Thursday, 20 November 2014


By Brian Sanderson,

I was reading todays Daily Telegraph sport section. The headlines were ECB shocked by sharp drop in club numbers. A survey shown that numbers who played cricket dropped from 908,000 in 2013 to 844,000 in 2014.

Yesterday I had a telephone call to say that Woodhouse cricket club is no longer in the Airedale and Wharfedale Cricket League. This was a club that the late and great Mick Bourne  used to visit  as it was near his house.We will have to see what happens to the club now. During the same telephone conversation , I heard that Great Horton club will be no longer playing in the Bradford League next year.

On Tuesday this week, I was asked to trace a match between Farley and Pudsey St. Lawerence in 1949 when the league was very strong.One of the young player for Farsley was Raymond Illingworth who was seventeen at the time. The match was played over five nights and went as follow,

27th JUNE   Farsley scored 250 for 4 innings suspended.

28 th JUNE  Pudsey 132 for 1  Hamer 111 not out.

29th JUNE Farsley 267 FOR 7  with Illingworth 81 not out.

30th  JUNE Farsley 394 all out with Illingworth 148 not out with 17 fours and 1 six.

4th   JULY  Pudsey 298 all out with Waterhouse taking 6 for 74.

Farsley went on to play Yeadon in the final at Bradford Park Avenue. Yeadon won the match with Bryan Stott  scoring 9 at the age of 14.

Both Illingwoth and Stott both went on to better things during their careers.

How things have changed.

Post  scrip in connection with the loss of clubs , Steve James in the Sunday Telegraph has written another article about the state of league cricket. His headline was "Village cricket is dying,and with it goes our way of life ".

He quotes the following stats:

27 %  could play more but the game,s format does not suit them

27% believe games finish too late.

5% matches forfeited by teams unable to raise a team.

47 % want to play more but do not have the time.

I am sure the situation will get worse next season. So more facts to come.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Fixtures out next week

Posted by John Winn

The ECB will release the 2015 county cricket fixtures at 10:30 am on Thursday November 27th, an important date in any pcw's calendar. Make sure you've got your 2015 diary to hand.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

We will remember them

posted by John Winn

Last Saturday I attended a special ceremony at the village church my family attended when I was a young boy. St Andrew's, built circa 1125 in the village of Haughton le Skerne (absorbed in to the Borough of Darlington in 1930) is a fine Norman church, the oldest in Darlington, and the occasion that prompted my visit had been arranged by the local history society to commemorate the 18 men of the village who were killed in the first World War and whose names are on the war memorial at the church gates and on a plaque inside the church.

Amongst the fallen was an older brother of my father, Reginald Anthony Winn, who was killed at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 and his name is at the head of  the family gravestone in a quiet corner of the church yard. The small cross was placed there by the history society. I have made a note for my next visit to take some gardening tools with which to tackle the ivy.

If you are  wondering what  the relevance of this is to a cricket blog the answer lies in an email I received from Carol Atkinson, the seemingly tireless secretary of the society who has spent many hours researching the backgrounds of the village casualties and in so doing unearthed an article from The Evening  Despatch* of 1915 reporting the death of Sgt G E White (DLI). The article quotes from a letter written by Bob Bamlett, a Haughton boy, to his parents in which he describes the events leading up to White's death from a sniper's bullet. In the same trench with the letter writer and the unfortunate Sergeant was Uncle Reg, three lads from the same small village in County Durham.

The Evening Despatch concludes its article with the following 'It may be recalled that Sergt White for many years was a member of Haughton Cricket Club, and in 1909 he won the bowling prize taking 24 wickets at a cost of 1.75 runs per wicket which was a very creditable performance. Later he became connected with the Railway Athlete(sic) Club for whom he was always a good scorer. He was also secretary of the Haughton Hockey Club for a memorable number of years.'

I assume the Railway Athlete Club is a reference to Darlington RA and that 'a good scorer' is a reference to his skill with the bat rather than the pencil.

  What puzzles me about this is that I have three photographs of the village team from that era, 1906, 1907 and 1912, on none of which does George White appear. Below is a picture of the 1912 team by which time he may have moved to the RA's predecessors, Darlington North Road

Whether Uncle Reg was a cricketer is not known but given that his father (my grandfather) and at least two of his brothers were good players it seems very unlikely that he would not have played. The local press of that time did print scores of some of Haughton's matches and a search may throw up information about Uncle Reg and Sergeant White. A railwayman by trade, White's death is also listed on a memorial to the several Darlington men from that industry killed in the war.

I had lunch yesterday with Brian Sanderson, David Thorpe and Tony Hutton, 'Jim the Thoroughbred' as David described the meeting, and cricket dominated the conversation. The light at the end of the November tunnel is the publication of the first class fixtures, on or about the 25th it is thought, but Tony has discovered that some of the Minor Counties have rather jumped the gun and their fixtures are available on their websites. Amongst these are Cheshire who have published dates but as yet without venues.

*a former sister paper of The Northern Echo known also as The Northern Despatch

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 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 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'