1961 - A turnaround in fortunes

After the disappointments of 1960, there was really only one way for Greenock to go and that was upwards. Robin Duthie continued as captain but this year he would have the assistance of the Scottish internationalist Bill Dow who joined from Clydesdale as professional.

Centuries for Duthie and Drummond

Union results were mixed at first. A heavy defeat to Ayr, who would win the league again this year, was followed by a good win in a tight low-scoring encounter with Ferguslie, Duncan Drummond's 7 for 32 being the match-winning performance. Defeat to Drumpellier was disappointing but after that the team went on an unbeaten run that lasted into August. Clydesdale could not be beaten but they very definitely got the worse of a draw in a game which featured a stand of 189 between Robin Duthie (104*) and Duncan Drummond (112). This was the first time that centuries had been scored in one match by two Greenock batsmen since John Kerr and Arthur Neill achieved that feat in 1937 against Poloc.

Kelburne at Whitehaugh were next to be defeated thanks to a defiant knock of 78* by Duncan Drummond who was certainly in the middle of a purple patch. There followed a number of draws and abandoned games - this summer was more typically Scottish than the previous two! Victories over Ferguslie and Poloc, where in both games John Simpson and Graham White spun Greenock to the win, were interspersed with another draw with Clydesdale, where Bill Dow came close to bowling Greenock to victory.

The Bothwell Policies bogey has not gone away

It would be wrong to suggest that Greenock were challenging for the title as Ayr were just too far ahead at this point but they were looking to finish as runners-up until they went to their old bogey ground, Bothwell Policies, and came unstuck again, suffering just their third defeat of the season. A drawn game with Ayr ensued with the champions hanging on in the face of an imspired bowling spell from Dow who finished with 7 for 31 in an innings of 98 for 8. The season ended with Kelburne being swept away at Glenpark and Greenock finished fourth in the table, a significant improvement on the previous season and a performance which, with a bit more luck, could have been even better.

A disappointing feature of the season was the failure to qualify for the knock-out stages of the West League Cup, two wins out of four games in the sectional group not being sufficient to achieve that.

Remarkable match with West Lothian

Mention must be made of a remarkable game during the mid-season league break. West Lothian paid their annual visit to Glenpark and seemed to be well on the way to an easy win when they bowled Greenock out for just 57, with Watson taking 7 wickets for just 2 runs. But Greenock hit back and hard and thanks to a superb spell by Duncan Drummond, who took for 6 for 11, the visitors were dismissed for 55, two runs short of Greenock's meagre total.

Dow's influence clear to see

As far as individual performances for the season were concerned, there was no doubting the influence of Bill Dow. 53 wickets in the season, 42 of which were captured in the league, brought a real cutting edge to the Greenock attack and he was well backed up by Duncan Drummond with 35 wickets and John Simpson with 22. Dow also contributed 345 runs and his all-round performances made a huge difference to Greenock's displays. His was only the fourth highest run aggregate as Robin Duthie (539), Duncan Drummond (420) and Murray McQuat (369) all scored heavily. No wonder Greenock's results were better this year.

Duthie's scoring feat

Mention must also be made of Robin Duthie's feat of scoring half-centuries in four successive Union games, 60 against Ferguslie, 52 Clydesdale, 70 Poloc and 64 in the losing game to Uddingston. This run of scores is possibly unique in the Club's history although this has not been confirmed.

The Club was due to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1962 and results this year gave hopes that this achievement would be celebrated in style. Time would tell.