Carlisle CC - gone but not forgotten

This article first appeared in the Irish Times in August 2005 and is reproduced by kind permission of the author.

The other day, I came across a box of all the cricket trophies and medals I've won since I started playing at the age of seven, some 23 years ago (it's a very small box). In 1990, with my own club unable to field an under-15 team, I was invited by the then under-15 captain Greg Molins to play for Carlisle CC.

It proved to be a very successful year as we won the Yates Hale Cup and Lewis Traub League - and I have the plaques to prove it. Not that I had much influence on those victories, of course. With the likes of Greg and his brother Jason (now captain of Ireland) - along with David Menton, Graham Kutner, Gareth O'Meara and others - we coasted to victory in both Leinster competitions.

It also introduced me to several good people from that club and the Dublin Maccabi Association - many of whom I am still in contact with, despite the fact the club itself is no more.

Yesterday, Carlisle CC was resurrected, although just for one day, to play a challenge match against a Railway Union XI. The catalyst was the visit to Dublin of Carlisle's first professional - Australian opening batsman Julien Wiener - who played for the club in 1978.

The following year Wiener was selected for his home country and went on to play six Tests - mostly in 1980 - achieving a top score of 93 against Pakistan in Lahore.

Wiener's presence in the Carlisle side really marked the start of that club's period of influence in senior cricket. Founded unofficially some time in the late 19th century by the Maccabi Association, Carlisle joined the Leinster Cricket Union as a junior club in 1918.

They were invited to play senior cricket in the early 1940s but declined on the basis that the team was made up largely of students who were not likely to stay in Dublin long-term.

The team went on to have a huge amount of success in the junior cricket ranks during the 1960s with the likes of Alf Solomons, Jack Roberts and Willie Samuels to the fore.

They won the Senior 2 Cup and League double in 1963 and were always competitive throughout the decade. In 1969 they were invited to play in the Leinster Senior Cup and beat Railway Union before losing to Phoenix in a later round.

However, by then, the LCU had seen enough and Carlisle became a senior club at the start of the 1970 season. They got to the final of the Senior Cup in 1979 and 1989, and they won the Alan Murray Cup in 1980, the Leinster Senior League in 1988 and the Wiggins Teape League in 1995.

It is thought the club took its name from Carlisle Street off Dublin's South Circular Road, where many of the first members lived in an area known colloquially at the time as Little Jerusalem.

They decided not to call themselves Maccabi Cricket Club because they played on Saturdays, a decision that may not have received universal approval from within the Jewish community.

Originally based in the Phoenix Park, they later moved to Parkmore Drive in Terenure and then to Kimmage Road West in 1954.

But even though the club consistently fielded three teams - and on some occasions four - it was a constant struggle getting enough bodies on to the field, and about 10 years before the club folded in 1999, the decision was made to open it up completely to all comers.

Unfortunately, though, it didn't work and the Maccabi Association took the painful decision to close the club and sell the grounds.

Carlisle contributed greatly to the development and richness of cricket in Ireland, having given us such fine Irish cricketing dynasties as the Molins, Solomons, Jacobson, Ellison, Simon, Cohen, Bernstein, Walters, Esses and Block families, and many others.

Since the club's demise, the game in this part of the world has been notably poorer.