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Completing the Century

The Association, having celebrated its own half-century in 1934, prepared to improve the lot of cricketers for the celebration of their half-century in 1935. When the Association held its first meeting that year a recommendation was put forward for the introduction of a separate league for second elevens. For leagues other than the Reserve Grade it was agreed that the bottom two teams in Grade 1 and Grade 2 would be relegated at the end of the season and their places taken by the top two teams from Grade 2 and Grade 3 respectively. In addition, the newly formed Umpires’ Association was permitted two representatives at meetings of Aberdeenshire Cricket Association.

Only one new team, Ellon FPs was admitted to league competitions. Turriff, which had been a member of the Association since 1897, were admitted to replace Central School in Grade cricket, while the latter continued to compete, though only in the Reid Cup competition.

West St. Clements applied for admission, but chose Grade 1 in preference to the lowest Grade for their introduction. The rule, which still applies, prevented them from leap-frogging and their application was turned down. Boddam were to submit their application in December 1935, but the Association postponed consideration of their application until its Spring meeting in 1936 when they, Peterhead and Newhills, were all admitted. Like West St. Clements the previous year, Alford made an application for admission to Grade 2, but they could. Perhaps have been forgiven for their apparent disrespect for the rule stipulating that new clubs must join the lowest Grade. Alford had been members of the Association since 1887 and had played in the Reid Cup competition since 1922, winning that Trophy in 1924. From the following year they had competed for the Bon-Accord Cup and had been successful in winning in both 1934 and 1935. They continued to play in the Bon-Accord Cup Competition in 1936.

The Association’s rules appear to have been applied more often in this period than in previous years – possibly because a revised set of rules had been introduced on 13th March 1935. Hitherto, reference to the original set of rules seemed to crop up only in discussion with unregistered players or forbidding the inclusion of professionals in the very early days when there appeared to be a few of them in the area.

Mention was also made then of a rule which has passed the test of endurance; that a player from a lower Grade being able to trial matches for a higher Grade club and requiring, before playing for a third time for that club, to register for the higher Grade club and cease to belong to the lower Grade one. A further rule which had endured for some considerable time was that of the prescribed time for close of play in league and cup games. The former were to end at 8 p.m. while cup games could last until bad light prevented their continuation.

At their March meeting in 1937, the Association agreed there should be fourteen clubs in Grade 1, twelve in Grade 2 and ten in Grade 3. This might explain why, having been unsuccessful in the pervious year, Alford were admitted to Grade 2 the following year. Another new side also entered Grade cricket that year when Western were admitted to Grade 3. However, Gordonians application that their second eleven be admitted to Grade 2 was immediately rejected.

The Reserve League was presented with a cup when Alex Johnston, a Past-President and a member of Crescent, donated the trophy for which the Reserve Grade still compete. With this generous gift, each Grade now had a trophy for which to contend.

To complete the overall picture of the Grades and the Association as we have grown to know them over the more recent years, a draft of the Association’s first handbook was submitted for approval on 5th December 1937. It is perhaps worth noting that its cost was set at ‘not more than 2d per copy and each club to take at least 12 copies’. While on the subject of costs, it had been decided earlier the same year that the Umpires’ fees should be raised from 1s 6d to 2s.

Season 1938 was a further upsurge in the number of teams entering Grade cricket. Caledonian made a welcome return to the scene and along with them came Devanha, Windsor and Police. There were, moreover, applications from Mannofield and 45th Old Boys which did not result in admission to a particular Grade, but permitted their appearance that season in the Aberdeenshire Cup. There was no increase in the number of teams competing in Grade 1, but, naturally enough, the number of teams in Grades 2 and 3 increased. The Grades at that time comprised of:

Grade 1

Balmoral, Crescent, Dunecht, Fraserburgh, Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kintore, North, St. Andrews, St. Ronald, Stoneywood and Woodside.

Grade 2

Alford, Banchory, Boddam, Hendersons, Holburn, Mugiemoss, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, West St. Clements, Westburn, Western and Y.M.C.A.

Grade 3

Anchorians, Balnagask, Culter, Cults, Devanha, Middletons, Newhills (who went defunct in May 1938), Old Aberdeen, Police, Queen’s Cross, Windsor and 41st Boys.

