Gordonians Cricket Club History

A Club History by President Andy Lowden


GordoniansCricket Club entered Grade 1 in 1927. Some Robert Gordon's College (RGC) school former pupils (FP's) founded the club in the 1920s led by George Dickie and others. The club formation was probably helped along by FP's providing our former Seafield ground in Thorngrove Avenue as a gift to the school. This gesture was a memorial to those who had died in the Great War and the school opened Seafield in 1925.

We then brought our second eleven into Grade cricket in 1928. Within the very short time space of three years the first eleven were to become Grade 1 champions - a distinction gained on three more occasions in 1937, 1938 and in 1945. We also captured the Grade 2 title in 1950. Having run two sides until 1938, from then until 2002 the club fielded three sides. The club joined the Strathmore Union in 1940 thanks to Ted Mathieson and John (JCS) Bisset. John later became grade president and was club secretary for 33 years.

Our first XI then played clubs primarily outside the Aberdeen area with the club second XI becoming our senior grade side. Until 1991 the grade sides shared with their Strathmore side the excellent facilities Gordonians have at Seafield although prior to 1991 the Reserve Grade XI was rendered 'homeless' through developments at Seafield and depended on the Association to provide it with a home ground thus affecting club unity and spirit. In common with several other larger clubs that field grade sides, it is fair to say that our grade endeavours are only part of the club's story. The reader should please forgive the writer for the occasional "Strathmore" mention. Those interested in reading more about the club's history and characters may want to read Chapter 59 of Jack Websters book "The Auld Hoose" titled "The Heyday of Cricket" .

In cup competitions, Gordonians' senior grade side had an impressive record through 1930-1950. We were winners of the Aberdeenshire Cup on seven occasions. The first time we lifted this trophy was in 1935. In 1937, 1938 and 1945 we added the Aberdeenshire Cup to the Grade 1 championships and thereby became winners in these three years of the Thomson Shield for sides completing the double - an achievement we were to accomplish yet again adding the Bon-Accord Cup to the Grade 2 championship in 1955. Between their double achievements in the late 1930s and in 1945 Gordonians won the Aberdeenshire Cup on its own in 1944 and 1947. The "final" occasion we won this trophy was in 1951. There was then a "slight" gap of 40 years until the next top cup triumph. While in Grade 2, we were winners of the Bon-Accord Cup in 1954 and again in 1975. Our junior grade side (the club third eleven) over the years has operated primarily as a breeding ground for young players guided my "veterans" coming to the end of their careers and therefore by comparison has enjoyed much less success, sharing the Reserve Grade championship with St. Ronald in 1938 and winning the Johnston Rose Bowl in 1956.

At individual level,Gordonians' players were successful in the Reserve Grade batting averages in 1956 - Bob Irvine won with an average of 41.8; 1968 saw Colin Rae, Junior, their successful batsman with an average of 59; 1978 saw their final success when Andy McIntosh with an average of 31.2 uplifted this award. During the club's stay in Grade 1, players were successful in the batting averages: in 1938 (Ted Mathieson 26.7); 1943 (Alfie Emslie 59.3); 1947 (Abbie Nuttin 28.3); 1951 (Ted Mathieson 44.5); 1953 (Harold Emslie 29.2); 1960 (Gordon Emslie 61.20). Two bowlers were also successful while in Grade 1. In their first season in the Grade, Charlie Emslie finished top with an average of 3.28 and in 1934, Jimmy Low topped the averages with 5.08. In Grade 2 W. Johnston in 1955 achieved an astonishing batting average of 186.00. In 1950, John McHardy was the season's top bowler with 3.7 for his average. Whilst in Grade 3 - H. Ellington won that Grade's bowling averages in 1971 with an average of 2.48.

The club is proud of its track record of providing the Association with no less than three Presidents in the late J. C. Bisset (1968-69); W. D. (Buff) Hardie (1972-73); and the late Iain Brown (1980-81). Iain Brown (affectionately known as the Broon" ) played for more than 40 years for the club, was Club President for a period until 1988 and retired in 1991, even taking two hat tricks in 1987 and a further one in his last season. He played with his grandson Jamie Helme in 1990, the latter showing great promise as a grade and then Strathmore Union bowler before moving away from Aberdeen. Iain for many years was the GreenFinal's correspondent on cricket in the Grades. The grade sides experienced a fairly lean period in the early 1980's, playing our cricket in Grade 3 and in the Reserve Grade. Fortunately the experience of Malcolm Shepherd, Hugh Lennox, Mike Pocock and Roy Angus, and some encouraging perfor mances by some of the very young players such as the brothers Duncan and Richard Shepherd making their way through from the reserves, made sure our stay in that lean period did not prove to be too long.

