By Ernie Whittaker
I don’t know how far I shall persevere with this as the old memory is not what it was and the sharper of you might notice the odd inaccuracy here and there.
I am going to start with something that might astonish younger Lowerhouse supporters. Imagine Sean Dyche and his team of multi-million pound footballers playing Lowerhouse at cricket. Yet, back in the fifties that used to happen. Of course footballers were not the overpaid prima donnas that they are now but Burnley football club was among the top teams of the time. It would be fantastic to even contemplate such a thing happening now. Perhaps the club historian can research this. I am not sure that it happened every season but I do remember one game in particular. Lowerhouse was batting with Wally Monk I think it was at the crease. The bowler (McIlroy?) sent down a delivery that Monk (if it was him) absolutely hammered to the boundary. Or would have if a rather stout Tommy Cummings hadn’t nonchalantly picked it up one-handed from where he was fielding at mid off. Everybody was looking towards the boundary but Cummings just casually returned the ball to the bowler. Wonderful stuff! Anyone remember those games?
Mid-week games used to take place between Lowerhouse Tradesmen and Burnley Tradesmen. They fizzled out in the 60s.
Hopping forth now to the sixties. We are all very aware of the flooding in recent times after heavy rain. But it is not new. On 17 July 1964 I think it was a storm flooded the ground down by Stan’s shed. I and others worked feverishly with buckets and pans to clear the area but it was a lost cause. The game was cancelled.
Games against Todmorden for some reason tended to be crackers and Lowerhouse had some good results over them. I remember one game where Lowerhouse scored a staggering 212-1 declared, a stunning score for what was generally regarded as a poor batting team. I think it might have been the game when Mahmood outscored Butcher but at tea we were all smiles, expecting a confident victory. Todmorden went beserk and thrashed our bowlers all over the ground with several balls landing in Lowerhouse Lane when a boundary or cleared boundary hit counted only four. I think the Todmorden pro was Des Barrick who I think played for Northamptonshire. Todmorden ended up at 215-2 with time to spare. Games were timed in those days, not overs as now. What a game!
On the other hand Lowerhouse showed how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in one memorable game at The West End against Colne. Colne had a rather underated professional from South Africa named John Neethling. Lowerhouse had restricted Colne to 178 I think it was and was cruising to an easy victory at 162-2 with plenty of time left. Enter Neethling. Twenty minutes later it was all over with Lowerhouse only adding one or two more runs to the total. I was disappointed that night. I think the current in-word is ‘gutted’.
Here is a story which I think Stan told me, or it may have been one of his helpers. I suspect that it is apocryphal but I don’t know. You may remember that in the late 50s we had a fairly useful spinner called Ken Smith. He got his share of wickets but he could not bat. In fact number 11 was too high for him. Anyway, the story goes that Nelson was playing Lowerhouse at The West End and Johnny Wardle was in his element, carting our bowlers all over the ground and sometimes out of it He was particularly severe on Smith. Nelson duly won the game and after the game Wardle came into the Lowerhouse dressing room and called Smith out (and here, those of you who don’t like bad language should look away)
‘Hey Kennie, has ta a minute? I want a word with thee’
(Takes Smith onto the outfield)
‘Listen lad. I carted thee all o’er park today but tha’s not a bad bowler. If tha alters t’way tha bowls tha’ll get plenty more wickets fur Lowerhouse. Here,I’ll show thee and then I’ll buy thee a pint for letting me belt thee all o’er ground’
A few weeks the return fixture was played at Nelson. Lowerhouse won with Smith trapping Wardle LBW. As Wardle passed Smith on his way back to the pavilion he said-
‘Tha daft sod! What did tha do that for?. Tha should be getting ‘t’other buggers out, not me! Spectators come to see me, not t’other buggers!’
As the victorious Lowerhouse team left the field Snith went into the Nelson dressing room and said to Wardle
‘Hey, Johnny I am sorry I got you out. Can I buy you a pint for getting you out?
Wardle : ‘bugger off!’
Probably never happened but I would like to think it did. Wardle would help all spinners, no matter who they played for.
Finally, does anyone remember the day when our paceman Jack Stott went to Ramsbottom and skittled them for 50? Jack took 6-17 that day.
These reminiscences are from my head and I have not checked the records. Those of you who are interested might choose to do so and correct any little mistakes