History of Alvanley Cricket Club ~ 1884 to present
Alvanley C.C. was founded in 1884, but there are records of a match between a team from Alvanley and one from Frodsham played at Frodsham on 27th June 1874. The first match recorded in the archives of the Chester Chronicle was on the 20th June 1885 against Norley Hall. Norley Hall batted twice but could not reach the score of one Alvanley innings, which totalled 49.
The cricket club originally played on a field behind Alvanley church, only moving to the present ground in 1900. One of the original items of equipment transferred to the new ground was a stone pitch roller made from a cheese press. This roller, although no longer in use, is still at the club.
Apparently a horse was fitted with specially made leather shoes so that it could pull the roller without damaging the pitch, but it was apparently none too happy with its new footwear!
A member of Alvanley teams during these early years was Mr Leonard Greenway of Cliff Farm. His name appears at No. 4 on the card of a match played against Frodsham of 15th May 1886. Mr Greenway was the grandfather of Phil Griffiths, a former 1st X1 Captain and a very hard working member of the Development Committee that transformed the club in the 1970s & 1980s.
The first pavilion erected on the new cricket ground was made mainly out of packing cases from the Cable Works at Helsby. This pavilion was still in use up to 1955.
Matches played in the early 1900s were against other villages in the district, the prestige games being against Tarporley and Barrow. One outstanding performance from this period was against Ince C.C. who were bowled out for 7, Tom Booth took all 10 wickets. The Tarporley fixture had a special place in the calendar, because at that time most of the property in the two villages formed part of the Ardern Estate. This engendered keen rivalry.
In those far off days the players traveled to away matches in a horse drawn vehicle called “The Bassinet Wagonette”. The horse was called “Blue Peter” and was driven by Mr Alfred Webster of Commonside, Alvanley.
Cricket was discontinued during the 1st World War, but A.C.C. reformed soon after the end of hostilities. Local rivals Helsby did not start activities so soon and several good players threw in their lot with Alvanley. The team was very strong in the 1920’s and in one season actually went undefeated. Several years later the team again had a very local flavour and at one time seven players named Leech appeared in the side. This must have been a nightmare for the scorers and the team selectors. Some digging has revealed that a WB Woolton presided as Secretary in the 1920s and an article in the Birkenhead News described him leaving the club to live in the States, his departure being marked by a gathering of the members.
In the late 1920’s and 1930’s the stalwart members of the club included Percy Ainsworth, Wilfred Booth and Fred Britland. Percy Ainsworth became treasurer in 1926 and continued as a committee member until 1976. A real character in the club was Owen Rawlinson who was deaf and almost dumb, but on his day was an excellent slow bowler. In one match when the Moore and Daresbury team was bowled out for 15 runs, he took 8 wickets for 2 runs. Owen did not need the assistance of the scorer because he memorised the details of every over that he bowled.
President from 1932 to 1946 was Capt. HR Baillie Hamilton Ardern [click here to see Peerage]. The youngest member of the team in 1938 was Colin Carter who later served the club for many years as Chairman only vacating the position in 1981
1939 and the 2nd World War put an end to cricket at Alvanley for a time, the ground almost becoming the victim of the plough. In fact only the prompt action of the Vicar, Rev. H.D. Hutchins prevented this. He saw a tractor and a plough on the cricket ground and immediately contacted the owners at Tarporley to have the ploughing stopped. He thereby rendered a great service to the club.
The ground came to life again in early 1946 and strenuous efforts were made to make the ground ready for home matches in 1947. Several of the pre-war players were again prominent in the club’s activities but in 1948 a new member, Leslie Longden, joined the committee. This ushered in a further chapter in the club’s history. Mr Longden was President from 1956 until his death in 1967. He was also club captain for several seasons. He played a leading part in the development of the club during these past war years because of his generous financial support. Les did much to foster village cricket and was in fact a Vice President of several village cricket clubs.
Another new committee member in 1948 was Mr Fred Noden who became secretary in the following year and continued to do so for an incredible 51 years. Fred sadly passed away in 2006. Without dedicated people of this character village cricket could not continue to exist.
