|Brighouse's 1960 league championship winning team. Back row left: WA Sheckleton (chairman), H Crowther (scorer), GCG Bryant, JP Hill, S Platt, DV Pickles, S Nichols, K Davy, T Wilkinson, J Raw (equipment officer), H Broomhead (secretary), GF Payne (President). Front: G Payne, FA Lowson, G Hirst (Captain), TB Webster, J Wainwright.
The club was founded in 1873 by the amalgamation of Alexandra Cricket Club, who played behind the parish church and the Working Men’s Club. A new ground was developed and laid out at Clifton Road, Brighouse and was given the name of the New Alexandra Cricket Ground. The first match saw Brighouse beat Clifton by two runs on May 30, 1873 and the gate receipts were just over £3.
The club started to hold athletic festivals and these became very famous in the local areas. At the very first event the records show that a W. Clark won the “Throwing the cricket Ball’’ with a throw of 86feet 6inches. In 1876 W Shotton was signed from the Huddersfield club Lascelles Hall as their first professional. His association with Brighouse proved to be long and successful. He played 12 seasons for the club as both professional and amateur, scoring 3,011 runs and taking 318 wickets. He had played two matches for Yorkshire CC.
Derby matches with Rastrick were always keenly fought affairs, especially in the 1870s.
By 1876 they played each other and the first Brighouse victory came in 1878 with Luke Greenwood, from Lascelles Hall, engaged as professional. Greenwood was one of the great pioneers of early Yorkshire cricket. He was a regular in the county side from 1861 until 1875. In the Brighouse victory over neighbours Rastrick he scored 39 not out and took 5 wickets.
In the years of 1884 and 1885 the club raised sufficient funds to build the pavilion that was still in use until 2002. In the same year the club had three matches cancelled because of “A raging smallpox epidemic in Brighouse and surrounding district”.
By the late-1870s the club, which now went under the name Brighouse Alexandra, was becoming more established in local cricket circles.
This was clear from its expanding fixture list, which included matches against more prestigious opponents. One of the leading clubs in the North was Todmorden who were approached in 1878 to arrange two 1st XI fixtures and one 2nd XI match for the following season.
In 1893, Brighouse became founder members of the West Riding League, which was recognised by the Athletic News as ‘the chief organisation of its kind in the county’.
The competition was an attempt to form a regional cricket league along the lines of the Football League and the later Northern Rugby Football Union. It included Leeds, Huddersfield, Bradford, Sheffield United, Dewsbury, Keighley, Barnsley, Brighouse and Halifax.
In fact, it went further than the initial rules of the Northern Union by allowing open professionalism to exist alongside payments for ‘broken time’. Two professionals were allowed per team, and the rules also decreed that: 'An amateur shall be defined as one who does not receive any money over and above expenses actually out of pocket and an exact equivalent for the loss of his wages accruing from his usual occupation.'
By 1899 the West Riding League had folded as the financial demands of semi-professional cricket on this scale were not met by public interest.
The club’s first major successes in both league and cup competitions came in 1918 when the Yorkshire Council Championship and the Halifax Parish Cup were both won. This was a remarkable achievement and really put Brighouse on the cricket map.
Records from 1908 show even more development as a large extension was added to the pavilion enabling the installation of two billiard tables and also a concert room and “two slipper baths upstairs”. In 1914 a new workshop competition attracted 64 teams. Its popularity has continued across the years and the competition remains in existence today.
During the First World War the club competed in the Halifax Section of the Yorkshire Council and engaged players of the calibre of George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes and Alonzo Drake. All of them played for Yorkshire while Hirst and Rhodes were also capped by England.
It 1925 Brighouse joined the Bradford League. The first fixture
on April 18, was a home clash against Great Horton. The new boys went on to finish a very respectable ninth with George Lund setting a new league record aggregate of 954 runs.
In July 1927 the scorebox was officially opened by J.J. Booth who was president of the Bradford League. Yorkshire batsman Wilf Barber made his mark in 1927 by topping the League Batting averages with 53.15.
Brighouse were desperately unlucky not to land their first silverware in 1928 when Bradford beat them in a play-off for the championship.
Barber scored a total of 16,402 First Class runs in his career with 29 hundreds and 182 catches, and was recognised as "the fourth pillar" of the Yorkshire batting in the mid-1930s (after Herbert Sutcliffe, Maurice Leyland and Arthur Mitchell). Barber's highest score was 255 against Surrey in 1935. In this innings, he opened the batting and shared three successive century partnerships.
