Time of Change (1990-1999)

The 1990s saw the development of a junior section at Rainhill, which produced a number of talented players. This photograph shows Rainhill's Paul Ford and David Bolton lining up with the South West Lancashire team before a final at Old Trafford.

Peter Mercer and Dave Birkett continued their fine form into the 1990s. Mercer scored 749 league runs, including 122 not out, in 1990 and followed this up in 1991 with an even more impressive 812 runs over the season. This completed ten consecutive seasons of scoring in excess of 500 runs. Birkett took 51 league wickets, at an average of 15.31, in 1990.

Mark Scott took 52 league wickets (at an average of 13.42) for the second team in 1990. In 1991, Andrew Birkett accumulated 587 runs in league competition.

A significant development occurred in 1992 when Ray Ford joined the Rainhill CC as coach and set up the club’s first junior section. Ray continued in his role for five years, firmly establishing the junior set-up and producing several successful players. Ray also managed the Competition’s Colts team for a period of time.

Ray Ford was also a useful player and in 1993 he scored 505 league runs. In the same season. Dave Marshall scored an unbeaten 100 in a home league victory while Peter Mercer picked up 52 wickets. There was success for the juniors too, with the under 13s winning the Eric Tatlock Cup.

Outstanding junior players included Paul Ford (pictured here with the St Helens Town* U13’s team in 1993). In 1994 David Bolton and Andrew Ford played for Lancashire CC under 14s and under 11s respectively. In the following year Bolton played for Lancashire’s under 15s. 1995 also saw Paul Ford and David Bolton playing for the winning South West Lancashire side (pictured, above) in a final at Old Trafford.

Jim Fairclough scored a brilliant 1048 runs in the league season for the second team in 1994. The second team won the Norman Cottam Memorial Trophy in 1995. In the 1996 season Steve Toghill scored 623 league runs including a knock of 127 but Andrew Birkett topped the averages with 334 runs at 66.8.

In 1995 drainage work was carried out to the outfield courtesy of a grant from Littlewoods.

Paul Ford continued to impress and in 1996 he won the Merseyside Competition Young Player of the Year award with 458 runs.

Andrew Ford played for Lancashire under 13s in the 1996 season; in subsequent years he would go on to play for the under 14s and under 15s.

Peter Mercer had his most productive year for the club – in terms of runs scored – in 1997. He scored a total of 846 league runs during the season. In the same year Paul Ford had trials with Lancashire U16s/17s.

In 1998 Richard Green of Lancashire CC played a handful of games for the first team. In spite of this, Rainhill were relegated from Division 1 of the Merseyside Competition. The season saw Ian Blakemore finish his colourful playing career stretching back over 30 years. With his flighted spin he took 289 league wickets, with a best of 8-39 that included a hat trick. He also scored over 1600 runs with a top score of 65 not out.

In 1999 Mike Rotheram, aged just 19, took over as first team captain with an ambition to play in the top division of the Liverpool Competition. Mike scores his first century for the club with 101 not out. David Birkett finished his 16-year playing career stretching back to 1983. As an opening swing bowler he took 697 league wickets at an impressive average of 13 with best bowling of 8-21.

* This St Helens Town team was a district representative side and should not be confused with the present day club of the same name.