Towards the end of the year a meeting was arranged in the Y.M.C.A. Hall at which David Donald, a Past- President of the Association, was to deliver a paper on fifty years of cricket, which was to be followed by discussions.

At the beginning of 1939, 45th Old Boys and Mannofield renewed their efforts to be admitted to play in Grade 1, but both they and Stonehaven had their application turned down. Cults on the other hand were successful with their application and were admitted to Grade 2. In the Reid Cup the name of St. Machar appeared in the draw and the teams competing in the Reserve Grade were:

Cults, Crescent, Gordonians, Grammer FPs, Huntly, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kintore, St. Ronald and Stoneywood.

However, in that particular year, cricket was perhaps not the thing upmost in peoples’ minds. The black clouds of War had once again descended and the question was raised at the Association’s Winter Meeting whether cricket should continue during the War years which lay ahead. You may recall that when the 1914-1918 War broke out competitive cricket under the control of Aberdeenshire Cricket Association was immediately suspended. In the discussion which followed this question, it emerged that, if possible, the game should continue to be played competitively. This proposal was endorsed at the Association’s Spring Meeting in 1940, but there was a general agreement that a contraction to two leagues only with each league retaining its own cup competition would be the most practical solution. Both the Wednesday League and the Evening League were, however, suspended. For season 1940 the survivors in grade cricket were:

Grade 1

Balmoral, Crescent, Dunecht, Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kintore, North, St. Andrews, St. Ronald, Stoneywood and Woodside. For the Aberdeenshire Cup only, Mannofield Strollers were allowed to compete.

Grade 2

Anchorians, Balnagask, Cults, Gordons Depot, Hendersons, Kingseat Hospital, Peterhead, Police, West St. Clements, Westburn, Y.M.C.A. and 45th Old Boys. In the Bon-Accord Cup competition both Aboyne and Alford were allowed to compete against the Grade 2 clubs.

By the following year, cricket in Aberdeenshire had been curtailed even more until contraction to one league and one cup competition only had been established. An estimate of clubs likely to participate in season 1941 was taken on 19th March that year when it was ascertained that a mere fourteen clubs were likely to continue. Even at this early stage in the War, attention was being addressed to what prospects might face clubs rejoining the Grades once the War was over. Wallace Porter, who was then President of the Association, explained that no club could be guaranteed reinstatement to the Grade in which they had competed before the War.

Although the number of teams had shrunk still further by the following season, it is worth noting that a hitherto unknown club had come into existence in 1942, when Westgrove lined up that season against what remained of the clubs existing before the War.

Anchorians, Balmoral, Caledonian, Crescent, Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Inverurie, Mannofield, North, Stoneywood, West St. Clements and Westburn.

On the financial front, the Association had at the end of season 1941 declared a credit balance of £55 5s 11d. The fact that at the end of 1942 the Secretary’s honorarium shows a reduction to £10, while those of his assistant and the Auditor remained unaltered at £2 2s and £1 1s respectively, contributed to this favourable balance.

Not surprisingly, with the continuation of the War, clubs comprising of H.M. Forces were to emerge and replace the still declining ranks of local sides depleted by the demands of the War. From the scene in 1943, Caledonian, Inverurie, West St. Clements and Westburn had all disappeared; to replace them Naval Base, I.T.C., R.A.F., and P.A.C.T.C. competed in the still-surviving single league and cup competition. Anchorians appear to have removed themselves from league competition that year, too, but they returned the following year bringing them yet another Forces’ side when the King’s Own Scottish Borderers competed.

The Associations’ finances were still extremely healthy with a balance of almost £93 to its credit. By the end of 1945 the Association had broken through into a three-figure profit, declaring for the first time ever a balance of £115 17s 4d. Signs of a revival among the local sides manifest itself in a new and rapidly reformed sides entering the league. Apart from one Forces’ side, R.A.F. Peterhead, Lads’ Club, Caledonian, C.F. Wilson, Hall Russells and Fisheries returned to the Grades.

With the ending of hostilities quite a number of clubs were, by March 1946, able to confirm their availability to field one or even two sides for the forthcoming season. The Association was able to decide there would be two Grades; Grade 1 would consist of thirteen teams and Grade 2 would contain the remaining fourteen teams. It also agreed that promotion and relegation should be held over for one year. With the restoration of competitive cricket, decision had to be taken as to the Grades in which each team should compete. The records do not show the actual Grade set up, but the draw for the Aberdeenshire and Bon-Accord Cups that season give some indication of what it was like within the two Grades.

