As was mentioned in last week’s Throwback Thursday the town of Middlesbrough was originally in Yorkshire and, due to it being the largest such place in the northern part of the county, was an ideal centre in which to stage county matches. The first ground, Swatter’s Carr, was described by Paul Dyson in last week’s piece so he now turns his attention to the two other grounds on which Yorkshire have played. The photos of Acklam Park were taken very recently by Martin F Peagam of Cleveland and Tees-side Local History Society.
Having been evicted from Swatter’s Carr in 1874, Middlesbrough CC wasted no time in finding a new venue. They did not have to move far – just across the road – so that their new playing are was known as Linthorpe Road (West) Ground. It was situated at the road’s junction with Princes Road and was officially opened in mid-May 1875. An eight-foot fence was erected all the way round the ground and a two-storey pavilion built on the northern side (very sensible).
In 1880 the Australians came, played a three-day game against 18 of Middlesbrough and won by an innings in two days, Fred ‘The Demon’ Spofforth having match figures of 13-43, so then repeated the fixture as a one-day game on the third day – very generous. Two years later the Australians visited again, this time to play against Yorkshire in what remained the ground’s only first-class match. The home team, who had to follow on, eventually lost by seven wickets. In a sign of the times, the visitors played only one Test match but had five games against Yorkshire – the other venues being Bradford (twice), Dewsbury and Sheffield.
Later in 1882 Middlesbrough FC moved onto the southern part of the ground and remained there until 1903, having played one season in the top division at Linthorpe Road (West), before moving to Ayresome Park. After the 1893 season the cricket club moved again, leaving the site to the sole occupancy of the Football Club, to an area which became known as Grove Hill Cricket Ground (Breckon Hill on cricketarchive) and on which Yorkshire II played five Minor Counties Championship matches in the first decade of the 20th century). The Club remained there until 1911, when the ground was sold to the Education Department, and it then disbanded. The area originally used for cricket and football on Linthorpe Road (West) is now covered by Edwardian houses and other properties.
With the demise of the original Middlesbrough CC the opportunity arose for North Ormesby CC (which was formed in about 1864) to assume a more prominent status and so, in 1915, it changed its name to Middlesbrough CC. It had played at the Vicarage Ground in North Ormesby since 1901 and bought it in 1922 but despite five visits by Yorkshire II, again in the MCC, it repeated its namesake by selling it to the Education Department in 1932. The Club then joined forces with Middlesbrough RUFC and developed part of the rugby club’s 12-acre site in Acklam into a cricket ground which was opened in mid-May, 1933.
Yorkshire II played on the new ground in 1934 but it was not until 22 years later that the full county side came for the first of its 45 first-class matches. By this time a pavilion had been built but that is not the one in use in more recent times. In 1975 was erected an all-embracing pavilion and clubhouse building and in its heyday the open seating on banks which almost circumvent the ground were full of spectators especially for the popular Sunday league games. It was a very handy venue for those who inhabited the northern part of the vast county, not to mention the cricket-lovers of County Durham who now had a nearby ground on which to witness first-class cricket.
Acklam Park, as the ground was officially known, was used by Yorkshire until after the 1996 season when the policy to use only Headingley and Scarborough came to fruition. It played at least one first-class match every season from 1956 as well as 24 List A matches. The first of these was in 1963 when the county played its first-ever such game, it being in the first round of the Gillette Cup when it defeated Nottinghamshire by four wickets. Brian Bolus, in his first season with the midland county after having been sacked by Yorkshire, scored a century but Fred Trueman took four for 30 in 15 overs. Yorkshire batted consistently and won by four wickets.