Thursday, 30 October 2014

Wetherby chairman fights his corner

posted by John Winn

Since my posting 'Whither Wetherby' at the end of September in which I raised the issue of the number of clubs seeking to leave the Wetherby League and the description of this trend by league chairman Zai Ali as a 'blip', the publication of next season's fixtures for The Aire Wharfe has confirmed that Old Mods have joined Whixley and Great Preston in going through the exit door. Old Mods will start life in their new surroundings with a home game on April 18th when Menston will be the visitors.

At an 'All Clubs' meeting of The Wetherby League on October 9th the 'blip' was addressed in the context of the nationwide problem in the decline in the number of people playing cricket using data from the recent ECB Players Survey which shows 7% fewer players and fixtures in 2014. The minutes of this meeting are available at wetherbyleague.co.uk where the reasons for the departure of Whixley, Great Preston and Old Mods are spelt out. The minutes also show that two other clubs have expressed a wish to change leagues with St Chads having made an unsuccessful application to the Aire Wharfe, and Wetherby CC having sought permission to negotiate with at least two other leagues.

Like marriage changing leagues is 'not to be undertaken lightly' especially where it involves giving up years of tradition and healthy rivalries built up with other clubs but the Wetherby questions whether the departing clubs have 'really considered these other leagues properly' and goes on to list the drawbacks of membership of the Nidderdale, Aire Wharfe, and York Senior Leagues. Issues raised include the amount of travelling, lack of umpires, computerised scoring, matches being conceded and the quality of the cricket being played. Surely no club would apply to another league without full knowledge and discussion of these kind of things.

To its credit The Wetherby League does accept it has had a problem with teams conceding, especially second eleven matches and the October 9th meeting discussed how this might be overcome.. A reduction in the number of overs from the current 45 being one suggestion with the possibility that this might be trialled in Div 5 next year. And of course the Wetherby is not alone in suffering a reduction in its membership: my last posting focussed on the same problem on an even larger scale in the Huddersfield Central. Similarly other leagues suffer from the problem, especially towards the end of season, of non fulfilment of fixtures. 

The twitter accounts of the departing clubs speak of 'new adventures' and 'new challenges' and several of those they leave behind wish them well. Perhaps this time next year the blog might conduct a short survey of those who have sought outfields new asking for their reflections on their first season in their new leagues?





Monday, 20 October 2014

Departures from Huddersfield Central

posted by John Winn

Following my posting last month, 'Whither Wetherby', in which I described the possible loss of four clubs this winter from The Wetherby League I was alerted to similar problems being faced by The Huddersfield Central League. Sure enough 'google' turned up an article from The Huddersfield Examiner dated August 14th listing five clubs who will play their cricket elsewhere in 2015.

Leaving for The Halifax, the league that gives you extra, are Upper Hopton whose acceptance into their new home was confirmed  in July. Crossbank Methodists, who had made representations to The Central Yorkshire League as far back as March 2013 have now satisfied CYL Management that they are fit and proper persons and they will be joined in their new league by Great Preston, one of the clubs leaving The Wetherby League. The third and fourth clubs quitting HCCL, Woolley and Silkstone, have both been accepted into The South Yorkshire League and the fifth, Crigglestone CC, have joined The Pontefract League.

These changes would be bad enough news for HCCL but things are worse than they seem for they come on top of the departure of four clubs at the end of the 2013 season when Birkby Rose Hill, Upperthong (pictured below), Cartworth Moor, and Thurstonland all left for The Huddersfield League where they joined Almonbury Wesleyans, Denby, Denby Dale and Moorlands who had made the same journey a year before. All of which means that The HCCL may find itself with just three divisions next season instead of its present four and it is unlikely that this year's departures will mark the end of the league's downsizing for  the minutes of its Mangagement Board Meeting held in September record a request by Heckmondwike and Carlinghow CC to secure early release. This  was refused but presumably this will only delay their departure for twelve months. A full league and management board meeting is being held at Flockton tomorrow evening where it seems reasonable to assume these matters will be discussed.