Barber also scored 248 against Kent in 1934. He had scored 73 in the first innings but Kent had built up a lead of 148 on the second day of the match. Barber, opening the batting with Len Hutton, scored 248 and shared a stand of 267 for the first wicket. As a result, Yorkshire drew the game.
Barber shared in seven other century opening partnerships Yorkshire, four of them with Arthur Mitchell, and six other 200 partnerships. This included a stand of 346 in four and half hours with Maurice Leyland, against Middlesex in 1932 which was a record for Yorkshire's second wicket.
The league title finally found its way to Brighouse in 1930 when they emerged top of the pile in a thrilling battle. In a tense ending they finished a point ahead of both East Bierley and Bowling Old Lane. It was the start of the most successful spell in Brighouse’s history as they won the title again in 1931 and 1932 to complete a well deserved hat-trick.
One of the catalysts for their success was Jack Hill snr who was a remarkably consistent batsman. He topped the League Batting averages in 1930 and 1932 and was second in 1931. Hill’s averages of 52.28 and 43.07 in 1930 and 1931 respectively, were overshadowed by his average of 99.11 in 1932. His tally of 892 runs included one century and nine fifties.
Another influential player of 1932 was J.Crossley of Brighouse who scored the league’s top score that year- 167* v Baildon Green.
Although trophies proved elusive for the next 30 years it was not without credible achievement in the rest of the thirties decade when they finished in second place in both 1935 and 1937.
Brighouse possessed some powerful batsmen in M T Wade, H Hutchinson and GG Gill.
Wade averaged 51.00 in 1933 with a top score of 142 not out to finish second in the league batting averages. He would beat this in 1937 finishing top with a lesser average of 46.40.
H Hutchinson topped the league averages in 1936 with 804 runs at 53.60, and in the following season scored centuries against Eccleshill and Farsley.
At the dawn of the 40’s Wilf Barber finished second in the league batting averages in 1940 with a haul of 954 runs at 59.62 and a top score of 154.
Another First Class cricketer in the ranks was Alex Coxon who excelled for Brighouse in 1944 taking 51 wickets and scoring 423 runs. He was 28 year old and poised to make his Yorkshire debut at a mature age.
Coxon who was born in Huddersfield had a World War II delayed first-class debut for Yorkshire in 1945, when he was 29. He was an aggressive fast-medium bowler who only ever made the verge of the England Test squad. He played for England once – against Australia in 1948 at Lord's. There were rumours of an argument with Denis Compton, and his prickly nature was later attested to by Brian Close.
Coxon retired after the 1950 season, allegedly in umbrage at his non-selection for the forthcoming Ashes tour, and moved to play Minor counties cricket with Durham. He played 29 times for that county between 1951 and 1954, taking 127 wickets and scoring 1,047 runs with two centuries. His highest score was 102 not out against Yorkshire Second XI at Scarborough in 1952. Also in 1952, he achieved his best bowling figures for Durham; nine for 28 and six for 58 against Staffordshire.
It is incredible for a club of Brighouse’s standing that they have only one Priestley Cup final appearance on their record and that was in 1943 against Pudsey St Lawrence. On the day they proved no match for Pudsey St Lawrence who batting first scored 149 before bowling Brighouse out for 65.
After the war Brighouse found themselves in the doldrums and performing in the second division. Only the consistency of bowler R Swindall sustained them as they struggled to make an impact.
It got even worse in 1952 when they were asked to seek re-election from the bottom position, but incredibly they won the Division Two title in 1953, eight years after being relegated from the top flight. They were not straightforward champions as their points and wins record was identical to Undercliffe at the top. Only a complicated run and bowling aggregate method could separate them in Brighouse’s favour.
The influential batters were W.Bottomley (569 runs), W.A. Shackleton (311 runs) and G.Hirst (370 runs), while S.Norton took the honours with the ball taking 39 wickets.
Also in 1953, an 18 year old Ken Taylor, a future Yorkshire player, had a brilliant run with the bat. By mid-July he was averaging 355 from six innings.
After a decent consolidation season in 1954 they pushed the boat out the following season acquiring the services of Ken Taylor for a second season and Peter Marner. However, this led to them only moving up a couple of places in the table.
Ken Taylor scored the league’s biggest innings of the season – 145 v Baildon. Taylor was an important member of the successful Yorkshire team which dominated the County Championship in the 1960s, winning seven titles between 1959 and 1968. Often an opening batsman, he was also an occasional bowler, taking 131 first-class wickets in his career. He was a member of the Yorkshire team that won the final of the third Gillette Cup, in 1965.