In reply CCS scored just 60 with Reg Gleave grabbing 9 wickets for just 10 runs for Alvanley
Fred Noden went on to stand as Secretary for 51 years and then as President, Lesley Longden also served as President. Reg Gleave is understood to have died in 2009.
From 1950 to 1956 the President was the club’s only female president to date – Lady Helen O’Brien [click here to see peerage]. In 1957 the Club took the opportunity to purchase the basis of the current ground from the Ardern Estate and were at long last able to discontinue the Saturday morning ritual of cow dung removal from the outfield in preparation for the afternoon match. The strength of the team also continued to grow during the 1950’s. One prolific wicket taker during this era was Reg Gleave. He took 82 wickets in 1949, 95 in 1952, and 96 in 1953. In both 1952 and 1953 the last match of the season were cancelled by the opposition, thereby depriving Reg of the magic 100 wickets in a season. However, he did achieve the feat of taking all 10 wickets in one innings (including 4 wickets in 5 balls) during the 1953 season.
1955 was the year in which a 2nd XI was formed and in 1956 the original mark I pavilion was replaced by a structure which had been the Village Hall at Cuddington. The piece of land on which the pavilion was erected was donated to the club by the family of the late Mr Harold Wright of Church Farm. Mr Wright was a very useful member of the team in the early days of the club.
During this period Alvanley used to enter the Boughton Hall K.O competition and on one occasion when a professional was allowed to play, the famous Australian Test Player Ces Pepper was engaged by the club. Unfortunately this did not further the club’s cause as we were knocked out of the competition in the first round!
Further development took place in 1961 when the club was able to purchase additional land adjoining the ground, more than doubling the size of the playing area.
Originally the ground was so small that boundary byes only counted as 2 runs and there were no six hits.
A new cricket square was laid and came into use in 1963. This new pitch must have been friendly to batsmen as in the course of a match against Eastham C.C., the Alvanley openers scored over 200 runs before being parted! Many fund raising efforts had to be held at this time to pay off the cost of purchase of the additional land.
Roy Gilchrist, a former West Indies Test player, also played on the ground. He played for a team from Thornham in Lancaster in a Sunday match. Previously we had played at Thornham in the first match of the Haig National Village Cricket Knockout Competition. A record was achieved by Alvanley in this match as a score of 225 for 3 was made of which Keith Hinkley scored 144 not out. This was one of his many centuries for the club. Thornham were dismissed for 150.
In 1973, during residential development of the land adjoining the club, electricity was laid to the then pavilion and subsequently the interior of the pavilion was modernised and a bar installed. More recently of course an entirely new project on the part of the ground previously known as the ‘Paddock’ was undertaken. This led to the erection of a much larger and spacious pavilion which came into use for the Centenary season in 1984. The vast majority of the work was carried out by members in their spare time over three winters and, although it would be invidious to single out individuals, mention must be made of the unstinting efforts of Bob Cunningham, Phil Griffiths and Fred Noden without whose work the project would have foundered. CLICK HERE TO LINK TO A PAGE DEDICATED TO THIS PROJECT
Youth cricket was encouraged by the Club in 1969 when a youth team was formed. There were no outstanding results for a few years, but in 1977 several cups appeared on the club ‘sideboard’. Not only did the 2nd XI win the 2nd X1 championship of the Chester Cricket Association, but the under 17 X1 won the Area Championship of the mid-Cheshire finals. In 1978 Alvanley C.C. joined the Cheshire League (that carried the name of sponsors Meller Braggins) and in the first season the 1st XI finished runners-up in their league. The 2nd XI finished in 4th place in their league. In 1979 the 1st XI visited Chelford and bowled out their opponents for just 25 runs having been 2 runs for 5 wickets at one stage. Needless to say a 10 wicket victory was secured before teas were close to leaving the kitchen! This sat as the lowest team total in the league for 18 years. In 1980 Keith Hinkley set a then league record highest score of 151 not out in an incredible match at Pott Shrigley in a partnership of 274 with Les Aston who finished with 103 not out.