 
As a footnote the four clubs who switched between the two Huddersfield Leagues for 2014 had mixed fortunes. All played in the third (Conference) tier of their new home with Thurstonland faring best finishing fifth (of twelve), Cartworth Moor were seventh, Upperthong tenth and Birkby Rose Hill just avoided the wooden spoon, finishing one place above bottom club Paddock.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

David Rayvern Allen 1938-2014 Shafto Gerald Strachan Pawle 1914-1977

posted by John Winn

The death of David Rayvern Allen has been announced. Radio producer, prolific cricket author, historian, archivist and musician, David died last week after a long illness during which he continued to contribute to the MCC Archive Project. Several of his books are on my shelves including the authorised biography of John Arlott and Cricket on the Air, a selection from fifty years of radio broadcasts.

By coincidence just the day before David died, I was reading extracts from his book, 'Cricket's Silver Lining', an anthology of cricket writings. One essay I particularly enjoyed was by Gerald Pawle, one time cricket writer on The Yorkshire Post. Pawle was brought up in Hertfordshire but boarded at St Peter's York until his father, a stockbroker was ruined by the Clarence Hatry scandal (and it is worth putting that fraudster's name in a search engine). The dramatic change in the Pawle family circumstances caused Gerald to apply to the YP for a job and he was engaged for the sum of £1 a week. His account of his time on the paper shows just how poor cricket coverage has become for Pawle's job was to essentially shadow Yorkshire II, an assignment which took him to places as disparate as Brighouse, Walsall, Redcar and Skegness. What wouldn't we give for that sort of coverage now?

After an interesting wartime career in the Navy, his book The Secret War 1939 to 45 is still available, Pawle was persuaded to return to cricket writing by EW Swanton. One suspects that EW was a hard man to refuse, for despite living in Cornwall and having married the daughter of a Marquess, a week after EW's 'phone call Pawle found himself at Taunton covering Somerset v Yorkshire. Gerald also wrote for The Sunday Times, was author of  a biography of England cricketer Bob Wyatt,  an England squash international and a playing member of MCC. He died in 1991 aged 77 and I'd never heard of him before reading Rayvern Allen's book. I was in touch with Tony Hutton yesterday and he recommends another of Allen's books, 'Cricket:An Illustrated History', 'one of the best cricket books I have ever seen' is Tony's opinion. Praise indeed and copies are available on Amazon.

Monday, 13 October 2014

They think it's all over......it is now

posted by John Winn

Since about the end of August friends have been asking 'What will you do now that cricket's over?' Finally the question can be answered without having to try and explain that county cricket would not finish until almost the end of September and that the Arthington Festival would take us well into October before stumps would be pulled for the final time.

 
Umpire await the sides at Arthington yesterday.
 

Brian has described the details of yesterday's match when another sunny Sunday allowed a gaggle of pcws to squeeze the last drop out of what has been an enjoyable season. The usual suspects were gathered in the north west corner but as the shadows lengthened even a seat in the sun did not guarantee warmth: a reminder that this week we reach the middle of the tenth month. Clocks go back in a couple of weeks and then it's bonfire night and all downhill, or uphill if you prefer, to Christmas.
All of which can be a bit depressing so let's remind ourselves that next season's first class fixtures should be published in about six weeks at which point we can start planning our 2015 watching.

Summing up 2014 it can be said that for the second year running the weather has been good with high temperatures and long dry spells. Even on the 26th of September, when Yorkshire and Somerset kept us on edge to the last ball of the championship season, the sun was warm enough to encourage the use of Factor 30 cream, although to be fair to the opponents of such a late finish to the season the previous day had been cold enough to make watching cricket an uncomfortable experience. For this blogger it has been a memorable year; seeing more cricket than ever before, a member of two trophy winning counties, my local club champions of the Nidderdale League and managing to see at least part of all of the seven 'must see' matches that were available. This leaves only five such games to complete the 153 necessary to have seen each county play every other county at least once.

