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Club histories
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2016 21:18
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Richie Robinson
Keighley's Richard Robinson is the all-time leading Bradford League runscorer with over 17,000 runs
Picture: © Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League
by Reg Nelson
Frank Woolley
Frank Woolley was an early Keighley star
SF Barnes
The great SF Barnes joined Keighley aged 61
Manny Martindale
Manny Martindale was Keighley's player coach
Mike Hellawell
England football international Mike Hellawell was a key figure for Keighley in the sixties.
Peter Hartley
Seamer Peter Hartley was a regular member of the Yorkshire side in the eighties
Keith Robinson
Keith Robinson received the SIr Leonard Hutton Trophy from league president Keith Moss in 2013

Keighley Cricket Club was based at Dalton Lane when they were formed in 1848. They were actually constituted in a formal way in 1855, moving to their current home at Lawkholme Lane in 1869.

After enjoying championship success in the West Yorkshire League and the West Riding League in the 1890s, they moved into the Yorkshire Council in 1900.

Early key players included prolific scoring batsman Arthur Sellers, father of future Yorkshire captain Brian, and wicketkeeper Arthur Dolphin, who went on to become the only Keighley product to win a Test cap, albeit just one.

Dolphin was born in Wilsden, Yorkshire and became the first Bradford League player chosen to represent Yorkshire. Dolphin was 14 years old when he first played for Wilsden, and 19 when he made his county debut in 1905.

After playing for the Yorkshire Second XI, he took over as Yorkshire's first choice wicket keeper in 1910, and retained his position for seventeen years. Dolphin died in Lilycroft, Heaton, Bradford, at the age of 56 in October 1942.

Initially, the club resisted joining the Bradford League because the powers-that-be of the day felt that ‘the flavour of professionalism was too pronounced.’ How ironic, therefore, that within three years of joining the league, they should lift their first championship in 1919 with the sort of star-studded line-up that would not have looked out of place at Lord’s.

In their inaugural season in 1916 they finished in mid-table with the great Frank Woolley averaging 48.70 with the bat. He also displayed his all round talents when with his left arm spin took 7-16 v Lidget Green.

Woolley was one of the finest All Rounders the game has seen, in a career that saw him score 58,989 runs, 145 centuries with a top score of 305, and take 2,066 wickets with his left arm spin. He is also the only out-fielder to have held more than 1,000 catches. His batting was remarkable both for his well documented elegance and his rapidity of scoring. He played in 64 Test matches for England.

Still in mid-table in 1917 Jack Hearne was the main man averaging 50.50 with the bat. He also had a bowling analysis of 5-34 against Low Moor. Hearne was a Middlesex leg-spinning all-round cricketer who played from 1909 to 1936, and represented England in 24 Test matches between 1911 and 1926.

A skilful right-handed batsman, Hearne was exceptionally straight and a master at placing the ball into gaps. He was not an aggressive batsman, but his skill allowed him to score at quite an efficient rate against the best bowling. He bowled leg spin from a very short run-up, but had such speed of action that he was almost medium pace.

His first class career statistics are remarkable with 37,252 runs scored at 40.98 with 96 centuries, and a haul of 1,839 wickets.  His Test record during 24 matches is not too impressive with a batting average of 26.00 and only 30 wickets secured.

In 1918 his namesake Schofield Haigh helped to propel Keighley into second place and genuine challengers. Yorkshire cricketer Emmott Robinson took 39 wickets at 10.28, whilst F Horner was even more effective with 48 wickets at 9.10. Hearne completed a fine trio of bowlers with a best analysis of 5-34 against Low Moor.

The historic title win of 1919 consisted of one loss in 20 games, such was their dominance.

The 32-year Woolley took 47 wickets for Keighley at 8.97 to finish second to SF Barnes in the 1919 averages while he also averaged 45 with the bat. He also averaged 47.89 with the bat scoring centuries against Saltaire and Bankfoot, whilst fellow batsman Herbert Haigh did even better with 50.31 per innings. 
Another Test player Schofield Haigh excelled that season with a top score of 86 v Bowling Old Lane, and a best bowling performance of 5-7 against Bingley.

