According to the Cricket History of Calderdale and Kirklees website, Hartshead Moor’s official club publications has stated, ‘It is generally agreed that in 1876 a party of young men first started playing cricket, under the name of Hartshead Moor Cricket club, at the top of the Moor”.
Later on they obtained the use of the present field, and under the tenancy of Messrs. H. Holroyd and Joseph Wilkinson had the use of it free of cost until 1900”.
It is a fact that for 129 years, the club has been known by the same name (Hartshead Moor CC) and played at the same venue (Highmoor Lane) – a relatively stable existence in local cricket circles.
In 1886, three years after the competition had begun Hartshead Moor CC joined the famous Heavy Woollen Cup. After previous successes in 1894 and 1895, Hartshead Moor became champions of the Spen Valley & District League for the third time in 1910. Another two Spen Valley & District League titles were secured in 1912 and 1913.
An unbeaten 1914 League programme enabled the 1st XI to complete a hat-trick of Spen Valley & District League titles. Allen Schofield, who once scored 72 for Moor, lost his life in the Great War. In the words of the club’s 1926 Jubilee Bazaar brochure, he had ‘paid the supreme sacrifice’.
In 1925 an opportunity arose to buy the ground for £350. Helped by the President of the club and a huge fundraising campaign, £200 was raised towards the cost, with a loan taken out for the remaining £150.
A special bazaar was held in 1926 – the year of the General Strike - to both celebrate the club’s Jubilee year and raise the remaining £150 that was needed to buy the ground. By 1928 the existing pavilion had been redeveloped.
It was opened officially on August 25 in the presence of club representatives and W. Brooke on behalf of architects Messrs. G. Castle & Son. The 1928 structure lasted 42 years.
In 1931 the club joined the Heavy Woollen League which, at the time, was a section of the Yorkshire Council. In 1938 the 1st XI made history by beating Ossett to reach the Heavy Woollen Cup final for the first time. After batting first and scoring 237, the Moor bowling attack held sway, dismissing Ossett for 191 with Her
bert Walker taking 4-58 in 18 overs. However, Heckmondwike proved too strong in the final, winning by three wickets.
In 1941, as war raged across Europe, the club joined the Bradford Section of the Yorkshire Council. Success came immediately as Moor secured the Section title after beating Salts CC.
After only three seasons in the Bradford Section of the Yorkshire Council, the club moved into the Central Yorkshire League in 1944, and saw their bowler D Gains win the Second Division Bowling Averages in the first season. His wickets cost him 6.1 each.
Hartshead Moor was progressing as a competitive Second Division side and in 1947 Len Squire topped the League Averages with 37.50 runs per innings. However, they had to wait a further four years for elevation into the top flight.
They were Division Two champions in 1951 and obtained top section status in the Central Yorkshire League for the first time. They found it difficult to establish themselves and suffered relegation before returning in style as Division Two champions again in 1955. To crown a brilliant promotion season F Wharton won the Second Division Bowling Averages with 107 wickets at nine runs per wicket.
In 1952 they reached the Heavy Woollen Cup for the second time in their history. History repeated itself when they were defeated by Thornhill in a rain-lashed final at Heckmondwike. Thornhill batted first and suspended their innings at 150-3, but did not have to bat again after they bowled out the Moor for 147.
They were doughty fighters in the Heavy Woollen Cup even when they were mediocre in the league. They would prevail in this cup six years later.
The 1958 Heavy Woollen Cup win at Mirfield remains the most significant feat in their history. Batting first they scored a modest 131 which proved to be a winning score against the formidable Hanging Heaton side who succumbed by 44 runs. This was a triumph for Moor’s Frank Squire who squeezed 44 runs out of a sluggish pitch batting at No.8 to enable his bowlers to work with some runs on the board.
The other batsman of consequence was Donald Hirst who scored an invaluable 25. Squire himself helped to negate Hanging Heaton’s progress with an excellent bowling spell of 2-22.
The 1959 season stands out as the pinnacle of their league history when they finished runners-up to Mirfield in the top division of the Central Yorkshire League. They had won league titles before but this was a far superior standard.
Although they did not build on this progress they took the big step of joining the Bradford League in 1963. They finished seventh out of 12 teams in the Second Division with five wins and six defeats.