Aberdeenshire Cup

Balmoral, Crescent, Fisheries, Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Huntly, Inverurie, I.T.C., Kemnay, Kintore, North, Stoneywood and Woodside.

Bon-Accord Cup

Aboyne, Anchorians, 2nd Crescent, Cults, Fraserburgh, Hendersons, Hall Russells, Lads Club, Peterhead, R.A.F., St Ronald, 2nd Stoneywood, West St. Clements, Westburn and C.F. Wilsons

The Associations’ confidence in the future security of the nation – and in Grade cricket in Aberdeenshire – came in the form of its handbook. Having discontinued its production immediately after the war had broken out, the Association was unanimous in its approval that the Handbook be reintroduced.

In the short space of two years Grade cricket expanded once again to embrace three major Grades and one Reserve Grade. Admittedly, each Grade contained fewer teams than in the years prior to the War – but not a great deal less. Grade 1 and Grade 2 each contained twelve teams, Grade 3 had eight teams and a further nine played in the Reserve Grade.

From the Grade 1 of 1940, Dunecht, Grammar FPs and St. Ronald had dropped down to Grade 2 and poor St. Andrews had disappeared from the scene altogether. Both Huntly and Winsdor had,  however, made welcome returns and were competing in Grade 3. Uniquely, three Buchan sides – Boddam, Fraserburgh and

Peterhead – were together in Grade 1. They had replaced Dunecht, Grammar FPs and St. Ronald. Also missing by now were Kingseat Hospital, Gordon’s Depot, Police and Balnagask, but four new clubs – Trinity, Tullos, A.U.W.F. and Dyce Lads’ Club had emerged. Despite the fact that the War was almost three years behind them, two of the Forces’ sides – R.A.F. and 32nd Medium Regiment – still lingered on competing in Grade 3, a Grade which the latter were to win in 1948 though they were destined never to reappear the following season nor never again.

This upsurge in interest in cricket was renewed in 1949 with City Youth Club, Western Victoria, Ellon Gordon and Artisans entering or re-entering Grade 3. Where nine teams had competed the previous season in the Reserve Grade, there were now no less than thirteen second eleven on the scene. In all, there were fifty teams competing in the Grades that season, but a further three – R.A.L.C.C., Senior Youth Club and Great Western were to join in 1950.

In season 1951, though Fraserburgh and Peterhead occupied the bottom two places in Grade 1 at the end of the season ought, therefore, to have been relegated, for some reason C.F. Wilsons was the team to appear in Grade 3. This team had been as high as fifth in Grade 1 in 1950. Having finished third in Grade 1, Grammar FPs were to opt out of Grade cricket at the end of season 1950, preferring instead to play friendly fixtures. Gordonians and Woodside were the two sides promoted from Grade 2 that year, but again the sides which ought to have been relegated – Y.M.C.A. and Alford – remained in Grade 2, while the top two teams from Grade 3 – Hendersons and Ellon – joined them in Grade 2. No other side went down to Grade 3. For the Bon-Accord Cup, Aboyne and a revived side, Strathcona, augmented the Grade 2 sides in the competition.

Grade 3 still consisted of fourteen clubs; the twelve which had finished below Hendersons and Ellon at the end of 1950 plus Windsor and yet another newcomer, Rubislaw.

The unscheduled decent of C.F. Wilsons referred to earlier was perhaps explained when they soon after reduced their playing strength to one team only. Also shedding their second eleven along with C.F. Wilsons was 45th Old Boys. There was, however, no reduction in the number of teams playing in the Reserve Grade, for Artisans and Gordonians were to enter second elevens. In competition for the Johnston Cup, Fraserburgh continued to compete with their second eleven.

In 1952, Torry Research were to establish themselves a creditable fifth place in their first season in Grade 3.

Yet another second eleven appeared when North entered a team in the Reserve Grade.

Though there had been a Grade 4 during the early and mid-twenties, season 1954 saw a unique transformation in the then Grade 3. Instead of adding a fourth Grade that season, Grade 3 was subdivided into a Grade 3A and a Grade 3B.

