Carlton, meaning “town of the churls” (common agricultural people), is a small and undeveloped village just on Rothwell’s doorstep. Sport has always played an important part in the history of Carlton and its inhabitants. The rural sports fields, set in between acres of picturesque farmland, have been at the heart of the village for more than 150 years.
The earliest known reference to sport in the village goes back to 1867 when a cricket team from Carlton made only 33 runs against a team from nearby Lofthouse. Back in those days cricket was played on Dick Marshall’s field in the far side of Pitfield Road, now Ashton Crescent. He also gave the team a lift to away matches by horse-drawn wagonette for a shilling a head.
1922 saw a huge turn in the sporting fortunes of the village when twelve newly appointed trustees of Cartlon Athletic Club bought the current Town Street ground from Major Calverley of Oulton Hall. The new five-acre site was to embrace both football and cricket, a philosophy that still stands today.
The agreed price of £275, a substantial sum in the 1920’s, was a great investment for the future of sport in the village for generations to come. Construction of the new cricket ground was a mammoth task and the whole village got involved.
Colliery owners, J & J Charlesworth, offered a welcome loan and funds were raised through house-to-house collections and special concerts. Building materials were brought in from adjoining villages, local farmers supplied turf and willing volunteers provided much needed labour. By 1926 the new cricket ground was ready for action.
Ken Oldroyd, 4th generation owner of Oldroyd’s Farm and President of Carlton Cricket Club for 31 years had seen both the area and the cricket blossom during his reign.
A founder member of the Woodlesford and District League in 1893, Carlton Cricket Club moved to various leagues, but it was the Leeds League that would make their name.
In 1941 Carlton won their first major trophy when they lifted the Hepworth Cup- the premier cup competition in the Leeds League.
Although they had twenty years to wait for their next success their record in the competition is nothing short of phenomenal.
There was no team trophy in 1957, but Carlton’s best batsman Arthur Sweet won the League Batting Averages that year.
During the sixties Carlton won the Hepworth Cup in 1961, 1963 and 1967, and the title for the first time in 1965. They were a dominant force in the league and it would continue in the next three decades.
In the seventies they did not win the league but found consolation in the Hepworth Cup by winning it in 1973, 1975, 1978 and 1979. In 1973 they had a cup double by virtue of winning the H J Knutton Trophy. This competition was between senior clubs in the West Yorkshire area containing many fine players, and was considered a prestige trophy to win.
Carlton’s dominant batsman of the seventies was Keith Taylor who won the League Batting Averages in 1971, 1979 and later in 1986. In between his seventies triumphs his colleague Mick Fletcher also won this award in 1974.
Another individual trophy winner was Brian Ramsden who won the League Wicket-Keepers Trophy in 1976.
The team cycle of success continued into the next decade when it got even better. They began the eighties with a hat-trick of Hepworth Cups in 1980, 1981 and 1982, making it a double of sorts when in 1981 they also won the Leeds `B’ Division.
After winning the Leeds League for the second time in 1985, they reached their pinnacle in the following season when they retained their title and also took the Hepworth Cup to be double winners of 1986.
Their thirst for trophies continued when they retained the title in 1987 to end a decade of seven major trophies.
The decade’s big players were Glen Cooper who won the League Batting Averages in 1982 and 1987, Keith Sampson who preceded this feat in 1981, and David Cooper who took the League Bowling prize in 1987.
The nineties dawned and it was business as usual at Carlton with title wins in 1991 and 1996, and Hepworth Cups sandwiched between in 1992 and 1995. Individual winners were Paul Tasker who won the League Bowling Averages in 1996 and Andrew Court who took the League Wicket-Keepers Trophy in 1976.
Carlton had won 14 Hepworth Cups and six top flight titles and was one of the dominant forces of the league across several decades. However, the Leeds League began to decline with top clubs leaving or intending to do so. In 1998 the club took the big step to join the Central Yorkshire League.
Carlton CC exploded on the Central Yorkshire League scene in 1999 by winning the league’s prestigious Jack Hampshire Trophy. Feeding on their cup tradition they upset all the odds to beat red-hot favourites Methley in the Final.
