Weirs Cricket Club A Brief History A quick review of Weirs Cricket Club and its 92 years at Albert Park. 1919 to 2011 Weirs Cricket Club. The enigmatic artisans of Glasgow’s southside. The small club with the bijou ground in Albert Park. With Clydesdale and Poloc on their doorstep, they have become an alternative choice if you wish to play SNCL cricket. Weirs once nestled comfortably in the lower echelons of Scottish club cricket, a journeyman outfit, a rough-and-ready works team, an anachronistic throwback to halcyon days of rough-hewn, no-nonsense cricketers. The club’s archive fixture lists read like a trawl through Clydeside’s proud industrial heritage: Albion Motors, Anchor, Barclay Curle, Barr and Stroud, Harland and Wolfe, Rolls-Royce and Scotts of Greenock. They were the working men of Weir’s Cricket Club, occupants of Albert Park founded in 1919, a minor pastoral oasis in south-side Glasgow, lying in the shadow of Weir’s Pumps factory. The ground was constructed by Weir’s Pumps as a recreational outlet for the employees, many of whom had just returned from the horrors of the Great War. Football, bowls, tennis, croquet and cricket were to be the sports available within a Recreation Club structure. In the post war era, cricket clubs attached to factories or other large work places were relatively common. Nowadays, Weirs is almost unique in that respect. Now Weirs Cricket Club, lately denizens of the nether regions of Glasgow League Division 5, have moved from local league clubbies to SNCL strutters and are preparing for yet another season among the elite. During the first forty years of the club’s history, fixtures were all of the friendly variety, limited to Saturdays with occasional midweek matches. Western Union second XI’s and other local companies often made up the opposition. Until the late 1960’s, Sunday cricket was very rare in the West of Scotland. Weirs eventually sought membership of the Glasgow and District League and were finally able to gain membership when the League expanded to two divisions in 1962. The following twenty years saw mixed success with near misses for promotion as league winners on many occasions but relegation to Division 3 and eventually Division 4 followed as the club’s fortunes plummeted in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The early 1980’s almost saw the club reach the end of the road as uncertainty over the future of the ground and a severe shortage of players left the club in crisis. The ground was often overgrown and as few as six players represented the club on certain occasions as difficulties continued through the early 1980’s. The absolute nadir was reached early in 1983 when the club briefly plummeted to the foot of Division 4 after a poor start to the season. Following that date in May 1983, the next twenty years were to see a quite remarkable upturn in fortunes, with the club progressing rapidly and at a quite breathtaking pace considering what had gone on before. Initially, the club enjoyed significant triumph as an ‘evening’ side with a long record of success beginning in 1985. The arrival of Mike Sweeney from Prestwick during this period reinforced this success as his ‘swash-buckling’ approach to batting well complemented the style of Craig Greenwood as opening bats in most evening matches. Tight bowling often ensured that scores of often well over 150 were quite unobtainable. The club has contested many evening finals since this time, winning six, climaxing in the exciting Western Cup victory over Kelburne in 1991. Four Evening League successes and umpteen runners-up positions simply reinforced a side to be reckoned with in this form of the game for two decades. T20 cricket was thriving at Weirs long before its current universal popularity in the game. It was though in the major league in Saturday cricket that the club craved success. Promoted back into Division 3 in 1985, the club finally won a league title, clinching that division in 1988. Growing in strength, the club first considered the use of a professional at the dawn of the nineties. Ex Scotland player Sandy Brown coached the club prior to the 1992 season and the following year, the young Indian player, Andy Mathur, became the first playing professional. With his help and many of the side reaching the peak of their careers, the club was able to capture the Second Division title after a long tussle with the now sadly defunct, Old Grammarians. The first three seasons in the First Division proved quite a struggle for the club. Troubles with professionals and adapting to regular contact with very strong opposition pros made life difficult for a while. Gradually the vast improvement in our own wicket, largely attributable to the efforts of Neil Greenwood, the attraction of new players and, if we are totally honest, a decline in the quality of some of the opposition teams, allowed the club to climb the table. Surviving the early years in this division, considered vital at the time, were about to bear great fruit!! The arrival of National League Cricket