Season 1953 had seen no less than sixteen teams compete in Grade 3. Grammar FPs had not only returned to the fold but had finished third in Grade 3. Strathcona had come in from the cold of Reid Cup competition only and were now competing in grade 3 – and holding their own. Dental and Mugiemoss had also joined and had held mid-league positions at the end of the season. Allocation of the grade 3 teams into the new Grade 3A and 3B appears to have been arranged extremely simplistically on the basis of one team from 3A and the next into 3B, and so on. To the sixteen teams left over from the previous season, R.A.F. Buchan and British Railways were added. The experiment lasted one year only and a return to three major Grades and a Reserve Grade took place in 1955 when fourteen clubs competed in Grade 3. Gone from the previous season were Dental and R.A.F. (Dyce), but re-entering the Grades was Turriff and a newcomer to Grade cricket though not to the game itself – Stonehaven. Grade 2 adjusted by accommodating the winners and the runners-up in Grades 3A and 3B from the season 1954. Peterhead, which had the unenviable distinction of finishing bottom of Grade 2, losing all eleven matches played that season, went down to Grade 3. In the Reserve Grade, Ellon had by now added a second eleven.

By 1957, with a total of fifty-two teams competing in the Grades – Grade 3 was by now restored to one undivided Grade – C.D. and S.S.C., a side which had disappeared from Grade cricket for some time, had returned and were now doing well in Grade 1. They had won Grade 2 in 1956. Banchory, which had been competing for the Bon-Accord Cup as far back as 1928 and had competed in Grade 2 in season 1938 had also returned to compete in Grade 3 in 1956. Stonehaven too had appeared in Grade 3 and Tullos, which had been in this Grade in 1948 but had since withdrawn also made a welcome return, as did Craigton. On the debit side, over this period from Grade 3, Dental, Mugiemoss, R.A.F. Dyce, Strathcona and Torry Research had disappeared. Torry Research were to change their name to M.I and T.R., but thereafter lasted only one more season. For some time after their withdrawal from Grade cricket, Strathcona continued as affiliated members of Aberdeenshire Cricket Association.

Hall Russell’s renewed an extremely old connection with the Grades when the firm entered a team in 1959.

A second side with a name similar to that of one of the founding-member clubs, though in no way connected to them, emerged in Grade 3 along with Hall Russell’s when P.O. Bon-Accord made their Debut. In 1960 the same Grade welcomed yet another newcomer in the form of Y.M.C.A. Youth.

The early sixties were to see four more teams add to the strength of Grade 3. Stoneywood Engineers entered in 1962 and a year later were joined by both City Police and St. Andrews. The latter, though a name familiar as far back as 1899 when they competed for the Bon-Accord Cup, had continued Grade cricket until the 1939-1945 War. Academy entered Grade 3 in 1964. Outwith the Grades, Crathie became competitors for the Bon-Accord cup in 1962.

Quite obviously, with all the additional teams taking part in Grade cricket, a change had to come in the format of the Grades. In 1967, once again a fourth Grade was introduced, each Grade consisting of eight teams. Including the eleven teams competing in the Reserve Grade, there were now a total of forty-three teams on league-competition each Saturday. This renewed interest in the game and in the four-Grade League set-up was maintained until 1970, by which time Mannofield had returned to the Grades. Along with them yet another club with a similar name to that of a fairly august predecessor, Caledonian, entered Grade cricket. This recently-formed side entered Aberdeenshire Cricket Association and Grade 4 in 1969.

Though these years welcomed a strong upsurge in interest, paradoxically they bore witness to the death of an extremely old club when Woodside, having been relegated from grade 1 at the end of season 1967 finished bottom of Grade 2 in 1968 and sadly went defunct. Season 1970 also saw the end of another Grade side – albeit a comparative newcomer – when R.A.F. Buchan withdrew.

Season 1971 heralded a year of very considerable change for a hitherto extremely conservative body such as Aberdeenshire Cricket Association. To begin with, the long-established rule which had confined competitive cricket to a Saturday, was set aside and Sunday became a recognised day on which competitive games could be arranged. Perhaps even more revolutionary was the decision to play the Aberdeenshire Cup final on a Sunday from 1971 onwards.

