St Michael's Cricket Club
playing and promoting cricket in the Dumfries area
St Michael's Cricket Club was inaugurated in 1929 by Duncan Brown, a teacher at St Michael's School. Previously, former members used to congregate in Wallace Street, opposite the school and use brush shanks for stumps before they bought their first set of stumps. Initially known as Nithsdale Cricket Club, the name was changed to St Michael's F.P. to accommodate former pupils of the school.
After the war, the club combined with the Post Office due to a shortage of funds and players, and was called Post Office C.C. In 1951, the club assumed the name of St Michaelís Cricket Club, and the office-bearers that year were D. Scott, Secretary; W. Morrison, Treasurer; R. Gray, Captain, and N. Van Rensburg, Vice-captain.
St Michaelís played at Marchmount at this time, and had a very strong side. The batting line-up was full of strokemakers and five regular bowlers provided plenty of variety. Hard-hitting batsman Jim Scott was also the outstanding bowler. His control ensured that even the best of opponents struggled, and many fine players fell to his away swing.
In 1962, Scott took 79 wickets in a season of 24 games, the club having moved to their present ground at Kingholm Park in 1961. The switch to the Kingholm did not at first suit the St Michaelís batsmen, however. The ground was not in the immaculate condition that it is now, 50 years on.
Through the sixties and seventies the side began to become over dependent on the all-round performances of Scott, club stalwart Davy Douglas and the batting of Jimmy Wylie. A number of fine players came and went. Willie McKeachie was the only one to stay and develop into an outstanding wicket-keeper and useful bat. Wylie retired, returned to hit an incredible century against Gala, and retired again for good.
The late seventies were lean years. But David Scott steered the club through, maintaining a full fixture list and ensuring improving pitches. He received good assistance from Ian Crosbie, another St Michaelís stalwart.
It is recorded that 1978 was possibly the worst year in the clubís history, with a first round knock-out by a pub team in the prestigious Nunholm Cup. Team spirit was low, and it was not always easy to put 11 players on the field every Sunday. At the A.G.M. that year, only seven people attended and two of these werenít even players; and there was talk of the club being disbanded.
However, at that meeting, Sandy McNay offered to take over as secretary, and attempt to revive the clubís fortunes. Due to his unstinting work and enthusiasm, things took an upward swing. The arrival of the talented Fuller brothers, David and Miles, to the club in 1979 saw Scott concentrate on his batting, Douglas on his bowling and the team improving after a long decline. A young Kim Bellwood strengthened the bowling, and the emergence of Alan Tennant and Mark Fuller provided the club with hard-hitting batsmen.
Sandy McNay entered the club into League cricket in 1985, in the Glasgow and District League. St Michaelís went through the divisions undefeated in successive seasons until they reached Division One.
Amazingly, the club never won the main local trophy of the time, the Nunholm Cup up to 1983. That year they won it under the captaincy of McNay for the first time and in fact won it four times in the subsequent six years. In 1985, they reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Small Clubs Cup with as fine a side as it ever had, only the 1962 side comparing.
McNay started in 1985 the influx of overseas players to the club and there is no doubt that this inspired move stimulated tremendous interest in St Michaelís fortunes. Foster Lewis, a West Indian who had played for Antigua and first to come across, was undoubtedly one of the most talented, and his demon quick bowling and hard-hitting batting were sights to behold. At the same time local boys Graeme McKirdle and Pat Druce successively emerged in similar allrounder mode.
In the 1990 season, a new chapter in the club's history opened when St Michael's joined the Border League, where they competed for the next eleven years. The tradition of overseas players was continued for most of the decade. Throughout this time, combinations of Druce, McKirdle and Bellwood ensured a competitive attack which several times pushed the club into the runners-up position in the League. Primarily a fielding side, the club finally hit the jackpot in 1995 when the native talent was enhanced by the aggressive batting of Queenslander Brad Spanner. Spanner amassed a total of 1,286 runs at an average of 142.9, destroying many attacks almost singlehandedly in a season which finally brought the Border League Trophy to the Kingholm.