During the season I have completed the full set for Essex, Glamorgan, Hampshire, Surrey, Northants, Notts and Worcestershire. Inevitably after such a feast there follows famine and 2015 provides only one of my outstanding five, Derbyshire v Lancashire, so a big reduction in travelling unless of course another project comes to mind. In the meantime my research into Yorkshire's 'lost leagues' continues and yesterday I spoke to Frank Siddle *on the telephone and he was able to supply information about the grounds used by The Northern Echo and The Northern Despatch in the 1965 Swaledale league season. Not surprisingly the two newspaper teams ground shared using the 'Rocket' ground on Thompson Street East, Darlington. The ground belonged to Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, locomotive builders, whose factory was close by. 'Stivvies' as the company was colloquially known, was not far from where I lived as a boy and we could hear the buzzer calling its large labour force to work. Locomotive building ceased at the works in 1964 and the sports ground has long since gone to housing. Travelling north by train you would pass the site on your right hand side about a mile out of Darlington station.

Finally I have the dates for the Jim the Cat cricket lunches for this winter. JTC has moved his basket to Elland CC and the first meeting was held last Friday. Future dates are Friday November 14th, Friday 12th December, Friday 9th January, Friday 13th February and Friday 13th March. Doors open at 12 noon and lunch is at 1:00. I will publish the names of the speakers when I know them.
 
 
* see last week's posting 'Siddle holds the key'

Sunday, 12 October 2014

HAVE A GOOD WINTER


By Brian Sanderson,

As I was driving to Arthington for the last time this year , the fog was just breaking up and the sun came out to celebrate the final match of 2014 season at The Cricket festival. The opposition was St .Georges who are based at Harewood and are photographed before the match.

Arthington batted first and soon found themselves at 25 for 3 with the wicket making batting difficult .It was the same one as yesterday but had been left open to the  night dew causing it to be soft. Only Andy Stoddart could cope with the bowling finishing with 77 out of 152.


This is the photograph of Andy coming off the ground after his innings. The usual crowd arrived with their chairs and included a person from Lancashire who had come over by coach .Brian Cobb and Harry went round the boundary for the final time this season. After a good cup of tea and a piece of cake St. Georges started their innings. Again they found it hard to stay in against the opening attack of Nash and Lord.
Denis Nash again two wickets which included a caught and bowled which can not be bad for a seventy eight player.

It was left up to my neighbour Hodkinson to top score with 23. There was a team hat trick in the middle of the innings when three wickets fell to two bowlers in three balls .The last wicket partnership of father and son

of Rupert and D. Jones to extend the innings to 123 . The photograph is of both of them batting with Rupert at the non-strikers end who is also the chess champion of Papua New Guinea .The innings finished just before six o,clock and everybody wished each other a good winter and hope to meet next season.


The photograph is at the end of the match with Denis Nash and Rupert Jones saying well done. I have been requested by Brian Cobb to put more stories on the blog during the winter and this will happen ,with also John Winn adding has thoughts on cricket history and  stories .So please keep  reading the blog during in the coming months.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

400 RUNS IN OCTOBER


By Brian Sanderson,

Today the sun was shining giving people a chance to watch another match at Arthington  Cricket festival.To day match was against Cambridge Methodist or Steve Bindman X1. On Friday they were down to six cricketers but because of Steve,s effort eleven players turn out.

Arthington batted first with Geoff Barker and Joe Nash with threat of rain in the air.They were both batting well when the rain came  however there was only a five minute break.There were about twenty spectators enjoying the cricket and cricket talk.Joe Nash was the first of Mel Woods wicket when the score was 142.