To the vast majority of clubs the advent of Sunday cricket relived the situation so far as rearranging fixtures was concerned and, instead of all clubs having the traditional Saturday off when the Aberdeenshire Cup final was being played, it provided clubs with one more Saturday on which to play. In any event the majority of clubs had been playing friendly fixtures on Sundays for some time. The significance of being able to play cricket on a Sunday was, however, much more keenly felt by two other Grade sides having links with a Christian organisation – the two Y.M.C.A. sides. So much so that to continue playing Grade cricket they had to change their name. The older club, Y.M.C.A., had earlier hit the headlines in the Press and Journal by competing in a competition held on a Sunday – and winning it. The chastisement which followed and the fact that the majority of Grades clubs had come out in favour of Sunday cricket forced Y.M.C.A. to change their name in season 1971. The younger Y.M.C.A. club had been formed by those in the Junior Section of the Y.M.C.A. located in Skene Terrace. When they first competed in the Grades in 1960 they entered Grade 3 as Y.M.C.A. Youth, but by 1966 ‘Youth’ had given way to ‘Saracens’. They still retained Y.M.C.A. in their name. Less painfully, perhaps, then their Senior Section colleagues, Y.M.C.A. Saracens simply shed the Y.M.C.A. part of their name; Y.M.C.A., however changed to Queen’s Cross. Although there had been a Queen’s Cross in Aberdeenshire Cricket Association as far back as 1899, Y.M.C.A.’s change of name to Queen’s Cross was ore related to where they were now playing their cricket. By 1971 they had been playing at Harlaw in the area of Queen’s Cross.

While the end of the previous decade had seen the demise of Woodside, the start of the seventies regrettably saw the beginning of the end for City Police. Having entered as recently was 1963, won Grade 3 at the very first attempt, emerged winner of Grade 2 two years later, City Police had remained in Grade 1 until 1970 when their slippery slide to extinction began. The following year they finished bottom of Grade 2 and so slipped into the past history of Grade sides. At this point, however, it is worth reflecting that while City Police saw failure in Grade 2 as the end of the road for them, the team which had finished one place behind them that year and were to go one place lower in 1972, were destined to stage one of the most remarkable recoveries ever by working their way back up through the Grades, eventually to become Grade 1 Champions and remain in that Grade to the present day. That club was Inverurie.

The revival of the four-Grade format came to an end in 1970 and season 1971 saw a return once more to three major Grades and a Reserve Grade; an arrangement which was to prevail throughout that decade and continue until the present time. These Grades comprised of the following teams:

Grade 1

Artisans, Cults, Dyce, Fraserburgh, Kintore, St. Ronald, Stoneywood and Westburn

Grade 2

Alford, Balmoral, City Police, Inverurie, Lad’s Club, Queen’s Cross, Stonehaven and Turriff

Grade 3

Academy, Anchorians, Banchory, Boddam, Caledonian, Crescent, Ellon Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Kemnay, Mannofield, P.O. Bon-Accord, Saracens, West St. Clements and Windsor

Reserve Grade

Artisans, Balmoral, Cults, Gordonians, Grammar FPs, Inverurie, Kintore, Lads’ Cub, Queen’s Cross, St. Ronald, Stoneywood and Westburn

Although Grade cricket had contracted to three major Grades plus a Reserve Grade, there were still no less than forty-three teams competing each week. However, not only has City Police disappeared from the scene at the end of 1971, but an older side, West St. Clements, had also taken part in its final season in Grade cricket. R.A.F. Buchan made an abortive attempt to rejoin Grade 3, went so far as having their name included in the seasons’ fixtures printed in the Handbook, but, being unable to fulfil any of them, their place was fortunately taken up at the eleventh-hour when one of the most successful pre-War clubs renewed its acquaintance with Grade cricket. Huntly made a comeback, having been extremely successful in Grade cricket from the beginning of the century until the 1930s. They had made a temporary return in 1940 but had returned in 1947 and continued playing under Aberdeenshire Cricket Association as well as competing in the North League until 1957.

Further changes were introduced in 1972 when, for all teams in Grades 1 and 2, instead of Grade 1 only, were allowed to compete for the Aberdeenshire Cup. Those knocked out in the first round of this competition then competed for the Reid and Rennie Cups. In the latter competition, City Police and Crathie also competed. Competition for all these trophies was, from 1972, governed by a new set of rules. Gone after many years in existence was the original ‘played to a finish’ rule and instead each side’s innings was now restricted to forty overs.

