On this day … 28 April 1860

The Preston Guardian carried a report of the first game played on Preston Cricket Club’s new ground at West Cliff.

Map showing Preston Cricket Club's West Cliff ground
Map of Preston Cricket Club’s new ground at West Cliff, a few years after it opened.

It is to be hoped that match was played more honourably than an earlier match between Preston and Burnley that Andrew Atkinson describes in his The History of Preston Cricket Club, published twenty years ago.

At that match, in July 1833, the Burnley players, who had bet heavily on their winning the match, employed a number of underhand tactics to ensure victory, including spiked drinks and body-line bowling. The night before the game, which was being played at Burnley the Preston players had been served the spiked drinks when they were the guests of the Burnley team.

When Preston’s opening batsman, a Mr Kemp, stepped up to the wicket, he faced a bowler who seemed determined to inflict injury. Mr Kemp was struck on the ankle three times, so severely that he was unable to make more than single runs.

Andrew Atkinson unearthed a letter sent anonymously to the secretary of Preston Cricket Club, a week before the match, which meant that Preston should have been forewarned. It read:

Mr Secretary, I was sojourning for the night in the town of Burnley when I chanced upon a party who, I ascertained, were about to play a match at cricket with your club. From the conversation that ensued I beg that no-one at your club partake of any liquors offered to you on the eve of the match.

If they had heeded the letter, the Preston players might have had a better result, rather than losing the match by 31 runs.

Andrew Atkinson also discovered that the club was founded in 1820, not 1831 as had previously been believed. In 1833 the team were playing at Penwortham Holme, then an island. Players had to be ferried to the ground by boat.

Early photograph of a cricket team, possibly from Preston
Early photograph of a cricket team, possibly from Preston
Two unidentified teams (possibly Preston) from the Grasshoppers archive:

Source: Andrew’s book could not be located. The above is based on a review in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.

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