Unsung Heroes – George Bridge
When the Hall of Fame was created parameters had to be set to reward a combination of ability and longevity. A batsman needs 3,000 runs which can be done in 12 seasons averaging just 250 runs, whilst a bowler can get in averaging 20 wickets over 10 seasons. So players that don’t get in do so because either they don’t play long enough or play long enough but aren’t quite good enough. The latter would apply to George Bridge a dogged and dour Lowerhouse stalwart who came up just 128 runs short of the Hall of Fame.
Bridge made his debut in 1928. It wasn’t an auspicious start and he made a duck versus Rawtenstall. He was stuck in the Seconds for most of the next 4 years, playing just 11 games and making just 43 runs for the senior side. 1933 was the last of Edwin St Hill’s three years as pro’ and it was George Bridge’s breakthrough season. He scored 242 runs and made his first half century, at Turf Moor of all places. That ground hasn’t always been kind to ‘House batsmen. A good example would be Brian Higgin who scored fifties on all League grounds except Burnley’s. Bridge was used as a part time bowler and he got his first wicket in ’33. Ironically it was Todmorden pro’ Fred Root, who would later have 2 seasons at Lowerhouse in 1938 and 1939. Bridge never became one of the side’s premier players. For example in 1935 he made 166 runs and took 6 wickets. In 1937 he was down to 67 runs and 7 wickets. Bizarrely that included his best ever figures of 5-18 versus Colne, included their good pro’ Amar Singh.
Bridge didn’t play for the first team again until the War time years. Many experienced players made hay in those years as the competition was weaker with many players away in the Services and no professionals employed, but Bridge just plodded on with similar returns. He had 320 runs over the ’40 and ’41 seasons combined. He made his highest score so far of 56 not out in 1943 just toppling the two hundred mark for the season. In 1945 at Acre Bottom he made his highest career score of 88 in a 33 run win against Rammy. In his veteran days of the late-1940’s Bridge had his 2 best seasons albeit not cracking the 300 run barrier, although coming close in 1947 and 1949. By 1951 Bridge was down to 11 games, making just 68 runs and not being called on to bowl. Bridge’s career had never really reached the heights and now it was over. He’d made 2,872 runs, taken 51 wickets and held 43 catches.
His loyalty, and dour stubborn play means he deserves to be recognised as an unsung hero , but I think the fact that he falls slightly short of Hall of Fame status, is probably a fair judgement
By Paul Hargreaves