John Sparks from London was hired in 1834, two years after the club’s formation, to become the club’s first professional. His duties were to “bowl all day, bowl in our games and on practice days if required, stand umpire in matches, and do everything for £20, he paying his expenses to and from Scotland”.
He stayed with Grange until his death in 1854, with a vital additional duty being the preparation of wickets and general ground maintenance. His contribution was key to the club’s rise in prominence.
Sparks was followed by a series of professionals carrying out similar duties. With an increasing club membership, it became the norm for Grange in the later Victorian era to employ two or three club professionals. It also became more usual for them to play in games, often being split between the two teams of 1st XI standard that Grange fielded most weekends. Wicket taking bowlers were increasingly employed, culmination in the efforts of John Keene, who took 923 wickets in his 15 years of employment by the club which included World War One, and Henry Preston, who took 969 wickets at the phenomenal average of 108 wickets/season during the 1920s. Thereafter, reliance was not placed quite so much on bowling ability.
They were often players who had appeared as professionals in English County cricket, but whose selection had been limited, or those who found they could earn more by becoming a club professional. On scorecards they were recorded purely by their surname, as was the practice until 1961, when the distinction between amateur and professional cricketers was removed. The terms agreed with the professionals stated a weekly rate plus a guaranteed amount from a benefit game. Typical of these was the £4 10/- per week and £20 benefit agreed with Keene for 1907. In addition, the Committee would often award an additional discretionary amount as talent money if a professional took five wickets in an innings or for some other exceptional performance.
After 1915, the number of club professionals was reduced to one, and for a lengthy period after the Second World War Grange played with no professional assistance at all. In 1983 hired help was resumed when Grange secured the services of Wayne Heathcote from Sydney, who took 66 wickets in the season, the highest total by a bowler for 11 years. A further attempt at professional help occurred in 1985 with Grant Paterson, a Zimbabwean who played in both the 1983 & 1987 World Cups for his country. It was a very short-term relationship. Paterson only played one match for Grange, at a misty Inverleith against Stewart’s Melville FP on 11th May 1885. He scored 120*, but did not wish to continue playing for Grange, so packed his bags and left Edinburgh.
A better, and far more long-term relationship was started in 1986, when Tasmanian Ian Beven was engaged, with an initial objective of helping the club gain promotion from the East of Scotland League Division Two. Beven was destined to be involved with the club for over 35 years. Since then, club professionals, many high profile, and overseas amateurs, have been hired, from a variety of countries. The role has now been changed to that of Director of Cricket, with duties centred on active coaching and organisation of same. This role is currently held by Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame member John Blain.
The listing below shows professionals employed by Grange, with some brief notes.
|John Sparks||9.4.1778||5.3.1854||1834-53||The leading light in the development of early Grange cricket. Played 50 games of First-Class cricket between 1803 & 1829 for a variety of teams, including Surrey, Middlesex & Kent. Only ever played two games for Grange, both in 1836.|
|William Usherwood||13.3.1827||14.3.1862||1850, 1852 & 1859||Played 11 matches against the all England XI & United All England XI between 1849 & 1860, mainly for teams designated 22 of Scotland.|
|John Oscroft||21.7.1807||28.9.1857||1854||Played nine First Class matches between 1834 & 1848, mainly for Nottinghamshire. Apart from his year with Grange, he played nearly all of his cricket in the English Midlands.|
|Tom Sewell||15.3.1830||13.6.1871||1855-62||Played 158 First Class Matches between 1851 & 1868, mainly for Kent & Surrey, but also a variety of other teams.|
|Robert Bush||14.1.1839||24.12.1874||1862||Played two matches for Surrey, one in each of 1864 & 1868. Mainly due to his early death, his whole cricket career was between 1860 & 1868. Played in the match between Gentlemen of Scotland & Players of Scotland in 1862, the first time the fixture was staged, emulating the similar fixture played in England.|
|T Robinson||1882-83||Umpired the two matches between Scotland & Australia at Raeburn Place in 1882, which included Scotland’s famous victory in the one-day game.|
|Dodsley||1885||After leaving Grange he was engaged as professional for Dumfries in 1886 & 1887.|
|Tom Buckland||20.11.1860||18.7.1915||1886||Only had one season with Grange, as the number two professional to Terry. Played two First Class matches for Nottinghamshire.|
|Terry||1885-93||A native of Nottinghamshire.|
|Redgate||1887||A native of Nottinghamshire.|
|Thomas Morely||10.3.1863||28.10.1919||1895||A regular player for Norfolk from 1888 to 1900, including in the early years of the Minor Counties Championship.|
