1947 - Treading water

John Drummond took over as captain for 1947 and he led a team that continued the transition process from the one that gained such success in the late 30s. George Tough and Arthur Neill had now both retired after long and successful careers and Bert Tobin was unavailable and would indeed move to Ferguslie in 1948 to take up the position of part-time professional for the Paisley team. Greenock would not have any paid assistance as the financial position of the Club was still somewhat precarious after the war years.

A mixed start

Rain put paid to the annual pre-season friendly with Cartha and the first league game with Drumpellier and when the players did get on the field at Glenpark, the result was a disappointing defeat to Ayr, with the team being dismissed for just 83. Only Heggie made any headway with the bat, scoring 28 and when it was Ayr's turn to bat, they did not fare much better apart from Chell who had played for Worcestershire 2nd XI and who made an unbeaten half-century as Ayr won by 4 wickets.

The first away game brought success as Poloc were beaten by 2 wickets, Greenock recovering from a poor start to claim the victory thanks to fine knocks by the skipper and Walter Kerr, who made his maiden half-century for the Club. Poloc had totalled 138 for 8 when batting first, being indebted to their internationalist, HF Sheppard, who carried his bat for 89, an innings which included only one boundary. AW Mackay was the most successful home bowler, taking 5 for 50.

More success would follow as Uddingston and West of Scotland were defeated, both times at Glenpark, in each case the opposition failing to make three figures. Uddingston were  a shadow of the team that dominated between the wars and were bowled out for just 64, with the youthful Ernie Armstrong taking 5 wickets for 28 and Greenock overtook that total for the loss of just one wicket. Play continued after the winning hit before Greenock declared on 116 for 7, McLeod being top scorer with 44. West fared no better the next week, dismissed for 74 with Armstrong again to the fore with 4 for 19 and this time Greenock were successful by 5 wickets finishing on 90 for 5.

One would have thought that this latter victory would have set Greenock up nicely for their Rowan Cup second round fixture with West on the following Monday. Greenock had easily overcome Golfhill in the first round but their batting failed miserably against West when chasing a total of just 94. At one stage they were 15 for 7 and only a late rally by the tail-enders, which saw the total reach 46, saved Greenock from complete humiliation.

Progress derailed at Meikleriggs

Greenock's run of league wins came to an end when Willie Nichol's all-round ability was the significant factor in a heavy defeat at the hands of Kelburne. Going into the match the two sides were tied at the top of the table but Greenock never looked like winning after being bowled out for 106, of which Bill Heggie scored exactly half the runs. Kelburne knocked off the runs for the loss of just 4 wickets, Nichol scoring 40 to go with his 5 for 34. Greenock then bounced back when Clydesdale were overcome in a low-scoring encounter at Titwood. Greenock's batting was again unconvincing and they could only muster 99 but their young attack, in which Armstrong again impressed, restricted their opponents to just 77 with Bill Heggie routing the tail with 4 for 9.

Kilmarnock were then the visitors to Glenpark and the 1946 champions were comfortably beaten, Armstrong and Mackay both taking 4 wickets as Kilmarnock were bowled out for just 106 and then McLeod and Kerr scoring confident 40s as Greenock won by 8 wickets. This victory took Greenock to the top of the Union table but their stay there was short-lived as a string of defeats saw their challenge for league honours fade away.

The poor run of form started with an almighty collapse at Meikleriggs. Batting first, Greenock's openers, Walter Kerr and John Patrick, both scored half-centuries, 65 and 52 respectively, and the side was well placed at 124 for 2. Twenty minutes later and they were all out for 141. Ferguslie took full advantage of this collapse to win easily by 8 wickets, with Fred Ramsden unbeaten on 76. In fairness, Greenock were not at full strength due to the start of the Greenock Fair holidays but nonetheless this was a most disappointing result and the side never recovered from it.

