Sion Mills Cricket Club (SMCC) is a cricket club, currently playing at Holm Field in Sion Mills in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Holm Field is located directly beside Herdman’s Flax Mill. Founded in 1864 under the patronage of the Herdman Family, the Cricket Club celebrated its 155-year anniversary in 2019.
Holm Field achieved legendary status in the cricket community in Ireland on the 2nd of June 1969 when it was the venue for Ireland’s famous win over the West Indies.
The West Indies were on a tour of England and during the break period between the Second and Third test matches, they were scheduled to play Ireland. The day before, the West Indies played in Lord’s Cricket Ground in London where the match resulted in a draw. Due to arriving late that night and staying in Lifford, County Donegal, West Indies did not have time to inspect the grounds or pitch until they arrived the next morning to play.
Overnight, there was heavy rain and the wicket had not been covered. The West Indies were not used to playing in these conditions. Within the first 60 minutes, the West Indies were bowled out by 25 runs. Doug Goodwin alone managed to score 19 runs for 1 wicket before the lunch.
The West Indies team, led by Basil Butcher, had left 5 of their top players behind in London, presumably to rest them for the next game with England. The Herdman Family gave all 700 employees the day off to watch the match and there was an estimated 2000 in attendance that day. The Ireland team was led by Doug Goodwin.
Due to the turnout, both captains agreed during the lunch break to play until the end of the day, regardless of the score. After lunch, Ireland scored 7 runs which meant they had won but continued to play on until they had reached 125 for 8 when they declared.
The West Indies played a second innings as 85 minutes remained. After excellent bowling from Doug Goodwin, the West Indies only managed to score 78 for 4 before close. This meant the West Indies had 103 runs against 125 for Ireland – an incredible defeat for the West Indies.
The second day of play moved to a venue in Belfast and this match resulted in a draw.
In 2013, Margaret Loughrey won a £27 million lottery jackpot and then went on to acquire the pitches as part of her purchase of the Herdman’s Flax Mill site.
In 2014, Sion Mills Cricket Club were forced to forfeit its last game of the season due to being locked out of the pitch by Ms. Loughrey. This was the first time in the clubs 150-year history were a match had to be forfeited.
Ms. Loughrey said she was perfectly within her rights as the landlord and only took the decision to padlock the gates as she could not access the grounds and the club had not met her.
Ms. Loughrey said: “Where it sits is this: it’s my land and I was locked out of it. All they had to do was meet with me, because I’m very easy worked with.”
In September 2019, extensive damage was caused to the site when vandals broke in and set fire to pavilion building causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. Vandals used ladders to scale the roof before entering the building via a hole on the roof. This pavilion contained equipment such as ride-on lawnmowers, a grass roller, strimmer’s, and other general maintenance equipment which was all badly burned and put beyond use during the arson attack. The letters HRY and “Hoods Run Young” was also graffitied throughout the grounds.
Work started in 2021 to restore the pavilion to its former glory.
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