The details given here are drawn from a 1974 publication by the club, compiled by Michael Maultsaid (former club scorer) and from an older publication called ‘A Parish Miscellany’ by The Reverend Josiah Haddock, MA (former Rector of Waringstown). Grateful thanks is given for the information. A full history of the club may be found in the 2001 hardback publication “Waringstown Cricket Club – The First 150 years” available from the club and priced at £11 plus £2 postage and packing.
Formation of the Club
Waringstown Cricket Club was formed in 1851 by Captain Thomas Waring and the Henning brothers, John and George, presumably from the linen factory of John Henning & Co. in the village. There appears to be no record of the earliest matches played by the club, which had no permanent home until the generosity of the Waring family provided it with one in 1858. ‘The Lawn’ is believed to be the second oldest ground in Ulster. Waringstown is also known to have played some of its early games in Botanic Gardens, Belfast. By 1866 the club had 30 members and the yearly subscription was 10 shillings – but it cost £1 entrance fee for the right to become a club member. The most important game of the year in these early days of the club seems to have been the local derby against the Lurgan Demesne XI, captained by Charles Brownlow. He is perhaps better known as Lord Lurgan, owner of the famous greyhound, Master McGrath. The earliest recorded game between the two sides was in 1858, with Waringstown being easy winners.
One of the most amusing facts that emerges from the history books refers to a game played in the 1890s. It was a Senior Cup game between the very strong North Down team and a much weaker Waringstown side. North Down batted first and when they had reached 423 for 8 the Waringstown players refused to play on!
Waringstown was one of the earliest members of the NCU Senior League that started in 1897. In an amusing paragraph from ‘A Parish Miscellany’, Rev Haddock informs us:
“The plantation of this parish was by settlers from the North of England. Their national game was “Cricket” . Those who came from Scotland settled in Co. Antrim and brought with them ‘Football”.
So we can see why Waringstown, which has fostered the game ever since, may be called “The Home of Ulster Cricket”.
When the baby begins to cry in the cradle, the mother looks up from her washing and shouts “Mary! Throw the child that cricket ball.” Mary throws the ball to the child and the child throws it back, and so the cricket fever takes its place with the chicken pox and the measles. The next stage is with a box and a piece of board on the street, and so on till the enthusiast reaches the “Lawn”. After that there is no cure.”
The Waring Family
Thomas Waring was a great-great-great grandson of William Waring, who in 1658 bought the western part of the parish of Donaghcloney from Captain John Barrett.
In 1667 William Waring built a semi-fortified house in the townland of Magherana, around which sprang up the village of Waringstown. Waringstown House, as it became known, is on the badge of Waringstown Cricket Club.
It is interesting to note that the Duke of Schomberg left a detachment of his troops at Waringstown in 1689. There is an oak panelled and tapestried room in Waringstown House known as “The Duke’s Room”, which Schomberg occupied during his stay in the district.
Major Thomas Waring, as he became, rarely missed a game throughout the 1870s, 80s and 90s. He was elected as a Westminster MP in 1885 and played a major part in the Home Rule struggle. He died in 1898, having reached the rank of Colonel, and was succeeded by his elder son, Holt Waring. His younger son, Ruric, was killed in the First World War, in 1915.
Margaret Parr, Holt Waring’s young widow, became the well-known Mrs Waring who, over the next fifty years, was to have such a strong and beneficial influence of the life of Waringstown. She became President of the cricket club and remained so until her death in May 1968. Mrs Waring served as one of the club’s representatives on the NCU Senior Committee and in 1954 was elected President of the Northern Cricket Union – the only lady to be so honoured. She was also made an Honorary Life Member of the NCU in recognition for her services to local cricket. She received the CBE and also served an MP and as a Justice of the Peace.
Beginnings of Success
The club pavilion was completely renovated in the winter of 1908-1909 and by 1911 the club was achieving the success it craved. The Senior League was won for the first time, team members being Jimmy Hampton, W Scott, T Anderson, R Anderson, Johnny Williamson, C Hamilton, C Ferguson, Ruric Harwood, R McCready, T Hanna, R Scott. In 1914 the club won the Senior Cup for the first time, shortly after war was declared. For the next 4 years all competitive cricket ceased in Ulster. It wasn’t until 1921 that the club again won the cup. In 1924 the club again won the Senior League and it is this side that was considered to be the club’s greatest team – until that famous team of the 1960s and early 70s, to whom we will refer later.
The 1924 team contained such greats as Willie Irwin, Johnny Williamson, Jimmy Hampton, Holt McKenzie, Tom McKenzie and Ruric Harwood – it’s interesting to note the Waring family Christian names appearing in village names.
1930s, 40s and 50s
The 1930s saw a decline in the club’s fortunes and they were relegated to the Senior Qualifying League. The 1940s, however, saw a revival with players such as Billy Hampton (son of Jimmy), Tom McMeekin, the Burke brothers, Lloyd Armstrong and Rev. RT Barnes. During the war, the NCU ran a substitute cup competition, but the cup was not officially awarded. Waringstown reached the final on four occasions – 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, winning in 1943 and 1944. They also won the League in 1944. A couple of famous England cricketers made their debut on the Lawn in the early 1940s while stationed in Northern Ireland – Hedley Verity (Yorkshire and England) and Norman Yardley (also Yorkshire and England). The 1950s was not a successful time in the history of the club but one of the bright points was the debut of the eldest of the Harrison brothers, Roy. Over the next few years his younger brothers, Jim and Deryck, also became regular members of the 1st XI as many of the old hands retired from the scene.
