Hawick and Wilton

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History of Hawick Cricket

Gary Alexander, 6 August 2018 19:07

Cricket

 

Written by Gary Alexander for “Reflections O' Hawick”

Published in 2015, compiled by Ian W. Landles and Alan G. Brydon

Reproduced with kind permission from the publishers

 

As far as we know, the game of cricket was first played in Hawick about 1844 by several English stocking makers who came northward in pursuit of their calling. For a short time they played amongst themselves on the Brewery Haugh but the game was in a languid state. In 1849, considerable impetus was given by the arrival in Hawick of David Hall, a waste merchant from Batley and keen cricketer who did much to stimulate an interest in the game.

 

The first match to be played in the district involving Hawick players took place at Borthwickbrae in 1849 between Hawick players and a group of English gentlemen who were residing there. The return game in the Upper Common Haugh was the first cricket match to be played in Hawick. The large crowd who watched the game were startled by Sir Frederick Millbank (one of the English gentlemen) when he drove a ball clean over the roof of the old Toll Bar house into the Under Common Haugh.

 

The year 1849 also saw the formation of three cricket clubs representing different localities in the town. The Hawick Club for those residing in the East end; the Western Star for those in the West end; and the Wilton Club for those in the parish of Wilton. When the latter began to admit members resident in Hawick, their name was changed to Hawick & Wilton.

 

Hawick, reconstituted as Teviotdale in 1850 before dissolving in 1857, played in the Upper Common Haugh. Western Star also moved there having initially played on the Vertish Hill  but they only survived about four seasons. Wilton practised at Galalaw but its distance from the town forced a move to the Upper Common Haugh. The Albert Club also existed for a short period during the late 1850s but, as the other clubs folded, Hawick & Wilton became the one remaining Club in the town.

 

The unsuitability of the Common Haugh for cricket resulted in an approach to the Duke of Buccleuch. The petition to His Grace was drawn up and strengthened by the signature of the Magistrates and Town Council. In a letter of response the Duke said, “I approve highly of cricket, and have always supported the game in Scotland.” The cost of laying out the ground, turfing the centre, and erecting the large entrance gate was entirely defrayed by His Grace and, through his munificence, Hawick was put in possession of Buccleuch Park, one of the largest and finest cricket grounds in Scotland.

 

In 1859, Lord John Scott, brother of the Duke, sent the club a number of bats, balls and wickets and promised the cost of a professional for the first season. It was Lord John who had impressed upon the Duke the great need of a suitable ground at Hawick. The opening match on the new ground was played on 22nd September 1860 against Langholm with the visitors winning by 7 runs in a double-innings match.

 

A St Cuthbert’s Club was formed in the town with their first games against Hawick & Wilton taking place in 1867. The second meeting that year was unusually played on a Wednesday afternoon which was possible due to the occasion of a holiday for Queen Victoria’s visit to the Borders.

 

During the 1800s only a handful of games were played each season, with much lower scoring than we know today. Indeed it took until 1866 for the first individual 50, by W. Elliot who scored 62 not out against Gala, and to 1895 for the first century by J. Montgomery, 101 not out v Watsonians.

 

Conversely, and quite incredibly, a club record total of 406 was scored v Kelso in 1887 which was an utterly remarkable figure for the time. In 1881 William Dryden performed another remarkable feat by taking a hat-trick in each innings against Langholm.

 

Towards the end of the 1889 season, a photograph was taken of the then pavilion in view of its pending demolition to make way for a larger and more commodious building. On the scoreboard is displayed the score of 220 for 5 made against Kelso earlier that year with the figure of 97 representing the not out total scored by the Earl of Dalkeith who unfortunately is not actually present in the picture.

 

Funds for the pavilion, as well as for re-turfing the outfield and repairing the boundary fences, were raised courtesy of a three day bazaar. The club’s new pavilion was opened on 10th May 1890 against Grange with the home team winning by 14 runs.

 

The turn of the century saw cricket strengthen in the town with a notable fixture taking place in 1904 when an M.C.C. team visited, captained by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, but also a notable cricketer who once took the wicket of the legendary W.G. Grace in a first-class match. The depth of strength of the game in the town can also be found in the first mention found of a Factory and Trades League championship in 1907, won by Lyle & Scott Ltd.

 

The early part of the 20th century brought success for the town both locally and at international level. In 1910 Hawick & Wilton won the Border League for the first time, repeating the feat the following year. 1911 also saw the first Hawick players selected to represent their country. Brothers James and Walter Storrie played against Ireland with the former winning his second cap later that year against All India in a match played at Galalshiels. It should also be noted that Maurice Dickson, who played for Hawick & Wilton in 1902 and 1903, was subsequently capped for Scotland in 1904 and went on to captain his country.