Although no more teams from the major Grades had disappeared from the scene, two Reserve teams were to make a temporary departure. Another second eleven was, however, to commence a brief appearance in the Reserve Grade. The departing second elevens were Inverurie and Queen’s Cross while the reappearance was staged by Fraserburgh. The latter went so far as to finish second in the league on their reappearance.

Grades 1 and 2 retained their allocation of eight teams per Grade in 1972, but Grade 3 now contained fourteen clubs. League matches in this particular Grade were now restricted to one match per opponent. For season 1974, league competition was to be governed by an entirely newest of rules. Gone was the old close of play at 7:30 p.m. and limited-over cricket came to stay in Grade cricket. Matches were now to be limited to a maximum if ninety overs. The points allocation remained unchanged at six for a win, three each in the event of a tie and two each in the case of a draw. To prevent teams staying over-long at the wicket, sides batting more than fifty overs would lose out in the points allocated for the draw. They would receive one point only while their opponents would receive four points.

Further change took place the following season when the Grades were once more restructured. At the end of season 1974 there was no relegation from Grades 1 and 2. From the latter, Turriff, Grade 2 champions for that year, and Ellon were promoted to Grade 1 and from Grade 3 the teams occupying the top four places – Saracens, Grammar FPs, Caledonians and Anchorians, were promoted to Grade 2. With all this adjustment to the three major Grades, each now contained ten teams. The Reserve Grade consisted of twelve second elevens, Queen’s Cross had resurrected their second string in 1973, but were to fall by the wayside once again in 1975. Inverurie, whose second eleven rejoined the Reserve League in 1974 were to continue playing there. It was not until 1982 that Queen’s Cross were sufficiently strong to have another attempt at Reserve Grade cricket.

The healthy, or otherwise, state of first elevens can quite often be judged by their second eleven. The demise of Inverurie from Grade 1 almost straight through to Grade 3, mentioned earlier, inevitably resulted in the club having to withdraw its second eleven – albeit on a temporary basis. So too was the case with St. Ronald when they struggled for survival during the latter part of the seventies and early eighties. At the end of season 1976 the club was forced to shed its second eleven and concentrate on survival of its first eleven which had that season finished bottom of Grade 1 and was about to fall right through Grade 2 into Grade 3 by the end of the following year. By now St. Ronald was struggling for its very existence as a club. Winning Grade 3 in 1979 restored confidence sufficiently and a steady build-up of strength in 1981 allowed the club to reintroduce a second eleven in the Reserve Grade in 1982 with Queen’s Cross.

The discovery of oil in the North Sea and the oil-related firms which sprang up as a result of it in Aberdeen during the latter half of the seventies and early eighties, creating Aberdeen the ‘Oil Capital of Britain’, brought only one new team into Grade cricket and its stay there was relatively short lived. BP Pedesas were admitted to Grade 3 in 1979, but by 1981, they had withdrawn from competitive Grade cricket. They have, however, retained affiliated status with Aberdeenshire Cricket Association and in Evening League cricket have proved more than a match for most Grade sides. The difficulties of having a side made up of individuals employed in the oil industry proved too problematic for Pedasas to maintain consistent form during their short stay in Grade 3. Many of the players they are able to draw from for Evening League cricket already play for other Grade or Strathmore Union sides and are therefore unavailable on Saturdays or Sundays. In common with other Grades sides having players employed on the oil rigs, Pedesas’ form tended to suffer when their better players were working offshore. Whereas other Grade sides were affected by the absence of only one or two key players, a side composed of oil-industry employees tended to suffer more drastically.

In addition to providing many local clubs with new players, a few sides have benefited financially from the oil industry. With the increasing cost of kit, sponsorship from Oil firms has sustained more than one city side at a time when such support was sorely needed.

Partially related, perhaps, to the advent of oil through more particularly due to the increase in housing in that area, Culter re-entered the Grades in 1982 when enthusiasts in that community got together and reformed the long-extinct side entering Grade 3. While their hopes to find a ground within their own community have so far remained unfulfilled, the club had continued in Grade 3 using city pitches to fulfil home fixtures.

