1966 - A season that started well but ended depressingly

Brian Case retained the captaincy in 1966 but the position of professional was filled by Dave Halfyard. Halfyard had been a fine seamer with Kent before a serious road accident seemed to have ended his career in 1962. He had made several attempts to return to first-class cricket but was unable to prove his fitness. Consequently he saw the role of professional at Greenock as a way of proving that he could make it back to the first-class game.

A promising start

Halfyard started with a bang, taking 8 for 21 in the opening friendly match at Prestwick. When this was followed by three wins in the league over Kelburne, Drumpellier and Ayr, there were hopes that this year might be a successful one. On the other hand, the fact that all three victories were narrow wins, would perhaps indicate that too much could be read into this start.

Kelburne were defeated by 13 runs while a nail-biting finish saw Drumpellier beaten by 1 wicket. The margin of victory over Ayr was just 8 runs. In all three games, it was Greenock's attack that won the day, with the batting failing on each occasion.

A depressing finish

So it turned out. A heavy defeat at that old bogey ground of Bothwell Policies was followed by a losing draw with Clydesdale but another victory, again a narrow one, was gained over Ferguslie. Thereafter only one more point was picked up in the rest of the season and a low point was reached in the last game of the season at Titwood when the champions, Clydesdale, bowled Greenock out for just 33 in an innings that featured 6 ducks, as they romped to an eight-wicket win.

A final placing in the league table of 7th with just 9 points gained all season was probably a fair reflection of the team's performances although it is fair to say that only in the Clydesdale game and to a lesser extent those with Uddingston and West of Scotland were Greenock well beaten. Some of their defeats were by narrow margins but there again so were all four victories.

Limited progress in West League Cup

For the first time since 1959, progress was made in the West League Cup to the semi-final stage but there they were well beaten by Kilmarnock and the same team knocked Greenock out of the Rowan Cup in the second round.

Better results were achieved in the friendly matches and mention must be made of an amazing match with The Owls, an English touring side. Bowling first, the visitors reduced Greenock to 38 for 8, before Harvey Burniston led a fightback with an undefeated 48 that saw Greenock reach 101. The Owls in return had no answer to the bowling of Jack Clark and Halfyard, the former returning the splendid analysis of 8 for 19 as the visitors were dismissed for 68.

Poor batting season

The batting averages gave a clear indication of where Greenock's problems lay. Over the season, only Harvey Burniston averaged over 20 and he could not be described as a front-line batsman. Halfyard was the leading scorer both in the league and over all games but only three fifties were scored all season and the highest of them was 63 by the youthful Roger Hardie, another of Greenock's up and coming cricketers who would feature greatly in the coming seasons.

Halfyard captured 66 wickets in all games and Jack Clark 49 with Brian Case backing them up with 32 victims as these 3 bowlers did the bulk of the bowling. 45 of Halfyard's victims were in the league but Clark's 20 wickets were rather expensive.

Another season then that promised much but which fizzled out. Halfyard had started well but towards the end of the season it was clear that he had done what he had set out to achieve and he never really played for the team. However there was plenty of youthful promise in the team and if only that promise could be translated into a final product, then Greenock could become a power in the West again. Who would bring that promise to fruition and when? These were the questions that supporters of the Club were asking.

Halfyard proves his point

What became of Halfyard? After leaving Greenock he went on to the first-class umpires panel but Nottinghamshire spotted him bowling in the nets - not normal practice for an umpire! - and signed him. He had three productive years with Notts before leaving the first-class game in 1970. Thereafter he plied his trade with a number of Minor Counties and had another spell as an umpire. He was still playing and taking wickets in club cricket in Devon when he died at the age of just 65.