1971 - Signs of hope but league success still eludes Greenock

1971 was a keenly anticipated year after the transformation that had taken place in Greenock's play the previous season. Wilson Evans retained the captaincy and would be able to play a full season after his injury interruptions the year before and Laurie Mayne, who had stayed in Greenock over the winter to teach at a local Primary school, continued as professional.

Early league success

The league campaign did not get off to the best of starts with Clydesdale inflicting a heavy defeat by 6 wickets. The Glasgow team were a powerful outfit and would go on to win the league by a commanding margin. Greenock for their part shrugged off this defeat and went on a run of 4 straight wins. Kelburne were bowled out for just 54 by Mayne and Clark and lost by 7 wickets, West of Scotland fared little better being dismissed for 80, Poloc managed just one run more and finally in this run, Uddingston were swept aside for just 29, Mayne taking 8 for 14.

Second place achieved

This good run came to halt firstly when Drumpellier inflicted an 8-wicket defeat and then when the team suffered the worse of a draw with Kilmarnock but a further run of four consecutive wins followed this. Ferguslie were brushed aside by 9 wickets, Ayr and then Ferguslie again were defeated in closer games before the return game with Ayr featured an 8-wicket haul by Jack Clark and a resulting 8 wicket win.

However there was a brittleness about some of the batting and this was highlighted in no uncertain manner in August when the team were dismissed for less than 100 on three occasions, all of which led to defeats. Although the season ended with a six-wicket win over Drumpellier, as Laurie Mayne signed off with 5 wickets and an unbeaten 41, the eventual second place in the league brought a feeling of anti-climax after the strong mid-season performances.

West League Cup tamely surrendered

The West League Cup season was a real disappointment and the trophy was surrendered in tame fashion with only Kelburne being beaten in the group stages. There was a first round loss to Watsonians in the DH Robins Cup and a third round defeat by Clydesdale in the Rowan Cup.

All six completed friendly games were won with notable performances against Stirling County, when the ageless Duncan Drummond took 5 for 10 as the visitors were bowled out for 45 to lose by 100 runs, and Leinster who succumbed to 32 all out to lose by 139 runs.

Lack of depth highlighted in averages

As was hinted above, Greenock's batting struggled at times and this was evident in the season's averages as the run aggregates were down on the previous year. Laurie Mayne with 585 runs, Brian Lang 430 and the returning Wilson Evans 424 were the leading run-scorers but nobody scored over 300 runs in the Union, Evans' total of 283 being the highest aggregate. Mayne just failed to capture over 100 wickets for the second successive season, achieving 96 this year but this way ahead of the next best tally of 39 by Jack Clark. Wilson Evans chipped in with a useful 30 wickets but there was a lack of depth in the bowling in too many games. Mayne captured 68 league wickets, slightly up on last year and Clark with 30 and Evans 19 gave him the best support.

Mayne's legacy

Laurie Mayne returned home to Australia at the end of the summer but he left behind him an indelible impression and a number of emerging talents, not least of whom was Tom Black whose career started this season and who benefited from hours of one-to-one coaching from Mayne. It would take a few more years for Greenock to start capturing silverware again but a solid base had been laid in Mayne's two seasons with the Club.

Mayne scored 1289 runs at 32.22 and took 198 wickets at an impressive 9.83 during his two years at the Club. While statistics are not the whole story, these figures vividly illustrate just how important Mayne was to the team.