 

James Storrie achieved the remarkable feat during his career of taking 1,514 wickets in club cricket. An impressive number in any town, but rather magical in Hawick! The only other Hawick & Wilton player to take more than 1,000 wickets was A. M. C. Thorburn with 1,073, although some of these were whilst playing for Stewart’s FP, Royal High and Grange. Another remarkable wicket taking feat involved A. McArthur who incredibly took all 10 in a match against Gala at Mossilee in 1940.

 

During the 1914-1918 war a remarkable amount of cricket was played on Buccleuch Park. This was due to the large number of military stationed in Hawick, Stobs and the surrounding country. Besides matches between Hawick and the regiments, there were also inter-regimental matches. Since many Hawick & Wilton players were away serving their country, the local team was often made up by some of the military visitors.

 

Between the two wars cricket was faced with more competition from other summer sports, but it continued to flourish in the town.

 

September 1925 saw the visit of Kent County to Buccleuch Park with one of the largest crowds seen at the ground. The Kent XI was at full strength with the exception of England’s Frank Woolley, playing for the Rest XI against the English County Champions. Although Hawick fielded a strengthened side for the match, it was still remarkable that they scored a notable victory. James Storrie with 5 for 35 played a big part in dismissing the visitors for just 74. Harold Hardinge, an England cap, with 44 was the only Kent batsman to reach double figures. Top scorer for Hawick was the then Lord Dalkeith.

 

Whilst Woolley may have missed out on playing at Buccleuch Park, many other England test cricketers have graced Hawick’s ground: George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes, David Denton and Schofield Haigh to name just four.

 

In 1926, part of the cricket field was taken over to be used as a site for the new Henderson Technical College. There was no heating in the pavilion until 1928 when it was agreed that gas be installed at a cost of £5 though it took until 1959 for electricity to become available.

 

1928 also saw the first petrol driven mower, horses having been used up to that time to pull the machine which cut the grass. Horses were not the only animals to use the cricket field. For a long time sheep were allowed on in the close season when it was let for grazing.

 

Just like the Great War, during the Second World War there was more cricket played on Buccleuch Park than in normal times, due to the large number of military in the area. The Club’s games were restricted but there were many matches between regiments and between one unit and another. The most prominent military player was probably Captain Bryan Valentine of Kent and England.

 

The Hawick & Wilton Club celebrated its centenary in the week beginning 27th June 1949. Three special matches were played at Buccleuch Park; East v South, Hawick & Wilton v Scottish Union XI and Hawick & Wilton v Carlisle. The Centenary Dinner on 29th June was attended by a large company, which included representatives from the Scottish Cricket Union and the Edinburgh and Border clubs, the Duke of Buccleuch, Bryan Valentine (the English Test player), and many Teri exiles.

 

Around this time the High School cricket team had several years of outstanding success and, from this source, Hawick & Wilton gained some very promising recruits. There also developed at that time great interest in the Parks Cricket League, the number of teams competing, mainly from trades and mills, and consequently the numbers playing cricket in the town was far more than ever before. Pringle’s were the dominant force winning the League 12 times in the post-war years.

 

Having last won the Border League in 1911, it took until 1959 for Hawick & Wilton to repeat the feat. Under the captaincy of Eric Grierson, the key players during the season were Jack Bowie, Eli Cunningham, Dickie Johnstone, Bert Marshall, Ramsay Oliver, Andrew Pender, Eric Prince, Harry Simpson, Tom Simpson, Jim Stavert and Dennis Whitehead.

 

In September 1960 a special game was played to mark the centenary of the first ever game played at Buccleuch Park. Hawick & Wilton took on a Langholm Select, which wasn’t far off a Borders Select, followed by a celebratory dinner. The only change to the normal Hawick side was the inclusion of former professional Alf Creber.

 

The fourth, and most recent, Border League win came in 1964. The players who helped secure the title were Eric Grierson (captain), Jack Bowie, Eli Cunningham, Benny M. Hartop, Dickie Johnstone, Bert Marshall, Alex Michie, Ramsay Oliver, Peter Paterson-Brown, Andrew Pender, Eric Prince, Roy Purdom, Harry Simpson, Tom Simpson, Jim Stavert and Dennis Whitehead.

 

Having captained two Border League winning teams, Eric Grierson was later to go on to the great honour of being President of the Scottish Cricket Union in 1997. He became the third Hawick man to hold such office, following in the footsteps of I. Gray Wallis in 1931 and Harold McCartney in 1977.

 

Producing three SCU Presidents is a notable achievement for the town given that Hawick international recognition on the field has been rare in comparison. Following the Storrie brothers in 1911, the next Teri to be capped was Norman Davidson in 1951 whilst at Edinburgh University. He was arguably the best all-round sportsman that Hawick has ever produced. In addition to his five cricket caps, he also gained seven rugby caps for Scotland and is the only Hawick & Wilton batsman since the war to score over 1,000 runs in a season.

