One Wearside man’s fascinating history of village cricket

The Rainton team in 1901.
The Rainton team in 1901.
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How’s this for a local cricket club’s insight into its history.

We are indebted to Robert Kitching for his fascinating research into East Rainton Cricket Club which has now been completed.

A photo of the 1910 team.

A photo of the 1910 team.

It looks at the heritage of the club from its earliest days in the 1850s and we think it is worth sharing with you.

It all got off to pretty much the perfect start for Rainton on July 18, 1851, when Rainton Bridge CC played Houghton-le-Spring CC at Houghton.

It was even stephens after the first innings with Houghton just two runs ahead. But when Rainton posted 65 in their second innings, Houghton fell 18 short.

It was a very first recorded victory for the club with the bowling of Ferens and the batting of Dawson the highlights.

The first recorded defeat was in 1853 when Field House CC and Rainton Bridge CC played twice. Field House were winners twice and the second game was held in front of a large crowd.

Just as noteworthy was that afterwards, a Mrs Mitchell of Old Pittington provided a supper and toasts for the players in her home.

Games were sparse in this era and Rainton recorded their second win - but it was five years after their first with a fine victory against Newcastle Albion. There were only 11 runs in it.

Robert’s history tells us: “At this stage all records of Rainton Bridge CC disappear from newspapers, with no club present in the news - East Rainton CC then puts in an appearance after a twenty year gap. Once again using the Rainton ground.”

By now, it was 1880 and Hetton-le Hole seconds beat East Rainton with nine wickets to spare.

Three years later, another local match saw Leamside win by 55 runs.

The first league entry for the team appears to have been in 1889 and among the games were East Rainton against Grange Church Institute - a close fought affair which Grange won but only after losing 8 wickets.

East Herrington were another opponent and so were NSMIA who East Rainton beat at home in a 15 run win.

In these early days, gaps appear in the records.

But in 1898, East Rainton were known to be a part of the original North East Durham Cricket League.

They played teams including Hendon who were eventually crowned league champions at the end of the season - but only after a title play off with Lumley Thicks was abandoned due to bad light, Lumley refused to play again so Hendon were awarded the title.

Robert’s detailed history continues and takes into account Rainton’s entry into the North Durham League.

Their rivals included Littletown, Lumley Warriors, Birtley, South Hetton, Hetton Lyons, Silksworth, Felling Temperance, Chilton Moor, Houghton Athletic, Hetton Primitive Methodists, Wheatley Hill and Hylton Colliery.

In 1902, there was plenty to celebrate and much of it was reported in the Sunderland Echo.

It told how East Rainton’s players had recorded some great statistics that season.

Robert explained: “Mr T Fawcett won a bat for the highest batting average. Mr J Cummings was also given a bat for topping the senior teams bowling average. Mr Joseph Handley won the second best bowling and top of the catches table. G Liddell and W Kirtley won the top of the 2nd team bowling averages and Mr J Brown won the second team batting.”

Big changes came in 1910 when the Durham County League, North Durham League and Durham North Eastern League merged to form the new Durham County League.

East Rainton fell out of the equation and became part of the new Durham North Eastern League where they played in the junior division.

And by 1915, they joined the league in which they have remained ever since, the North East Durham Cricket League.

Robert’s great read includes the memories of villagers who recall how pit ponies were used to pull the grass cutting machine each summer.

And then there were the lovely teas which would include salmon sandwiches and cakes.

They were great times and watch out for more memories from Robert in Wearside Echoes.

In the meantime, if there is a part of local history you would like us to share - from events to bygone landmarks - email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.