1948 - Cricket washed out

John Drummond continued as a captain for 1948, a season that will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The summer was decidedly wet, so much so that less than half the club's league fixtures were played to a finish with 6 games abandoned and another 3 not even started. There was still no professional assistance.

An inconsistent start

The season started quite auspiciously, at least for Mac Galbreath, who compiled an unbeaten century in the pre-season friendly with Cartha. Their opponents never looked like reaching Greenock's total of 252 for 6, labouring to 69 for 7 in 43.3 painful overs.

May was probably the best month of the season, at least in terms of games played if not in results gained. The league campaign started disappointingly with the first two games lost. Drumpellier were comfortable winners of the first game at Glenpark, easily overcoming Greenock's total of 128, made admittedly on a drying wicket. However when it was Drumpellier's turn to bat they look at ease on the pitch and won by 8 wickets, their ex-professional Bob Winrow scoring 71. The Greenock Telegraph were quite scathing in their appraisal of Greenock's performance claiming that the team was in dire need of good bowling strength. It changed its tune the following week after the defeat at Ayr when the batting was blamed for the loss. There was some justification for this as they were dismissed for just 81 to lose by 49 runs although in fairness they were short of a number of regular batsmen. Duncan Drummond took 5 for 37 as Ayr were restricted to just 130 with the overall bowling display a decided improvement on previous games but the batting was another matter with nobody scoring more than 17 in the face of aggressive Ayr bowling.

Signs of improvement

The following week and the batsmen were applauded for their efforts in the comprehensive win over Poloc. A total of 245 for 3 was far too much for their opponents to the delight of what was the biggest crowd seen at Glenpark for some time - apparently as the game started there was a queue in Fox Street to gain admittance to the ground. Half-centuries were scored by McLeod (75), Galbreath (60) and Duncan Drummond (55 not out) while John Simpson was the outstanding bowler with 4 for 34 as Poloc were dismissed for 121.

Prior to the match with Uddingston, there were heavy defeats in the friendlies with Watsonians and Perthshire but only the intervention of rain, for the first but not last time in the season, prevented victory over the Lanarkshire side. Uddingston batted exceedingly slowly after a delayed start and had reached 118 for 3 when they declared, leaving Greenock 80 minutes in which to get the runs. They made a good fist of it, reaching 65 for 1 when another heavy shower brought the game to an abrupt end. The following week at Hamilton Crescent, Greenock gained the winning draw point in a game which promised much but eventually petered out. An opening stand of 101 between McLeod (62) and Agnew (49) was not built on by the other batsmen and the innings somewhat staggered to 170 for 7. At one point in their reply, West of Scotland had slipped to 44 for 5 but the remaining batsmen, shepherded by Crerar who made 63 not out, were able to play out time and prevent a Greenock win.

Dismal month of June

June was a dismal month with all three league matches started but abandoned. At least the match with Kelburne got to the second innings and Greenock were making a good effort at chasing the Paisley side's imposing 189 for 7, reaching 64 for 1 with McLeod, who was in a rich vein of form, on 42. On the next Saturday, the annual fixture with Grange, that had been habitually played in June, having yet to restart after the war, a friendly match against an eleven raised by John Kerr was arranged and this was played to a finish with Greenock coming up just 4 runs short. Play only lasted for 30 minutes in the next fixture with Clydesdale and the following week at Kirkstyle, Greenock were probably glad to see the rain as they had been reduced to 59 for 7 when play was called off.

Probably the most disappointing game of the month though was the loss to Ferguslie in the second round of the Rowan Cup. The first round tie against Kelvinside Accies had been won with ease in May, Andrew McLeod hitting an unbeaten 99 and the Telegraph felt that Greenock would do well in the competition with their strong batting line-up. In the event it was the batting that let the team down as Ferguslie triumphed in a low-scoring encounter by one wicket. Greenock's total of 82 was always going to be a hard one to defend but an inspired spell of bowling by Duncan Drummond looked as if it might just be enough. Ferguslie's ninth wicket fell with their score on just 60 but the last pair defied everything that Greenock's bowlers could try and the winning run was scored off the last ball of the penultimate over. Amazingly, play continued into the last over when the final wicket was taken but this was all too late. The result of the match, watched by nearly 1000 spectators, was tough on Drummond who took 7 for 37.