 

In 1990 Richard Bannerman gained a Scotland B cap as well as one at Under 23 level. The most recent Hawick player to play for his country is Stuart Chalmers who played twice against Canada in 2009. He has also played 17 times at ‘A’ level and twice for Scotland XIs.

 

Following the Border League win of 1964 there was further success for Hawick & Wilton in 1967 when they won the Border Knockout Cup for the first time. The final against Selkirk at Buccleuch Park was tied when Benny Hartop, snr. struck a single off the last ball of the match. In the replay at Philiphaugh, it was again Hartop who hit the winning run in the last over. The team at Hawick was: Jim Domingo, Peter Robertson, Dennis Whitehead, Peter Paterson-Brown (captain), Bert Marshall, Ronnie James, Raymond Blacklock, David Johnstone, Eric Grierson, Andrew Pender and Benny M. Hartop. For the replay, David White, Eli Cunningham and Eric Marshall replaced Blacklock, Johnstone and Pender.

 

The early 1970s began with difficulties off-the-field when the authorities planned to extend the High School to such an extent that they wanted the whole field. Backed by local support the Club’s resistance was so strong that after a long drawn out battle, the authorities eventually settled for taking only part of the field.

 

The old pavilion with its by now outdated facilities was replaced in 1975 by a modern building that not only catered for cricket, but also for tennis and carpet bowling. A new square was laid and a new scoreboard was included within the pavilion build.

 

Whilst the 1970s lacked trophy success, the 80s began with a win at the Border Sixes in 1981. Selkirk were beaten in the final at Philiphaugh thanks to Bruce Logan (captain), Jim Chalmers, Keith Cunningham, Benny M. Hartop, David Wright and David Naylor with skipper Logan picking up the player of the tournament award.

 

The highest individual score recorded in Hawick cricket occurred on 12th August 1984 when Benny Hartop, jnr. scored 204 not out at Buccleuch Park against Edinburgh side Drummond. He hit seven sixes and 22 fours as Hawick reached an incredible 371 for 8 in only 40 overs.

 

The following year Hawick won their first 11-a-side silverware since 1967 defeating Gala in a tense Border Knockout Cup Final, which was decided on the last ball of the game with the following team: David Naylor, Bruce Logan, Sandy Wilson, Jim Chalmers (captain), Gary Alexander, David Wright, Richard Melvin, Benny I. Hartop, Scott Welsh, Ian Fraser and Richard Bannerman.

 

The 2nd XI won the Border Reserve League in 1988 and in 1989 the Border Indoor Sixes Trophy was lifted when victory was achieved following yet another last ball win in the final, this time over Penicuik. Team: Keith Cunningham (captain), Jim Chalmers, David Naylor, Derek Hartop, Richard Bannerman and Scott Welsh (replaced by Gary Alexander for the final).

 

Around this time, Hawick & Wilton were a strong team, often coming close to a first Border League win since 1964 but title success eluded them on more than one occasion. 1988 and 1989 were the two years they came closest.

 

1988 ended with a third place finish. Crucially the home fixture with Kelso was played when overnight rain rendered the Buccleuch Park pitch virtually unplayable. Desperate to play and try to topple the League favourites, the home club made extreme efforts to get the pitch playable when most other clubs would probably have called the game off without hesitation. Disastrously, Hawick were skittled for 34 and Kelso knocked-off the runs without loss, resulting in Hawick scoring 0 bonus points. The impact on points percentage from games played was such that Hawick & Wilton would actually have won the Border League that season had the game not been played.

 

The 1989 campaign was blighted by tragedy. An eagerly awaited top of the table clash at Kelso, both teams having 11 wins from 11, ended in defeat for Hawick. The real tragedy though was after the completion of the game when Hawick President Adam Grierson collapsed and died on the field. He continues to be remembered through the Adam Grierson Memorial Quaich awarded each year to the club member deemed to most deserve it. Losing three out of the five fixtures played following the Kelso disappointment resulted in a second place finish.

 

Compensation for missing out on Border League titles partly came in regularly being placed second or third and thus achieving qualification into the prestigious Scottish Cup, where the standard was much higher than in the local league. Games took place against many top sides such as Heriots, Uddingston and Freuchie; teams filled with Scotland internationals and often overseas professionals.

 

The next success was the winning of the Border Outdoor Sixes at Selkirk in 1994. Victory in the final was achieved over Kelso, the Tweedsiders’ first loss in the competition for nine years, with the following team: Scott Welsh (captain), who was awarded player of the tournament, Benny I. Hartop, Brian Hunter, Gregor Welsh, Andrew Johnston and Gary Alexander.