The 48 year old Haigh bowled right-hand medium pace, but could vary it with slower or faster deliveries, and when the pitch helped him he made the ball spin back from the off.
He was more of a bowler in county cricket for Yorkshire taking 2,012 wickets at an impressive 15.94 with an incredible 135 five- wicket bowling performances.

He was no slouch with bat recording a highest career score of 159. His 24 wickets in eleven Test matches for England appear modest, but he did record an analysis of 6-11.

In those war-time days they also boasted established county men like local product Emmott Robinson (Yorkshire) and Willis Walker, who spent 25 years with Nottinghamshire and 14 years as a Football League goalkeeper with a number of clubs, including Leeds City and Sheffield United.

It was easy to see why they pulled in the crowds. The official attendance for one home match against a Saltaire side which included the legendary SF Barnes was 4,897.
Keighley slumped to fourth in 1920 despite having Kent batsman James Seymour in their ranks.

In 1921 leg spinner George W Brooke, who was a Yorkshire Colt at the time, had a dramatic season in the league taking 85 wickets at 8.49 including an incredible analysis of 9-4 v Tong Park. He followed this with 75 wickets at 7.62 in 1922.

 Brook established a place at Worcester by 1930, and produced a number of excellent performances: 6-80 against Nottinghamshire in early June was followed by 5-40 and 7-50 (his career best) versus Leicestershire a fortnight later. Indeed, he claimed five wickets in an innings on 12 occasions in total that summer, finishing with a fine season's return of 132 first-class wickets at 21.88 to top Worcestershire's bowling averages ahead of Fred Root.

From 1931 to 1934, Brook was a regular in the Worcestershire side, but he could never quite recapture his outstanding form of 1930: in those four years he took 81, 71, 82 and 87 wickets, with a total of 11 five-wicket hauls — one fewer than he had managed in a single season in his first summer at the county.

With the bat Brook was nothing special, but he did manage two half-centuries in 1932 and another (a career-best 56 in a high-scoring draw against Gloucestershire) in 1933.

The post-war resumption of county cricket had an inevitable effect on Keighley, and many other sides who also lost star players, but they still finished runners-up in 1921 and 1922 and won the Priestley Cup for the first time in 1921, beating Saltaire (Barnes et all) by nine wickets in the Park Avenue final which still claims the world record attendance for club cricket of 14,179.

 Herbert Haigh was the Keighley hero taking five for 34 as Saltaire were dismissed for 157, and also hit 70 not out as they eased to a nine wicket win.

Alex Skelding, who was later to become the Harold Bird of his day as an eccentric post-war umpire after long county service with Leicestershire, was an opening bowler in the Lawkholme side then, while making an impact later in the decade was a young Brian Sellars. He went on to be the outstanding captain of Yorkshire’s great side of the 1930s.

While they had Priestley Cup success in 1932 and 1935 after defeating Bowling Old Lane and Great Horton respectively, Keighley’s league record was modest for a long spell, but they finished third in 1934, thanks largely to recruiting S. F. Barnes. Despite being 61 year of age, he took 76 wickets, including an eight for nine tally against champions Bradford.

A lesser known cricketer of the name H Jefferson was the most effective bowler in the league in the late thirties with some astonishing averages, the best being in 1936 when he won the Bradford League Bowling Averages in a canter.
H Jefferson
1936 58 wickets at 6.77
1938 31 wickets at 8.83
1939 43 wickets at 8.51

Arguably the club’s greatest decade was soon to dawn. The Second World War meant many county players were available for league cricket and the crowds flocked to Lawkholme, primarily to see the diminutive Lancashire and England left-hander Eddie Paynter, who promptly re-wrote the record books. Runs flowed from his bat through the forties.

