The Early Years (1864-1883)
Following the formation of eight county cricket sides, the leading clubs in Lancashire organised a meeting. Thirteen Lancashire cricket clubs were represented at the historic meeting at the Queens Hotel, Manchester, on 12 January 1864 where Lancashire County Cricket Club was formed. Four were from the Manchester area – Manchester, Broughton, Western, and Longsight; three from Merseyside – Liverpool, Northern and Huyton, and the others were Ashton, Blackburn, Accrington, Wigan, Whalley and Oldham.
The object of the meeting, it was said, was ‘to consider the propriety of forming a county cricket club, with the view of spreading a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the game throughout Lancashire.’
Home matches were to be held alternately Old Trafford, Liverpool, Preston and Blackburn and ‘other places’ to help introduce good cricket throughout the county.
Lancashire’s first-ever official game was played at Warrington against Birkenhead Park on 15/16 June 1864 but was not first-class.
In the early 1870′s Lancashire cricket was dominated by Hornby’s batting and Appleby’s bowling. Lancashire cricket began to come to the fore with the advent of two great professionals Richard Barlow ‘the prince of stonewalling batsmen’ and Alec Watson the artful slow bowler from Scotland.
In 1865 Lancashire played their first county match. It was at Old Trafford with their opponents being Middlesex. Lancashire won the match by 62 runs and the Middlesex under-arm bowler Vyell Walker took all ten Lancashire second innings wickets.
In 1867 the first Roses Match was staged against Yorkshire, the inaugural match being at Whalley, and this began a series of matches which would rank alongside Test matches for importance with the Lancashire public.
1867 also saw the debut for the county of A.N.Hornby who was to exert a unique influence over Lancashire C.C.C. for the next fifty years as a player, captain, committee member and President. He was to rule with a benevolent despotism both on and off the field, fearless, with an unwavering sense of duty to cricket he was intolerant of anything which fell short of perfection. He was held in high regard by the players and was a tough and tenacious adversary. He was a good athlete and played Rugby for England as well as football for Blackburn Rovers.
Lancashire’s reliance upon amateurs caused many problems during the early years, as they were all willing to play at Old Trafford but unwilling to travel to away fixtures, leaving the side and the matches unbalanced.
In the early 1870′s Lancashire cricket was dominated by Hornby’s batting and Appleby’s bowling. Lancashire cricket began to come to the fore with the advent of two great professionals; Richard Barlow ‘the prince of stonewalling batsmen’ and Alec Watson the artful slow bowler from Scotland.
AN Hornby, Lancashire player 1867-1906, Captain 1880-93 & 1897-98, Chairman 1878-98 and President 1894-1916The first - and so far - only Lancashire player to score 10,000 runs and take 1,000 wicketsRichard Barlow formed a famous opening partnership with HornbyLancashire won the County Championship for the first time in 1879Round-arm slow bowler who took 1384 wicketsPilling played in Old Trafford's first-ever Test Match in 1884A fine all-rounder, often considered second only to WG Grace
In 1879 most of the cricket press (though not Wisden) expressed the view that Lancashire and Notts were joint champions. Two seasons later there was no argument that Lancashire were the undisputed champion county, and in 1882 Lancashire retained the title sharing it once again with Notts.
Lancashire’s great strength was with some of the players were who were beginning to make their mark around this time. The amateur A.G.Steel who was considered second only to W.G. Grace as the country’s finest all-rounder in a career which lasted 19 seasons.
Also, the professional from Sutton-in-Ashfield Johnny Briggs, who was one of the best loved of all Lancashire players. Briggs is the only player to score 10,000 runs and take 1,000 wickets for Lancashire. They were supported by the excellent Dick Pilling “The prince of wicket-keepers”.
Interest in the county cricket club was high and in 1878 Lancashire played Gloucestershire when over 28,000 watched the match over the three days. In 1878 the Australians played at Old Trafford with “The Demon” Spofforth, who took 9-53 against Lancashire.