Founded in 1887 as the Ferguslie Threadworks Cricket Club, Ferguslie CC were indebted to the philanthropic J & P Coats family, the internationally renowned threadmakers, for providing them with their splendidly appointed ground at Meikleriggs, which has been their lifelong home. For the past 120 years Ferguslie CC has provided a splendid cricketing opportunity for the local community, and has consistently sought to raise the standards of the facilities on offer, in the words of Dr Hector Munro, President in the club's Centenary Year, "ever endeavouring to carry on the traditions and good works of our predecessors".
The inaugural game was played on Thursday 19 May 1887 against an already well-established Kelburne side. Complete with their resident professional Towle, Kelburne graciously allowed Ferguslie to field 17 players! This was a common occurrence in those early days, with weaker sides being strengthened by additional players. However, rain, the cricketers' bugbear then as now, disrupted play, and the game was finally abandoned on the following evening! Notwithstanding the inclement weather, this inaugural match attracted a large crowd, and Colonel Coats, who had initially rented the ground for the club's use, showed a keen interest in the proceedings whilst the J&P Coats band played several musical selections!
Throughout the rest of that initial summer Ferguslie went on to play several fixtures against teams whose names may sound strange to us today. On 20 June St Mirren - then a flourishing cricket club! - inflicted a heavy defeat, dismissing the collective body of embryonic Ferguslie cricketers for a miserable 8 runs! Matters did improve immediately, though, and Saturday 9 July saw the new club recording its first victory at Whifflet against Carnbrae CC where Ferguslie scored 59, with J Waddell grabbing 7 wickets and skipper James Barr, experienced veteran of many clubs, the remaining 3.
Another noteworthy event had taken place the previous Saturday when Ferguslie fielded its first Second XI against Johnstone CC 2ndXI who won by 37 runs. The 1st XI also fell to Johnstone Firsts on the same day, but by only 22 runs. Those early results were not especially propitious, but by fielding two teams every week those early pioneers behind the helm of Ferguslie's affairs were laying a solid foundation upon which to build. After one early match The Paisley Daily Express clarioned that "as was to be expected the Ferguslie players did not show to any great advantage, but we have every confidence that with practice something creditable will yet be heard of them yet"! How prophetic were those words of well over a century ago!
The second year, 1888, saw the club able to compile a reasonably healthy fixture list, incorporating matches against teams from Bridge of Weir, Lenzie, RVB Greenock, Coatbridge Thistle, Cessnock, Dalry, Houston, and St Mirren, as well as Poloc and Kelburne 2nds. On 18 September 1892 the Ferguslie 1sts played an away match against the Barlinnie Prison Officers CC and managed to escape with a one-run victory!
In 1893 Ferguslie appointed Haslam, a fine English all-rounder as professional, and his four-year tenure saw the club rise meteorically from its provincial roots to establish a place in the top rank of Scottish cricket. Haslam's personal contribution was immense as he supervised work on the pitch, provided inspiring coaching to the burgeoning youngsters, and played a leading role on the pitch a formidable bowler whose record speaks for itself - 692 overs, 912 runs, 186 wickets, the wickets only costing him 4.9 runs each at a miserly run rate of 1.3 per over! Naturally he quickly became a huge favourite with the large crowd which were now flocking to Ferguslie's home games - over 3,000 watched the opening match of 1895 when Sir Thomas Glen-Coats welcomed Drumpellier CC, the team in which his friend Sir David Buchanan was a major patron, and the game began sensationally when Drumps opening bat J A Allan was run out off the very first ball. As the press of the day lauded, Haslam was "the gazed of all gazers'.
Haslam was replaced by another fine choice of pro, J O Hirst, a Yorkshire cricketer of high repute, whose prolific debut season saw him score over 500 runs and grab 80 wickets at 8.1. The following year saw the legendary sportsman James Welford make his run-scoring mark. Welford also played right-back for Celtic, and until relatively recently was the only Englishman to have won both a Scottish and an FA Cup medal. He also plated First Class cricket for Warwickshire. Building on Haslam's excellent work,
Hirst stayed till 1901, the season in which veteran all-rounder W R McCormick was batting against Grange at Raeburn Place when a telegram arrived for him, and was duly presented at the end of an over. He read it, put it in his pocket, and recommenced batting. When he was out caught some while later he returned to the pavilion where he informed the rest of the team of his news - his wife had given birth to a son! McCormick was definitely a cricketer who had his priorities well defined! The Western Union was won for the first time in 1905, victory assured by a magnificent batting partnership at home against Kelburne by pro Bill Megson and R B Hastings, who remarkably would still be in the side in the next championship win some 24 years later!
During the First World War, tragically six of the players listed in the club's 1914 averages were to perish in the carnage of the western front, and eight other members were also to give their lives in that "war to end all wars'. Arthur Henderson was posthumously awarded the VC when his regiment broke through and captured a section of the Hindenburg Trenches. A further nine members of the club failed to return after the 1939-45 war, whose absence tempered the jubilation which heralded the end of the hostilities, and a further memorial tablet was erected in the clubhouse to commemorate their names.
Post World War Two a young Indian Test batsman - who averaged nearly 40 in 55 Tests - Vijay Manjrekar signed as pro in 1954, and his magnificent batting displays entralled cricket enthusiasts throughout the country. 1955 was an annus mirabilis for the club, as the Union was won under Hector Munro's captaincy, Manjrekar scoring a record 1669 runs at 66.8 in 34 innings to go with 54 wickets at 18.6, whilst legendary left armer Jimmy Orr grabbed 90 wickets at 12.01. The 1957 Championship was shared with Poloc, as another fine Indian pro Balan Pandit produced some splendid batting displays.
The formidable Barbados all-rounder Adzil Holder contributed a magnificent five years in the 60s alongside Scottish bowler and club skipper Ron Hogan, which saw two Championships in 65 and 67 to accompany the Rothman's Quaich, the club's first Scottish Cup, in 69.
22-year old all-rounder Duncan Forrest produced an as yet unmatched double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season in 1975, before captaining the team to a second Scottish Cup in 1983.