Up to now, what has been written of cricket under the control of Aberdeenshire Cricket Association has been entirely male orientated, but that is not to say that the ladies were not yet associated with the game. Not only were they in evidence lending support or in assisting with the teas, but quite a number of clubs had for some time boasted the presence of a female Secretary and even a larger number of clubs depended on the ladies for the accuracy of their scorebooks and scorecards. The first club to have a female Secretary was Dyce when Miss A Morris’s name appeared in the Association’s handbook. Kemnay and Turriff were other clubs who followed suit before the end of the seventies.

Dorothy Paton or Howie as she was then, was, however, the first and only lady in Aberdeenshire to have qualified as an Umpire, doing so in 1977. She was subsequently to take over as Secretary of Westburn in 1979, a position she continues to hold along with that of Secretary of the Umpires and Scorers Association. By the end of the decade, however, a sufficient number of ladies had shown interest in playing the game for a side to be raised under the name of Rosslyn Ladies and occasional friendlies were organised before the club sought membership of the Aberdeenshire Cricket Association. Although they continued to play friendlies against Reserve Grade teams, Rosslyn Ladies were never to participate in competitive cricket in the Grades.

One or two members of the club were to play competitively for Westburn in the Reserve Grade. Much more significantly though, their venture into the hitherto male-dominated game brought quick recognition at international level, for at least two of their members played for Scotland.

Returning again to competitive Grade cricket, six seasons after the introduction of limited-over cricket into league competition, bonus points were introduced. From 1980 winning teams were automatically to attract a ten-point bonus. For the other sides, one point was to be awarded for each two wickets they captured; while one point would be awarded on scoring 75 runs for each additional 25 runs scored a bonus point would be attracted – subject to a maximum of five bonus points.

By the end of the season it was clear to the majority of clubs that it was easier to acquire bowling points than it was to attain the threshold at which they started to earn batting points and in 1981 the batting side earned their first bonus point when they reached 40 runs and continued to attract four more batting points, one for each additional 25 runs scored. No further change was to take place although proposals were put forward regarding the apportionment of the overall allocation of ninety overs, but these were defeated.

However, as recently as the Association’s Winter Meeting in 1983 it was decided that in the hundredth year of Grade cricket, 1985 would see the introduction for the first time ever of two  Reserve Grades with promotion to the upper Grade from the lower one, and, naturally enough, relegation from the upper Grade to the lower one. Both Reserve Grades would, however, compete for the Johnston Cup as one Reserve Grade. The provision, at last, of the competitive element at this level, might prove sufficient incentive to encourage further growth at this grass-roots of cricket.

Perhaps the most encouraging developments so far ass the future of Grade cricket in Aberdeenshire is concerned, came with the successful introduction of Junior League cricket in the summer of 1983. During the Winter months of 1982 Donald Paton of Westburn put forward a compelling and soundly-reasoned case for the need to foster and sustain a level of interest in the game amongst youngsters in the age-bracket between eleven and seventeen years of age. As a schoolteacher himself, Donald realised that the introduction most schoolchildren got to the game in their final years of Primary School rarely, if ever at all, followed through to secondary school. Unless the individual took the initial step himself and sought a Grade Club the chances were that by the time he had left school or was sufficiently old enough to consider taking the game up, the most enthusiasm fired for the game at Primary School would most likely be extinct by the time he was sixteen.

The idea received favourable support particularly from country sides and with the recruitment of an enthusiastic Secretary in Ritchie Dinnes of Ellon to organise the fixtures and operate the league the first season had proved an unqualified success. Competition in this league has been restricted to Sunday mornings and had demanded the unstinting sacrifice of a Sunday long-lie for those who have ferried the youngsters to and from matches, often standing as Umpires during the game or scoring or simply giving much needed encouragement to them. In recognition of this venture, Aberdeenshire Cricket Association has not only undertaken to include the fixtures in the Handbook, but has gone so far as to acknowledge that the Junior Section will in future have a representative on the Management Committee of the Association. In addition to the many who have given their time and attention to ensuring the success of Junior Competition, special mention of the Aberdeenshire Professional, Kailash Gattani, in this connection would not go amiss.

