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Transfers: All the moves as they happen
Club histories
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2016 20:37
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ALTOFTS
 
by Reg Nelson

 

 

 

Altofts Cricket Club was originally formed in the late 1890's, with the Lock Lane sports ground owned by the local colliery Pope and Pearson. A much needed pavilion was erected during 1922 by miners in the local area.

The ground was maintained by the colliery owners until 1947 when the coal mines were nationalised. CISW took control of the ground and workers at the local colliery paid 5p into the welfare scheme, which helped with the running and maintenance costs.

In 1926 the Lock Lane ground underwent a major change. The football pitch was turned 180º to accommodate the adding of a bowling green and tennis courts. The main attraction however was a brand new pavilion, with state of the art hot and cold showers and baths (in an age when most miners’ houses still had tin baths).

The pavilion had a tearoom overlooking the cricket pitch with a small veranda at each side facing the football and tennis. Freshly painted in green and cream, the grand building glistened as the famous Yorkshire and England cricketer, Herbert Sutcliffe had the honour of declaring it open.

A cycle and running track was built around the cricket pitch and most of the village events took place at the idyllic Welfare Ground. Meanwhile, just under a mile away, millions of tons of coal continued to be dug out of the ground.
The cricket club was initially participating in the Yorkshire League before transferring to the Yorkshire Council where the club was a member of the free- lance section for many seasons.

In 1961, the colliery was shut down and funding was subsequently withdrawn three years later in 1964. This led to the ground being handed over to the Normanton Urban District Council (later the Wakefield district Council) for the sum of £2,000. The future for cricket looked bleak.

In 1965 the cricket section folded due to lack of finance and interest in the aftermath of the colliery closure. The local council continued to cut the outfield but the cricket square's condition declined.

By 1968 Whitwood colliery was closed and Whitwood CC was having financial problems. The cricket club approached Normanton Town Council asking for permission to play their games at Altofts. This was granted and in 1969 Whitwood Colliery CC. played at the Altofts Lock Lane ground.

The Yorkshire Council Management Committee asked Whitwood C.C. to change their name to Altofts for the 1970 season. In consequence the Altofts Cricket Club was reborn in 1970.

In the following years Altofts enjoyed a great renaissance after their move to the Pontefract & District Cricket League. They won the Division 1 Title in 1972, 1973 and 1975, and promptly decided to join the higher standard Central Yorkshire League for 1976.

It wasn’t long before Altofts made an impression on their new league by gaining promotion in their first year in 1976 under the captaincy of J Gunn. Clearly they had proved the `step up’ was well within their capacity. Altofts equipped themselves well in the top flight and in 1978 T Green won the League Bowling Averages taking 45 wickets at 10.46. Also in the same year T Mason won the Tom Senior Wicket Keeping Trophy with 36 victims.

The welfare ground in the late seventies saw the tennis courts fall into disrepair. A sports committee was formed and fund raising resulted in the building of the Jack Beddows Football stand in 1979. A major revamp of the pavilion was undertaken and the old tennis courts were floodlit to provide a football training area.

Altofts were making waves and entered the eighties decade in such good health they dominated the Central Yorkshire League circa 1980-1985. In 1980 they won the league title under T Greaves in just their fifth season in the Central Yorkshire League. Not content with this they promptly retained the title in 1981, and also won the league cup competition, the Wheatley Cup, to complete the classic double.

Altoft’s leading batsman in 1981 was A Hunt who won the League Batting Averages with an aggregate of 753 runs at 68.45. Another batsman of a certain repute was 20 year old Australian Dean Jones. Learning the game in English conditions, the hard hitting batsman went on to play for Australia in 52 test matches amassing 3,631 runs at 46.55, with 11 centuries and a top score of 216.

Two years later in 1983 they were back on the trophy trail winning the title under sheet anchor batsman and captain Ian Frost. It was a fine team performance, but the bowling was particularly potent with overseas fast bowler Len McKeowan being the major influence. He took wickets at vital times and ended the season with 65 wickets at 11.63, and in consequence won the League Bowling Averages. McKeowan went on to join Farsley and in 1985 he took 78 Bradford League wickets.

Frost then led Altofts to the Central Yorkshire League Cup Final in 1985 at Mirfield where they beat Thornhill. This completed a haul of four major trophies in the first part of the decade, and Altofts could count themselves as a major powerhouse of league cricket in the county.

During this golden era Altofts also won the Yorkshire Cricket Council Cup Final in 1981 and 1984.
However, things would never be the same again, and they struggled to maintain their status in the face of bigger clubs with more resources.