They say things move in cycles. The 25 years from 1984 have marked some major milestones, many highlights, major challenges, some lowlights and a further extended period of great on field camaraderie and team spirit. The key milestones and significant player developments during that period were as follows. Former Aberdeenshire and Scotland fast bowler and FP, Frank Robertson, returned in 1984 and took on the role of club captain from Colin Johnston in 1985 providing belief to the players before he retired in 1991. Anju Mudkavi joined as club professional and coach in 1987, was club captain 1997-2000 and proved a prolific Strathmore run getter and wicket taker until his retirement in 2001. Two FP's George Bews (in 1990) previously of Dyce and a Grade committee stalwart and Craig Pettitt (in 1988) returned to the fold from Anchorians. George latterly was Club President fro 1997 to 2001. Our senior grade team won the Aberdeenshire Cup in 1991. Our first XI won the Strathmore Union in 1994. The club secured a hat trick of trophies year in 1999. We embarked on the ill-fated Grammar/Gordonians merger in 2001. The Gordonians (aka Gordo's) revival kicked off in late 2007 spearheaded by Blair Thomson's ambitious and dedicated leadership, The challenges we faced along the way were caused by, amongst other things, being forced to leave behind the club's "soul" at Seafield and moving to Counteswells in 1991.

We tried to keep the playing side positive despite the off field costs of employing a professional and the resulting unrealistic financial burden to retain use of the school facilities and the decline in popularity of cricket at RGC. Many generous sponsors including Sysdrill, AC Yule and Marcliffe at Pitfodels supported us through this period. A feature over that period was the annual high turnover of players as some left the area to pursue education and job interests putting pressure to recruit new blood. Gordonians have been an open club for many years and has an increased reliance on non-RGC players. We now hope to attract back some school players with the improved club product. At the same time, although possibly still regarded by some as a "privileged" club, we are just a group of unpaid volunteers enjoying our cricket at the weekend. The school and the Gordonian Association have been particularly supportive in recent years, reducing the financial pressures.

Counteswells, despite lacking the traditional cricket pavilion, has developed into a fine playing facility. Our Vice Presidents have also provided support for which we are grateful despite so many former players drifting away, possibly due to the demise of Seafield. The low lights since 1984 were the failure of the Grammar/Gordonian merger and the resultant withdrawal from the Strathmore Union followed by the contraction to only one team. Indeed, there were tentative discussions in 2004 about the club folding. Several figures stand out in recent club history. Each of the following was either a passionate cricketer, a talented player, or just a loyal, exceptional club servant. Indeed some were all three. Stuart Grant was an exceptional club servant and leader.

SLG was club captain from 1989 until 1993, ran our all too short-lived youth section and kept our third XI going, standing down as captain in 1999. The roll of honour includes the aforementioned Brown, Robertson, Mudkavi, Pettitt and Bews, who was the grade captain and became club president replacing Alan Innes (president from 1989-1996). They are joined by Sandy Rennie (who with his wry and sometimes racy sense of humour got so many youngsters involved in the game of cricket), Andy Lowden (Club President 2002-2004 and took on the role again in late 2007), Henry Cruickshank (club captain 1994-1997 but retired prematurely in 1997), Donald Milne, John Laing, Roy Angus and Ken McIntyre. Whilst many may overlook his contribution, we must also pay tribute to the quiet but effective Malcolm Shepherd who scored so many runs over a long Grade career and provided two further club players in sons, Richard and Duncan. Richard went on to score many runs for the Strathmore side. John (JAG) McHardy, a prolific bowler and wicket taker from JCS Bisset and Buff Hardie's era, remained Honorary President and interested in the club fortunes. Another club feature over the years has been the feel good factor from the nurturing and development of players from within our grade teams to beyond.

Players who started in our second & third XI then moved to Strathmore Union and then county/national league cricket were talented batsmen Bruce Doney and Neil Robertson (Frank's son) and all rounder Blair Thomson (who all played for Aberdeenshire) and prolific bowler and latterly an all-rounder, Donald Milne (Watsonians). Bruce, Neil and Blair (twice) returned to the club after their stints with Shire and Stoneywod Dyce. Loyal servants primarily at grade level not already mentioned were Keith Scott, his brother Richard Scott (who made his debut in 1987 along with Neil Robertson at age 13), Colin Reid, Mark Hearns, Barry Watt and more recently Barry's brother Richard Watt, Ken's son Gareth (GMac) McIntyre who has already scored a century for the club and Steve Devlin who took a hat-trick aged 13 in 2003.