In the succeeding season it was back to the runners-up spot in the League in spite of more excellent batting support from another Queenslander, Brian May who made his runs in elegant style to average 98. The 1996 team however achieved a major club landmark in reaching the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, only losing away to Aberdeenshire after some doubtful pre-match preparations by some players en route.
Border Reserve League fixtures had not proved so easy to come by on a consistent basis and from 1997 St Michael's 2nd XI again entered a team in the Glasgow and District League under the stewardship of skipper Kenny Wilson. The League became Western Union Division V and after a couple of near misses, successive promotions saw the reserves achieve promotion to the giddy heights of the Union's Division III.
By this time a prolonged rugby season was starting to effect the strength of the Border League. After some soul searching, it was decided at the start of the 2001 season that the first team should take up the place in Division III with the second team, now to be known as Kingholm having unfortunately to drop back down to Division V under Western Union rules.
This move paid immediate dividends. Derek Heron's First XI took Division III by storm and won the Division Championship in their first season while Kingholm managed to claw their way back into Division IV under Colin Taylor. In the following two seasons, Saints were narrowly pipped in the chase for promotion even though Druce, Heron, Rankine and Bellwood all turned in match-winning individual performances.
The Firsts finally got their promotion in 2004. Again there was Aussie support in the form wicketkeeper batsman Rohan Kleem and Andy Murray (pictured), whose averages of 123 with the bat and 7.9 with the ball invite comparison with the best of the Club's visiting players. But the crucial innings of the season was provided by Andy Hutchinson at Cambusdoon.
Seasons 2005 and 2006 saw Saints consolidate their position in Division I. Solid performances by visiting players Mitchell McBeath and Bryce Smith were backed up by strong batting from twice player of the season Duncan Muir. 2006 was also the year that Kingholm became undefeated Division IV champions led by not-so-young Skipper Kenny Wilson (pictured), whose 30 wickets at 9.37 also won him the Division IV Bowler of the Year award.
Player withdrawals and injuries in 2007 meant that the first team squad was short of four players for most of the season and it was only some strong performances in the last three games that propelled them to mid-table respectability. Handicapped by a ten point penalty, Kingholm continued their yo-yo fortunes with another relegation to Division IV by the narrowest of margins.
There was to be no reprieve for the First XI in 2008, when the lack of a credible overseas player fatally affected Saints' batting strength. A much stronger spirit pervaded the club in 2009. With good support from pictured Aussies Randall Hart and Patty Sullivan, who enjoyed a major run glut in June, the the Firsts rediscovered their batting and were in contention for promotion until the death. But it was actually John Pagan & Son Kingholm who jumped a Division, winning their last four games after an indifferent start.
The 2010 season saw a reverse in fortunes as the Kingholm outfit again failed to retain a place in Division III while, even after losing their first game, the Firsts sailed to promotion on the back of strong batting performances by Kishore, Muir and Brockwell, who with Matthew Friend scored over 1,500 runs between them, backed up by the awesome pace bowling of Aussie Mark Smith and Brockwell's spin.
In 2011, another strong DMPS First XI promotion challenge ended in disappointment by another tiny percentage margin in the last fixture to Prestwick. Meanwhile, John Pagan and Son Kingholm soon settled in the upper half of the new Championship, everybody enjoying their cricket under the diligent leadership of Davey Fallas.
The weather was the only winner in the disastrous 2012 season when 23 out of 32 League fixtures were cancelled because of wet weather. The whole of the Western District was affected but permanent large puddles at the Kingholm meant that by the end of the season fixtures were being cancelled weeks in advance. The best thing that could be said about the season at the Club AGM was that both sides were able to remain in the same division.
Extensive draining works were commenced in early 2013 lead to Saints playing all home fixtures at other grounds, overseas players Rhys Jones and Tim Whitfield spending much of their summer doing excellent work on the square, but in 2014, after many near misses, it was decentralisation and a League reorganisation that led to both teams finally making it into the higher echelons of Scottish cricket.
Over the past two years, the First XI have neen experiencing a more challenging standard of cricket against a new range of clubs in the First Division. Meanwhile the Second XI have gelled into a happy and successful unit in the First Division Reserve League, combining senior players with a promising group of juniors whose contributions are starting to come to the fore.
St Michael's Cricket Club Website by Colin Taylor
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