Their early sides were based ostensibly on experienced players like Brian Redfearn, Donald Hirst, Raymond Hirst, Geoff Hodgson and Leonard Squire.
All Rounder Brian Collier was their best player in 1963 finishing fifth in the League Batting Averages with 505 runs at 45.91, and a top score of 119 not out. Collier who could also bowl good spells of medium pace was a much travelled player who later gave good service to Queensbury CC.
In addition to Collier, Donald Hirst (577 runs), Raymond Hirst (338 runs), and Terry Evans (345 runs) all excelled with the bat in a team without penetration with the ball.
Although further progress was expected in 1964 they fell into the re-election positions when they recorded just four victories. Batsman Donald Hirst kept them afloat above bottom club Great Horton with 446 hard-fought runs.
A slight improvement took place the following year before the arrival of the inspirational Brian Redfearn in 1966. Redfearn was a good value for money professional who invariably made inroads into the opposition’s batting with his tight seam bowling.
He took 52 wickets and in doing so propelled his team to fourth in the league. Again he was influential in 1967 taking 56 wickets at 10.63 - but this time it was good enough for promotion as runners-up to Saltaire.
The mainstay of the batting was R J Thompson who scored 402 runs to finish 8th in the league batting averages. Thompson also proved himself an excellent fielder in taking the League Fielding Award.
It was considered a fine achievement in 1967 to reach the First Division after four years since inception to the league. However, they didn’t recruit extravagantly for the new challenge with Rodney Smith the main signing as professional batsman. He scored runs consistently making a fine century in the 1969 season. But, it was the old stagers like Squire and Redfearn who they relied upon heavily to bail them out of trouble. An Individual honour in the way of the League Fielding Award went to S N Birkett in 1969.
Seasons 1968/69 was a real struggle with just five wins in each term which proved just about good enough to stave off relegation. However, the day of reckoning came when the fight for survival proved too much in 1970 when they finished bottom with just three wins.
Determined to regain top status they fielded a well- balanced team in 1971, but fell short of promotion finishing third in the division. The batting was strong with S. Tart (576 runs), Collier (513 runs), Redfearn (320 runs) and Squire (369 runs) scoring consistently, backed by experienced seamers Redfearn (40 wkts) and Collier (40 wkts).
In 1970 the M62 was built and this passed by just yards away from Highmoor Lane. The club was thus forced to dispense with the ageing pavilion and erect a new one (with financial help from a local fundraising appeal and a special Sports Council grant).
They were Second Division champions in 1972 and again in 1974 but on each occasion were relegated at the end of the following season. The 1972 side had A.Greaves (534 runs) and M.Kent (47 wkts) to thanks for this success, along with left-arm spin bowler Pat McKelvey who collected 39 wickets at 9.89 to finish fifth in the league bowling averages.
McKelvey, signed from Saltaire, had played with the great Surrey side of the fifties as understudy to Tony Lock when on England duty.
The seventies were proving to be turbulent times for the Moor who were relegated in 1973 despite Squire’s 445 runs, but promoted the following year in a close-run affair with just five points separating the top three.
It was the bowlers that won the day in 1974 as Bill Brown’s 46 wickets averaged 8.93 to allow him to top the league averages, while the competitive cricketer Alan Stansfield chipped in with 33 wickets. Lennie Hanson who took 42 wickets was a stalwart at Hartshead performing consistently with bat and ball well into the next decade. Squire again excelled scoring 508 vital runs.
The 1975 relegation season was epitomised by the fact that not one single Hartshead Moor player made the league averages with bat or ball. The rest of the seventies was one of great struggle with lowly positions and re-election pleas in 1978 and 1979.
Apart from the sterling efforts of the redoubtable Hanson with bat and ball, and the consistency of seamer Harwood the only player to shine was K Sutcliffe who managed to score 361 runs and take 42 wickets in 1976. Sutcliffe first came to prominence when he won the League Fielding Award in 1974. Hanson went on to have his best season in the next decade in 1980 scoring 521 runs and taking 42 wickets.
One notable occurrence in the seventies was the arrival of a 12-year old Simon Kellett at the end of the decade who would eventually graduate to Yorkshire. In 87 first-class matches he scored 4,234 runs, with two centuries and a top score of 125 not out, for an average of 30.46. In 67 one day matches, he scored 1,494 runs at an average of 25.32, with a top score of 118 not out. His occasional right arm medium pace bowling failed to take a wicket.
