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Thu 9th Aug 2018

By Michael Sharp

Where are they now?

Background

In earlier articles in this series I have mentioned clubs who existed for a time over the past hundred years or so but are no longer around. If one goes back into the nineteenth century and John Lawrence’s publications on sport at that time, one finds not only details of the early years of some currently existing clubs, but other names that are no longer with us or at least not in the form they were then. Several were of course a product of their time, being related to the military, political and educational structure that then existed. Inevitably changes in these matters saw the demise of these clubs although the likelihood must be that many of their players continued to play the game and joined clubs that survived.

One also finds in Lawrence details of clubs in Leinster counties other than Dublin. Although many of these have in name disappeared, the tradition of cricket stayed on and gave birth in the twentieth century to other clubs some of whom maintain to the present day.

As detailed in earlier articles, the first indications of organised competitions are the engravings of winners’ names on the Intermediate and Junior Cups which commenced in 1895 and 1910 respectively. The formation of the Leinster Cricket Union in 1919 saw an increase in the number of organised cup and league competitions then and in subsequent years. Unfortunately there is no complete record of the number of teams participating in each of the various competitions until 1940. The first such record is contained in a special handbook produced by the Leinster Cricket Union in 1941. This gives substantial details of the results of the 1940 season and plans for 1941. There was no repeat publication in 1942 but in 1943 it was decided to make in annual publication and it remained so until 2010. It was then decided to depend on the newly introduced website for information. Thus from the 1942 season on, we have more information about clubs than in prior years in particular the years in which they participated in competitions and where they played. Looking at these records one finds that in the years from the 1940s to the 1980s many clubs, some of whom had existed for many years, dropped out of competition and disappeared. More recent times see the formation of quite a number of new clubs, many in areas that had no particular tradition of cricket.

For this article therefore I decided to divide the period under review into four distinct periods

  • (i)1895 to 1918
  • (ii)1919 to 1941
  • (iii)1942 to 1985
  • (iv)1986 - present

1895-1918

Apart from Victorian era clubs mentioned in Lawrence such as “The Vice-Regal” and “The Curragh Camp”, for information on the 1895 to 1918 period one is pretty well confined to the names of winners of the Intermediate and Junior Cups. Notable were the “Royal Hibernian Marine School”, winners of the Junior Cup on several occasions and a founder member of the Senior League but who disappeared after independence. The “Land Commission” club won the Intermediate Cup several times in the 1890s and by some accounts were the forerunner of Merrion C.C..

A club called Beaumont did an Intermediate Cup treble in 1902/3/4. There is no record of them winning anything later and how long they survived is not clear. Richmond Asylum were also cup winners in the first years of the twentieth century and continued as Richmond and subsequently it appears as St Brendan’s up to the 1960s. Their address is given as Grangegorman, presumably in the grounds of the asylum. The Junior Cup was won in 1914/15/16 by Pembroke Wanderers, likely associated with the hockey club rather than Pembroke C.C. . There is no record of a cricket club by that name in later years but their hockey ground at Serpentine Avenue continued to be used also for cricket by various clubs right up to the 1970s. The inaugural winners of the Intermediate Cup in 1895 were Athy C.C.. They repeated the achievement the following year but were not successful thereafter. They did participate in South East cricket in later years and entered Leinster cup competitions briefly in the 1990s. A separate Athy club was initiated in the early 1980s. but only survived for one year.

1919-1941

A very successful club in the 1920s was Sandymount C.C. They won the Intermediate Cup four times (including a three in a row) in that decade while their second eleven won the Junior Cup twice. As far as I can gather they had no connection with any of the currently existing clubs in the area. I understand they played in an area between the present Star of the Sea school and where Marine Drive on the edge of Sandymount village is now. There is no mention of them after that. At least one of the side roads off Sandymount Rd. dates from the 1920s/30s and this house building may have led to their demise. The first mention of the Carlisle club is as Junior Cup winners in 1926. They of course rose up the ranks, achieved Senior status in the 1970s but sadly had to fold through lack of playing numbers in 1998.

One club no longer with us but who had considerable success in the 1930s was Monkstown C.C. I don’t know when they started but they were very successful in the 1930s, winning the Intermediate Cup four times in that decade. The Senior Cup started in 1935 and in its early years some non-Senior clubs were invited to take part. Monkstown were one of these. By 1940 they were members of the then “Qualifying League“ which had been set up to assist clubs reach Senior status. This became the Senior 2 League in 1941 and Monkstown first eleven were one of its members. The club was fielding three teams in the early 1940s and won the Minor Cup in 1942 and 1944. The club’s address up to 1945 is listed as Serpentine Avenue, presumably the Pembroke Wanderers hockey club grounds. As mentioned above, cricket was played there for many years. However for the 1946 season, Monkstown were no longer playing there. It is the listed address of the 3rdOBU (Old Boys Union) club.

For the 1946 season Monkstown are listed as playing in Milltown Rd., Clonskeagh. It is not clear to me where this ground was. Up to then it appears to have been listed as the address of the Irish Times club who dropped out in that season. There was also around this time a Shamrock Rovers C.C. and a Bellshire C.C. with grounds in Milltown. It seems unlikely that these were all separate clubs. Of course Shamrock Rovers soccer ground was in Milltown and the old Palmerstown rugby club grounds were nearby as was the land which is now the site of Alexandra College. Possibly some cricket was played on these. Whatever happened Monkstown C.C. dropped out of Leinster cricket in 1947. A Monkstown club, with an address at Newbridge Avenue in Sandymount, reappeared for four seasons in the second half of the1960s.