Drama at Poloc match

After the mid-season holiday break from league matches, Drumpellier ran out easy victors at Glenpark, the locals being bowled out for just 73 when chasing the visitors' total of 151 for 7. There was really nothing good that could be said about Greenock's performance as they were outplayed by their opponents in every department in the game. There followed an exciting encounter with Poloc, at the end of which, as can be gauged by the Greenock Telegraph headline - Greenock Drew, Won, then Tied This Game! - the match was tied.

Poloc had batted first and totalled 208 for 7. Greenock's reply, spearheaded by Mac Galbreath who scored 78, looked as if it would run out of time but Ernie Armstrong hit out strongly at the end. When the last ball had been bowled, the scoreboard showed Greenock to have come up short but the scorers indicated that in fact they had won. However, it was pointed out that Duncan Drummond had been run out off the last ball and should have been credited with just one run and not two and as a result of this, the scores were in fact level.

League season ends in anti-climax

After this excitement, the league season petered out with just one win in the final five matches. An exciting game at Cambusdoon saw Ayr win by just 2 wickets but they were aided by poor Greenock fielding. Greenock had scored 161 in their innings with Andrew McLeod top scorer with 45. For a while it looked as if this would be enough but Ayr's lower order managed to see them over the line. There was just one more victory, a 30 run win over Uddingston at Bothwell Policies when Greenock's 172, spearheaded by David McPherson's 49, was too much for the home side who succumbed to a solid bowling performance by Greenock.

There followed two defeats at Glenpark, the first against Clydesdale being particularly disappointing. Both sides lost their first two wickets for nothing but Clydesdale were able to recover to 204 for 7, thanks to Bill Edward's 95, while Greenock could only respond with 106, with Walter Kerr with 43 alone showing any resistance. At least they put up more of a fight when they played the leaders, Kelburne. The latter amassed an imposing 196 despite Mackay's 6 for 46 but Greenock made a real effort to go for the runs and the result was in the balance for some time. Runs were spread throughout the team but ultimately Willie Nichol proved too much for them, not for the first time, taking 8 for 72 as Kelburne triumphed by 24 runs. This win meant that Kelburne would win the Championship, a well-merited honour for a strong team which could boast the presence of the outstanding Willie Nichol.

The season ended at Kirkstyle with yet another loss. Greenock reached 172 for 8 in their innings, Heggie scoring 62 and McLeod 42 but their bowling could not contain Kilmarnock, and especially the Rev James Aitchison, who was at his best in scoring 100 not out as Kilmarnock won by 5 wickets. A disappointing end to a league season that had promised so much at one point in June, when Greenock headed the table, but their poor second half of the season saw them in the end finish in sixth position.

There was a full programme of friendlies played throughout the season, 12 in all, of which 5 were won. The matches included a mini-tour of North-East Scotland when Huntly and Aberdeenshire were met, while among the visitors to Glenpark were Aberdeenshire, Waringstown from Northern Ireland and a Bradford League select. There was not anything of real note in these games although Duncan Drummond took 6 for 20 in the annual May holiday fixture against Watsonians which was a sign of things to come.

Youngsters to the fore in the bowling

The batting averages show that four players broke the 500 run barrier during the season, Andrew McLeod (517), Walter Kerr (516), Bill Heggie (505) and Mac Galbreath (501) while skipper John Drummond contributed 308 runs.

AW Mackay with 54 victims and Ernie Armstrong with 46 were far and away the most successful bowlers, with 6 other bowlers reaching double figures in terms of dismissals. There were real signs of promise from Duncan Drummond and John Simpson, while Armstrong's figures were outstanding for a first full season in the team.

As the scorebook for the season cannot be located and not every scorecard can be found in the printed press, these figures are the best that can be achieved and rely considerably on the figures provided in TC Riddell's book of the Club records.

Hope for the future

In many ways this was a disappointing season for Greenock but it has to be understood that the club was still very much in a transition mode and the inconsistency that the team showed was perhaps understandable. Coming up to the end of June, it did look as if a title challenge would be mounted but after the heavy defeat at Ferguslie, it was really all downhill from that point on. Nevertheless, there were encouraging signs of progress from the younger players in the team which augured well for the future.