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Club scores a first century!

MANY talented sports men and women have played at Hightown Club during the past century.

As the club marks its 100th anniversary, the Crosby Herald takes a look at its long history.

In 1906, when Hightown was a small village in South Lancashire, a group of members of Blundellsands Amateur Dramatics Society formed a football team.

Called Hightown Recreation Club, it was renamed to Hightown Club in 1907, which is acknowledged as the founding year.

Starting up cricket as well as tennis as summer sports, in the first two years it grew to around 30 members.

In 1914, men’s hockey was launched but the Great War saw many called up for service. The club sent a touching message to let them know it would be waiting for their safe return.

It set up a rugby section in 1924, after an appeal from some members of Waterloo FC. Captain of Waterloo at the time was Scottish international star Sandy McQueen, who was also Hightown cricket captain. He was instrumental in the introducing of rugby at Hightown and went on to be club president.

Football discontinued in the 1930s, but highlights include reaching the 1932 Liverpool Amateur Cup final against Marine FC, and in the 1925/26 season, goalkeeper C. Menham played three times for Everton with Dixie Dean.

The war years affected participation in all sports, although numbers were boosted by the Northern Club, who were made temporary members after their facilities were taken over by the Ministry of Defence.

After the war, the rugby section was rebuilt and in 1955 enjoyed its most successful season. In 1986/87, it won the North West division 2 league.

Sadly numbers dropped in the 1990s and, despite a successful 75th anniversary celebration in 1999, the following season proved to be the club’s last.

Perhaps the tennis section’s most important contribution was its famous junior tournament. It originated in 1925, organised by Hightown resident Sidney Farmer to keep children amused in the summer. One notable winner was Wimbledon referee Alan Mills.

Today, the tennis section has three senior sides in Southport & District league and a number of junior members.

Although no longer played at Hightown, hockey continues to put the village on the map, thanks to the success of Bowdon Hightown ladies. Led by England international Tina Cullen, the club recently reached the national indoor tournament finals.

For around 40 years after the war, Hightown reigned supreme as a leading hockey club in the North. Perhaps the biggest names to play during this era were Ken Cranston and Colin Whalley.

More recently, there is no bigger name than Maggie Souyave, the driving force behind the highly successful Hightown ladies side of the 1980s. She was in the winning World Cup team of 1975, and, after retiring, went on to become England coach.

In the mid-1980s, Hightown could not fund an artificial surface and the men merged with Northern, while the ladies, keen to retain the Hightown name, played in various locations before settling at Bowdon.

Cricket is currently undergoing a renaissance, with a successful 1st XI playing in the Liverpool and District ECB Premier League.

In 1919, Hightown joined the Liverpool Competition, lifting the title in 1936 and 1958.

In 1996, the league split into two, with Hightown in the 1st division. In 2004, under Ian Sutcliffe, the club won the 1st division title, and entered the Premier League for the first time. Despite being relegated a year later, the club bounced back in 2007 and is spending its centenary year at the pinnacle of local league cricket.

Squash started in 1971 after a government grant funded two courtsd. The newest sport is bowls, whose members moved across from their former home at the Hightown Hotel. Members have used grants, donations and hard work to transform old tennis courts into a bowling green.

A spokesman said: “From humble beginnings and through many highs and lows, the Hightown Club continues to provide enjoyment, of a sporting and social kind, for the local community and beyond.

“The club is now looking to the next century with confidence.”