1967 - Signs of better things to come

It was all change in 1967 as Greenock sought to find a way to restore their fortunes. Ron Irvine took over as captain from Brian Case who would shortly return to England for business reasons. And an interesting signing as professional was made in the shape of Eddie Fuller. Fuller had played seven Tests for South Africa between 1952 and 1955 as a fast-medium bowler. After quitting the first-class game in 1958, he played for various clubs in England and Northern Ireland before signing for Greenock.

In the event, Irvine was unavailable for personal reasons for over half of the season and Graham White and Wilson Evans filled in for him before he returned to finish off the season.

League season begins well

It all began well. The first 5 league games produced 3 wins with the other two matches abandoned in the first innings. Kelburne were easily overcome in the opener, and then Ayr, who had Ashley Mallett as their professional before he became an outstanding off-spinner for Australia, were beaten by 24 runs in a tight encounter. Finally West of Scotland were defeated by 6 wickets in the best performance of them all. In all these games, Fuller had contributed with the bat and he and Jack Clark had combined to good effect with the ball.

Clydesdale inflicted the first defeat of the season but they were pushed hard and it took a fine unbeaten 70 from former Greenock professional, Bill Dow, to see the Glasgow side home. After Fuller and Clark bowled out Kilmarnock for just 104, a terrific knock of 63 not out by Brian Lang saw Greenock home by 3 wickets and it all looked very promising.

Campbell's bowling feat

Such promise did not last and there would only be one more win in the season as the team fell to a series of defeats of varying degrees of severity. The one game that was won turned out to be a most memorable one. Brian Campbell, still a Greenock Academy pupil, produced the best analysis in Greenock's history in the Western Union, 9 for 24, as Ayr were dismissed for just 49 to lose by 82 runs. Sadly for Greenock, Campbell would never scale such heights again and his career, not just as a bowler but as a fine orthodox batsman, became one of 'what if' as he left Greenock for a life in the Army.

Better performances in the West League Cup

The West League Cup campaign was quite successful with 2 wins and a tied match meaning progress to the semi-final stage. The tied match was a fierce struggle with Kilmarnock with both sides finishing on 92 for 6. Unfortunately, the team came unstuck in the semi-final and were well beaten by 7 wickets by Ayr. Clydesdale put paid to any progress in the Rowan Cup with a 5-wicket win in the first round.

Only 3 friendlies were played and 2 of them were defeats. The other game was a crushing win over Golfhill which saw Duncan Drummond roll back the years with 6 for 16.

Bowling again makes up for the batting

The batting averages showed quite clearly why Greenock's season petered out. Nobody scored 300 runs or more in the season, with just Fuller, Brian Lang and Roger Hardie managing over 200. With these small totals it was little wonder that the highest team total in the season was just 166.

Eddie Fuller with 46 and Jack Clark 44 were the spearheads of the bowling attack and this was certainly where the team's strengths lay throughout the season. The same two bowlers with 38 and 32 wickets respectively at a relatively cheap cost made the team more competitive in the league campaign.

After a good start, the season ended in disappointing fashion. The team had finished in 7th place in the league table, the same as the previous year, which would seem to suggest that insufficient progress that had been made. However, there was undoubted promise in the team with young talent coming to the fore and enough had been seen of Fuller's capabilities to persuade the Club to re-engage him. Would that promise flourish in 1968?