The 1956 Test Match was one of the most historic ever played and will always be remembered as 'Laker's Match' when he took 19 Australian wickets. 1956 Test Match scorecard
In 1957 Lancashire celebrated the centenary of the ground with a match against M.C.C. and a celebration dinner
at Manchester Town Hall. Over £70,000 was spent on bringing up to date and reconstruction of the members pavilion, extending the dressing rooms, members bar and library.
In 1963 with the club in financial difficulties, two and a half acres of what used to be the Gun Club, now occupied by the B&Q Store, were sold to the Rank Organisation for £60,000. The following year the club’s Committee were ousted with Cedric Rhoades, who had led the 'rebels' against the old Committee, taking up the financial problems of the Club and steering through the A.G.M. the controversial scheme to build office blocks at Old Trafford.
The development was not popular with many members at first. They did not like the prospect of office blocks, named after four Lancashire ‘legends’ Duckworth, MacLaren, Statham and Washbrook, encroaching over the ground. However the decision helped to underpin the financial stability of the Club.
A further development to the ground in 1969 saw the opening of an Indoor Cricket School and Sports Centre with facilities for squash and other sports.
One of the most remarkable one-day matches ever played took place on the ground in 1971, when in the Gillette Cup semi-final David Hughes scored 24 in an over at 8.55 pm, in dismal light, with 24,000 spectators roaring Lancashire on and millions of TV viewers on the edge of their seats. Lancashire were the 'Kings' of one-day cricket during the 1970's with Old Trafford packed for some thrilling cup ties and Sunday League games.
In 1981 an ambitious plan for a 200-bedroom Hotel at the ground was abandoned. The £7 million development was hit by the economic recession and instead brewers Greenall-Whitley agreed to a £350,000 facelift for Old Trafford to improve and refurbish all existing facilities. The Club announced a ground development appeal in 1982 which raised £200,000 and Test Centenary Appeal in 1984 as the club started to make significant improvements to the stadium.
The entire stand between the pavilion and Warwick Road end sightscreen was demolished and replaced at the end of 1982, with a Shop and a Museum incorporated into the new building, while the Executive Suites at the Stretford End were added in 1984. Originally the Executive Suites entrance housed a stained-glass window from R.G.Barlow's home in Blackpool, depicting the two legendary Lancashire openers Hornby and Barlow, together with the famous wicket-keeper Pilling. A refurbishment of the suites some years later meant the window had to be moved and it is new re-housed in the Pavilion Long Room.
1984 saw the centenary of Test cricket at Old Trafford with England playing the West Indies, but the most memorable innings that year was Viv Richards' 189 not out in a One-Day international between the same teams in May. Richards score was the highest ever in an ODI and has only recently been surpassed.
Described as "a wart on the features of Venus" the old press box was for a long time the anomaly of the ground. Perched precariously on top of the Jubilee Suite, 'The Daily Telegraph' noted in 1984 "The wind was so strong that it seemed the press box would be blown into the Ship Canal, and although the loss of a few cricket writers might not alarm the public, the loss of the press box would seriously alarm the National Trust!" In response to the criticisms of the press Lancashire built the Red Rose Suite at a cost of £300,000, with the new press box-The Neville Cardus Gallery-opened by John Arlott in 1987.
The Pavilion Restoration Appeal celebrated 125 years of the Club in 1989, when £150,000 was raised for the full refurbishment of the pavilion. In December the same year, came the historic decision at the AGM to allow women to become full members of the Club, with a 68%majority. It meant that for the first time for over a hundred years women could enter the hallowed portals of the Old Trafford pavilion and members enclosure.
Ground developments continued in 1993 with the two-tiered Washbrook and Statham Stand replacing the ‘Wilsons’ Stand opposite the pavilion, and in 1997 the new Indoor Cricket Centre saw Old Trafford home to one of the best indoor facilities in the cricketing world. That was followed two years later with the addition of the 68-bedroom Old Trafford Lodge, with half the rooms enjoying splendid views of the ground. At the same time, two stands, G&H, were demolished in quick succession, with larger temporary stands taking their place when required for major matches.
In 2005 this increased capacity saw nearly 109,000 spectators attending the ‘Ashes Test, the second highest attendance in the ground’s long history. On the final day, around 20,000 inside the ground witnessed a pulsating finish to the Test, while around 20,000 or more were locked out and turned away.
The pavilion roof was replaced in 2003 with the club also taking the opportunity to extensively refurbish the suites housed in the building, along with improvements to the dressing rooms
Old Trafford has also been host to a number of non-cricket events down the years. Recently pop concerts have been a regular feature with up to 50,000 fans attending, while the ground has seen also international hockey, lacrosse and baseball played.
Old Trafford is acknowledged throughout the world as one of the prime Test arenas and is set for major redevelopment in the near future. Credit must go to those who have helped in the building and development of the ground and the players who have taken part in the matches played on this historic field.
The Old Trafford Story by Malcolm Lorimer