The first 50 years.

The story of Cricket threads its way back down the years and through the annals of the town, sometimes unnoticed and in the shadows, and at other times spectacular and in the limelight. The first seeds of the club were sown in the present Angus Avenue area in 1929 before, in 1933, moving on to Shaw Farm where the first time pavilion was built. In 1935 there was yet another move, east, along the Pow Burn to where a square was laid first having been laboriously cut from an island in the middle of the burn, normally inhabited by swans.

Those early pioneers of the game had accepted an offer to move to their final wicket, which was on Scottish Aviation ground at Powmill Road. Four happy years were spent there sharing the ground with Scottish Aviation apprentices prior to that fateful year of 1939 when, alas, many of the members of that early club grounded their bats for the last time and departed for other fields. Tragically, with their departure so also did an era of cricket in the town come to an end?


During the late 40’s early 50’s Ayr Craigie Cricket Club were playing their home games at Holmston road, Ayr but due to the need of the cemetery, moved out of their old railway carriage changing rooms and were playing out the 1954 season in Ayr.


The closure in September 1953 of nine holes on the St. Ninian’s Golf Course – the original St. Nicholas Golf Course – signalled an amber light for those of Ayr Craigie Cricket Club who envisaged that once again Prestwick would play host to Cricket in the area.

On the 4th March, 1955 the Ayrshire Post went to press to announce that the first General Meeting of a newly formed Cricket Club would be held on the 16th March in the Pavilion, St. Ninian’s Golf house at 7-30p.m., and for the present club, the beginning had arrived.

During that meeting a reliable nucleus of members stayed to foster the interests of the club and to commence a battle, at times seemingly insurmountable, to raise funds which were desperately low to non existent (nothing changes). For the next three years the princely sum of one half penny was carried forward in the annual accounts.

Eventually the day of the first match arrived, the opponents of the club on that auspicious occasions being Jordanhill F.P.S. The date was 30th April 1955 and the result was described as an “easy victory” for Prestwick.
Prestwick batted first and declared at 80 for 9 – illustrated that no. 10 was no better a position to bat than it is today. Those getting pennies were: - A. Stanley 15, H.B. Thow 15, J. Dawson 15, W Chisolm 14. Jordanhill succumbed to at 29, all out. Bowling for Prestwick, J. Turnbull took 2 for 13 and Bill Crew took 4 for 11.
During August of the 1956 season the first century was scored by a Preswick player, an undefeated knock of 107 by W. Darymple against Victoria at the Oval.

The club applied to and gained admittance to the Kilmarnock and district League in 1959 winning it on two occasions before joining the Glasgow and District League which consisted of two divisions at that time. Prestwick joined the 2nd division and became the first winners of N.S. MacFarlane cup gaining promotion for the first division in 1961 – the same year as joining

The sixties saw the emergence of many new faces including Ian Davy, John Rennie, and Archie MacBarron join the ranks of the club. The latter came to the club when the Ailsa Hospital team ceased activities along with Bill Lynch and Bennie Goodman who were tragically killed in a car crash whilst returning from a match in Stranraer.
In 1967 an ever increasing demand for more space in the club resulted in a spectacular building operation commencing with the McBarron Extension manifesting itself against all financial odds.  The present bar in the club is the third to be used in the building and was as it is today a major source of income. It is sited in the area of the No 4 A.R.P. store and original gent’s locker room from golfing days, taking over in 1967 from a smaller but not the original Club bar. The Club applied for and obtained its licence in the same year as the Indoor Bowling Club was opened.

Prestwick Cricket Club has not been without its troubles and in 1967 one of the most concerted efforts by the club took place when the tenancy of 11 Ayr Road was threatened. Anger and frustration was felt by the members when it learned from a newspaper article that some felt on the Town Council that perhaps the Clubhouse could be put to better use other than that of a cricket club. Approximately 40 members and President H.B. Thow entered the Town Buildings in Links Road during a Council meeting in order to defend the situation. It is commendable to all concerned that the matter, which could have threatened the present club and much future work with the juniors of the town, was resolved amicably.

Following the early beginnings of the fifties and sixties P.C.C had progressed during the seventies to become a well established and successful club.
The past 25 years has seen the club progress further with the advent of top level league cricket and producing players for junior and senior district and international sides.

Senior Cricket

The early eighties saw the club fail on various occasions in an attempt to gain entry into the Western Union, then the top league in the West of Scotland. Despite support from many clubs including our near neighbours Ayr, the required number of votes never materialised and we accepted an invitation from the Scottish Counties to join their championship together with Strathmore in 1983.

Ayrshire as we were then known competed well in their new surroundings, finishing in second place in the first season. Rarely were the side out of the top half of the table culminating in two championships wins in 1990 and 1991. Captained by David Haggo with West Indian Noel Guishard as the hired hand, both these sides contained nine home reared players, a fact the club is very proud of. At this time the Prestwick C.C. was widely regarded as one of the top sides in Scottish Cricket and regularly competed in the latter stages of the Scottish cup. Two Counties Cup victories and a West League Cup win were also achieved at this time.

During the nineties the same heights were never attained, quite surprising when the general consensus was that the side was even more talented than before. The 1998 side had a great opportunity to make history by winning the Scottish Cup, only to lose by one miserable run to the all conquering Grange side of that time. The same morning the 2nd XI captained by Bob Rogerson had already lifted the Glasgow Knockout Cup at nearby Hughenden, a fact forgotten by most amidst the deep disappointment which ensued.