In 1981 Hartshead Moor finished bottom of the pile and had to endure the indignity of re-election despite having the services of Indian Raj Venkatraman. The overseas player certainly pulled his weight averaging 43.63. Venkatraman was a classy batsman who played for East Zone in the Ranji Trophy.
Fortunes improved dramatically in 1982 when pace bowler Shahid Mahboob from Pakistan joined Venkatraman as his club’s second overseas player to steer his side to fifth position. Mahboob played Test cricket for his country and added 144 in a crucial partnership with Imran Khan in a one-day international against England at Headingley.
But it was as a fearsome fast bowler in league cricket he was known for taking 89 wickets for Hartshead. His highlight came in a league match against Idle when he took 10-39- the only Hartshead bowler to have achieved that feat. S Venkatraman scored 806 runs at 47.41 to finish third in the League Batting Averages.
Another Indian, Shish Hattangadi joined Hartshead Moor in 1983 after catching the eye playing in the Ranji Trophy. He topped the league batting averages with 873 runs at 62.36 but couldn’t drag Moor into the top half of the table. Mahboob was also prominent that season taking 48 wickets.
Hartshead sank to the bottom of the second division table in 1984 despite having the services of another overseas batting star in M.Rana who contributed 661 runs. In 1985 Raj Venkatraman returned to the club to score 1,007 runs including a top score of 138 not out. His efforts were the main reason why the Moor avoided the re-election places by the short distance of one point.
For the sixth time in their 23-year history they had to seek re-election when they finished in the bottom two in 1986. This was despite having a virtuoso overseas player in the name of S Azhar who must have come close to winning the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Award. He took the league by storm scoring 692 runs at 40.71, and taking 60 wickets. Harwood again proved his worth with 42 wickets. He went on to take 38 wickets in 1987 when his team moved out of the re-election zone with a new-look younger team.
Several lowly-placed seasons followed with few individual performances of great note. John Newsome was the most consistent batsman topping 700-runs in 1990 and 1991. For the first time in eleven years Hartshead Moor were a top-half second division club when in 1993 pace bowler Micky Mills arrived from Nevis. He had represented the Leeward Islands in the Red Stripe Cup and could generate genuine pace and hostility.
In 1993 he had the opposition in all sorts of trouble taking 56 wickets at 12.93 to win the league bowling averages for the division. The following year he was even more lethal taking 93 wickets at 9.98 and retaining the league award. He completed his three-year sojourn by taking 53 wickets in 1996.
Another player to emerge with class in 1993 was wicket-keeper/batsman Nicky Rushworth who scored 655 runs at 38.53 and assisted Mills behind the stumps with some fine takes. A product of Saltaire CC he would go on and enjoy a glittering career at Woodlands where he won all the top prizes available to him.
Hartshead fell away again in the subsequent years with the overseas players invariably lifting the gloom.
In 1996 they again chose an overseas player wisely with the acquisition of I Rana who scored 708 runs and took 55 wickets.
Perhaps the most consistent overseas performer for the club was Indian batsman Jacob Martin who made half-centuries in each of his first 11 matches for the club in 1997. In all he scored 1,206 league runs at an incredible 100.50, and subsequently winning the League Batting Averages in a canter. This was the sort of form which earned him a one-day international call from India.
Martin appeared ten times for India at One Day International level, but never in Test cricket. He made his first-class debut for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy taking 5 wickets in an innings against Gujarat and scoring a half-century. However, Martin came to be regarded as a specialist batsman and an occasional part-time spin bowler. Martin's most prolific season was in 1998-99 when he scored 1,037 runs for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy at an average of 103.70 including 5 centuries.
This feat made Martin only the sixth player to have scored over 1,000 runs in a Ranji Trophy season, and helped to earn him selection for the India national cricket team. Martin made his ODI debut against the West Indies in September 1999, and also played in the subsequent triangular ODI series in Australia. However, he was unable to reproduce his domestic form and did not play again for India after 2001.
Pakistan batsman Azam Khan made a big impression in 1998. He crowned a great season by smashing a Bradford League record individual score of 214 not out against Ben Rhydding in a season of 1,233 runs at 68.50.
