Greenock's winning return to the Western Union

Unlike the Second World War, when recreational sport was encouraged by the Government as a way of boosting the morale of the country, the First World War saw little or no club cricket played and this was certainly the case at Greenock. In the first year after hostilities ceased, club cricket started up again but with only a programme of friendlies undertaken.

However, discussions over the winter of 1919 led the way to the resumption of the Western Union league in 1920 and as part of the agreement to do so, the four clubs, Clydesdale, Drumpellier, Greenock and West of Scotland, who had resigned from the league in 1910 as a protest against both the expansion of the league and also the burgeoning influence of professionals, were readmitted.

Anticipation of league season

There was therefore some anticipation at the start of the 1920 season amongst Greenock players and supporters at the thought of competitive cricket returning to Glenpark. Unfortunately, the annual pre-season friendly with Cartha was rained off which meant that the team went into the opening league game with no match practice under their belts.

This opening fixture was against Drumpellier and took place at Glenpark on Saturday 1st May. Reports of the match, in both Greenock and Coatbridge newspapers, are somewhat sketchy, certainly in comparison with the coverage that would be provided in succeeding years, but it is clear from what is available that the match was no run-fest, indeed the very opposite. With masterly understatement, the Greenock Telegraph noted that "the wicket did not favour run-getting".

Batsmen struggle on 'queer' pitch

Drumpellier batted first but with the exception of their professional, Benham, their batting made a poor show on what the Coatbridge Express stated "was a 'queer' wicket". The first wicket fell at 10, three wickets were down for 13, and when Benham was dismissed for 20, the score stood at 35 for 6. The tail did not wag and the final tally was just 42. Douglas Adam, Greenock's left-arm opening bowler, was virtually unplayable and took 8 for 16.

In reply to this modest total, Greenock's batsmen did not find run-scoring any easier. JC Adam was the only one of them to reach double figures, but even his 13 looked like leaving Greenock short of their target. However, unlike Drumpellier, Greenock's tail did wag. RL Walker and David Bisset, the wicket-keeper, batting at numbers 9 and 10, dug in until Bisset's dismissal brought Douglas Adam to the crease.

Douglas Adam hits winning runs

To cap his man of the match performance, amid mounting excitement from the reasonable number of spectators that attended the match, Adam hit the winning boundary before being dismissed himself - as was the custom of the time, and indeed for many years onwards, the winning team would bat on after claiming the victory.

This was a game that was totally dominated by the bowlers, by Douglas Adam for Greenock, and by W Thomson and D Brownlie who each took five wickets for Drumpellier, on a pitch where the Coatbridge Express reported that "the ball nipped off the turf like lightning and the batsmen made many mistakes in timing".

In fairness to Greenock, they were lacking four of their leading batsmen, John Kerr, Reid Kerr, Norman Walker and David Riddell, not to mention their captain, Barnhill Walker, all of whom would score heavily by the end of the season.

Early season struggles for Greenock batsmen

Greenock won their next two league matches without broaching 100, their bowlers winning the matches against Ayr and Poloc, but the strong Uddingston outfit brought the winning run to a close with a crushing win. Indeed it took six matches for Greenock to score more than 100 but once they did so, they started to score more heavily, especially when John Kerr returned to his best form.

Clydesdale won the league in a close race with Ayr. While Greenock may have finished in fifth position, had they reversed the result of two of the four games that they lost they would in fact have tied for the title.


F Colledge + c WM Adam b GD Adam 9
H Lewin c JS Tough b GD Adam 3
CH Adam   b GD Adam 0
Benham   b JS Tough 20
J Mitchell c WM Adam b GD Adam 3
MS Neilson c Carnie b GD Adam 0
DC Hanson c GD Adam b Morey 3
J Anderson   b GD Adam 4
AP Skeil * lbw b GD Adam 0
WW Thomson   b GD Adam 0
D Brownlie not out 0
Extras     0
TOTAL      42
WM Adam   b Brownlie 0
AH Crawford *   b Thomson 8
TS Tough   b Thomson 0
FL Morey c Colledge b Brownlie 1
JJ Grieve st Colledge b Thomson 3
JC Adam c Skeil b Brownlie 13
AT Carnie c Benham b Brownlie 0
JS Tough   b Brownlie 0
RL Walker not out 8
DB Bisset + c Colledge b Thomson 3
GD Adam   b Thomson 5
Extras     6
TOTAL      47