In the late eighteenth century virtually every sizeable district in Yorkshire had its own cricket league, and Oulton, situated between Leeds and Wakefield, decided to play their cricket in the Rothwell District Senior League. Founded in 1879, the club were league champions in 1899, 1912 and 1913.
There was a fusion of different leagues formed after this period with self interest ruling the roost when at times the practicalities were not considered.
The Spen & Calder Cricket League only lasted for a month before being renamed the Yorkshire Central League. This could not last as there was another league using the same name, so consequently after a while it was re-titled the Central Yorkshire Cricket League. Oulton were league champions of one of these two leagues in 1924.
Later, Oulton were members of the Pontefract & District League, and their only success was the Division 5 title in 1982. However, more substantive success followed after they joined the Leeds & District League in 1990.
The engagement of an overseas player was a new innovation for Oulton and Adam Tranter (1991) and Greg Hart (1992), won the club’s batting averages in the season they were employed.
In 1994 Peter Grainger won the Club’s Bowling Averages for the last time after winning it on thirteen occasions since 1975.
Oulton fit better in the higher standard of the Leeds & District League and their best achievement was winning the Hepworth Cup in 1999. Led by Ian Barber, who had played at Oulton as a nine-year old, this was their most momentous feat so far in their history and put them on the local cricket map.
All Rounder Barber had played for the Yorkshire Academy and was also a qualified groundsman, in which he was employed by Yorkshire CC between 1990-2001. He joined Ashley CC of the Cheshire League in 2006, spending four successful seasons.
Barber led Ashley CC to promotion to the Second Division in 2006, and was the division’s leading all rounder on more than one occasion. He was also voted the Players Player of the year at his club in 2009. His best performances for Ashley CC were 7-62 against Winsford, and an innings of 70 versus Lymm.
For Oulton, the club’s batting star of 1999 was overseas cricketer Naveed Latif, while the best bowler was Ian Tennant. Latif is arguably Oulton’s most famous cricketer in their history.
Latif a right-handed batsman and medium-pace bowler had an impressive First Class career in Pakistan. Playing for Sargodha against Gujranwala in the 2000/01 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he scored 394 in exactly 13 hours. This was the highest first-class score made in Pakistan since Aftab Baloch's 428 at Karachi in 1973/74. It was also the tenth-highest score in the history of first-class cricket.
Latif played in one Test match, against the West Indies in 2002, and made his ODI debut match against Zimbabwe in 2001. He later, made an outstanding century of 113 against Sri Lanka in his 2nd ODI match. His last appearance in ODI cricket was in 2003 against South Africa.
In what would prove to be Oulton’s last season in the Leeds & District League, in 2000 they finished a challenging fourth. The notable performers were bowlers I Tennant who took 51 wickets at 13.75, and Dave Flint who nearly matched him with 49 wickets at 14.08. The best batting performance was by A Wood who struck an unbeaten 153 against Lawnswood.
At the turn of the century the Leeds & District League were in terminal decline and they lost a number of their prestige clubs. In consequence, Oulton joined the Wetherby Cricket League in 2001.
Oulton wasted no time in progressing and in 2002 they were promoted to the top flight. Stephen Johnson won the Second Division Batting Averages with 875 runs at 72.91, while Dave Flint won the Second Division Bowling Averages by taking 70 wickets at 10 runs apiece.
In September 2003 Oulton clinched the runners-up spot in the First Division with a 3-wicket victory over champions-elect Great Preston. This was the scene of a typically accomplished performance by Ian Barber who was largely instrumental in restricting the opposition to 134-8 with a fiery spell of bowling which resulted in figures of 5-27. In reply he top scored with 39 as Oulton edged home on 135-7.
The year was tainted somewhat when £15,000 worth of ground equipment was stolen in August. It was only the fortitude of club members that they actually survived as a cricket club, and were able to pick themselves up to fight another day.
Things were stirring at Oulton and by 2006 they were ready to take the mantle of the league’s top team, and proved it when they competed strongly for the league & cup double under the captaincy of Phil Wilkinson.
A key signing for 2006 was Australian All-Rounder Mark Rawson who helped Oulton make a flying start in their bid to lift the First Division championship for the first time. In their first match Rawson hit 48 and claimed 3-6 from four overs in Oulton's 73-run win over Barwick in Elmet. Hayden Preshaw (4-16) and David Flint (3-18) were the other wicket-takers as the opposition were routed for 45.
By the time Oulton had played their fourth match they had collected 23 points out of a possible 24 as they built up a five-point lead at the top. Playing Kirk Deighton, they had them struggling at 40-4 from 26 overs before a remarkable fight-back brought them a final total of 216-7.
Oulton's were in real trouble at 20-2 before Mark Rawson and Adrian Knight put Deighton's bowlers to the sword in a match-winning unbroken partnership of 197. Rawson hit ten sixes in an undefeated 106 and Knight finished on 99 not out after hammering 14 boundaries as Oulton won with 12 overs to spare.
Oulton made progress in the Fred Fleetwood Cup reaching the semi-finals where they played Spofforth, but their league and cup double hopes were dashed when they went down to a six-wicket defeat. Opener Adrian Knight (37 runs) gave Oulton a good start before they collapsed from 69-1 to 138 all out, despite a battling 32 by Calvin McFarlane, who was the last man out.
