had barely taken a seat with my back to the bowling greens when the home side had lost another 2 quick wickets and were 29-6. I was pinching myself as the unlikely scenario that was taking shape. I had learned quickly as a ‘House fan that if something looks too good to be true then it probably is and the likely early finish proved pie in the sky. The big turning point was with the score at about 40-6 when the young debutent Simon Payne dropped the easiest catch of his future long career, with Lowerhouse and then Baxenden of the Ribblesdale League. After his big slice of luck there was no stopping Daryll Redhead and he played a brilliant counter-attacking knock. He would score 93 out of 158-8. He was eventually bowled by James Capstick but the damage had been done. I asked Capstick about 15 years later what he remembered ,if anything, about the game. He answered “Payney’s drop”. Such was Redhead’s dominance that his brother David had the next highest score with a mere 14 not out. Williamson’s early figures were in ruins and he ended up with 4-93. In truth he should have been withdrawn as he was getting increasingly tired and frustrated. He was bowling far too short on an unresponsive pitch and the ball was standing up and crying hit me. Redhead certainly obliged. I suspect he kept lobbying with Jez Hope to see the job through.              

Lowerhouse fans were deflated and bemused at half-time and feared the worst. They weren’t wrong! ‘House were soon 23-4 with Astin, Bleazard, the pro’ and Whalley back in the pavillion. Dodemaide had taken 3 of those wickets and wasn’t put off by the ribbing of Brian Holmes. Gary Moorhouse provided some resistance with 19 and Stan Heaton, batting at 6 made a top score of 34 but a laborious reply ended at 91-8 and the fact East Lancs had been denied a bowling bonus point wasn’t even scant consolation. Far from an early finish the game had ended with darkness not far away.              

Although Lowerhouse finished in a lowly eleventh that season it did have it’s highlights especially early on. Another win was gained at Nelson which was never to be sniffed at. The first round Worsley Cup win at Todmorden was a definite contender for a game to remember but what had been a mixed season was defined by one of the blackest of weekends in early June. Lowerhouse had drawn Colne at home which was by far the easiest task they could ask for. They were winless in the League and in the Cup’s second round courtesy of a handy bye. Chasing 102 Lowerhouse were 62-3 but slumped to ignominious defeat with 87 all out. The next day in the ‘derby’ game versus Burnley, Lowerhouse let their visitors off the hook in the field and failed to redeem themselves with the bat as Burnley pro’ Sam Skeete had a season’s best 8 wicket haul. It was inescapable that this dire couple of days would leave a shadow over the rest of the 1992 season.            

In conclusion in the last 2 games to remember features I have looked back on a couple of great topsy-turvy games with Lowerhouse coming out on the short end. I promise to stop the rot next time! 

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