No success in July

From a weather perspective, July was a better month although results did not reflect that. The game with Ferguslie at the start of the month never started but after the mid-season break, three matches were played. In the first two of these, Greenock were heavily beaten, by Drumpellier by 6 wickets and by West of Scotland by 6 wickets and in both matches the batting was particularly disappointing. Against Drumpellier only a fighting knock of 65 from John Drummond allowed Greenock to reach 123 but Drumpellier, after a break for rain, had no trouble in overtaking that total, Bob Winrow again in the runs with 52 to go with his 5 wickets in Greenock's innings. The batting failed again the following week against West when chasing the Glasgow side's first innings total of 200 for 8. This time, without John Drummond and McLeod, there was nobody to lead the way and West won with some comfort as Greenock were dismissed for 124.

There was better form shown against Poloc the next week with Greenock getting the better of the draw and gaining the draw point. The Telegraph reported that the game started in a heatwave but ended in a thunderstorm although the game was played to a conclusion, somehow! Greenock had batted first but the Telegraph felt that they did not show enough urgency on what was a very warm day, but they still made 206 for 8 with Galbreath top-scoring with 50. Poloc, after losing two early wickets, never looked like being bowled out on a day on which the bowlers suffered from the heat and they had reached 177 for 8 when stumps were drawn.

Rain ruins the end of the season

The Saturday friendly match with Carlisle was another victim of the weather, being abandoned when Greenock were 59 for 2 as was the next league match with Ayr at Glenpark. Greenock batted first and reached 178 for 8, a reasonable score given that they had started slowly. When the rains came again to bring the game to a premature conclusion, the game was very evenly poised with Ayr sitting on 124 for 5, a situation which could have seen either side win. The Uddingston match was another that failed to start but the next match with Clydesdale at Titwood was a terrific encounter, Greenock winning by 1 wicket. On a rain-affected pitch, the home side struggled to reach 100 all out, with John Simpson taking three brilliant catches in the slips. Greenock appeared to be well-placed at 97 for 6 but when three wickets fell at that score, it was Clydesdale that were on top. However, Mac Galbreath stood firm and hit the winning run before the final Greenock wicket fell at 101. Galbreath carried his bat for 39 but the Telegraph did point out that towards the end of the Greenock innings it was so dark that it was impossible to see the ball from the pavilion.

September proved to be as bad a month as any with the match with Kelburne called off without any play while only 20 minutes play was possible in the final match with Kilmarnock.

In a season that was badly affected by rain, league positions were somewhat arbitrary. Ferguslie won the title ahead of West of Scotland with Greenock finishing in 7th place but it would be hard to fault the players for this, given the difficulties that they faced.

During the mid-season league break, the Club carried out a successful tour to Dublin, winning four of their matches and drawing the other one. Apparently, there were fears that the team would be too inexperienced but in the event they performed better than expected. The highlight of the tour was Duncan Drummond's 9 for 23 against YMCA - he took the catch for the other wicket! - while Walter Kerr scored an unbeaten 101 against Leinster. The latter played a return game at Glenpark later in July which Greenock again won with some ease.

Performances affected by the weather

In such a truncated season, it was inevitable that the batting aggregates would suffer. Nevertheless, Andrew MacLeod broke the 500 runs barrier with 575 runs at a commendable average of 52.27. Mac Galbreath continued his progress with 416 runs while John Drummond with 323 runs and Jim Agnew with 320 were also to the fore.

Galbreath with 274 runs and McLeod with 255 were the only batsmen to score over 200 runs in the Union, a not altogether surprising statistic.

Duncan Drummond was the leading bowler for the season with 36 victims and John Menzies, Ernie Armstrong and Johnny Simpson each took over 20. Whilst these figures look meagre, they need to be considered in the context of the poor conditions that prevailed throughout the season. Not unsurprisingly, nobody took 20 wickets or more in the Union.

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

Not a season to remember for obvious reasons but at least Greenock supporters could see hope for the future with the continued improvement shown by the younger members of the team.