In 1940 he had the rare distinction at the time of scoring a thousand runs in the league with an average of 74.28. This inevitably won him the Bradford League Batting Averages.

In 1942 he scored nine 50s, including seven in succession, and three centuries, failing to reach 50 in only three innings for a run aggregate of 970 and a staggering average of 138.55. Not surprisingly, Keighley finished as Division B champions.
Paynter had an astonishing First Class record with Lancashire and England:

First Class: 20,075 runs at 42.25 with 45 centuries with a top score of 322
Test: 1,543 runs at 59.23 with 4 centuries with a top score of 243

Keighley were league champions again in 1946 by one point from Yeadon, and Priestley Cup winners in 1948 after a marathon, high-scoring final, against Salts, which almost inevitably featured an unbeaten Paynter century. He made 124 not out as Keighley made 326 for five while Salts made 325 all out.

Other stars in the 1940s included Paynter’s fellow Lancastrian Winston Place, who made a club record 172 at Brighouse in 1940, and England and Gloucestershire spinner Tom Goddard, who had a four-in-four feat in 1945.
The lesser known Keighley bowler H Riley had the remarkable figures of 6 wickets for 1 run in 1945.

As the golden era of Paynter faded, Keighley turned to veteran West Indian pace bowler Manny Martindale as player-coach. He left his mark by luring the 1950 tourists (Worrall, Weekes, Walcott, Ramadin and co) for a memorable challenge match and helped to win the Second Division title in 1951.

He had previous excellent seasons at Keighley topping the Bradford League Bowling Averages in 1946 with 56 wickets at 9.80, and returning in 1951 to take 56 wickets at a more expensive 14.28. He was 42 by this time and a lot of fire had gone from his bowling.

Emmanuel Alfred "Manny" Martindale played in ten Tests from 1933 to 1939. He was a right-arm fast bowler with a long run up; although not tall for a bowler of his type he bowled at a fast pace. With Constantine, Martindale was one of the earliest in the long succession of Test-playing West Indian fast bowlers. During the time he played, the West Indies bowling attack depended largely on his success.

Critics believe that his record and performances stand comparison with bowlers of greater reputation and longer careers. Chosen for the West Indies tour of England in 1933 he took over 100 first-class wickets including over half of the West Indies' wickets in the three Tests played. He was the leading bowler when West Indies won their first Test series, against England in 1935–36, and had great success against the leading English batsmen. In the final game of the series, one of his deliveries broke the jaw of Bob Wyatt, the England captain.

Relegation in 1952 ushered in an era when top section status proved elusive throughout this decade and next. The club’s sole success was achieved by the second team, who won five successive titles from 1962.
The sixties decade began with Keighley well down the second division. Batsman J A Greenwood salvaged some pride at the club by winning the League Batting Averages with 60.50.

In 1962 four Keighley players made a clean sweep of the top league prizes – Jack Greenwood (batting), Derek Stow (bowling), Gerry Greenwood (wicket-keeping) and Stuart Wilson (fielding). Stow had already booked his place in the club’s history in 1957 by achieving their first all-ten feat in the league (ten for 25 against Great Horton).

Former England footballer Mike Hellawell was a leading light as the 1960s dawned, and while a thrilling a two-wicket Priestley Cup triumph against Bowling Old Lane in 1961 was a welcome fillip, the club had to wait until 1976 for real celebration with Division Two titles for both club teams, plus Priestley Shield success.

A t the dawn of the seventies Hellawell was the still the leading batsman as 1970 saw them toil in the second division. The emergence of seamer Paul Topp shone like a beacon at Keighley as he began the decade with 58 wickets.
At his best it was said that Topp could `put the ball on a sixpence at will’ such was his marvellous accuracy of line and length. He had further hauls of wicket hauls of 49, 38, 76, 64 and 50 such was his potency, especially when he was joined by firebrand left arm fast bowler John Roberts. They were a perfect foil for each other: whereas Topp went about his business quietly, Roberts was extremely vocal and loved to get into the batsman’s face.

