1963 - Union success just out of reach

1963 was a very different year from the one that preceded it. That was inevitable from the time that Lawrence Proverbs was appointed captain. He was an exuberant cricketer who was always looking for that unexpected twist that would surprise the opposition. Cricket was never dull when Lawrence was involved. Bill Dow continued as professional.

The team itself was a mixture of the experienced and the novice. The skipper himself and Dow together with Duncan Drummond, Robin Duthie, Ron Irvine and John Gray provided the former whilst Wilson Evans, Ian Macarthur, Jack Clark, Hugh Paterson, Harvey Burniston and on occasions Ian Kirk and Brian Lang were the new blood that the team badly needed if it were to progress.

Greenock mount strong challenge for the title

The season started well with wins over Ayr and Ferguslie in low-scoring games but Clydesdale showed that they would be title contenders with a 14-run win at Glenpark. Two drawn games with Kelburne and Uddingston followed. In both instances Greenock were never in sight of victory but the points system gave the draw point to them as their opponents had batted for more than half the allotted time.

The next four games were won and in crushing fashion as Dow in particular was in splendid form. Poloc were bowled out for 59 and defeated by 10 wickets, Kilmarnock could only make 80 and lost by 8 wickets and the same margin applied when Drumpellier subsided to 45 all out. Dow took 17 wickets in these games.

Duncan Drummond with 6 for 32 led the way as Ferguslie were defeated by 4 wickets and Greenock looked on course to land the title. These hopes were shattered in the next two weeks.

Title hopes dashed

Firstly Clydesdale inflicted a heavy defeat at Titwood, bowling Greenock out for just 66 to win by 88 runs but worse was to follow the next week. Poloc came to Greenock in no great form but they dismissed Greenock for 87 as they defended a very gettable total of 134. Greenock had now ceded the advantage to Clydesdale and although to their credit they came back strongly to win the last 3 games of the season, they were unable to overtake the South Glasgow side.

There were mutterings in the Greenock Telegraph that the constant changing of the batting order, a prime example of Proverbs' eagerness to employ tactics to catch the opposition on the wrong foot, was a factor in Greenock's ultimate failure to win the title. It is hard to know how much truth there was in this claim but the batting averages show that nobody really scored heavily over the season and the constant order changing may have been one reason for that.

No success in cup competitions

There was no success in the West League Cup. After a heavy loss to Kilmarnock, Ayr and Ferguslie were easily overcome but needing a win over Kelburne to reach the knock-out stages of the Cup, the team were unable to achieve that, going down by 17 runs.

Greenock re-entered the Rowan Cup this season for the first time since 1957. Wins over Hillhead HSFP and Kelburne saw them reach the semi-finals where they were drawn away to Glasgow HSFP. After bowling out their opponents for just 77, the pathway to the final looked to be open but a poor batting performance on an admittedly difficult pitch saw Greenock come up short by 17 runs (that margin again!).

England test cricketer Raman Subba Row at Glenpark

Friendly matches brought quite a bit of success this season with 5 games being won and the other, against the The Casuals, a touring side from London, resulting in a tie. This latter game was noteworthy for the presence in the vistors' team of Raman Subba Row, who had retired two seasons previously after a successful career with Northamptonshire and England. Subba Row showed his class in this match, being undefeated on 96 when the declaration came. Included in the Greenock team was Don McLeod, the Kelburne professional, of whom more in 1964.

Insufficient runs scored in the season

Ten batsmen scored over 100 runs in the season, with Ian Macarthur registering the highest aggregate of 368 runs, but only five managed to score more than 100 runs in the Union with nobody reaching 200, and in the whole season there were only three individual scores of over 50. Bill Dow with 63 wickets (45 in the Union) and Duncan Drummond with 49 (26 in the Union) were the chief wicket-takers with both Jack Clark and John Gray taking over 20 and this would seem to back up the theory that the season's success was based on the side's attack rather than its batting.

Bill Dow

At the end of the season, Bill Dow took his leave of the Club. During his spell at the Club he scored 898 runs and took 178 wickets at 13.73 and had certainly helped to turn around the team after its disappointing start to the decade.