|William Henson||7.12.1872||7.9.1922||1896-1898||Played 13 matches for Nottinghamshire between 1897 & 1898. He returned to Scotland in 1900, thereafter acting very successfully as a club professional with Gala, Clydesdale & Dunfermline. During this later spell in Scotland, he played for Scotland against South Africa in 1904.|
|Arthur Sellers||23.2.1876||9.2.1949||1896-99||A native of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, Sellers played no first-class cricket down south. He worked for both Grange and Carlton as a professional & groundsman, playing twice for Scotland during his time with Carlton, when he was in his mid 40s.|
|Tom Sellars||1845||13.9.1915||1897||Tom Sellars was one of the longest serving professionals cricketers in Scotland, playing north of the border from 1870 to 1914. His main association was with Edinburgh Academicals, acting as school professional and Edinburgh Academy Raeburn Place groundsman from 1876 to 1900. He also carried out the role of groundsman at the Grange ground and continued in this role until 1912. He was succeeded in the role by John Keene, the mail professional player at the time. This was all after having worked at Fettes College for three years, their first ever cricket professional.|
A native of Nottinghamshire, he played for Nottinghamshire Colts, but was unable to secure a place in the county side. He was also a valued umpire, carrying out the role in 12 Scotland cap games staged in Edinburgh.
|Ansell||1899||Had previously played for Boston Park CC|
|Light||1899 & 1901|
|George Pepall||29.2.1876||8.1.1953||1899 & 1902-05||Played 14 First Class matches for Gloucestershire between 1896 & 1904, plus four matches for Scotland, all at Raeburn Place, between 1902 & 1904. After leaving Scotland, he became coach at Dublin University, at that time a team who played First Class cricket.|
|George Dennett||23.4.1879||15.9.1937||1903||Only had one season with Grange, during which he also played two games for Scotland, both staged at Raeburn Place. A slow left arm bowler, he had also signed for Gloucestershire in 1903, with Grange giving him time off to play for the County. He ultimately played 371 County Championship games for them between 1903 & 1926, plus 30 other First Class games for a variety of teams.|
|F Philpott||1903||From Gloucestershire.|
|Lionel Cranfield||11.10.1883||17.5.1968||1904||Had played a small number of games for Gloucestershire before coming to Grange. The club wished to retain his services in 1905 as second professional to Pepall, but he advised that he had accepted a contract with Somerset. This did not turn out as he hoped – he only played four First Class games for them, all in 1906. However, he secured re-employment with Gloucestershire, playing for them in the County Championship both before and after the First World War. In all, he played 29 First Class games between 1903 & 1922. Interestingly, he wrote to the Club in June 1907 asking for a further engagement, but then declined the terms offered.|
|T Randall||1905||A fast medium left handed bowler from Nottinghamshire.|
|John Atkinson||7.6.1878||20.11.1951||1906||A slow left arm bowler who was engaged as first professional for Grange for the 1906 season. He had played seven First Class games for Nottinghamshire between 1899 & 1901, plus a season playing in the Lancashire League during 1902. He came down with rheumatism after moving to Edinburgh and was unable to start employment on the designated date. The Committee had him examined by a doctor who indicated he would recover. Atkinson was given an ultimatum that the club would dispense with his services unless he was able to fully carry out his duties by 12th May. After some doubt, and examination by another doctor, he met the deadline.|
|WG Trubody||1906||An opening bowler from Gloucestershire who never played First Class cricket.|
|John White||1.8.1977||2.12.1958||1907||A wicket-keeper who had played three matches for Nottinghamshire during 1902-04 before joining Grange in 1906. He played for Scotland against the West Indians that season.|
|Arthur Penduck||11.9.1883||5.12.1924||1907||A native of Gloucestershire, opening bowler Arthur Penduck returned to his native county after his one season with Grange, playing five First Class games in period 1908-09.|
|John Keene||25.4.1873||3.1.1931||1907-19||After playing two First Class matches for Surrey in 1897 & 41 matches for Surrey 2nd XI between 1893 & 1900, John Keene moved to Worcestershire and played a further 24 First Class matches for them between 1903 & 1905. He played for Scotland against South Africa during his first season at Raeburn Place and also umpired three Scotland games at Raeburn Place just before World War One. He was Grange’s first professional throughout his term and therefore paid more.|
During the 1910 season, he sustained a serious injury to his knee, preventing him playing in several games. His re-engagement for the next summer was brought into question as a result of this, but was agreed to after a vote at a Committee Meeting. In 1912 he also took on the additional duties of head groundsman at Grange, while his wife became Pavilion Attendant in 1917.