 

The 1990s ended with Hawick & Wilton engaging the services of a paid professional, Stuart Carlisle, for the 1999 season. Carlisle was a Zimbabwe Test player and represented his country at the 1999 One Day World Cup held in England.

 

On reaching 150 years, Hawick & Wilton held a celebration evening in the clubrooms where historian Ian Landles toasted the first 100 years and former player Gerald Adams the latter 50 years.

 

South African Robbie McQueen took over as professional in 2000 and 2001, helping Hawick to victory in the latter year as they won the Border Knockout Cup by defeating St Boswells at the Green. A 96 run opening partnership between McQueen and Scott Welsh was pivotal in the Hawick victory. Team: Robbie McQueen, Scott Welsh, Gregor Welsh, Stuart Chalmers, Jamie Turnbull, Andy Renwick, Bruce Logan (captain), David Wright, Keith Cunningham, Allan Moffat and Ryan O’Neill. Skipper Bruce Logan captained the club overall in eight seasons, the most by an individual in post-war years.  He also captained the South of Scotland.

 

During the 2000s there was a decline in results due to an ageing team and a lack of younger players coming through. This was addressed at the grass roots by the introduction of a Hawick primary school league played under kwik cricket rules, which quickly went from strength to strength, to the extent that, on Saturday mornings through May and June, 12 teams and close to 100 boys and girls from Hawick , Denholm, Hobkirk and Newcastleton now take part each week playing for the Johnston Memorial Trophy. Additionally, youth cricket has developed through various age grade Border Leagues. Most recent successes include Hawick winning the Border Under 13 League in 2011 and the Rowan Boland Memorial Trophy for Borders Under 11 teams in 2012. The investment in primary and youth cricket has borne fruit in recent years with some of the first players involved in primary cricket making their way into the adult game. Coaches such as Allan Moffat, Doug Welsh, Andrew Johnston and Bruce MacTaggart, amongst others, deserve great credit for ensuring a bright future for the game in the town. Moffat and Welsh were recognised when awared the Roxburgh Sports Council coaches of the year in 2007.

 

A strong relationship has developed in recent years between Hawick & Wilton and Durham County Cricket Club. Trips to Chester-le-Street are now made every year where Hawick youngsters receive coaching from Durham staff. Additionally they have formed the guard of honour at Sunday games and taken part in on-field bowl-offs at T20 matches. In addition, they have appeared on the field to play mini-games at lunch time at many England fixtures, the most recent being in August 2013, on the first day of the first Ashes Test ever to be held at Durham.

 

One of the biggest changes in the adult game came when the decision was taken by Hawick & Wilton to join the East of Scotland Cricket Association set up for the 2012 season. This arose from the more ambitious Border League clubs aiming to play at a higher level by joining the East Leagues and Langholm departing to the Eden Valley League to reduce travel costs. With Border League numbers decimated, Hawick & Wilton had little option but to follow others to the East Leagues to maintain competitive cricket. As a result, the Club’s 117 year involvement with the Border League ended, although it continues in diluted format as a Sunday Development League.

 

Placed in East League Division 8 for 2012, Hawick & Wilton clinched the title with a 100% record under captain Allan Moffat supported by Gary Alexander, Ronan Alexander, Doug Bryant, Dave Currie, Euan Hair, Stuart Hair, Benny I. Hartop, Andrew Johnston, Craig MacDougall, Bruce MacTaggart, Phil MacTaggart, Declan Solley, Pierce Solley, Lee Stewart and Neil Storey.

 

A third place finish in Division 7 in 2013 would normally have meant just missing out on promotion.  However, some changes in the East League’s structure resulted in a second successive promotion to Division 6 for 2014.

 

The 2013 season ended on a further high when the SCU President’s Activcity Plate was lifted after defeating Woodcutters in the final played at Broomhall. Team: Allan Moffat (captain), Euan Hair, Gary Alexander, Pierce Solley, Phil MacTaggart, Stuart Hair, Neil Storey, Bruce MacTaggart, Dave McWatters, Ronan Alexander and Craig MacDougall.

 

2014 began with the good news that Hawick born Keith Oliver had been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to cricket.  Son of former double Border League winner Ramsay, Keith was appointed Chairman of Cricket Scotland in 2002 and in 2010 was elected by the other 105 countries around the world to sit on the Executive Board of the International Cricket Council (ICC). This is the highest level of governance in the world game and was a position he held for four years.

 

With primary, youth and adult cricket all going well, and with plans for development of a multi sports hub at Buccleuch Park and the adjoining Volunteer Park rugby ground, the future of the game in the town is in good health.

 

Bibliography

Fifty Years’ Cricket in Hawick by James Edgar, published 1910

Hawick & Wilton Cricket Club 1849-1949, One Hundred Years of Cricket

Hawick News

Hawick Express