The most consistent batsman of the early part of the decade was C G Fryers, and P Yorke later took his mantle with a best season in 1976 when he averaged 35.50 with a top score of 119no. This was the season when it all came together for Keighley as they were promoted as title winners thanks to Yorke with the bat, and Topp and Roberts with the ball who shared 120 wickets.

In 1977 Keighley consolidated nicely in to the First Division with a three-pronged pace attack of Topp (50 wkts) and Roberts (36 wkts) joined by the 17-year old Peter Hartley (31 wickets) who would go on and play county cricket.
Hartley had a long and fruitful First Class career with Hampshire, Yorkshire and Warwickshire, taking 683 wickets with a best performance of 9-41. He was no slouch with the bat either evidenced by his career top score of 127no.
After losing Topp to East Bierley they began to struggle and in 1979 were relegated despite 39 wickets from Roberts.
The progress of Peter Hartley and Phil Robinson to county status gave the club great satisfaction in the 1980s, which featured a long-awaited Priestley Cup final appearance in 1984 and another Division Two title in 1988. Stalwart opening lest arm bowler John Roberts left his mark with a ten for 43 return in 1985 against East Bierley. Roberts carried the burden of life without Topp fairly well with consistent seasons throughout the decade with his best efforts consisting of 57, 61, 49, 46, 51 and 63 wicket hauls.

All-Rounder David Ash had a productive year in 1980 scoring 584 runs and snaring 44 wickets. Ash was a perennial fixture in the Yorkshire Colts sides of the early sixties but could not quite break through. He played three matches for Yorkshire in 1965 at the age of 21. A slow left arm bowler and right-handed batsman, he scored a total of 22 runs but failed to take a wicket. 

He played for Bradford Park Avenue before moving to Bingley where he was constantly going for county and minor county trials. When taking a wicket his enthusiasm and delight amused the crowd in an era of passive celebration.
In 1981 Phil Robinson made his mark on the Bradford League with 730 runs. He would continue to score heavily in the league before better things awaited him.

Robinson made his first-class debut for his native county Yorkshire in 1984, and played 132 first-class games for them. He averaged 35.84, passing 1,000 runs in a season on three occasions and scoring seven centuries. He then moved to Leicestershire and played up to 1995, but was somewhat less successful, playing 27 matches without a century, for an average of 23.72. His best first-class score of 189 came in a Roses Match in 1991, in his penultimate match for Yorkshire.

Another leading player in the eighties was David Ross who bowled brisk medium pace, and scored quick runs in the middle order. His best season came in 1982 when he scored 563 runs and took 45 wickets. The 1984 team was good with Hartley scoring 526 runs and taking 58 wickets, Robinson scoring 569 runs and Ross contributing with bat and ball.

This team went all the way to the Priestley Cup Final but were no match for East Bierley who won by 9 wickets.
In 1986 batsmen Sean Atkinson (841 runs) and Tim Sugden (777 runs) came on to the scene in a big way, but the following year Keighley were relegated as they lost the services of their county men. All was not lost though as they returned as champions in the following year when sheet anchor Ian Frost (595 runs) gave his side the early stability they needed in the batting.

In 1989 left-arm spinner Ash won the League Bowling Averages with 51 wickets at 14.31 as his team were comfortably placed in the First Division. His celebrations that year verged on the manic. This comfort was short lived when they were relegated soon after, but Keighley celebrated a rise again in 1993, a season marked by home grown Paul Spragg scoring 1,149 runs and overtaking Paynter’s record from 1940. And, while the glory days of Woolley and Paynter remained elusive, the club’s biggest achievement thereafter was to gain financial stability.

After many turbulent periods and an oft-strained relationship with their former rugby league landlords, Keighley CC now owned their own ground and could look forward to the future with a genuine confidence that was lacking before.
They finished fifth in Division Two in 2002 but scored a surprise Heavy Woollen Cup final triumph over Baildon. During a period when Bradford League clubs were dominating this competition Keighley shocked a previous winner – Baildon 212-6, Keighley 216-4. Their skipper Richard Robinson topped the Division Two bowling averages and there was a genuine air of optimism at Lawkholme Lane at the end of 2002.