Keene left Grange to become cricket coach at Loretto School. At the Annual Meeting in April 1920, he was presented with an inscribed clock and a cheque for £50 in appreciation of his service to Grange.
|George Beet||24.4.1886||13.12.1946||1908-09||A wicket-keeper from Derbyshire, George Beet played for Grange before embarking on a 48 match First Class match career with the Derbyshire County club from 1910 to 1925. He then embarked on a 20 year career as a county umpire, culminating in a Test Match appointment at the Old Trafford 1946 Test between England & India.|
|Frederick Kitchener||2.7.1871||25.5.1948||1908-09||Came to Scotland after playing 13 First Class matches for Hampshire between 1896 & 1903, plus professional appointments for Ormskirk & Sefton in the Liverpool Premier League between 1899 & 1906.|
|J Bidmead||1910-11||From Gloucestershire. Hired as second professional to Keene.|
|H Jenner||1912-13||From Lessness Park CC. Replaced Bidmead.|
|H Bainton||1914-15||Replaced Jenner. Played for West Kent in 1906 & Eastbourne in 1912-13.|
|James Plowright||Various Seasons||Was employed as cricket coach and groundsman for the Edinburgh Academy from 1900 to 1924. Also played, usually for Edinburgh Academicals. He only played as Grange professional occasionally and was paid on a game by game basis.|
Umpired four Scotland cap games at Raeburn Place just after World War One.
|Henry Preston||25.10.1883||23.4.1964||1920-28||Played 19 First Class matches for Kent between 1907 & 1913, winning his county cap in 1910. After leaving Grange, he was professional at West of Scotland from 1929 to 1936. During his last year at Hamilton Crescent he played for Scotland against Sir Julian Cahn’s XI at the Glasgow venue.|
|Walter Austin||1929-30||From Bramley, Yorkshire.|
|WA Hall||1931-35||From England. Employed as club professional and groundsman.|
|Dick Richards||10.9.1908||13.11.1995||1936-37||From Eastbourne, opening batsman Dick Richards played 18 First Class matches for Sussex between 1927 & 1935, as well as for his home town club, before taking up his appointment with Grange. He had umpired four First Class matches played at Eastbourne in the early 1930s and after the Second World War was a regular umpire in Minor Counties cricket between 1953 & 1964.|
|Reg Hollingdale||6.3.1906||3.8.1989||1938-39||Played 79 First Class matches during period of 1925-30 whilst playing for Sussex. He then moved to Scotland to play as professional with Greenock CC from 1931 to 1937. His next move was to Grange for a two season spell as professional. After World War Two he moved to Fettes College as cricket coach for 30 years, before living in retirement in Edinburgh and latterly Penicuik. Played two matches for Scotland after moving north.|
|Wayne Heathcote||1983||From the Randwick club in Sydney.|
|Ian Beven||27.11.1958||1986-94||Ian Beven was appointed Grange professional after a two year spell with West of Scotland. Prior to this, he had played Minor Counties cricket with Hertfordshire and First Class/List A cricket with his native Tasmania. His lengthy playing spell with Grange, latterly as an amateur, was an integral part of the club resuming its place as Scotland’s premier club. His playing abilities, most notably as an off-spin bowler, led to him being awarded 27 caps for Scotland between 1992 & 1997. It was in his final year with Scotland that he was a key part of the team which qualified for the first time to compete in the World Cup Finals. He also had the unusual distinction of securing a wicket with the first ball he bowled at Lord’s cricket ground, an impassioned plea to the umpire securing the wicket of a MCC batsman playing against Scotland. After ceasing to be club professional, he served as Club Director of Cricket.|
|Graham Hurlbatt||9.3.1964||1995||Zimbabwean Graham Hurlbatt was most closely associated with Heriot’s FP during his time in Scotland. He played nine matches for Scotland during the 1994 &1997 seasons. He had previously played four matches for Natal B in late 1983.|