The 1999 league campaign was spearheaded by Kevin Watson who won the League Bowling Averages. Watson was a mean medium pace bowler who gave nothing away and would later find fame with the all conquering Wrenthorpe.
In 2000, they continued their success story by winning the Div 1 title, largely based on the runs of Muenoddin Kadri who topped the League Batting Averages. In addition, Carlton won the Yorkshire Council Supplementary Cup for 2000, and regained it in 2002.
When the Central Yorkshire League inserted a Premier league for their top division, clubs of substance yearned to be in it, and Carlton were no different.
However, the higher standard cricket in the Premier League negated Carlton’s chances of replicating their successes in the Leeds League. They struggled to make an impact and were duly relegated.
Like most of their colleagues in the Central Yorkshire League, Carlton had forays into the Heavy Woollen Cup and in 2005 competed in a close encounter with Bradford League side Saltaire at Roberts Park.
Fast bowler Faisal Khan (5-42) bowled well enough to restrict Saltaire to 232. Carlton spearheaded by Steve Cooper (64) was well placed at 118-2 before falling short at 212.
In 2006 they won the Division 1 title again, and coupled with this triumph that year was the Yorkshire Council Supplementary Cup in which they were getting a definite taste for.
The stars of 2006 were Cooper, who was the backbone of the batting with 568 runs at 40.57, and N Waite and M Roberts who took the lion’s share of the wickets, and figured in second and third places in the league bowling averages.
A further relegation illustrated the difficulties of competing with the more affluent clubs.
In 2010 they won eleven matches in Div 1 but could not quite break back into the Premier league. Phil Page was the best batsman with 444 runs at 29.60 and a top score of 131*.
It was different in 2011 when promotion was obtained largely down to two individual performers who dominated in their respective field. Page again excelled but went to another level with 971 runs at 64.73 with a top score of 128, and in consequence won the League Batting Averages. This time the bowling had penetration in the hands of Jonathan Rudge who took 46 wickets at 11.17 to take the League Bowling Averages.
The holy grail of the premier league had been reached and eight wins consolidated Carlton’s place in 2012 under the captaincy of Christopher Smith. The best bowler was again Rudge who picked up 32 wickets at 19.28.
Carlton’s finest premier league season came in 2013 when twelve wins secured a high=ranking finish. The bowling had more depth with Chris Leaf (51 wkts) and Rudge (50 wkts) being backed up by spinner Chris Kippax (29 wkts). Kiwi Jaycob Curtling was the pick of the batters with 531 runs.
Another player who played his part was 49-year old Simon Stirling who scored 494 runs at 32.93. Stirling was an explosive cricketer in his pomp able to dictate games with bat and ball. He was quite a swift opening bowler capable of taking the early key wickets. With the bat he took on the bowlers with his special brand of power strokeplay.
Stirling was a native of New Zealand who played forty games for Manawatu. He settled in the UK starring for Rawdon, East Ardsley and Wakefield St Michael's, and latterly for Carlton.
In 2014, Carlton had to settle for seven wins in a season with few thrills. The best performers were Curtling who scored 485 runs at 34.64, and seamer James Glynn who took 33 wickets.
In what would prove to be the last year of the Central Yorkshire League, Carlton finished the 2015 season in ninth place. With the advent of the move to the Bradford League Championship, it was appropriate that they ended their era in this league as a Premier league club.
The cricketers that took the eye for Carlton were Stephen Cooper who scored 445 runs at 40.50 and Farrukh Alam who took 44 wickets.
The last Carlton First Team squad to participate in the Central Yorkshire League consisted of: Stephen Cooper, Farrukh Alam, Patrick Hinchliffe, Jonathan Hughes, Joshua Thurwell, Daniel Danby, Tom Taylor, Derrick Hammill, Gary Close.
In a tough Championship B, it proved difficult for Carlton to challenge for promotion and they had to settle for six wins and a seventh position.
Farrukh Alam was their outstanding player, scoring 479 runs at 36.85, and also taking 33 wickets. Tom Taylor topped the division’s wicket-keeping with 29 victims.
A fine accolade for the club was the award of the Tom Mather’s Ground of the Year for 2016.