With the loss of players such as Dom Rigby, Drew Parsons, Zulfigar Shahid and Javed Ashraf, the side struggled at the start of the new century. It was during a period of various reconstructions within Scottish Cricket and Prestwick was to experience the high of promotion, followed by despair of relegation on a few occasions.
Players who have represented the club at full Scottish international level during the past 25 years are – David Haggo (42 caps), Andy Tennant (17 caps), Drew Parson (56 Caps), Martin Hay (2 caps) and Dominic Rigby (15 Caps). Other international players who represented the club in this period were Bruce Patterson, David Simpson and Chris Plommer.

Club captains over the last Quarter of a century have been – Tommy Halpin (4 years), David Haggo (8 years), Gordon Webster (1 year), Andy Tennant (4 years), Gavin Richmond (2 years), Dominic Rigby (2 years), Drew Parsons (2 years)  Gavin Pitt (4 years), Niall McCrossan (1 year ) and current skipper Fraser MacDonald entering his fourth year.

Following the legendary Grant Stanley’s tenure between 1980 and 1989, excluding 1981 when Rajindar Amarnath was Pro, Noel Guishard served his successful spell in 1990 and 1991, he was followed by George Reiffer (1992), David Harper (1993-1996, 1998-2000), Craig Howard 1997, Laurie Williams (2001 – 2002), Chris Gaffanay 2003  Jordan Sheed (2005-2006) . All our professionals have been a credit to our club and in their own way played a part in the history of P.C.C.

Junior Cricket

Our junior section was extremely strong in the eighties with a constant supply of players coming into the senior sides of which there were three at that time. The two prominent convenors were Douglas Haggo and Paul Wilson, who together with their band of helpers coached hundreds of boys’ summer and winter with tremendous success.

The greatest achievement in the clubs junior history came in 1983 when Alan Richmond (Trio) led the U15’s to victory in the Scottish section of the national competition. A subsequent victory over Alltofts of Yorkshire at the Prestwick Oval ensured a last eight place in the competition at Cheadle Hume, where we were finally beaten by the eventual winners of the tournament.

Following Paul Wilson’s tenure, came a downturn in the junior section of the club and only the fine efforts of non cricketing members such as Jim McGinness, Malcolm McGregor, Harry Morrison and Ian Smith ensured that we retained a junior section at all!

Since the late nineties to the present day the junior section has been in good hands and players are again filling positions in the senior sides, as well as attaining district and international status. Silverware has also been won in the Western junior cricket competitions. A bond has also been established with the Doon Valley Cricket Club where we provide junior cricket for their younger players.

Players who have represented the club at junior international level are David Haggo, Andrew Tennant, Graeme Dinwoodie, Dominic Rigby, Mark Halpin, Gavin Pitt, Shazad Rafiq, Mark Morrison, Craig Morrison, Fraser Rodger, Ross Patterson, Willie Rowan and Samantha Haggo.

Touring

During the 1980’s Prestwick Cricket Club were regular visitors to both England and Northern Ireland for end of season cricket tours. Popular venues included Yorkshire, Northumberland and Donaghadee. Few who went will ever forget Peter Dalby talking to a plant in the hotel foyer, Jammy in love with an opponent’s wife or the local grower’s auction at Percy Main where prices reached 4 times the normal rate thanks to the generosity of the Scottish tourists. Tours ground to a halt in the nineties with only the memorable (not sure that’s the right word) tour with no games to Dublin in 1996. The players’ wives loved that one.

Social

Various changes to how the club was run and the type of functions and events held were seen in the last 25 years. Finances were in a far healthier position at the start of the period with more difficult trading conditions. (the main cause of the less buoyant period that has been the last 10 years). Discos of the 80’s were replaced by karaoke events and cabaret acts such as Majella, Dean Park, Joe Camay and Abbamania. More birthday and engagement parties, christenings and even weddings were allowed in order to increase bar turnover and improve finances.

Sponsorships from Local Businesses was sought, a 200 Club was set up to be followed by the Bonus Ball,  the Hat-trick Lotto and the current Century Club. All have been vital in keeping Prestwick Cricket Club alive.
Club Presidents became younger with the likes of Alan Dunlop, Alan Haggo and Bob Rogerson following the footsteps of their more elderly predecessors.

Annual Dinner

The annual dinner which was previously held in the clubhouse had to find a home elsewhere due to its popularity. In the latter part of the eighties the St Nicholas hotel was used before the excellent venue at the indoor bowling club became a permanent home. John Leven, who was the driving force behind one of Scotland’s premier cricket dinners, handed over the duties to David Dinwoodie who kept up the high standards before in turn entrusting the job to the current incumbents Tommy Halpin and George Watson (Snr).
The quality of the speakers at the dinner has been first class with big names engaged such as Basil D’olivers, Fred Trueman, Rodney Marsh, Chris Cowdrey and Davis Lloyd to name but a few. Old favourites have entertained us on more than one occasion, Eddie Rose, Sandy Strang, and Jack Westwood spring readily to mind. It is a dinner which Prestwick C.C. is rightly proud of.

Stewards

Willie and Agnes McKay became the Bar Steward and caretakers of the club and served the club well until their retirement in 1996. Since then the club has let out the flat to assist with finances. Anne Scott in 1996-97 and Julie Rogerson from 1997 to present day have been reliable and able Bar Stewards.

Henry Thow Oval

The main changes on the cricket ground over 25 years have been the new changing rooms built in 1990, the hedge which encompasses two thirds of the perimeter which was grown lovingly by Mssrs Smith, Kerr and Cunningham, metal perimeter fence, three permanent seats, artificial cricket pitches and new sightscreens. The heavy roller is the same one!!

One aspect of the ground that rarely changed was the sight of John Smith toiling away manfully. John loved our cricket ground and spent hundreds of hours working on it always striving for perfection in all areas. Ill health saw John take a back seat in 1997 but he was still around helping our current grounds man, Andrew Gibson at every opportunity. John’s passing was a sad loss but the improvement the ground saw over the last 25 years was a fitting testament to John.