Taylor made his first appearance for Yorkshire in 1953, aged 17, won his county cap at 21 and played for England at 23, opening the batting against India with Arthur Milton. He was dropped after two matches, but was selected again in 1964, after an epic innings of 160 at Sheffield against the visiting Australians. He scored 13,053 First Class runs at 26.74 with a top score of 203not out. He was one of the few virtuoso fielders of his genre. Taylor was one of the last footballer/cricketers who could effectively divide their time between two sports. He made his name as a footballer with Huddersfield Town.
The 19-year-old Marner was on Lancashire’s books at the time having already made his First Team debut at 16 years 5 months. In 13 innings for Brighouse he scored 412 runs at a healthy 31.69 with a top score of 99.
Powerfully built, he was a hard-hitting right-handed middle-order batsman, right-arm medium-paced seam bowler, and a specialist slip fielder. He was rated by Trevor Bailey as the most formidable English batsman without a Test cricket cap.
Marner is in the record books for being the first person to win a limited-overs Man of the Match award, when Lancashire played its first Gillette Cup match against Leicestershire at Old Trafford in May 1963. He scored the format's maiden century in that game with an innings of 121, and also took 3 wickets for 49 runs.
He clashed with the authorities at Lancashire, and moved to Leicestershire after the 1964 season. He reached 1,000 first-class runs in 12 seasons, 17,513 career runs, scored 18 centuries, took 360 wickets, and held 379 catches.
Back in the second division Brighouse took the huge step in recruiting Yorkshire and England opener Frank Lowson for their promotion push in 1959. They were promoted, tied to the same points as Pudsey St Lawrence, with Lowson scoring 805 runs.
Brighouse’s fortunes were on the up again and a fourth title came their way in 1960 when they won the 1st Division Championship. This was all the more remarkable for it was their first season back in the big time. Lowson’s contribution to the title was massive scoring 746 runs at 46.63 with a top score of 116.
Although these batting figures appear modest compared to today one needs to appreciate that wickets in league cricket in 1960 were largely uncovered. Later In 1963 Lowson became the first Brighouse batsman to top the 1,000 run mark when he made 1,025.
Lowson’s elegant stroke play was obvious for all to see and he was a favourite autograph capture for cricket mad schoolboys in the area. Lowson played in seven Tests for England from 1951 to 1955. In first-class cricket, Lowson amassed 15,321 runs at an average of over 37, but had drifted away from the county game by his early thirties. He came late to first-class cricket and was an instant success as an opening batsman for Yorkshire, scoring 1,799 runs in his first season, 1949, and partnering Len Hutton in the most prolific season of Hutton's career.
The following year, 1950, Lowson was even more successful, scoring 2,152 and continuing a hugely productive partnership with Hutton.. The partnership moved into Test cricket against the South Africans in 1951. Lowson's first Test innings was 58 out of a first-wicket partnership of 99 with Hutton at Headingley, and he retained his place for the final match of the series at The Oval.
Lowson played in four of the five Tests against India, and made his highest Test score (68) in the first match. He scored more than 1,000 first-class runs on the tour, at an average of 44 runs per innings, but could average only 18 in the Tests. Wisden 's review of the tour said; "Lowson possessed more strokes and looked the most accomplished batsman on the side, but he had an unfortunate time in the Tests. His skill could not be denied and he seemed an England batsman all over, the only doubt being the question of temperament".
The forty year sequence of 1964 to 2004- was relatively undistinguished at Brighouse. They had one Second Division title win in 1991 but kept up the tradition of not making much of an impression in the Priestley Cup. However, they had several individual performances that will stay in the annals of Bradford League history.
In 1966 left-hander John Dickinson scored a magnificent 137 v Saltaire to take the best individual league score award for that season. He would become one of the leading committee workers at Brighouse in subsequent decades.
Peter Brannan was an excellent wicket-keeper in the seventies taking the league prize for stoppers in 1976 and 1978,
Batsman Allan Gilliver emerged in the late seventies and quickly became a modern Brighouse legend. He won the First Division Batting Averages for 1977 and 1978 which included 1,021 in the latter season. He forged a prolific opening partnership with John Heaton who also scored 1000-runs plus in 1980.
The 1991 2nd Division title winning side was built around the all round talents of M James who scored 994 runs, and also took 35 wickets. In a strong batting line-up that won most run chases the other leading batsmen were C Fisk (812 runs), H Jameson (425 runs), J Swaine (564 runs) and M Bray (438 runs).
This success was not sustained with immediate relegation in 1992 despite consistent batting from C Fisk (625 runs) and J Swaine (640 runs).