The above photograph is of Joe Nash and Geoff Barker at drinks break.Mel Wood is the brother of   Barry ex Yorkshire, Lancashire and England.Mel plays for Ossett and Yorkshire over 60,s.Today he bowled his spin bowling which collected six wickets for forty runs.Also it slowed the Arthington scoring rate and after forty overs they achieved 204 .
This is photograph of Mel coming off the field after he batted in the dark.At teatime the Cambridge Meths team which had just been brought together yesterday with a big task to win the match.They started to attack the opening bowling including Denis Nash, father of the opening batsman and aged seventy eight. A number of catches were put down which enabled Cambridge Meths to keep up with the run rate. It was left up to a batsman called Abdul to score 61 to help them win the match. By time the church clock had struck six they had Cambridge won the match with eight wickets down and overs to spare. Steve Bindman was batted up to win the match but was not required.

The photograph at the start of the blog is the washing line for Mrs Nash tea towels. One more match tomorrow against St. Georges and let us hope the sun will shine.

What could be better than this sight in October with the sunshining.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Siddle holds the key

posted by John Winn

En route to Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland on Saturday where Darlington FC are in temporary accommodation, I spent a couple of hours in the local studies room at Darlington Library picking up where I left off in March with my research into The Swaledale League.

My enquiries had taken me to the end of the 1964 when  the league had six clubs: Gilling West, Scorton, Browns, Middleton Tyas, Northern Echo and Hutton Magna. Browns were a works team from Darlington but who played their matches in Catterick where the Catterick Garden Centre stands today. The Northern Echo, the Darlington based morning  paper, had joined the league in 1963 but had not created much in the way of headlines winning just three games in '64 and finishing second bottom. The fourth estate were not deterred, however for in the following season they were joined by the now defunct Northern Despatch, an evening paper out of the same stable. Other newcomers were NESCO, another Darlington based works team and  Barton II. NESCO were I think a furniture manufacturing business specialising in equipment for schools. They had an unhappy season finishing bottom without a win and on least one occasion defaulting on a fixture. The arrival of these three sides was offset by the departure of Middleton Tyas to the VOM* and meant that eight clubs started the '65 campaign but their distribution meant that the title 'Swaledale' was hardly apt.

The Darlington and Stockton Times, on which I rely for this research, covered the league somewhat patchily at this time but most weeks the fixtures and results were published and less frequently the league table. The final table printed on the 4th of September showed a three way tie for first place with Gilling, Browns and Scorton all having 24 points and a play off was arranged with a game between Browns and Scorton fixed for the 11th. Scorton, however could not raise a team leaving Gilling and Browns to play off at the Barton ground the following week which 'despite heavy overnight rain provided an excellent wicket'. Sadly the match did not justify the efforts of the Barton groundsman for Browns were all out for 45 and worse was to follow when nine man Gilling were all out for 13.

That one of the three best teams could not turn out a side for a title playoff and that Gilling entered the decider two men short is, I think, indicative of the league's travails at this point and I strongly suspect that further research will reveal that Gilling's 13 runs were the last scored in the league's 44 year history. Help in the shape of a player from that era may be at hand for tucked away in the report of a match between Northern Despatch and Brown's the bowling figures for the former include 'Siddle 5 for 20' and this may well be Frank of that ilk, the sage of Allens West, and well known to pcws at The Riverside and Headingley.  Further support for this idea is that one F Siddle took 4-34 for Northern Despatch against Scorton.



Two contrasting shots of the Gilling West ground, the first taken during the winter of 2012-13 and the second the following summer. I learned yesterday that the ground will be vacant again next year when the current users Richmondshire CC will transfer their IV and V XI matches to a pitch at Richmond School.

* Vale of Mowbray League which served clubs in the Catterick and Thirsk areas

And finally the unidentified player in the photograph of Lancashire in 1950 which provided  entertainment at Arthington yesterday was Alan Wilson, a long serving wicketkeeper and still alive at 94. Thanks to Tony Hutton for this missing piece of information. Tony actually saw Wilson play for Lancs at Edgbaston in 1951.