However, they were still in the box seat in the league with a nine-point lead, and they prevailed after a last match crushing of the 2005 champions Spofforth, whom they dismissed for a paltry 66. The three bowlers who came to the fore were Dave Flint (5-28), Mark Rawson (3-10) and Haydn Preshaw (2-23) who went through the batting to allow their team to finish in triumph at 67-4.
It was a well-earned and deserved title win with a ten point gap on the nearest challengers Kirk Deighton.
Seamer Dave Flint, something of a legend at Oulton, was the most consistent bowler in 2006. In a 15-year period he won the club’s bowling averages on eight occasions.
The winning of the title in 2006 allowed Oulton admission to the prestigious Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy in 2007, and they were drawn against Barnsley from the Yorkshire League. The
10-wicket defeat did not detract from an earnest performance against a team packed with professional cricketers.
The trip to Shaw Lane, Barnsley was a memorable one for Andy Ward’s 100 alone, in a highly-respectable score of 209-4. It might not have been enough to trouble a strong Barnsley batting side, but Jonny Gardiner left the field with his head held high after conceding only 29 runs in his ten overs.
Ward, who played for Victoria Australia, was the club’s overseas player.
Oulton's hopes of retaining their title in 2007 faded somewhat during the season, but they made up for it with a thrilling win over Leeds Police in the Fred Fleetwood Cup final, in a game that went down to the last over..
Leeds Police were put in to bat, and made 173, with Haydn Preshaw taking 3-33, and Adrian Knight 3-41. In reply Oulton looked to be in trouble at 60-4, but Josh Falkingham (42 runs) and man of the match Phil Wilkinson (56 runs) led them past the danger to rack up a 90-run fifth-wicket partnership. Their victory was complete when Preshaw (6no) smashed a winning four off the second ball on the final over, wrapping up a three-wicket win at 174-7.
In 2010, Oulton changed leagues again- deciding to join the more senior Central Yorkshire League. They were placed in division two which was effectively the third sphere of the league, and proved their mettle by gaining promotion in runners-up spot, winning fifteen of their matches.
Captain Jonathan Gardiner had a good bowling side at his disposal with himself taking 40 wickets at 11.93. However, David Flint was the leading wicket-taker with 53 at 13.36, while Hayden Preshaw took 47 wickets at 14.28. The mainstay of the batting was Calvin McFarlane who averaged 27.33 in an aggregate of 492 runs, which included an innings of 156 against Wrenthorpe A.
Oulton settled into Division 1 admirably, and in 2011 they recorded with nine victories taking them to 6th position.
Preshaw, a right arm swing bowler, had a season to remember taking 37 wickets with a best analysis of 8-51 against East Ardsley. He also scored 287 runs including a stunning innings of 83 in 36 balls off the Liversedge attack.
The leading batsman was Australian Ben Trevor-Jones who registered 446 runs with a top score of 99 not out. In later years he would strike his maiden Sydney Grade Cricket century during a memorable debut for Bathurst CC.
The leading bowler of 2011 in averages terms was Ian Barber who took 27 wickets at 15.56.
Progress was made in 2012 with a finish of fifth position. There was an exhilarating early season win when Sydney Grade cricketer Bradley Maguire (115 no) and Daniel Bridges (60 no) shared a 188-run stand as Oulton inflicted Liversedge’s first league defeat. Maguire left the club early to negate any chances of a promotion push. Flint was again the key bowler with 44 wickets at 15.20.
Another highly respectable season ended in 2013 with thirteen league victories in Oulton’s locker, and Gardiner having his most memorable season yet. He was not only the division’s leading wicket-taker with 52 at 12.02, but he also won the Division 1 All Rounder’s Trophy after a productive season with bat. His best score was an unbeaten 103 in an aggregate of 546 runs at 34.12.
For the second successive season Flint captured 50 wickets. He proved his status as Oulton’s top bowler again in the following two seasons with 39 wickets at 10.31, and 31 wickets at 17.06.
The next two seasons did not maintain the progress and it was definitely lack lustre for their followers. In 2014 three captains all had a stab at quelling the drop in standard as three wins was all they had to show for the season. William Harrison was the top run-getter with a modest 284, while Altaf Patel produced the batting highlight scoring a not out 105 against East Leeds in one of only two innings he played.
In 2015 Ryan Healey was the leading batsman with 411 runs at 31.62 in a season that would prove to be Oulton’s last in the Central Yorkshire League.
The last Oulton First Team squad to participate in the Central Yorkshire League consisted of: Scott Hopkinson, Ryan Healey, Imran Mayat, Daniel Bridges, Jonathan Henshaw, Jonathan Gardner, Matthew Boucher, Alex Houghton, Mark Anson, Joseph Sykes, William Harrison, David Flint.
When the Central Yorkshire League was absorbed into the enlarged Bradford Premier League, Oulton was allocated a place in the Conference League for 2016. This was the fourth different league Oulton would participate in since 2000.
Oulton’s first stab at Conference League cricket was a respectable effort with ten league wins leading to a credible fifth position.
The bowling was probably their strength with Joseph Sykes taking 40 wickets at 10.05, and finishing second in the Conference League Bowling Averages, backed by Garry Dawber who bettered his haul with 56 wickets at a slightly more expensive 11.91, while William Harrison was the leading batsman with 474 runs.
Jonathan Henshaw had a fine season winning the Conference League Wicket-Keeping Trophy with 26 victims, and also contributing 310 league runs with the bat. Another notable individual performer was Ryan Healey who took most outfield catches in the Conference with 15.