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John Charles Walton feature
John Charles Walton
John Walton, an Englishman who was for several years in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was a sound and stylish right hand batsman, though he did not always convert good scores into big ones, and a more than useful slow right armer.
For NICC, for whom he played with success until the mid 1920s, he usually went in first with William Pollock. Their batting, coupled with Pollock's pace bowling and the all round play of Arthur Douglas, had much to do with making North one of the strongest sides in the NCU at his time.
They won the League in 1923 and the Cup in 1925. In the rain ruined season of 1924, all told no fewer than 33 out of 90 Senior League matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled and 12 more were rain affected draws, John hit 3 fifties and averaged 32, coming second in the Club's averages to Douglas.
He also took 16 wickets in the season. The following year, besides finishing second in the League, they won the Cup, beating Cliftonville, convincingly, by 10 wickets in the Final. John and Pollock might well have been joint Men of the Match has such awards been given then.
Cliftonville batted first and were bowled out for 70 with Pollock taking 5-60. North also found the wicket difficult, but posted a commanding lead, John - though falling as so often just short of the half century mark - topscoring with 49. A further "5 for" by Pollock left North needing 106. These they knocked off without loss, John 52* and Pollock 42*.
Two innings in 1924 in friendlies may also be noted. A visit, to Dublin to play Leinster at Observatory Lane, saw rain interfere when the match, though no foregone conclusion, was tilting in the visitors favour. John's 43 had kept them in touch with the "ask". The only other innings of note was a typically belligerent 65 from Jim Ganly for Leinster.
John also made a forty against Wales at Ormeau in that year, a match played after the Ireland v Wales's game. He then proceeded to take two of the three visitors' wickets that fell, including that of Dai Davies, left handed all rounder, a mainstay of Glamorgan for many years and, later, a highly respected umpire.
John's first major representative match was for Ulster v West Indies at Ormeau in July 1923. The Windies had not yet gained Test status but they were a fair side with, a portent of things to come, a formidable pair of pace bowlers in George Francis and George John. They came to Belfast, having just defeated a Dublin University side with ten current or future Irish players.
Good bowling by Pollock meant that Ulster began their second innings, needing 177 to win. John Walton, who had failed in the first innings, making only 4 at No 6, now took them near what would have been a famous victory. He made 48, dominating the attack, but was eventually bowled by George John. In the end the hosts had to hold out for a draw, which they did finishing on 148-8 with George taking 6-66.
John's debut for Ireland came against MCC at Ormeau the following year. The two sides had just played a match in College Park, and, not helped by several withdrawals, but with several Northern players brought in anyhow, the Irish side was very different. Unfortunately the match was destroyed by the weather, which prevented play on the first day and meant, in a two day game, that the draw was almost certain.
Ireland made 206-6 before Bob Lambert declared but John had time to show his elegant stroke play. Batting at No 4, he made the top score 72, and, helped by Lambert redeemed a bad start. They put on 110 for the 5th wicket before John was caught by JC - later Sir John - Masterman, Oxford don and much else besides - off the fast medium bowling of Harry Enthoven who was to play in the same match, at Rathmines, 24 years later.
John was a member of the Irish party which made a short tour of England and Wales the following season. He failed at Lord's against MCC but was one of the few successes when Ireland played Wales at Llandudno. Wales with five professionals were far too strong winning by an innings and 36 runs. However, in his first knock, John showed his class against the pace of John Mercer who took 1591 first class wickets and the slow left arm of New Jersey born Frank Ryan 1013 first class wickets. John made 48 before falling to Mercer who finished with 7-44.
John did little in the second innings but the following day a one day - non cap - match was played against The Gentlemen of Wales. The Welsh batting order suggests that they did take the match over seriously, NVM Riches, by far their best player, was at 11. however John again topscored, making yet another 40, before being bowled by the off spinner Johnny Clay, Glamorgan captain later England selector and - in 1948 aged 50 - a key part of the County's first Championship title.
John Walton was not to play for Ireland again. In 1938 a JC Walton played three matches for Suffolk in the Minor Counties Championship. He has been identified by Cricket Archive as the Irish cricketer. I feel that this is unlikely. This JC Walton batted at 9 or 10, his highest score being 10*. He was mainly a bowler and took 5 wickets, including v Surrey 2nd XI that of NICC and Ireland man Tom McMurray.
He would, whether or not the identification above is correct, have been somewhat ageing to play at this level for his bowling alone and it is unlikely that his batting would have been so ignored.
NOTE: Previous attempts to establish Walton's dates of birth and death have proved unsuccessful. Following various leads, I believe the identification above to be correct. If it proves not to be so, apologies are offered to the family members and/or others concerned and any details would be most welcome. We would also be pleased to hear from anyone who can definitely confirm or deny Walton's having played for Suffolk.
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