IT’S not so much that the Bolton and District Cricket Association has folded that feels wrong but the way it was brought about.

Lancashire’s oldest cricket league, one of the oldest in the world, deserved more respect than to be killed off with barely a thought.

The Association was the forerunner of all cricket leagues in the area, the first organised structure born out of a meeting in an upper room in the Bolton Coffee Tavern on Bradshawgate in the town centre on November 9, 1888.

More than 300 clubs played under its banner on more than 230 grounds over the following 127 years, and the Bolton Cricket League was founded when 12 of the Association’s leading clubs broke away in 1930.

The Association found a level for all standards from the big, ambitious clubs with paid professionals and top amateurs to factory and church teams who just wanted to play recreationally.

It is ironic that it was the emergence three or four years ago of another league created with the message of providing cricket for all – the Greater Manchester League – that killed it off.

But you have to go back two or three more years to the death of another league, the Manchester and District Association [MDCA], for the spark that ultimately led to the end of the Bolton Association.

Four clubs from the [MDCA] were left without a league – three of them smaller Bolton clubs – and they got together and wrote to Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi to ask for her help.

She says she told the Lancashire Cricket Board, who govern local cricket in the county, to find the four a league or she would inform the sports minister of the situation.

She says she was asked to wait while the LCB tried to sort out it out.

The four-man Bolton Association executive committee were then asked to go to the LCB’s headquarters where they say they were told to take the four clubs on.

They didn’t and after that the Association executive committee members say they had – depending on which one you speak to – little or no communication from the LCB.

Remember, the LCB were there to support all local leagues.

Hey presto, the idea to form the Greater Manchester League was then announced and an often unsavoury period ensued in which the Association lost most of its clubs.

The LCB have since been disbanded, with few tears from the Bolton area, or indeed Oldham and its surrounding areas where their two historic leagues also went out of existence for similar reasons to the Bolton Association.

Credit should go to the six members of the Bolton Association executive committee for trying so hard to keep a great old sporting institution alive.