posted by John Winn
In October 2012 I reported on a visit I had made to the home of Trevor Howe, chairman of Scruton CC, a village near Northallerton. The stimulus for my call on Trevor was my interest in the history of the Wensleydale League which had been formed in 1947 with just four clubs and was to last for over 50 years until it closed in 1998. On that October day Trevor had laid out for me a display of club memorabilia including a fixture card showing Scruton's membership of the league in 1957. The club has a splendid pavilion, opened in 2000, its construction very much inspired by Trevor, with the bonus of a small museum in the loft which Trevor was very pleased to show me round.
When the Wensleydale League pulled up stumps for the last time Scruton moved to the Langbaurgh League becoming its most westerly outpost and they have remained members of that league until now but sadly tendered their resignation at last night's league agm. Seeing from the agenda that this was to happen I phoned Trevor last week concerned that yet another village club was to be lost. In the event things are not quite so bad as I had feared for while the club is giving up Saturday cricket they will continue their membership of The Wensleydale Evening League. Trevor outlined the reasons for Scruton having to reduce their commitments. 2014 was a very difficult season for the club with a number of matches being forfeited due to a shortage of players. Since its formation in 1920 the league's centre of gravity has shifted north towards Teesside, a trend that will continue in 2016 assuming Smith's Dock were admitted at the agm, thus increasing the travelling for clubs like Scruton and Kirby Sigston and with its proximity to Northallerton and Richmond Scruton has found it difficult to prevent a diaspora of players to these larger clubs.
Whilst some comfort can be drawn from Scruton's continuance as an evening league club there is still a concern that it might only be the thin end of the wedge and that another village club might eventually be lost. Here are the twelve clubs that made up the Wensleydale League in 1957:
Bellerby, Constable Burton, Cover Bridge, Crakehall, Hudswell, Kirklington, Leyburn, Middleham, Newton-le Willows, Scruton, Spennithorne, Wensley. Just four of those continue to play Saturday cricket, Crakehall, Middleham, Newton le Willows and Spennithorne. Leyburn and now Scruton play evening cricket only and the other six are all gone, let's hope Scruton don't join them. The photograph below shows them in happier times.