During the nineties Brighouse dropped lucky with a wonderfully consistent overseas player in Pakistani Iqbal Khan. He guarded his wicket very carefully before unleashing a full range of shots. Incredibly he topped a thousand league runs for the season in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
Another overseas player in 1999 was fast bowler Faisal Afrdi who was less impressive as a batsman but did take the fastest fifty trophy reaching it in 20 balls. Apart from Afridi’s exploits in 1999 left arm spinner David Jay had a magnificent time taking 74 wickets. Jay was a surprise signing for Brighouse after an illustrious career with East Bierley where he won most honours open to him.
For several years it had been mooted that Brighouse had struck up an agreement with Tesco to relocate elsewhere leaving their fine oval ground to be turned into a supermarket.
The pavilion was an authentic cricket pavilion, complete with Union Jack flying from the roof, a plethora of flowerpots, and an atmospheric beer garden. Inside there were two full-size snooker tables, notices about forthcoming events and a superb oil painting of the ground.
For first-team fixtures in times gone by, Brighouse attracted a decent crowd at their former ground, with VIPs and the more vocal elements sat in front of the dressing rooms, with children lying on the grassy verge to the left as one looks out from the pavilion, and elderly spectators sitting in their deckchairs or in their vehicles in the shade to the right.
In their last season opposite the Ritz , there were definite signs of enterprise: the official programme (cost: £2), the ticket-sellers wandering the boundary's edge trying to promote the Saturday-afternoon raffle, the four advertising hoardings near the bowling greens and the two large ads on the green-and-white scoreboard front for Tesco and Shabab, a local Indian restaurant.
During their last season at the old ground, the players changed and took tea in a set of portable buildingssmthat were erected in March 2001. (The umpires had separate facilities nearby).
In 2002 while awaiting the finishing touches to their new ground they hired the famous Bradford Park Avenue ground for their home matches. Although they finished well down the second division they had some decent performers in Phil Carter who scored 701 runs, and David Jay who took 63 wickets.
In the second and final season at Park Avenue fortunes declined further on the field with 24 points being deducted for failing to fulfil two second team fixtures. Despite being in a lowly position there were some fine contributors with the bat in J Marchant (853 runs) and Carter (517 runs). Jay replicated his 2002 haul of 63 wickets.
In 2004 Brighouse moved to a magnificent new ground on Russell Way. Although many Bradford League followers lamented the passing of the character old ground with its unique oval shape, the new ground was built to Minor County specifications with facilities to match. The response on the playing side was swift as they won promotion back to Division 1 in 2005. Seamers James Stansfield (57 wkts) and Robin Hill (53 wkts) did the damage with the ball and were largely instrumental in this feat.
At this stage Brighouse had found the resources to have a real go at the top division with a team capable of going places. They consolidated into First Division cricket in 2006 helped enormously by Rizman Ahmed who topped the league batting averages with 823 runs and also contributed 50 wickets. Former Yorkshire Academy player Haroon Rashid was a useful capture scoring 617 runs.
Despite an array of expensive stars they struggled to make an impact in 2007. Top batsmen were Rashid (887 runs), Mark Gill (436 runs), Mark Gilliver (608 runs), while the cutting edge bowling was supplied by Chris Greenwood (52 wkts) and seamer Tim Linley (42 wkts). Linley would leave Brighouse at the end of the season to join Saltaire and ultimately establish himself at Surrey.
The playing budget was drastically cut for 2008 and the assorted stars from the previous year went their separate ways. An assortment of young rookies and second teamers took the field and there was to be only one fate awaiting them. They were stranded 139 points behind the next basement club in their relegation season.
The following season would see them bottom of the second division despite recruiting a very handy all-rounder in Paul Cummins who scored 750 runs and took 41 wickets. He performed even better in 2010 taking the Jack Hill All Rounders Prize after scoring an impressive 1,052 runs, coupled with 52 wickets.
Cummins was the archetype sheet anchor opening batsman who would bat all day despite not scoring freely. His stroke play was limited but he was invaluable in a very limited Brighouse side. Sajad Ali was a good capture from Saltaire scoring 545 runs, and taking 36 wickets and helped his side avoid the re-election placings.
Brighouse returned to the bottom of the league in seasons 2011 and 2012 but made a decent revival in 2013 under the new leadership of former Lightcliffe player Umar Salim. He recruited well and kept his side comfortably away from the re-election area. Sadaqat Zaman was the pick of the bowlers with 41 wickets.
The revival failed to continue in 2014 when they were caught in the re-election placings seven points behind third bottom Spen Victoria. They ended the season well with a 20-point victory against Gomersal with Fakhar Hussain scoring a remarkable 168, and also taking 4-41.
