This week I’m taking us back to our very first in 1892. Up to that point the club played friendly matches against teams far and wide.
Littleborough commenced the season on 23.4.1892 with a friendly against future league opponents Crompton ( who joined the CLL in 1896) Unfortunately due to rain the match was drawn, Crompton being 15-1 chasing 44 for victory GH Rhodes taking 6 wickets for the visitors. Further friendlies against Walsden, Ashton, St. Helens Recreational and Rochdale with three wins, a loss and a draw.
The South East Lancashire League season ( it was renamed the CLL in 1893 ) began with a narrow 6 run loss at Ladyhouse but a frustrating day followed in the first ever home league game when Littleborough posted a fine total of 146 with Avison 28, JH Taylor 26, and Mitchell 21 the backbone of the innings. But the rain prevented Royton batting and the inevitable draw was the result.
June turned out to be an average month for Littleborough with a loss at Bury, two victories at home to Todmorden and at Radcliffe. The return match v Milnrow ended in a tie ( 79-10 each ) and a second friendly against future league opponents Rochdale ending in frustration as rain prevented a ball being bowled. Rochdale would join the league the following season.
The four games played in July 1892 was a high scoring victory against Heywood. A. Bentley was the top scorer with 64 as Littleborough scored 156 The visitors ended on 109 with H. Wild the top scorer with 49 Littleborough professional Avison taking 5 wickets.
July was a mixture of league games and friendly matches. A second friendly against Walsden ended in yet another washout and was followed by a drawn game at Royton, the visitors limping to 96-9 replying to 132 scored by the hosts. Mitchell scored another fifty and Professional Lawton 13 but no other player scoring over 8 with future Littleborough guest player FA Blakey with figures of 13.0-6-21-5 making things uncomfortable for all batsmen.
July concluded with a return friendly at Ruskin Drive St. Helens other Avison scoring a fine 73 and Mitchell 32 with a fine opening partnership as the visitors made 151-6, the home side struggled to 60-5 when play ended.
August was a busy month with six matches being played. A visit to Pot Hall to play Heywood who made 156-7 thanks to thirties from JE Kershaw and J. Marshall and all bowlers taking wickets. Littleborough relying on an unbeaten last wicket partnership between the Taylor’s helped rescue a point.
Centre Vale Todmorden saw the home side beat a struggling LIttleborough side as they were dismissed for only 85, losing by 52 runs. Deputy Professional George Waller scoring 32, the only notable score, A fine all round performance by JW Crabtree taking 5 wickets for Todmorden. Earlier C. Johnson 53 and Crabtree 49 were the backbone of the home sides 137-6
A midweek friendly took place at Hare Hill against the GM Chadwick XI which was a side picked from the Castleton, Rochdale and Crompton clubs. Littleborough batted first and capitulated to 53 with Hardstaffe ( Castleton) 7.0-0-21-5 and Fox ( Rochdale) 9.0-1-24-3 doing the damage. GM Chadwick XI winning by 19 runs scoring 72-10 with only 3 players in double figures, which was enough to seal victory.
Of the three games remaining in August 1892 one was the penultimate league match, a home game against Bury which resulted in a low scoring three wicket victory and two friendlies a convincing 71 run victory against Ashton at Rayner Lane. Defending only 107 a brilliant bowling performance by CG Lawton 11.0-6-11-6 helped dismiss the home side for 36. Unfortunately the match against future league opponents Castleton Moor was yet another victim of the weather.
The final league match against Radcliffe was sandwiched in between two more friendly games. The first one against Crompton, yet again fell victim to the rain and the game against H. Varley XI was a narrow 2 run win for the H. Varley XI with Littleborough professional Lawton guesting for the visitors took 6 Littleborough wickets. William Avison taking 8 wickets for the home side.
The final league game resulted in a 35 run victory after making only 64. Professional Lawton 12 and A. Thomas 22 were the only batsmen to score double figures, and E. Allen taking 5 wickets for Radcliffe. In reply the visitors could manage only 29 with only Kirkman with 12 only making any mark and Avison 10.0-2-13-7 and Lawton 19.0-2-16-3 doing the damage.
This ended the first and last South East Lancashire League season which was renamed the Central Lancashire League during the winter. Bury resigned after just one season and joined the Lancashire League and were replaced by Rochdale.
Littleborough were crowned champions with 2 points, level with Milnrow and Radcliffe. The league ended up at Hare Hill as Littleborough played two fewer games as they did not play Oldham that season.
The points system was very unusual in 1892 with a victory scoring one point, a draw or no result scoring no points and you lost a point if you were defeated.
The main run scorers were Avison 290 ( 16.100 ), Mitchell 212 ( 15.000 ) and Lawton 243 ( 12.800 ) and once again Avison 79 wickets ( 7.450 ) including 5x5wm and Lawton 43 wickets ( 8.200 )
Lawton would leave Littleborough to be replaced by JW Crabtree but Avison would remain as the first ever CLL season beckoned.