YMCA Cricket Club, Bristol
Playing cricket at Golden Hill since 1902


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Egypt teaches Ireland a cricketing lesson

Perhaps it was the rock hard pitches baked by the searing North African sun or maybe the influence of the strict military discipline that taught young army recruit John Ireland the subtle art of off-spin during his National Service in Egypt in 1952/53. What is not in doubt is Ireland’s massive contribution to the success of the YMCA Cricket Club in its post war period.

Like most good cricketers, Ireland’s love of cricket was formed at an early age. And it was this enthusiasm for the game that persuaded the then 20 year old to opt for the ‘dreaded’ night shift in order to participate in the numerous cricket matches that were arranged between different regiments and officers during the daytime. Following his spell abroad Ireland returned to Bristol where he began a long and successful career at Golden Hill from the 1959 season onwards. True to form he quickly settled into the business of taking wickets – and lots of them!!

The popular off-spinner's career was full of highlights but none more so than his appearance in the inaugural final of the B&D Knockout Cup at the County Ground in 1964. In a thrilling finale against the opponents, Imperial CC, John Ireland and his last wicket partner Ray Cork were involved in a desperate attempt to score the three runs required off the last ball for victory. Sadly, the pair fell one run short in what remains the closest final in the Cup’s history.

Ireland secures YM’s first ever league win
During a highly respected career that bridged four decades, John Ireland’s intelligent and consistent bowling was to secure him a list of achievements that are, almost, unrivalled in the clubs history. He went on to hold the current post war club record for the most senior wickets, 639 dismissals (a record that may soon be challenged by J.F. Chidgey). Other milestones included the record for the most 1st X1 wickets in a league season - 46 in 1982 and a remarkable haul of 8 for 10 against Hanham CC in May, 1973  - a performance which remained his ‘personal best’ and also inspired the YMCA to its first ever victory in league cricket in the newly formed  B&D League.

Undoubtedly amongst the most successful bowlers ever to have played for the ‘Young Men’, Ireland’s record speaks for itself and has deservedly earned him a place in the club’s All Time Greatest XI, as published in the club’s History Booklet.

High praise indeed for a remarkable player.


Batting Average 7.0
Highest score 33
Runs Scored 919
Bowling Average 14.0
Best Bowling 8/10 v Hanham in 1973
Wickets Taken 639

Statistics are up to the end of the 2002 season

Born: 24 June 1933

Year Joined YMCA: 1959

Playing Details: Although I bowled Off Spin for most of my YMCA career, for one season I did change to bowling medium pace. However, I quickly decided that I was best as a slower bowler. When I joined the club I used to bat at number six or seven. In the latter days, however, I was a superb number 10 or 11!

Other clubs played for: Old Cothamians

Best YMCA Match Played In: The final of the B&D Knockout Cup against Imperial in 1964. It was a great game, played at the County Ground. Unfortunately, we just lost the game on the last ball, but it was a super day for the club.

Favourite YMCA Batsman (past or present): Jack Wilson

Favourite YMCA Bowler (past or present): Roy Davies

Favourite Cricket Grounds: Sleepy Hollow and Stapleton

Least Favourite Cricket Ground: Pilning

Favourite Professional Cricketer: Wally Hammond

Favourite Food: Steak

Favourite Drink: Whiskey

Favourite Football Team: Manchester United

Favourite Holiday Destination: The next one I'm going to!

Motto In Life: Do it whilst you can, and enjoy it whilst you can.

© 2004 YMCA Cricket Club