In 1982 the club’s strength in depth was demonstrated by finishing second in both 1st & 2nd XI tables and the 1st XI won the league knockout too.
The centenary to present
In the Centenary year of 1984 Alvanley’s 2nd XI won their league by an enormous margin of 45 points thanks to strong batting contributions from Les Aston, Phil Hadley & Bob Cunningham backed up by reliable bowling from Steve Palframan, Tony Gidman, Phil Riding & Robbie Roan. The 1st XI finished fourth thanks to solid contributions from Peter Yorke, Phil Tushingham, Keith Hinkley & Phil Griffiths, so the club finished up this historical season winning the Aggregate Championship.
Alvanley played some attractive cricket in the late 1980s and finally won the 1st XI title in 1989. This was achieved with a balance of experience from the likes of Yorke (who topped the batting averages with 839 runs at over 55), Griffiths (who bowled economically all season) and Richard Elviss plus the more youthful Dave Saddington, Adrian Walker, Ian Broady, Andy Senior & Chris Fletcher. The Aggregate Championship was won again in 1990 and Keith Hinkley re-wrote the 2nd XI history book averaging over 60 and topping the league averages throughout 1988 to 1992; his highest pinnacle came in 1991 when he scored 881 runs at an average over 125!
When the opportunity came to join the expanding Cheshire County League for the 1993 season Alvanley stepped forward looking to recruit and reinforce their squad. The first few years were a struggle, settling in the second division against teams who were increasingly supporting the best available local playing resource with overseas visitors. However, youngsters such as Robin Fisher & Andy Bennion were able to cut their teeth at this level and gain tremendous experience. In 1996 Bennion scored 713 runs and Fisher took 58 wickets.
1997 saw Alvanley land its first silverware for a long time. The 1st XI beat Tattenhall in a 2 innings final of the Boughton Hall KO.
ECB Premier League Cricket arrived in Cheshire in 1999 and so Alvanley competed in the second tier confusingly known as Division 1. The formation of this Premier league saw the beginning of an era where the best talent in and around the County were polarised to a few teams.
2000 was the season when Alvanley probably reached its all time zenith, finishing fifth in Division 1. Key batting highlights came from Andy Bennion & Glenn Pickersgill, whilst Robin Fisher, Richard Elviss & Andy Roberts dominated the bowling performance and Chris Fletcher topped the league wicket-keeping stats. Fisher was selected to play for Cheshire and did so right up to the 2006 season. On one occasion he pitted his wits against Shane Warne who was playing for Hampshire. While on the subject of name-dropping, Andrew Flintoff graced the Alvanley clubhouse, popping in for a beer with his former Lancs mate (playing for Bramhall) Paddy McKeown.
Ironically success led to failure! Key performers Fisher and Bennion were lured into the Premier League. The 1st X1 were relegated in 2001, lost a number of young players and were relegated again in 2002 to find themselves back in the Meller Braggins League for 2003.
Consequently the focus was on junior development to underpin the future, and the decision was made to engage an overseas player to bridge the short-term needs. Alvanley now has “Focus Club” status having been recognized by ECB as a club that is committed to junior development. The Clubmark accreditation means that Alvanley is a safe, effective and child friendly club and subsequently have received significant grants towards excellent new practice facilities that were completed at the end of 2007.
The Club celebrated its 125th anniversary (in 2009) both senior sides having a significant teenage population. The 1st XI won the League T20 KO in thrilling style, beating Stockport 199/3 to 131 all out, while the 2nd XI underlined the clubs growing pool of talent by getting promoted to Division A.
That step into the County League wasn’t too far away however. In 2011 the 1st XI went on to win the league with a huge 461 points. The unbeaten record they secured actually goes back to July 2010. With the 2nds finishing 2nd, the 3rds 3rd and the Midweek XI finishing as Champions, 2011 was truly a stunning season. The junior sides also performed well. One of the two under 13 XIs made it as far as the Cheshire Cup semi-final before falling to eventual winners, Alderley Edge.