Memories of Sunda​y School League Cricket​​​​

One of the plusses of working in the Charity Shop, is that you get to meet people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
I met someone whom I Played cricket with for Anvil Street Church over forty years ago in the Blackburn Sunday School League. As ex cricketers do, Don Bumstead and I exchanged experiences of our time together, and it got me reminiscing the happy times I spent down the “Flats” as Pleasington Playing fields are known as.

The Sunday School league was comprised of church teams and wives, girlfriends and others would support their men folk every Saturday afternoon. In fact, most of the scorers were ladies.

Each team had their star players and Characters; 
Park Road; Frank Rawcliffe.
Leamington Road; Jack Gregson, (now a well-known umpire), Brian Ainsworth, he of the stuttering run up, but deadly off spin, and Eric Parkington.
St Andrews; Roy Snape, Ernie Clarkson, Alf Parker and that most vocal of appealers, Eric Knowles.
New Row; Jack Preston, Brian Croasdale, and later to become my opening batting partner at Feniscowles, Colin Tracey
St. Aiden’s; John McCumskey and Colin Whalley.
Ragged School; brothers Harry and Ron Smith, (Who for years was the league Chairman.)
St. Josephs; Alan Barry, Ted Frain and George Clague.
Mill Hill St Peters; a team full of characters. All-rounder Alan (Pop) Forrest, Joe Baldwin, Wilf and Dave Walmsley and Bernard Reidy.
Their Local rivals were Mill Hill Cong. a team full of talent. Fast bowlers, and on concrete wickets they were lethal, Brian (Nobby) Clarke, George Baron and Frank Chadwick, not forgetting my good friend and wicket Keeper Ian Barrett. They were led quietly but astutely by a great skipper, Harry Witton.
St. Pillips: Ian Veevers.
St. Francis; Bill Cosgrove, Ken Wiggans and Stuart Joseph.
Lower Chapel, From Darwen; Jack Crompton, a fine opening batsman and skippered by Keith Rollo.
Audley Range; Roy Whittaker, who later became my captain at Feniscowles, Noman Kendall, George Wilson, Peter Hodgkinson and Alan Bradshaw, who played in the Rovers Youth Cup winning team.
The​n finally my Team, St Lukes who were league champions in 1963 under skipper Brian Duxbury. We had a very strong bowling team with Jim Woodacre, Pete Holdsworth and myself, ably supported by Frank Windle and Jack Seagar.  I Mustn’t forget our star batsman Jack Morris. I learned a lot from Jack and remember his advice, “Always play a straight bat and hit it between the Vs.”
Hubert Briggs was the league secretary and his match reports in the Blackburn Times were always well received.
It would be remiss of me to forget the gentlemen in white coats who did a splendid job.
My favourite was Wilf Hoyle who somehow could always remember the score during the game. Others were Sam Bass, Tommy Duckworth, who had an impish sense of humour and Jimmy Dean, a gentleman in every sense of the word.
Sadly with the number of churches closing the Sunday School league is no more. But before it ended there was a reunion at Ewood Park to mark its centenary 1895-1995, and it was great to see so many ex-players attending.

St Lukes 1963 cup winning cricket team.jpg
St. Lukes, Winners of the 1963 Sundy School League
Back row; left to right; I. Hoyle (scorer), E. Windle, I. Hanson, D.  Fenton, J. Woodacre, C Stocks, J. Seager, H. Smith (Chairman)
Front row; B. Blackledge, F. Fenton, B. Duxbury (Capt.) S. Fairbrother, J. Morris, D. Gregory.

Cricket is still played down the “Flats” in the Blackburn and District Cricket League and their committee is ably assisted by Eddie Hart and Len Rigby, formerly from the Sunday School League.
It’s been said that crickets are “white flannelled fools” but in my experience friends made on the cricket field become friends for life.

Written by David Gregory
Published August 2023