|Nehemiah Perry||16.6.1968||1996-7||After serving as club professional To Edinburgh Academicals, West Indian Nehemiah Perry acted as Grange professional for a two year spell. Already a member of the Jamaica side, he went on to play four Tests and 21 ODIs for West Indies between 1999 & 2000|
|Andrew Dykes||15.11.1971||1998||Tasmanian Andrew Dykes came to Grange after playing in the Central Lancashire League during 1997. He went on to be a regular in the Tasmanian side for the next two Australian seasons.|
|Yasas Tillakaratne||15.9.1972||1999||Sri Lankan Yasas Tillakaratne played a total of 75 First Class matches in his homeland. After his one season with Grange, he served as a club professional for several years in Northern Ireland.|
|Damien Wright||25.7.1975||2000-01||Tasmanian Damien Wright played First Class or List A cricket for Northamptonshire, Glamorgan, Sussex, Somerset, Worcestershire, Victoria & Wellington, as well as Tasmania. He also played two matches for Scotland in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy during his time in Scotland. As a result of all this, he has played First Class/List A cricket for more sides than any other Grange player. Although chosen to represent Australia A, he never quite made it into the Australian Test Team.|
|Trent Woodhill||2002-04||One of the few Grange professionals never to play First Class cricket, Australian Trent Woodhill came from Canberra.|
|Matthew Betsey||9.11.1976||2005||A native of Bankstown, New South Wales, Matthew Betsey played for New South Wales 2nd XI as well as Sydney Grade cricket. He had previously been in the UK during 2001 to play for Wallasey in the Liverpool Premier League.|
|Warren McSkimming||21.6.1979||2006, 2008 & 2011||A regular for his native Otago in New Zealand between 1999 & 2012, Warren McSkimming came to Grange after experience in the Liverpool Premier League with Lytham in 2003 & 2004. He would also have been the Grange professional in 2010, but for injury.|
|George Bailey||7.9.1972||2007||Arguably the biggest named star ever to become Grange professional, George Bailey played for one season, when he also played nine games for Scotland. He returned in 2010 to play a further ten games for Scotland, but not for Grange. He went on to play 90 ODIs for Australia between 2011 & 2017 and five Test Matches. In addition he has played for a variety of teams in England, Australia and in the IPL.|
|Allan Wise||4.2.1979||2009||Allan Wise Born 4.2.1979 Club Pro. 2009|
An Australian State cricketer with both Victoria & South Australia, Allan Wise had played in the Lancashire League with Rawtenstall.
|Roy Adams||31.1.1979||2010||Roy Adams was a late replacement for Warren McSkimming. A native of Cape Province, his First Class & List A appearances were all with Griqualand West. He had also appeared for the South Africa Under 19 XI in 2006/7.|
|Mike Powell||5.4.1975||Club Coach 2012-14||Mike Powell played First Class cricket with Warwickshire from 1996 to 2008. He then became a schoolmaster and secured a role at Loretto School. In 2010 & 2011 he played for Grange 1st XI when his school duties permitted. After this, he took a more active part in the club as coach and played, but only for the 2nd XI, again when school commitments allowed.|
|John Blain||4.1.1979||Club Director of Cricket 2015 to date||John Blain played 118 times for Scotland between 1996 & 2009. He also appeared in English County cricket with Northamptonshire & Yorkshire, before taking a more active coaching role with Yorkshire. In this he was very successful, coaching Test & County cricket stars of the future. He pursued coaching on his return to Scotland, initially with West of Scotland, but became Director of Cricket at Grange in 2015, a role he still holds. John has been particularly successful in coaching talented young cricketers through the Grange Academy.|