Kailish has been instrumental in providing the juniors with one of the trophies for which they compete. His attention, along with other members of Aberdeenshire Cricket Club, to coaching a very young Mannofield will undoubtedly bring benefit to the future, not only to the county side but the Grade cricket.

Hopefully, the years ahead will see a steady extension of the introductory league and cup competitions in the Junior Section with the inevitable results that more and more youngsters will be channelled into Grade, Strathmore Union and, who knows even County-lever cricket. The problem, as Donald Paton had explained when outlining his projection for the Junior Section and his reasons for its introduction, is not so pronounced within the country clubs which have their own ground, but it fairly critical for the survival of the city clubs.

Dyce, Stoneywood and Westburn are so far the only city and suburban Grade sides to be involved in this enterprise. Mannofield, with its already thriving Junior Section and magnificent facilities, takes part, but it is hoped that other city clubs will become more involved either on their own or in co-operation with other Grade clubs. The experts have always maintained that oil from the North Sea is of limited expectation. With this in mind and acceptance that the game in this area has benefited from Aberdeen’s good fortune to be right at the centre of the oil industry, let all who profess an interest in the future of the game not to be so complacent as to assume that the future itself will look after the game, and, perish the thought, let none simply unpack their bag at the end of their cricketing lifetime and simply call it a day with no more interest in the game than the luxury of watching it on television! The game has given immense pleasure to most who have participated in Grade cricket, the least one might expect in return for that enjoyment is just a little effort on the part of as many as are willing to provide it to ensure the future of the game.

Having summarised on the administrative front at the end of the first fifty years, the same requires to be done as the century of Aberdeenshire Cricket Association draws near. With sixteen continuous years to his credit as President of the Association, the late Wallace Porter’s name would seem destined to hold the record for longest service in that office, but distinguished though his record may be, it was eclipsed in length by the period the late Joe Scott held office as Secretary of the Association when he retired at the end of 1978 having been in office for twenty-one years. With David Jones about to embark on his sixth year as Secretary to the Association, it is remarkable to think that in its hundred years of existence a mere nineteen individuals have held this office and that only in its first year was the post a shared one.

Already scheduled for the coming season of 1984 is a division of multifarious duties the Secretary has to carry out. A couple of years back some assistance was provided by designating one of the selectors to write to those selected for the many Grade Select games which take place each season. Production of the Handbook and responsibility for collecting and advertising revenue from this publication will also be delegated to someone other than the Secretary and at its Winter Meeting in 1983, Ian Stephen of Anchorians was appointed Treasurer. It will be the first time since 1896 that Aberdeenshire Cricket Association will have a separate person to act in this capacity.

Within the city, a number of grounds additional to the more traditional Duthie Park, the Links, Stewart Park, Woodside, Seafield and Rubislaw, Cricket has found lasting homes at Harlaw, the rather windy heights of Sheddocksley, at North Seaton and Kaimhill. Both Caledonian and Balmoral have also made use of the University ground at King’s College. Over the years, Spain Park, Groats Road, Seaton Park and the playing fields of Tullos, have been tried but are no longer in use.

Cricket under the Association is not just a case of cricket at club-level, from the outset the Association has fostered representative matches. In the early years they played two matches each season against Aberdeenshire and engaged in friendlies against Inverness. With the advent of the North League, selects from the Grades have competed in friendly rivalry with their North League counterparts. On the competitive side, the Association has always entered a Grade Select in the Three Counties Cup, which they won in 1967 and 1971.

For a time during the latter part of 1982 and throughout the early part of 1983 there was an expectation that the Association might acquire a ground of its own when the offer of land at Woodside was made by Aberdeen District Council. The Management Committee, in anticipation of this being fulfilled, went so far as to pledge good faith – and cash – to match the cost of a feasibility study on the provision of a club-house, changing rooms and a bar. The possibility of linking with other sports; with hockey for the ground, changing and bar facilities; badminton for a hall large enough to stage competitions as well as providing much needed courts for city clubs; and possibly rugby. Although there seemed to be a possibility of bringing one pitch into use there during the season 1983 this never materialised and the entire proposition seemed to have gone into limbo. By the end of the year, however, prompting by the Association’s Vice-President had brought the matter to the surface again – and, who knows, a ground of its own for the  Association for cricket in 1985.

MrPurple  Feb 17 2006 - 1:03am   
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