Date: 12th Apr 2021
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JULIE'S STORY : ‘I thought I would never get the chance to play the sport I love…’

Date: 1st January 2021

JULIE'S  STORY : ‘I thought I would never get the chance to play the sport I love…’

A Happy New Year to all from the Comp.

Julie Allan, captain of Hightown St Mary’s CC’s women’s team, reveals her passion for cricket and how a chance encounter kick-started her playing career - at the age of 47.

I grew up in the Liverpool suburb of Crosby in a large family - three brothers and one sister - with all of us mad about cricket! When we were very young we used to gather at the nearest school playground with the local kids and play all sorts of games, including football and cricket. Of course it was mostly boys taking part. 

One of my earliest cricketing memories is when I was about six years old and we were playing a match with all the local children. One of the boys said: "Well done Julie, you have just taken a wicket…that’s brilliant!” 

I told him it was my brother who had taken the catch, but he said: “No. You bowled the ball, it’s your wicket!” and I remember feeling really happy about this.

My cricketing education continued in the garden and the local park, supplemented by watching the test match for hours on TV. All the family were left handers and we used to idolise David Gower, although I used to secretly admire Allan Border too!

Although I enjoyed playing football and cricket, there were simply no opportunities for girls at primary school, so I played netball, rounders and was part of the athletics team. At secondary school, I captained the hockey team.

I used to feel really jealous that my brothers all got to play cricket at their school and I would always go and watch their matches. At 14 I went to my first ever test match, England v Australia at Old Trafford in 1985. My female friends all thought I was mad but I loved every minute of it, even though I still had no opportunity to play at school or any local clubs.

Still a frustrated player, I went on to study history at Lancaster University, with mid-Victorian Britain as my specialism. Here I discovered the writings of Eric Midwinter, a social historian who also wrote extensively about cricket - including a biography of W.G. Grace. For one of my assessed presentations in front of fellow students, I discussed the growth of cricket in Victorian England. I still have the written feedback from my tutor who said that he really enjoyed it and that it was the first time W.G. Grace had been mentioned in one of his seminars!

During the summer holidays I was often asked by my cousin to come along and score for his club. It was now the 1990s although I encountered a lot of sexism as many of the men, especially the opposition, were very sceptical of my ability as a scorer.

I carried on with sport at university, joining the women's football team, and around this time there was actually ONE indoor women's cricket match arranged, which we won and I still have the trophy somewhere. All the girls playing were new to the game so I was able to accumulate runs quite easily, as well as taking most of the wickets!

At my first teaching job the staff had a cricket team - all male - and I would always go to watch or score but, once again, I never got the chance to play.

By this time I had given up on the idea of ever playing cricket and, after the BBC had stopped broadcasting test matches, I sort of lost touch with it, concentrated on my career and, after the birth of my son James, my family life.

Fast forward to 2018 and, having recently become single, I was at a loose end one Saturday evening. A friend suggested I come along to her husband’s cricket club awards night - at Hightown St Mary’s CC - where I discovered they were trying to set up a women’s team.

The following March we played our first indoor tournament and I was elected captain - finally I was playing cricket!

I quickly began to help recruit new players, inviting friends and work colleagues to join and, with the support of our coaches, we became a respectable team!

I am now so proud to lead the Hurricanes, as we have become known. The club has gone from strength to strength, progressing to hard ball cricket this year where we performed admirably in the Lancashire t20 competition against some very experienced opponents. We are also part of a growing local women’s cricket scene, which has seen many new teams spring up from the Liverpool and District Competition clubs.

I was also honoured when I was asked to represent the league at the 2019 Lancashire women’s and girls cricket awards, held at Old Trafford.

I do still feel sad that there were no opportunities for me when I was younger and for a long time I felt I would never have the chance to play the sport I love. But now I am definitely making up for lost time!

Julie is on the right of the front row

 

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