A WEARSIDE cricket club is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a huge birthday bash. SARAH STONER today looks at the history of the Hylton Colliery team.
THE villagers of Castletown have every right to be proud of their cricketing roots – their local team, Hylton Cricket Club, has a record-breaking sporting history.
Funded by miners at Hylton Colliery, the club – then known as Hylton Colliery Cricket Club – was formed in 1905 and played in the Durham County League.
It achieved outstanding success, however, after becoming a founder member of the Durham Coast League in 1925, clinching the Division One title nine times.
"We were absolutely unstoppable in the 1950s and 60s," recalls club treasurer and long-time member Ken Wilson. "We were a real force to be reckoned with."
The newly-formed club had its base behind Castletown WMC for the first few seasons, switching to its present site at Grange Road after joining the Coast League.
Most of the sportsmen were employed at nearby Hylton Colliery, spending their working lives underground and their leisure time out in the fresh air playing cricket.
But George Oxley became the first member of Hylton to play for the county at around this time, a tradition continued today by Phil Mustard.
The first major team success came in 1937, when the players clinched the Division One title in the Coast League. The war, however, interrupted play soon after.
"Although the team won few honours before the war, compared to their glorious post-war run of success, there were many fine players connected with the club," a report in the Sunderland Echo back in 1967 stated.
"There was George Cowie, who was groundsman and professional for many years. Another professional who served the club well was George Gail, while the Lumsden brothers were long-serving stalwarts before the war.
"The Robinson family also merit a special mention. For many years they gave much of their time to the affairs of the club, both on the administrative and playing sides. In fact, the name became synonymous with Hylton cricket."
Normal play was resumed once the war was over and, in 1948, Hylton once again clinched the First Division title.
The team also had a thrilling run in the John Saunders Cup that year, beating four Senior League sides, but eventually losing to Sunderland in the final.
This fine achievement was to rank them alongside the best teams in the county and laid a confident foundation for the successes that were yet to come.
Hylton were back again as League champions in 1950 and, in 1951, the third team became the first side to win the newly-formed Third Division's championship title.
The third team went on to clinch the same title the following year, while the first team were crowned winners of Division One that season too – for the fourth time.
In 1955, it was the turn of Hylton's second team to shine, when the players won the Ralph Walton Memorial Cup – a feat they repeated the following season too.
And the year 1956 also saw the second team win the Division Two championship for the first time, while the third team topped the Division Three league table with Vaux.
It was all change at the club in 1957, however, went it came under the care of the local welfare society and was renamed Hylton Colliery Welfare.
The change brought many advantages in the form of equipment and facilities, and the second team celebrated by winning the Division Two championship once again.
It was the season of 1959, however, which really saw Hylton's sporting star start to soar.
All three teams won their division championships that year – and for the next two seasons as well. Hylton was, by now, the undisputed king of the whole league.
The reason for this success was, according to Echo reports of the time, "the strength in depth at the club. Few promising players left, so they were able to maintain a remarkable record of consistency."
Although success followed success for Hylton over the next three years, 1962 saw an end to the club's monopoly on the league championship titles.
Chilton Moor, Marsden CW and Ryhope CW shared the honours of the Division Championship that year, although Hylton's first team did win the Andrew Dixon Cup.
Hylton's second team, however, did keep up the championship tradition, winning it again in 1962, while the third team took the Division Three title in 1963.
Mr Wilson, who was a schoolboy player for the club at this time, still remembers the glory-winning days with great affection.
"We were the first team to win the league title three years in a row, and all three of our teams did it in the same years. It was a remarkable achievement," he said.
Sporting success continued for all three teams throughout the rest of the 1960s, with the first team winning the Division One championship yet again in 1964.
In 1965 the third team were named champions once again too, while the club won both the Andrew Dixon Cup and the Ralph Walton Cup in 1967.
Hylton's run of success in the Coast league fizzled out, however, in 1975, when the club was forced to leave the league due to a lack of members.
A run in the North East Durham league followed, until a successful return to the Coast League some years later, when they won the Division One title in 2002, the Division Two title in 1996 and 1997 and the Division Three title in 1990.
Today, Hylton plays in the Durham County League, where they are mid- table, but nothing can ever take away the memories of those glory days in the 1950s and 60s.
"We were so successful because we had such great players. We had the best batsmen and bowlers in the league," said Mr Wilson. "We were unbeatable, unstoppable.
"Most of the players were local to Castletown too, there were very, very few who travelled in. Certainly they were all from Sunderland and the surrounding area."