On the field, the last 25 years have produced four distinct phases. 1984-1990 featured increasing belief, enjoyment and building for the future. 1991- 1999 were generally successful but financially tough years although the third XI was not able to fulfil fixtures in 1992 and 1995. 2000 - 2007 saw a decline although great club spirit kept us going. 2008 onward sees the club in a more positive revival phase with two sides being fielded, plans for third fourth teams and on field success. The second XI won Grade 3 and promotion to Grade 2 in 1986 also securing the double of the Reid Cup (beating Kemnay). The third XI were Duncan Cup runners up. Mike Pocock was a bowling stalwart until moving to football refereeing at the top level. That season Mike returned exceptional figures of 9 for 9 and won the grade bowling cup. In 1990, the first XI finished Strathmore runners up, the second XI won Grade 2 under the leadership of Craig Pettitt and returned to Grade 1 for the first time since 1964. Ken Rowson topped the averages for third XI. 1991 was our last season at Seafield and yet it heralded an eight-year period of considerable success.

Frank Robertson and Iain Brown saw this as a fitting time to draw a close to distinguished careers. Despite being underdogs, the senior grade team won the Aberdeenshire Cup at Mannofield for first time in exactly 40 years. Craig Pettitt led the team, ably supported by amongst others George Bews, Keith Scott, John Laing, Donald Milne, a young Neil Robertson and man of the match Bruce Doney whilst Andy Lowden hit the winning boundary off Ian Leask (a rare thing indeed). Tales of the ensuing celebrations have passed in to club folk lore. Marco Carrara also scored a century that season. Craig then unfortunately felt it necessary to stand down as captain. We were immediately relegated to Grade 2 in 1992 (staying there until 1998). Our Strathmore 1st XI continued to strengthen, winning the Union in 1994. It is of note that in that squad were a number of players who had learned their cricket in the grades - Cruickshank, Lowden, Neil Robertson, Alan McLean (formerly of Dyce), Richard Shepherd, Matthew Cohen (Danny's son) who had joined from Stoneywood and Donald Milne. Yet by 1997, most of the team had left or retired.

Blair Thomson and Jamie Helme won the U-18 batting and bowling cups that season and Malcolm Shepherd the Grade 5 batting cup. The senior grade side were relegated to Grade 3 in 1998. Stuart Grant led the third XI to Johnston Cup runners up. 1999 was a great season with a hat trick of cup wins, the first XI won Strathmore Union League cup (relying on grades guys, Adrian Woodman, Milne and Lowden amongst others, Mark Hearns led the 2nd XI to win the Reid Cup and finish as league runners up, securing promotion to Grade 2. A very promising young Barry Watt was Man of the Match in that Reid Cup final. Barry and Richard Watt epitomise the Gordos spirit and loyalty whilst also showing considerable playing ability. The third XI won their cup too. Malcolm Shepherd won the Grade 5 batting cup and Ken McIntyre won Grade 5 bowling cup. Allan Bain won the U18 batting cup. A local schoolteacher, Ken (Magic) McIntyre would prove to be a tower of strength throughout the most testing period in the club history.

In 2001 George Bews sealed a merger with Grammar who had serious trouble raising teams at the same time asGordonians were struggling to sustain a Strathmore team. This marger seemed to make sense to the clubs' committees and worked briefly at the first XI level but not in the Grades. Some did not feel that the move should be supported. It should be noted that grade product Neil Robertson was the leading run scorer in the Union that season. George Bews stood down to pursue interests away from cricket for a period. The decline continued although much was outside of the club's control, society's view of cricket was changing and the RGC exams restricted cricket opportunities and key players left the area or retired without being replaced. Fortunately, the hard work of a few and continued tremendous club spirit carried the team through to 2007/8. Andy Lowden took on the club presidency from 2002 -2004. 2002 proved a good season.

The first XI had a final fling in the Union with an overseas amateur and the senior grade side finished third in Grade 2 and were Bon Accord Cup runners up. Richard Scott and Craig Pettitt scored centuries and the all-rounders excelled with "michelles" from Mark Hearns, Ken McIntyre, Barry Watt and Donald Milne. In 2003, Adrian Woodman and Milne excelled and we again finished third although our now second XI finished bottom of Grade 4. Woodman scored two centuries including 193 versus Crathie and won the grade Dor Nor batting cup. He and Donald then both left Aberdeen with work commitments taking 1000 runs and 50 wickets with them. They were simply irreplaceable. We were relegated to Grade 3 the following season despite John Laing scoring a century. Barry Leaper helped the club back to respectability by captaining the team to win Grade 3 in 2005. Richard Scott, Craig Pettitt, Gareth McIntyre and Brian Harper ably supported him.

