1970 - Mayne's influence brings success

After the disappointment of 1969, it was hoped that the start of a new decade would see an uplift in performances. Wilson Evans continued as captain and Laurie Mayne, from Western Australia, who had played five tests for Australia, was signed as professional. In hindsight, this would be seen as one of the most important moves that the Club had made for many years.

In the event, Evans was to play little part in the season, having to undergo a stomach oepration after just a couple of games. Graham White took over the captaincy for the first part of the season before being replaced by Brian Lang.

Slow start to league season

The league season did not begin in an auspicious way with the team hanging on for the worst of a draw with Clydesdale and then suffering two heavy defeats at the hands of Kelburne and West of Scotland. The next game, against Poloc, saw the first signs of what Mayne was capable of when he took 8 for 23 as Poloc were dismissed for 72 and beaten by 8 wickets.

Unfortunately this win was followed by two further losses in tight games with Uddingston and Drumpellier and then a losing draw with Kilmarnock when they just failed to overtake the eventual champion's total. A good win against Ferguslie followed before there were two abandoned games - the only two games in the league season which were not completed - and then Uddingston completed the double over Greenock in another disappointing performance.

A more fruitful end to the season

The month of August proved to be more fruitful with a winning draw against Poloc, a fine 5-wicket win over Ayr and a tight 1-wicket victory over Kelburne. These results were balanced out by losses to Clydesdale and Kilmarnock but in both cases they ran their opponents close and could quite conceivably won the games with a bit of luck. Finally there were two good wins in September to finish off the season. West of Scotland were beaten by 26 runs and Drumpellier by just 4 runs and in both games it was Mayne's bowling that proved decisive.

In the end Greenock finished in 6th place in the table but that could easily have been much better as it was only in the first few games of the season that they were not competitive. After that, they were involved in a number of close finishes, some of which went Greenock's way and others did not. On another day ...

No success in the knock-out cups

There was a first round defeat in the DH Robins Cup when Kilmarnock proved to be far too strong for Greenock. The first round tie with Motherwell was an easy win with the Lanarkshire side bowled out by Jack Clark and Duncan Drummond for just 28 but there is no record of the second round tie having been played.

West League Cup success

However, the West League Cup campaign was a very different case. After the first sectional game with Poloc was lost by just 3 runs, Ayr were overwhelmed by Mayne and Clark in a match that took place with thunder and lightning in the vicinity. Kelburne were easily overcome and when Kilmarnock were beaten at Glenpark thanks in part to a display of fierce hitting by Brian Campbell, qualification for the knock-out phase was achieved.

The semi-final was at Titwood and after a closely fought match with Clydesdale, Greenock prevailed by 4 wickets and the final had been reached for the first time since 1959. Ferguslie were the opponents in the final and they had home advantage but they had no answer to the pace of Mayne and Clark and were bowled out for just 60. Greenock made no mistake in chasing down this target with Mayne anchoring the reply and on the night they were deserved winners by 7 wickets, Mayne being undefeated on 33. At last, silverware had returned to Glenpark.

The team was undefeated in 8 friendly games, the most notable result being the 129 run win over West Lothian at Boghall with Mayne's bowling again to the fore.

Mayne dominates the averages

Mayne's influence on the season can easily be gleaned from the season's averages. Although hired primarily as a bowler, he still led the way in the batting with an aggregate of 704 runs in all games, closely followed by Brian Lang with 635 runs and Roger Hardie with 622. These same batsmen were also the leading run-scorers in the Union with Mayne amassing 436 runs in total. The bowling was dominated by Mayne with 102 wickets at an average of 10.89 and Jack Clark with 63 victims. Only Graham White with 29 wickets was able to give them any real support and this was even more evident in the Union figures where Mayne's tally of 64 wickets at 11.66 was way ahead of everyone else, including Clark who only captured 21 league wickets in the season.

It was this lack of depth in the support of Mayne that really held back Greenock but in many ways this was almost immaterial. Mayne's influence was more important in the coaching and training methods that he introduced and it was clearly going to take some time for these to take effect. The team spirit that he engendered was clear to see and brought its reward in the capture of the West League Cup, where the selection of young and eager fielders to back up the key bowlers and batsmen proved to be the right decision. With Mayne signing on for another season, 1971 could not come soon enough for everyone at the Club.