1960s, 1970s and 1980s
In 1965, for the first time ever, four brothers appeared together in the same cup final – Roy, Jim, Deryck and Ian. It was also the last Senior Cup Final under the old timeless system. Waringstown defeated Sion Mills by 157 runs.
The period from 1965 to 1974 was probably the most successful and eventful in the history of the club. The Senior Cup was won 6 times and the League 5 times.The team was full of well-known names such as Roy Harrison, Mike Reith, Deryck Harrison, George Burke, Jim Harrison, Eddie McMullen, Ian Harrison, Derek Healey, John Irwin and Wesley Ferris. Barry Harrison also came into the team and, in 1969, Ivan Anderson joined the club.
In 1972 the Senior League consisted of 16 teams for the first time ever. The villagers swept through the season undefeated, setting a new record which had previously stood for 70 years. The cup and league were won many times in the 70s.
Since the 1970s the club has really remained at the forefront of Ulster cricket, producing many fine club and international cricketers.
The 1990s started off with more success, as a Section One crown was won in 1991, but it was 1992 that was to become arguably the most famous year in Waringstown’s history.
Under the captaincy of Garfield Harrison, Waringstown won the Challenge Cup and then the Section One title for a second successive year.
By this stage history was beckoning as Waringstown prepared to face Sion Mills in the Irish Cup final at Rathmines, bidding to win a famous treble. In the end it was fairly comfortable, as a man of the match performance from Brian Sturgeon sealed a magnificent victory and sparked celebrations that players and supporters will never forget.
The treble year was the finest achievement of a crop of players that, along with Garfield, including the Nelson brothers, Alan and Noel, Alan Waite, Ivan Anderson and Shane Harrison.
Waringstown’s success continued into 1993 when the Challenge Cup was won again and it would have been another deserved double but for probably the most controversial end to a league season in the NCU. Waringstown and Lisburn were going for the title on the final day of the season, but the trophy went to Wallace Park as Downpatrick deliberately batted slowly in defeat against the villagers at The Lawn, thus depriving Waringstown of the bonus points they needed to overhaul Lisburn.
In truth this was the beginning of the end for one of Waringstown’s finest teams. They were still good enough to thrash Lurgan in the Challenge Cup final of 1995, but the team gradually broke up, with Sturgeon, Paul McCrum, David Dennison, the Nelson brothers and Alvin Spence moving on.
By 1998, Shane Harrison had also moved to work in England and an inexperienced team experienced relegation from the top flight for the first time since the 1960s.
Ultimately, the play-off defeat by Lisburn that year was a blessing in disguise. A summer in Section Two was no bad thing as it allowed the likes of Jonathan Bushe, Simon Harrison, Peter Hanna, Michael Scott and Andrew Cousins to feet their feet in senior cricket.
It was a momentous time on and off the field. The new pavilion opened in 1999 and the management committee voted to employ an overseas professional for the first time. The Australian all-rounder Matthew Bonner was a success and helped the team return to the top flight at the first time of asking, winning the Section Two title under the captaincy of Alan Waite.
2000 – 2009
Waringstown returned to the top flight in 20000 with retaining their top flight status as the prime objective. Instead, it turned into a fairytale season. Without doubt, the acquisition of Pulasthi Gunaratne as overseas professional was a key element in the success. The Sri Lankan paceman took more than 40 wickets, bowling at a pace rarely seen before in Ulster cricket, and it was a surprise to no-one that he was to go on to play for his country in a World Cup.
But it was far from a one-man show. Garfield Harrison was back to his best as the leading batsman in the NCU and Andrew Cousins and Michael Scott had formed one of the most formidable opening partnerships in the league.
As the season progressed, Waringstown’s winning form continued and by the closing weeks of the season the title was within their grasp. Alan Waite held the trophy aloft at The Lawn just two years after that relegation.
The early part of the decade was dominated by North Down, but by 2005 Waringstown were re-emerging as a force under the captaincy of Jonathan Bushe, by now free from Ireland commitments.
Crucially Kyle McCallan, the Ireland international from Cliftonville, joined the club over the winter from Cliftonville and with a new professional in Pakistan’s Ijaz Ahmed, Waringstown and North Down were involved in a thrilling title race that saw the trophy shared on the final day of the summer.
The following year, it got even better as Waringstown won the double for the first time since that famous year of 1992. The Challenge Cup was lifted for the first time in a decade, largely thanks to a thrilling semi-final win over North Down at The Lawn. A superb 90 from McCallan was vital and North Down fell narrowly short in a nerve-racking run chase. A comfortable win over CIYMS in the final featured a brilliant century from the emerging teenager James Hall.
The title race was also terribly close most of the way, but ultimately Waringstown got over the finishing line with North Down deducted points for the fielding of an ineligible player.
The decade closed with another unlikely title triumph. With a number of players out of the picture, Waringstown were not expected to challenge in 2009, but with Jonathan Bushe back at the helm after a season’s break from the captaincy, the villagers put together a remarkable winning run.
It all came down to a last-day encounter with Instonians, who were already crowned league champions, as Waringstown required a win for a share of the title. The villagers emerged triumphant on a nerve-jangling afternoon and a fourth league championship of the decade and a third under Bushe was on its way to The Lawn.