The club just fielded one side thereafter and retained our Grade 2 position just staving off relegation in 2007. Tariq Butt was a key recruit at this time, and has helped revitalise the club both on and of field. Tariq also is a Grade Association committee member.

2008 was a memorable season. Blair Thomson took over from Craig Pettitt as club captain, Andy Lowden returned as president. Under Blair's leadership, we rebuilt the club. Our first XI won Grade 2 on the final day of the season and we restarted a second XI that promptly was promoted from Grade 4. We won five awards at the grade dinner with Blair Thomson and promising young fast bowler, Scott Rowell, picking up individual honours. Tariq Butt., Adi Bhartakur and Barry Watt all scored centuries. 2009 has also been positive although we found it tough in Grade 1. We have recruited well. Our second XI has secured promotion from Grade 3 led by Jamie Jones, we have plans for third and fourth XI, a youth section and a return to the Strathmore Union. This suggests we have turned a full circle!!

So 2010 saw the club reach new heights with the fielding of four sides and what a season it turned out to be! The recruitment drive continued with new players joining Gordonians in the shape of Leon Borstlap, Richard Brown and the prolific overseas players Kyle Humphrys and Chandra Mouli. Mouli was instrumental in the first team’s domination of Strathmore Union Division 2. Rahul Narula and Blair Thomson led the bowling attack with Richard Watt in support. A tremendous return was capped off with a great win against Arbroath to seal the league title with an 100% record against several of their first team players who had newly been crowned National League1 winners. In local cricket the second team finished third in Grade 2 and runners up in the Bon Accord Cup and eventually got promoted to Grade 1 due to Cults/Artisans refusing promotion. The thirds were also Reid Cup finalists against the mighty St Ronald seconds who lost their only match of the season to Gordonians with Indy Yahathugoda being awarded man of the match for his fantastic 50 opening the innings. The fourth team in their first season reached the Grade 4 cup final only to be beaten by Knightriders in a competitive final at Inverurie.

For 2011 a new Sunday team was formed and another first for the club, not only a 5th team but a second XI in the Strathmore and Perthshire Union. This strategically fits with trying to get in to National Leagues and offering a wider cricket product.The 1st XI achieved the strategic objective set in 2007, to achieve promotion back to the SPCU Premier League. This was achieved by back to back promotions in 2010 and 2011. Our  RGU MSC student, Chandra Mouli was our star performer  this season. The 2nd XI’s forced promotion to Grade 1 resulted in a “welcome” relegation to Grade 2 which enabled building a better strength in depth over time and get more enjoyment. The tough season ended with golden lining of a prestigious Aberdeenshire Cup Final appearance vs Bon Accord at Mannofield on Sunday 4th September, 20 years since our last appearance as underdogs when we triumphed over Stoneywood Dyce. A high quality and high scoring match (Gordos scored 271-8 with Mouli 106 and Indy 61. Bon Accord were bowled out for 223 helped by a Marc Jones run out and a nervous young Darri Peerless in his first big match. Captain Blair Thomson lifted the cup.  The 3rd XI

finished well and mid table in Grade 3 despite an inexperienced captain. The 4th XI finished bottom half of Grade 4 but seemed to have good team spirit and some youngsters were blooded. The 5th (Sunday XI) experimental development team in SPCU Div 3 had some successes and is hard work, we will review over the winter. And at season end we launched a Gordos junior section!!

Just like Olympics Team GB, we set a number of objectives for the 2012 season: our 1st XI to finish in the top half of the Strathmore Premier League, our three local grade sides to retain their respective league status, to strengthen our senior and junior coaching, to build club spirit and morale and, finally, to reconnect with our former players. In spite of the worst summer weather (ever), we achieved what we set out to do. Once again, we were indebted to Donny’s ground staff team who ably supported the cricketers and strived to keep the pitches and outfields playable whenever possible. Our 1st XI, led by young Jason Stark, finished a creditable 5th and is now on the fringes of National League cricket. Special “gold medal” mention must be made of Craig Pettitt (Class of ’80) who used his vast experience to bowl consistently well all season. Thanks to our Kiwi pro and amateur, James Cowell and Coel Mahoney for bringing their enthusiastic professionalism from 000’s of miles away and making a difference both on and off the pitch, as asked, and for leaving reports to be adopted as blueprints to take our club forward. We must again thank our loyal sponsors Arrowdawn Limited for making their trip possible. Our 2nd XI and 3rd XI adopted the theme tune to The Great Escape and finished the season strongly; not only avoiding relegation but also looking like good sides with our admittedly strengthened 3rd XI winning the Reid Cup v The Knightriders. Our 4th XI showed great spirit all season and we again fielded a Sunday “lads and dads” development team. Our small but growing junior section flourished thanks to our ECB Level 2 coaches Jamie Jones and Tariq Butt and numerous dedicated volunteers. We made good use of the new net facility provided by the school and the gym under the stand. Our former players’ reunion dinner was a roaring success. Although unplanned we recruited our first lady player, an enthusiastic Aberdeen University student.. We also continued to benefit from our co-operation with RGU cricket and value the use of the RGU:Sports facility for our winter practice.