The best of the local players circa 1995-2001 were sheet anchor opening batsman Simon Horkin who had run tallies of 711, 612, 547 and 725, while pace bowler John Roper took 77 wickets in 1997 and 57 in 1998.
In 2002 Hartshead recruited Pakistani Naeem Khan who had spent four productive years with Yeadon. He made 808 runs at 50.50 and proved to be another sound overseas signing as the club finished tenth in Division Two. In addition to his batting he also won the League Fielding Award.
Hartshead Moor hit a new low in 2003 finishing bottom with only one win and a points tally of just 10. Despite this ignominy they saw the emergence of the teenaged Ian Wardlaw who took 35 wickets. He would better this tally in 2004 by taking 54 wickets.
After having to apply for re-election again in 2004, finishing in last place, Hartshead Moor were revitalised in 2005. They climbed to fifth in the league thanks in no small part to their overseas player Khurram Shezad who made 1,014 runs and opening bowler Iain Wardlaw who took 60 wickets and was voted the Bradford League's Young Player of the Year.
Batsman Craig Field followed his 843 runs in 2004 with 500 the following year to assist Shezad and Wardlaw in obtaining fifth position for the second season.
Wardlaw enjoyed several seasons at Hartshead ignoring the overtones of the big clubs as he slowly learned his trade. When he moved to Cleckheaton his progress was steady rather than meteoric but he did eventually gain favour with Yorkshire who offered him second team matches. He grew into county standard by scientific coaching and a will to succeed and was offered a one-year contract.
His First Class career was brief playing in just six matches for a tally of 8 wickets. He had more opportunities in the one-day games. On release from his county he concentrated on playing for his adopted country Scotland. He remains Hartshead’s second most famous local product after Simon Kellett.
Shezad who would return to the league in later years with Cleckheaton and Saltaire won the League Batting Averages in 2005 with a remarkable average of 72.43, and a top score of 161no.
The revival was very much a false dawn as they slipped back in the league with re-election pleas in 2007 and 2008- the latter one the tenth since joining the Bradford League.
Again they recruited well in respect of the overseas player- in 2006 Shoab Khan recorded 852 runs at 77.45 with a top score of 119, while in 2007 Adnan Raees scored 700 runs at 50.00 which included an innings of 130. Khan’s efforts were rewarded with the League Batting Averages Trophy.
Since 2008 respectability in the league has been restored as ground improvements has been a higher priority than promotion.
All rounder Simon North had several notable seasons with 2011 being his best scoring 535 runs which included a top score of 111no, and taking 41 wickets. North was a very accurate seamer able to move the ball prodigiously given the right conditions. In the same year swashbuckling Reece Jennison was signed from the Halifax League and scored 607 runs. In this period they relied heavily on seasoned league cricketers like Graham Hilton, Craig Woodhead, Daniel Squire and Craig Field to sustain their league position.
Its several decades since the Moor have tasted First Division cricket and there has been some challenging seasons on the way. However, they have grown as a club with their recently enhanced facilities, and have never gone down the route of risking their solvency.
League President Keith Moss was profuse with praise when they completed their `decking’ project in front of their handsome pavilion. They were rewarded with the 2013 Priestley Shield Cup Final between Hanging Heaton and New Farnley and proved that their organisational skills were second to none.
The 2014 season was an encouraging campaign with a fifth position in the league signalling real progress. Overseas batsman Fahad Ul-Haq ensured their competiveness with the bat scoring 731 runs at 43.00 with a top score of 122no. Craig Field was as solid as ever with 407 runs, while spin bowler Will Smith took the honours with the ball taking 34 wickets.
A decline in playing standards in 2015 saw Hartshead Moor fall to ninth position with Fahad Ul-Haq again the top performer. He won the Second Division Batting Averages with an aggregate of 827 runs at 68.92. The bowling highlight was Daniel Squire’s 48 wickets at 12.81.
Things got no better in 2016 when three league wins took them to 11th position in Championship B. This was despite Craig Field’s impressive batting average of 51.18 from 563 runs. Squire (32 wkts), again carried the bowling.
Former Yorkshire cricketer Richard Pyrah made a handful of cameo appearances scoring 97 and taking 6-78 in his team’s comprehensive loss against Bankfoot.