in Scotland allowed Weirs to become part of a reconstituted Western Union in season 1998. It must have seemed quite incredible to many older, former members of the club that Weirs were now part of this ‘Hallowed Institution’. Although mid-table for the first couple of seasons, the arrival of the club in the twenty first century coincided with an unrivalled period of success. Narrowly pipped by Glasgow Accies to the Championship in 2000, this near miss was followed by a triumphant march to the title, unbeaten in 2001. A repeat success the following season ultimately failed when edged out by Glenpark, the only club to defeat Weirs in 2002. A second title was emphatically captured in 2003 and Weirs advanced into the Scottish National Cricket League for the 2004 season. It has been a genuinely remarkable rise, and a lot of credit for the continuance of the club must be laid upon the Greenwood family. The late Bill Greenwood, who was president and chief Weir’s ringmaster for nearly 60 years, was the cornerstone of the club in the local community and was also a respected administrator of cricket in the west of Scotland. Not only did Bill keep Weirs alive in difficult times, but he also actively engaged Glasgow’s Asian community and encouraged them in the formation of clubs to participate in the various evening and Sunday league competitions that he organised. Bill’s two sons, Craig and Neil, both of whom are still playing, have been the spine of the club for nearly 30 years. Craig has captained the club in 20 of the last 25 seasons and has scored over 15,000 club runs, and Neil, a useful player himself, has tirelessly maintained and looked after the upkeep of the ground. It was high praise indeed that Neil received in 2006 during the ECC Championships, when Richard Holdsworth, personally commended Neil for his hard work and effort in preparing the ground worthy of an international fixture. Other important contributors to the Weirs success have been the Shaw family - the late Nat and his three sons Alan, David and Joe, all more than useful players themselves. The Weirs team of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, albeit a Greenwood-Shaw dynasties XI, have ensured that the club has thrived and enjoys its current stature amongst the top 30 clubs in the country. Albert Park has certainly witnessed some heady days in the 92 year history of the club. Financial struggles to maintain the ground and an effective professional recruit are ongoing challenges, but the club will move forward undaunted. The club has an ongoing development plan in respect of its junior remit. The original architect of this was Siggy Young, who adapted for Weirs, the templates his father, Colonel Bill Young, introduced at Clydesdale, Poloc and West of Scotland in the 1960’s and 70’s. Conscious of the drawing power of near- neighbours Clydesdale and Poloc, Weirs has operated a more left-field approach to the junior set-up, and observant of TopClub criteria, has delivered an ongoing programme of youth development within the local community. Associations have been established with the local primary schools, and initial proof of success was Merrylee Primary School being awarded the ‘Sports Primary School of the Year’ prize in October 2005 with the Weirs “Introduction to Cricket” pilot scheme to the fore. It is not only the local Glasgow schools that experience the assistance of Weirs. East Renfrewshire primary schools have also enjoyed Weirs providing access to cricket through various initiatives. Melanie Neef, the former international athlete, was the local Active Schools Co-ordinator. She was appreciative of the continued involvement of the club in assisting her in the delivery of provision of access to cricket in the primary schools that she administered. These ‘Introduction to Cricket’ sessions continue, and this ‘Introduction to Cricket’ scheme has now become a compulsory requirement for all the SNCL clubs. The junior development at Weirs continues with the assistance of good club members in Nathan Barnett as Junior Convenor, and Neil Greenwood, Russell Murray, Chris Smith and others as the coaches who give up their free time to assist with this important part of the club. Of course there are difficulties, but these are overcome as the junior section is the major factor in the development of the club and the engagement of the local community. It appears to be working. Love them or loathe them, Weirs prove a very big point. Small clubs can come from the smaller leagues and compete admirably in the SNCL. Yes, they attract criticism and sometimes derision, but they also attract praise for their unsuppressed spirit, their combative style of play and the desire to remain a ‘bigger fish’. The hard work of a few over the previous nine decades is ingrained in the members, old and new, and cognisance of the history of the club from humble beginnings is never lost and deserving of comment. And rightly so. Weirs deserve it and wouldn’t expect anything else.
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