Lancashire County Cricket Club was formed 150 years ago on 12th January 1864.
The year of 1864 is significant in cricket history for several reasons. It was the year of the first Wisden Almanack, overarm bowling became legally allowed, and W. G. Grace first attracted attention on a cricket field.
By this time Manchester Cricket Club was nearly fifty years old and probably the foremost club in Lancashire. So it was only fitting that it should take a prominent position in the moves to form a county club, several of its senior members being among the originators. The ground, with its fine new pavilion, was in excellent condition, and there was a wealth of amateur talent around to encourage them to think of broadening their horizons with the establishment of a county club. The formation of other county teams had become an object of interest and by the time the senior clubs of Lancashire were considering the step, there were eight leading counties — Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire.
Thirteen Lancashire cricket clubs were represented at the historic meeting at the Queens Hotel, Manchester, on 12 January 1864. Four were from the Manchester area – Manchester, Broughton, Western, and Longsight; three from Merseyside – Liverpool, Northern and Huyton, and the others were Accrington, Ashton, Blackburn, Oldham, Whalley and Wigan.
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.' Unsurprisingly, given the location, the Manchester club was most heavily represented with eleven members at the meeting, but the honour of the chairman of the meeting fell on a Liverpool Cricket Club man, Mr W. Homer.
The prime mover of the meeting, Frank Glover, first addressed the group and said there seemed a general desire throughout Lancashire for a county club. Consequently, he and the gentlemen with whom he was associated had taken the preliminary steps towards it. He said the matches would be held alternately at Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Blackburn and other places and it was hoped this way to introduce good cricket into every part of Lancashire. He moved the resolution that the county club should be formed and that the gentlemen present form a committee to obtain subscriptions and enrol members. Another Manchester gentleman, T. Fothergill, seconded. Mr J. W. Allison, of Longsight, moved the next resolution which recommended that, in order to establish the club, donations or annual subscriptions be invited from clubs throughout the county. Frank Glover was elected secretary and the Earl of Sefton president.
One man who could not attend the meeting was Mark Phillips, president of Manchester Cricket Club for forty-one years and the first Member of Parliament for Manchester in 1832. He was one of the great benefactors of the game and although he could not be present at the meeting he wrote to the committee offering his full support:
As one of the oldest members of the Manchester Cricket Club, I shall, of course, be happy to assist in promoting the formation of a county club, to encourage and maintain so fine a recreation in my native county. Will you kindly act for me on this occasion? I cannot do better than place myself in your hands, and I will thank you to enrol me as a member, and put my name down for any sum you think proper for launching the scheme successfully. I do not know whether I retain the honour of being President of the Manchester Cricket Club, but whether I do or not, my interest in its prosperity will terminate only with my life. I sincerely wish that every parish in the kingdom possessed a cricket club, and a good ground to play upon.
So Lancashire County Cricket Club was founded, although no county matches were arranged that season and it was to be several years before the county team was to have real appeal to the public.
Even so, 1864 was the first season in which any matches were played under the name of Lancashire, eight in all, in which took part such prominent players as the Rowley brothers, Joe Makinson, Edwin Bousfield, Frank Wright — who was to score the first county century at Old Trafford — Sam Swire, J. B. Payne, Edwin Whittaker, Arthur Appleby and Cornelius Coward. Lancashire played professionals in only one of those eight matches in 1864, and that was in the return match with Birkenhead Park and Ground who had almost pulled off a surprise victory in the opening game at Warrington on 15 and 16 June. Lancashire's team for that first game after the formation of the county club was J. Fairclough, J. White, E. B. Rowley — who was to captain the county until 1879 — J. Becton, B. J. Lawrence, G. H. Grimshaw — who was to play one county game in 1868 — S. H. Swire, J. Rowley, F. H. Gussage, W. Robinson and T. T. Bellhouse. Birkenhead Park, needing 105 to win, were 90 for one when time ran out.
Lancashire v Birkenhead Park at Warrington, 15 & 16 June 1864 - Scorecard
Lancashire’s first county games were played the following year when ‘home and home’ games were arranged with Middlesex at Old Trafford and Lord’s.
Within fifteen years Lancashire had won their first County Championship title, sharing the 1879 title with Nottinghamshire and the rest, as they say, is history!
Photo: Lancashire in 1878
Back (right to left): A.B.Rowley (President), O.P.Lancashire, A.G.Steel, Rev.V.Royle, A.Watson, W.McIntyre, Fletcher (scorer).
Front (right to left): R.G.Barlow, A.N.Hornby, E.B.Rowley, A.Appleby, J.Kershaw, R.Pilling.
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