Hussain proved to be a shrewd overseas player and was the only Brighouse player to feature in the league averages as he strived hard to keep them afloat. His century against Gomersal took the honour of being the top individual score in the league for 2014. During this innings he also secured the League’s Fastest Fifty when he performed the feat in 16 balls.
Fortunes improved marginally in 2015 when Brighouse escaped the bottom two places, but not by a large margin. The best performer was Sohail Hussain who scored 590 runs at 45.38.
Any progress in 2015 was negated the following year when Brighouse just won two matches, finishing bottom of Championship B. The bowling lacked penetration and Wajid Hussain and Awaise Hussain were the only batters to top 300 league runs. The one highlight of the season was their victory over much fancied Methley.
AUSTRALIAN GOODMAN'S UNDERARM PROTEST
|Malcolm Hartley's article in Yorkshire Sports
|Gary Goodman is back left and Allan Gilliver front left
Browsing through my copies of the Yorkshire Sports I came across a story that appeared on the 13th September, 1980
under the headline 'Points system under fire' - PROTESTING BY BOWLING UNDER ARM.
The article referred to an incident in a game between Brighouse and Bankfoot. Apparently Bankfoot, batting second, had reached a point when they felt they were not able to overhaul the Brighouse total and so, as was the practice of the day, dug in to bat out for a point from a losing draw and deny the opposition victory.
With frustration building with every ball the Brighouse overseas man Gary Goodman decided enough was enough. He decided to make a protest and delivered his last two balls UNDERARM.
Though clearly within the rules of the game Goodman's action not surprisingly created a bit of a stir. Talking to Yorkshire Sports reporter Malcom Hartley the Brighouse all rounder explained, "It was a protest, not so much against Bankfoot, who were batting out for a point, but against the league's points system. It was very frustrating.
"I think there should be a bonus system so that, at any stage of the match, both batting and fielding sides could still be aiming for more points."
Goodman bowled 20 overs that afternoon. His spell included seven maidens and his figures were three for 77.
My records do not show the outcome of that protest, perhaps there are some minute books somewhere that might give an insight into the thoughts of the management committee at that time, but Goodman was not some garrulous Aussie who liked the sound of his own voice - if there is such a creature.
The Tasmanian was already 27-years-old and had made his first class debut for Tasmania under Lancashire cricket legend 'Flat' Jack Simmons two years previously when he hit a century on his debut against Queensland at The Gabba.
Gary Weech Goodman had begun his career in Grade cricket in Sydney but went on to play for Tasmania from 1978-1980 and then represented South Australia on his return from his stint with Brighouse.
In 1983 he went back to Tasmania and though having the distinction of taking a brilliant century off the formidable 1985 West Indian attack he never quite made the leap to Test cricket.
Off the field his academic and sports administration skills saw him moving in prominent sporting circles, working with The Australian Sports Commission, Tasmanian and South Australian education systems, Tasmanian and ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Cricket and also played a major role as National Director of the Australian Property Institute and National Project Manager for MAXIhomes in Australia.
Today he can be found working as a Senior Teacher of Health and Physical Education, and Coach of the Associated Southern Colleges 1st XI Premiership cricket team at Marist College, Canberra, ACT.
A team mate of Goodman's at Brighouse, 30 years ago, was Allan Gilliver - who remembers him well. "He was a good lad, Gary," said Gilly. "I was actually groundsman and steward at the Brighouse club at that time and living on site.
"So, when Gary was coming over we arranged for him to stay with us. I had forgotten about that incident to be honest. But while it does ring a bell now I can't remember what the outcome was - and, anyway, Gary must have gone back home soon after."
Despite Goodman spending that summer with the Gilliver's he never kept in touch and, presumably with everything else that was going on in his careers, he never returned to England - leaving that underarm protest and prophetic message behind as his only legacy.
Footnote: League records secretary Michael Rhodes has trawled his books to try and find some details of the game. He has the individual scores but no team totals. They were -
Brighouse: John Heaton 134no, Allan Gilliver 47, Brian Bolus 0, Gary Goodman 3, Andy Baxter 35no.
Bowling: B Hudson 4-0-29-0, A White 4-0-24-0, M Kent 13-2-43-1, P Walker 9-0-47-1, R Glover 15-0-46-1
Bankfoot: B Hudson 9, A White 31, C Carter 48, K Hill 58no, M Kent 3, S Douglas 3, R Peel 1, S Carter 5, J Tiffany 13, P Walker 0no.
Bowling: G Goodman 20-7-77-3, A Baxter 4-2-14-0, D Peel 12-4-38-1, H Leach 13-4-34-3, I Haydock 5-3-8-0.