A brief look at the history of Hartlepool Cricket

By Alan Smith - August 8 2002
A brief look at the history of Hartlepool Cricket An brief history based on material contributed by Ken Gardner M.B.E. for a publication marking the Centenary of the NYSD League. Excerpts from this publication are included with permission of Ken Gardner.
Hartlepool Cricket Club

Hartlepool Cricket Club

A brief history

compiled by Mr. K.W.Gardner (M.B.E.)

Games of cricket involving West Hartlepool, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Whitby can be traced back to the early 1820's. The West Hartlepool Cricket Club was founded in May 1855 and played for many years at Burn road before amalgamating with rival local club, West Hartlepool Temperance. In 1881 they moved their base to Clarence Road (adjacent to Hartlepool Football Club), where they played until 1911.

West's first venture into League Cricket was in the Durham Senior League, but in 1899 they decided to join the North Yorkshire and South Durham League. They met with immediate success and won the 'A' Division Championship in 1899,1900,1901,1902,1908 and 1913. The pre First World War period was virtually dominated by West Hartlepool and Guisborough; it was a truly golden era of 'West' cricket. Players of the calibre of Harry Salmon, Thompson Smith, the Horsley brothers, A.V. Mcgregor, Walter Lees and Freddie Eyre set uncompromising standards of efficiency whilst still playing attractive cricket.

Harry Salmon, a huge figure at the wicket, believed that the harder he hit the ball the less running he would have to do. This was never better demonstrated than in his famous innings against Redcar in 1910, when he made 200 runs in just over 2 hours. In those days, 6 runs could only be scored if the ball was hit completely out of the ground and one imagines the Redcar fieldsmen had a lot of retreiving to do on that day.

It was also in this time that Alf Morris played for the Club, before going on to represent Durham County with great distinction; he took 651 wickets and still holds numerous records for Durham. He remains the only player to capture all 10 wickets in an innings, v Yorkshire Seconds in 1910, and in 1911 he captured a remarkable 97 wickets with his right arm fast medium swing bowling. In his early 'B' division days he took 8 Guisborough wickets in 9 deliveries for no runs.

 

The club moved to its present headquarters at Park Drive in 1912 and staged the Durham v Australia Imperial Forces game in 1919. In that game the Club Tommy Kinch hit a brilliant 105, full of perfectly timed strokes; this was the only century scored against the A.I.F. on that tour. Wisden made the following remarks on that game: ' One would have expected the Australians to have beaten Durham in two days, but thanks to Kinch's hitting the county gave quite a show, and the game was left drawn. The Australians might well have declared on the second afternoon, but treating the match very lightly they went on hitting until stumps were pulled up.

Australians, 364(W.L.Trennery 81, C.E.Pellow 63, H.L.Collins 49, C.B.Milam 4-99) and 336-8 9C.E.Pellow 61, J.T.Murray 86, C.B.Willis 57 not out)

Durham 259 (T.Kinch 105, J.M.Gregory 4-16).

Season 1928 saw West Hartlepool complete the double by winning the 'A' Division title and the Kerridge Cup. The cup success was repeated again in 1932, 1934 and 1941. Not to be outdone, the Second XI won the 'B' Division Championship in 1932, 1937 and 1939.

Championship and Cup success alone cannot describe the individual effort. Several people can still remember the fine performances of W.H.R.Alderson, F.W.C. Newman, the incomparable Frank Smith, a very strong off driver who hit 17 league centuries and a fine 154 for the League against the M.C.C. in 1927, Jack Webster and those excellent professionals Jack Cook and Jack Curtis.

Curtis had played county cricket for Leicestershire, and was given the title of 'the hat-trick king' because of the number of times he performed the feat.

Cook was a slow to medium bowler and once scored 106 for Durham County against the New Zealanders.

Thompson Smith was a very fast bowler, but despite this seemed to play on and on, indeed on his 60th birthday he bowled West Hartlepool to victory in the Kerridge Cup.

After the Second World War the Club shared the common problems of reconstruction with other clubs. Although cricket had continued during hostilities several of the Club's former stalwarts had retired. Eventually the nucleus of a good side emerged under the captaincy of Harry Bailey and included such fine exponents of the game as Alf Francis, Bill Ellerker, Syd Guthrie, Albert Briggs and professional Joe Johnson. They were able to give guidance to many promising young players such as David Hall, Jim Kennedy, Reg Turner and Des Grievson, all of whom went on to play valuable roles over the next 25 years.

It was not until 1964 that the 'A' Division Championship was again won, a youthful Peter Kippax, the professional playing a vital part in the success. The Club changed its name in 1967 from "West Hartlepool" to "Hartlepool Cricket Club" following an amalgamation of the two Boroughs.

All three senior sides were playing well, but it was not until the return of Peter Kippax in 1978 that another Championship came to Park Drive. That side was led by Eric Clarke and included such good players as Mike Gough, David Olaman and Johnny Johnston who was later to bowl so well for Durham County.

With success in the Kerridge Cup in 1979 the Club continued winning many competitions at all levels, culminating in their second double in 1988. Jerry Boyd captained a good all round side with Ashok Patel, Des Playfor, Ashley Day and Andy Holland all making excellent contributions.

Now with over 100 years of league cricket behind them Hartlepool Cricket Club players, officials and members can look forward with eager expectation and look back with pride.

Park Drive has played host to First Class Cricket as one of Durham C.C.C. 'out grounds' with favourable reports received from umpires and players about the wicket.

The picturesque surroundings are a delight enjoyed by players and spectators alike lying adjacent to the delightful Ward Jackson Park. Surely one of the finest places you could imagine playing cricket.