Whilst we had anticipated that 2013 would be a difficult season for the Club in playing terms as a number of players moved on, it turned out even tougher than expected. There were positives in that we experienced great weather after 2012's monsoon, there was generally a good club spirit and relations with groundstaff, some RGC pupils started playing adult Grades cricket and we finally fulfilled a fixture v RGC. The major difficulty arose when our Professional player/coach aggravated a long standing back problem very early in the season and the medical advice was to take a break from the game. He returned to Australia and our attempts to source a replacement proved unsuccessful. Not only did this have a detrimental effect on our 1st team results but it also left us with no qualified coach and meant we were unable to take our plans for junior coaching forward. As the season progressed, our lack of a coach showed with too many avoidable batting collapses, dropped catches, and the conceding of too many wides. We lost a game to Arbroath off the last ball and also lost to the regional under 18 team as we slipped down the league. The team pulled itself together enough to earn a crucial away win and 2 comfortable home wins meaning we finished 9th. With National League reorganisation we retained our position in the Strathmore Union Premier Division. Variable player availability meant our 2nds were either competitive or out of their depth, but retained their position in a very competitive Grade 2 of the Aberdeenshire leagues. Ongoing player availability issues also weakened our 3rd team and eventually led to us folding our 4th team. On a more positive note we had a number of RGC students playing fairly regularly and our Sunday side was particularly useful in development terms.Thanks to the ongoing financial support from Arrowdawn, we have been able to engage a former GCC professional player (1986-2000) and RGC coach and parent Anju Mudkavi to run junior coaching.

Season 2014 saw significant forward progress from 2013 with a hint of “what might have been”. Our 1st XI finish 3rd in the SPCU Premier league, our best finish since we won the league in 1994. We reached a national cup semi final only to lose to Kilmarnock in a bowl off (cricket’s equivalent of a penalty shoot out) forced on us by 5 weeks of rainy Sundays. Our new pro, Kiwi Hamish Lewis showed talent and promise but did not adapt to Scottish conditions, had he performed with the bat on 2 or 3 occasions we might have won the league. Our amateur, Mitch McMullan, scored an unbeaten 201* v Strathmore, the highest ever score in the club’s history. Our 2nd XI finished 3rd in Grade 2 and performed well virtually all season. Just a couple of, perhaps avoidable, slips prevented (or avoided) promotion to the more demanding Grade 1. Our 3rd XI were the stars securing promotion to Grade 3 prior to a possible league reorganisation – sadly due to a reduction in the number of teams being fielded by other clubs.  Our Sunday XI continued to give lads and dads an opportunity to play organised cricket at quality grounds at Countesswells and all over the North  & East of Scotland – although few took up this opportunity. Our junior section developed in the right direction. Subject to the many obstacles put in our way, our coaches, Stuart, Anju and  Campbell hoped to build on the promising U-13 side we put together (full of RGC pupils) and create a brand new  U-15 side to provide a pathway for the U-13 players as they get older. 8 players qualified as umpires in March and, if not playing, now officiate in local matches other than GCC’s and were available for school matches. Much improved relations with RGC groundstaff including co-operation over drainage works putting artificial wicket out of action. Once again we were greatful to Arrowdawn for their sponsorship and support and to Alan Innes and our hockey colleagues for helping with accommodation in our hour of need (the power of the Gordon’s community !). The 90th anniversary weekend was a great success generating further significant alumni goodwill. Hugh Ouston and his successor, Simon Mills, attended the dinner at The Marcliffe. There was a surprise presentation Quaich presented to our “best player ever” Anju Mudkavi and a Buff Hardie special after dinner speech. The Sunday matches involved a young RGC team, a GCC team, the 1994 Strathmore Union winning side and a “Rest of the World” select.