Lancashire player number 77 - Watson, Alexander
by Don Ambrose

Player:A Watson

Known as “Sandy”
Lancashire 1871-93
Born 4.11.1844 Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Died 26.10.1920 Old Trafford, Manchester.


Playing his early cricket on West-end Public Park ("Dock Park"), he was spotted by a cricket enthusiast, Job Freeth, who recommended him to the Drumpellier professional, John Sands.


He took the young man under his wing and he developed under the watchful eye of the club's patron, Sir David Carrick Buchanan. Sir David's relative, Mr. David Buchanan, of Rugby, Cambridge University and the Free Foresters, was also well aware of the young man's ability.


A small man, just over 5ft. 6 inches tall and just over ten stone, he was a competent, right-handed batsman, and originally a fast round-arm bowler, who later converted to a right-hand slow round-arm bowler. In the field 'Scores & Biographies' describes him as an "active little fellow," who occasionally kept wicket. He performed well for the Drumpellier Club and in 1867 left the pit and took up his first professional engagement with the Caledonian Club, Edinburgh.


He remained there for the following year, but then moved south to take an engagement with Rusholme Club, Manchester, where he stayed until 1871.


On 17th to 19th August 1871 he played for Lancashire for the first time, scoring 0 and 4 not out against Derbyshire at Derby, but not getting a chance to bowl. The following year he was taken onto the staff at Old Trafford and played in all four of Lancashire's matches, taking 20 wickets, including 4/26 and 2/46 against Derbyshire at Derby, when he bowled unchanged with W.McIntyre. The press talked of Lancashire's Scottish bowlers, but although McInyre had, no doubt, Scottish roots, he was born in Nottingham!


He was picked for the Players in 1877, but his selection for representative teams was restricted by some doubt being expressed about his bowling action, although there he was never subjected to the witch-hunt endured by faster bowlers.


At the time of the 1881 Census he was living at Cricket Cottage, Stretford, aged 34, a professional cricketer born at "The Netherlands" (Sandy's version of Scotland?), with his wife Annie, aged 27 born at Hulme, son George age 4 and three daughters Frances aged 7, Catherine aged 2 and Rebecca aged 6 months.


On 27th August 1883, playing for Manchester against Liverpool, he took all ten wickets in the first innings and seven in the second.


At the begining of July 1885 a North versus South match was held at Old Trafford for his benefit and he received £1101-11s-1d., a record amount for the time. Shortly afterwards he opened a sports shop at 35 Oxford Street, Manchester, at first jointly with Richard Pilling, but later by himself. By 1911 there were also shops at 39 Piccadilly and 11 Lever Street.


At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 518 Stretford Road, Stretford, aged 56 born Scotland, an athletic outfitter, with his wife Ann aged 47. Also living at home are the following unmarried children- Frances aged 27, George aged 23, an athletic outfitter assistant, Alexander M. aged 17, an athletic outfitter assistant, Mabel A. aged 13, Rober S. aged 10. There is also an unmarried niece Letitia McCard, aged 37 born in Scotland and two domestic servants.


He continued to play cricket long after his first-class days and in 1903 accompanied "The Remnants" touring side to Ireland, playing in Dublin and Belfast. On 5th August 1904, at almost sixty years of age, he played for Buckinghamshire against Bedfordshire at Wolverton, going in last and scoring 2 and 4 and bowling 35 overs 7 maiden for 104 runs and two wickets.


(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)


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