In 1986 they began a recruitment association with Essendon CC of the Victorian Cricket Association in Melbourne, Australia. These were essentially young players gaining experience in English conditions. They signed Dave Hampton in 1986, and John Shannon for seasons 1989 and 1990. Both players were later regarded as amongst the best district cricketers in Essendon’s history.

Other players of repute in the nineties were Colin Joseph (West Indies), Barry McCormick and Michael Foster (Australia). By 1997, Altofts were a lowly tenth in the top flight and resigned to less glory than former years. Consistent performers that season were C Beaumont (606 runs), M Bramley (503 runs) and S Adams (47 wkts).
But, it was Australian all-rounder Matty Jenkinson who proved to be the star man scoring over 400 runs and also taking 47 wickets. 

Altofts decided to recruit New Zealanders as their overseas player in the next two years with Ricky Rotch (1998) and Aaron Bradley (1999) in residence at Lock Lane. It wasn't until the 2002 season that another Essendon player was to step onto the field for Altofts. Jodi Hutchison, an accomplished district player provided the club with good all-round performances culminating in a rapid century at Mirfield Parish Cavaliers.

The Altofts-Essendon tradition continued in 2003 with Cameron McKinley, a left-handed all-rounder, who made 96 on debut against Northcote in district cricket. 2004 saw the arrival of Faisal Khan, an English based former first class batsman/wicket keeper from Pakistan. Faisal, a right-handed batsmen and off-spinner had a good season finishing second in the league batting averages.

Altofts were now out of the Premier League and in 2005 the Central Yorkshire League decided to ban overseas players outside this division. However, Altofts managed to recruit from Australia the English born Ben Coleman, a left-handed batsman and left arm bowler who played for Frankston.

Much travelled all-rounder Shoaib Latif reached a personal landmark in 2007 with the league’s top score of 212* against Gildersome.  Overseas players were reinstated by the league and Altofts signed Luke Popov from Melbourne, Australia for 2008.

Altofts regained their top flight status when they won the Division One title under skipper S Palmer, with Popov proving to be pivotal. His influence was such that he performed the all-rounder’s double of 500 runs and 50 wickets for the season. Altofts were not big hitters in the Premier League, but their thriving youth policy was capable of sustaining the club for future years.

In 2010 they won only six matches under the captaincy of Kevin Watson, but possessed in Alan Burton a top pro. He ended the league campaign with 1,001 runs at 62.56 with a top score of 113*. Lee Padgett supported him well with 432 runs, but no bowler reached a personal tally of 30 wickets.

Burton was a prolific batsman who had previously been the professional at Peterborough Town, and also played Minor Counties for Cambridgeshire. In 2011 he was less prolific at Altofts but still scored 775 runs at 40.79 and helped his club to an improved season with ten recorded wins. 2011 also saw the emergence of 14 year old left arm spinner James Logan who took 33 wickets, and would later be signed by Yorkshire CCC.

In 2012 Barbadian-born All Rounder Simon Steel was the only positive to a dismal season which saw tem finish in the relegation positions in September. However, Altofts were spared relegation because of the re-structure of the league following the departure of New Farnley to the Bradford League.

Steel won the League’s All Rounder’s Trophy after a prolific season with bat and ball. He scored 957 runs at 50.37 with a top score of 165, and also chipped in with 37 wickets. Altofts, led by Brett Hodgson, still struggled in 2013 with only five wins recorded. Logan, who was now 16, continued his progress taking 37 wickets with a top analysis of 7-29, and also recorded a century as his batting developed. The club would lose his services to the Yorkshire Academy, and he became a regular with the Yorkshire 2ndXI.

A marginal improvement in 2014 saw Harry Clewett in fine form topping 400 runs with the bat, and also taking 40-plus wickets. Amongst his highlights was a century, and a bowling performance of 8-36. Clewett, a leg-break bowler and middle-order batsman, had played for Grimsby Town in the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League. He also played minor counties cricket for Lincolnshire.

In what would prove to be the last season in the Central Yorkshire League, Altofts had a disastrous season in 2015, ending in a relegation position with just 26 points from two wins. Joshua Drummond, the overseas batsman, scored 343 runs in nine innings including a 106-ball century against Birstall, However, Arkam Asif was the top aggregate batter with 608 runs.

The Central Yorkshire League had decided to be incorporated into the new Bradford Premier League pyramid structure, and Altofts was allocated a place in one of the two Championships for 2016.

In a tough Championship B it was a difficult first season for Altofts who only recorded seven victories. The dominant performer was New Zealander Matthew Holstein who took 53 wickets at 11.43, and also scored 451 runs.

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