Anyone For Cricket?
Cricket has been around for centuries. It’s alleged to have originated in the late 16th century in south-east England and became the country’s national sport in the 18th century, writes Tracy Hargreaves
Cricket today is played all around the world. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the real power in the game has shifted from England to countries such as Australia, Pakistan and the West Indies. The major focus of the game in England is the county championships, however traditional village cricket is still played all over the UK.
One cricket club which hasn’t been around for quite that long, but just 196 years, is Preston Cricket Club, one of the oldest cricket clubs in the world.
Local sports historian Andrew Atkinson, wrote a book about the club and its history and it was believed to have been founded around 1831, however archives have revealed it was established a decade before that.
Its former grounds included Penwortham Home in 1833, which was actually an island. Players were given oars by the club and they had to row themselves by boat to the ground. The club has also played at the Marsh near Ashton and Penwortham Marsh before establishing its current base at West Cliff in 1859.
Preston joined the Liverpool Competition in 1947, after previously having a club policy of participating only in friendly fixtures. After missing the inaugural Northern League season, it became members of the league in 1953.
The club became joint champions in 1967 and won the title outright both in 1970 and 1983 and were division two champions in 1962 and 1986.
West Cliff staged five Lancashire CCC first-class fixtures between 1936 and 1952.
The club today is extremely successful and is still going strong, with a junior team starting from six to seven year olds to the oldest member, 72-year-old bowler Ahmed Mansoor and he is still taking wickets every Sunday for Preston Cricket Club.
It is run completely by volunteers and relies on sponsorship and donations from local businesses. It has now renamed itself Preston Sports Club as this incorporates cricket, alongside men’s, ladies and junior hockey. The sports club will also play host to some of the BAC/EE junior football teams from August and they seek other sports teams to rent their facilities.
Paul Masterson, who plays cricket and hockey is the club’s facilities manager. He says that linking in with hockey means that the club can not only access more funding but it utilises the facilities all year round, as the cricket season runs from April to September and the hockey season from September to April.
“The cricket club’s first team plays in the Northern League which is the highest standard of club cricket in the country, we also have a Sunday team in the West Lancs league, so we attract a lot of members who obviously want to play for the best teams,” says Paul. “But this is also reflected in the hockey. Preston Hockey Club was established in 1903 and has since remained one of the north’s most prominent clubs. With six mens, three ladies and two junior teams playing every Saturday plus a mixed team and masters teams on Sunday and a great summer league set up, the club offers competitive and social hockey for all ages, abilities and sex.”
The hockey club also appointed ex GB and England manager Peter Nicholson as first XI head coach for its 2015-16 season and he continues to develop the clubs talented senior players, whilst experienced first team player Sam Sinclair oversees the junior club training on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.
The club also has its own gym, changing rooms, clubhouse, bar, function room and all-weather pitch, with many of the facilities available for private hire. Paul adds: “There’s a great camaraderie at the club, we are extremely friendly and often both clubs will come together for presentations and it’s a great atmosphere.
“We’re always looking for new members and local companies to support us in order that we can buy new equipment and maintain the ground. It’s a privilege to be with a club which has such a great history and is diversifying along the way to ensure it continues long into the future.”