Junior cricket in the twentieth century featured over the years several clubs that were company employee related although presumably many became open after a time. Exactly how many of these existed in the period dealt with here is not recorded but in terms of success, Irish Times are listed as Junior Cup winners in 1927 and ‘28 and Sackville Press in 1940. Irish Times continued in competition until the 1940s. Of the 29 non-Senior teams listed in the 1941 Special Handbook, seven are of this type. In addition to the two mentioned above, there are Imperial Tobacco, Postal Services, Thoms, Jacobs and Hammond Lane. Later a Gas Co club appeared and Aer Lingus (more below) existed for quite a few years.

1942 – 1985

The first annual LCU handbook , published in 1943 gives the final league tables for the 1942 season. For that season there were eight clubs in the “senior” league. All of whom are still with us. The eight leagues below senior that existed in 1942 contained fifty four teams of whom only fifteen were lower teams of senior clubs. The others came from twenty three “junior” clubs. Of these Malahide, Railway Union and CYMS (now Terenure) were subsequently promoted to “senior” (a return in the case of Railway) and Civil Service chose to move down. None of the others exist today.

The decline in numbers did not start suddenly. There were some comings and goings in the ‘40s and ‘50s but the twentieth handbook in 1962 lists fifteen such clubs in competition. Five years later however it was down to single figures and by 1972 only three survived. By the early ‘80s none of the twenty three from 1942 were around and even some clubs that had sprung up in the meantime had also disappeared.

What were the reasons for this ? There were probably several. As mentioned above, some clubs were formed by a particular workplace. Such clubs inevitably faced the issue of declining player numbers if people left the company or retired from playing. Most went open but that never entirely solved the problem.

Another issue was organisation. Many small clubs relied on a very few people (sometimes only one) to keep matters going and could not survive if those people decided for whatever reason to stand down.

A definite problem in some cases was continued availability of a ground to play on. Most if not all did not own the facilities they used. In a lot of cases land owned/used by other sports clubs was their home ground. Pembroke Wanderers hockey club has been mentioned. Various clubs used its facilities over the years. However with the expansion of the club in terms of buildings and the installation of all-weather pitch, its availability for cricket was reduced substantially. Where the same area was being used for other sports , there were obviously issues in terms of keeping it fit for cricket arose. Once again the organisational problems or too much falling on too few arose. With increased building activity in the Dublin area some land that had been available for sporting use was sold for other purposes rendering some clubs homeless.

Even some clubs who had reasonably ready access to facilities eventually fell by the wayside. St James Gate (subsequently Guinness C.C.) was one of the longer lasting. From 1928 the Guinness company had their own sports grounds – Iveagh Grounds and these were used for various codes including cricket. St James Gate C.C., started sometime in the 1930s, had teams at Intermediate and Junior level when LCU handbook records commenced. They reached Senior 2 level for a time in the 1950s but fell back and falling numbers eventually led to their dropping out of competitive cricket in the 1980s. The ground was subsequently used by Garda C.C. who played in leagues and cups for some years. Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) C.C. also had readily available facilities in Clonskea and were a force up to Senior 2 level from the ‘50s to the ‘early ‘80s. Richmond Asylum C.C. (subsequently Richmond and then St Brendan’s), mentioned above in the context of successes in the early years of the century played in the grounds of the hospital in Grangegorman until the 1960s. Similarly Portrane (subsequently St. Ita’s] played in Fingal and Leinster for many years with their home pitch in the hospital grounds . Another “company “ team Aer Lingus had facilities at Dublin Airport. They appeared briefly in Leinster competition in the 1950s, dropped out for a time but reappeared in the ‘70s and were quite a force for some years, winning the Junior Cup several times in the ‘80s and early ‘90s before folding. The company related team that undoubtedly survived longest was that from the Guinness firm.

Another club that enjoyed success over a long period, particularly in the 1950s was Cremore C.C. based in Glasnevin. Again the club was in existence before handbooks began in the 1940s and by the 1950s their first eleven was a respected member of the Senior 2 League. Their highest point was a Senior 2 Cup win in 1958. For whatever reason they folded in the 1960s but several of their players went on to play with success in “senior” clubs.

1985 – the present

By 1985 most of the “junior” clubs who had existed in the 1940s had folded or were on their last legs. As mentioned in an earlier article, an increase in the number of clubs in the Fingal area and from other parts of Leinster entering LCU competitions meant that there had been no great change in the number of clubs. Of course the position has changed dramatically in more recent times with 16 new clubs entering in the past eight years.

Of course there are also cases of clubs disappearing but a tradition of cricket in an area leading to the formation of a new club. One such example is in the Slane/Navan area of Co. Meath. The Deanhill club entered Leinster competition in the early 1950s and enjoyed some successes. They disappeared in the late ‘60s but Knockharley C.C. , covering broadly the same catchment area, started in the mid ‘80s and have gone from strength to strength since then.

Conclusion

As we move to mark the Leinster Cricket Union centenary in 2019, the going out of existence of clubs, some of whom existed for substantial part of that time is an interesting feature in terms of the changing face of the game. It is felt worthwhile therefore to produce a list of such clubs with a short description of their record and this will be done in the near future. 

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