Heywood Cricket Club celebrates 150th anniversary

Date published: 16 June 2015

Heywood Cricket Club is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

The club played its first match at Heywood Hall in 1865 with the aim to popularise cricket as a healthy outdoor recreation.

Before moving to their current base in 1921, the club played at Heywood Hall, on land which is now part of Queen's Park, from 1865-1878.

The club moved to Pot Hall where they stayed from 1879-1920. Tenancy of the Pot Hall ground was subject to a renewable lease, which was due to expire in 1921. At the time, the cost of renewing the lease and the alternative of purchasing the ground outright were both considered to be extortionate.

Local businessman JP and Councillor Alderman David Healey donated the land at Crimble in trust to the club.

Speaking about the donation, Club President Bob Cross said: “The club was given in order that the town should have a quality cricket ground in which to play cricket. It says in the deeds that should the cricket club ever fail, the ground should be used for other organised, outdoor recreational activity. Failing that, the ground goes to the town for community purposes.”

The first game of cricket at Crimble then took place on Saturday 23 April 1921 between England XI (including nine from Yorkshire) and Lancashire XI – the game ended in a draw with the attendance being reported at between six and seven thousand.

Since the club's first game in 1865, Heywood has gone on to attract overseas amateurs in the Central Lancashire League to England coaches.

The list of former professional cricketers at Heywood Cricket Club makes for impressive reading and includes the likes of Ellis Achong, John Reid, Geoff Lawson, Curtly Ambrose and Sherwin Campbell.

Female cricketer, Kate Cross has also put Heywood on the international map following her rise through the clubs junior teams to her current status as a member of the England women’s squad.

Since the millennium, Heywood Cricket Club has laid claim to being the Central Lancashire League Wood Cup kings. Since 2003, Heywood has won five Wood Cups and lost in the final twice. Add to this another six triumphs over the years and it’s clear that the Wood Cup has a big place in the hearts of Heywood fans.

Despite the majority of things running smoothly and successfully, the club nearly didn’t make it to its landmark anniversary. In the winter of 1998/99, the club was on the brink of folding due to the lack of money, enthusiasm and members.

Supporters rallied round the club and, from this low point, things moved forward dramatically to the present day.

As well as hosting a successful cricket team, Heywood Cricket Club aims to be a hub for the local community, with the club being used by community groups such as the scouts and local schools.

Mr Cross added: “We are part of the community. We allow the scouts to use the place and on a nice day, there will be schools or a school using the ground to place cricket. We would allow them to use the ground for other purposes as well, not just cricket.

“We are not just a cricket club or a private members club, we extend out what we have to the community. That is how we see ourselves. By no means an exclusive club, but more of an inclusive club.”

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the club, former players, current players and guests attended a dinner on Friday 12 June, held in a marquee on the outfield of the club.

The evening was a chance to celebrate all that is good about the club in great company.

The event saw 296 people attend with the night being described as a “tremendous success”.

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