Keighley built on that platform- after twice narrowly missing out on promotion they won the Division Two championship in 2005 with Robinson and Ross Towler playing leading roles. To crown an outstanding season for the club, the second team snatched promotion on the final day of the season too.

Pace bowler Towler had been on Yorkshire’s books and played at Baildon before signing for his local side at Lawkholme. The emerging young batsman Matthew Bottomley scored 465 runs, while Towler took a decisive 64 wickets.
 Robinson in his autumn years was becoming more proficient with the ball to such an extent he won the league bowling averages in seasons 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, finished second in 2009 and 2011.

He was not a prodigious spinner of the ball but could extract every ounce of assistance out of the wicket while bowling an immaculate line and length. His greatest years with the bat were at Baildon where he only turned his arm over occasionally. It’s a matter of great conjecture whether Yorkshire handled his talent right when on their books.

It was a short-lived existence in the First Division as relegation beckoned from bottom place. Robinson strived manfully with 469 runs and 38 wickets assisted inevitably by the faithful Towler who took 44 wickets. Overseas man Rob Bartlett failed to deliver significantly enough in the struggle. The loyal Steve Reape averaged 25.29 with the bat. Reape is one of those priceless players that would `chip in’ with bat and ball and remained loyal to his local club being the epitome of Keighley Cricket Club.

Keighley have been a fiercely competitive second division club in the subsequent years with two top 3 placings, and two top 4’s. Players like Robinson, Towler and Bottomley were the bedrock of a club that will not be drawn into paying players.

They tend to nurture their own players either through their impressive junior set-up or cream off the best from the Craven League. The likes of Simon Bailey, Joe Stead, Jonathan Wilkinson (who won the league wicket keeper award in 2012), Freddie Pearson and Jack Beetham were all testament to such a policy.

It was a `red letter’ day on the 29th November 2013 for legendary worker and committee man Keith Robinson who was awarded the Sir Len Hutton Trophy for services to Bradford League cricket.  It would be remiss not to mention his wife Lesley who was usually at his side working feverishly when the hard graft needed doing.    

Always competitive, Keighley were tipped in some quarters for promotion in 2014, and they did set the early pace along with Undercliffe. When Saltaire overtook them in second place they just couldn’t re-gather the early momentum and they ended 49 points behind in fourth place. 

New Signing Richard Wear from Harden took over as captain during the early part of the season and led by example as the best batsman with 594 runs at 34.94. Robinson who scored 337 runs at 28.48 was content to let some of the young bloods bat before him, while Freddie Pearson contributed 449 runs. Overseas pacemen Andrew King bowled genuinely quick to take 58 wickets at 14.38.

An individual award came to Keighley for 2014 in the shape of the 2nd Division Wicket-Keeper’s Trophy won by Jonathan Wilkinson by virtue of his 32 victims

With Robinson unavailable because of Yorkshire Academy coaching duties at Weetwood, Keighley struggled all the way ending the 2015 season with six wins and thirteen losses. An emphasis of youth was the order of the day and several made strides in what was a transitional season. Jonathan Wilkinson (398 runs), and Samuel Murphy (374 runs) were the mainstays of the batting, while Richards Wear plugged away with the ball taking 38 wickets.

An individual achievement came in the way of Humayun Shahzad winning the Fastest Fifty Trophy.

Keighley again pressed on with a young side for the 2016 season playing courageous cricket and battling the odds. Just two victories took them to second bottom in the division, but a plucky cup run saw them in the semi-final of the Jack Hampshire Cup.

Australian Benjamin Hastie was their outstanding player with 555 runs at 42.6, while the best bowler was Matthew Haines who took 31 wickets at a cost of 18.19 each. Hastie hit an incredible 33 sixes in the league for the season.

Eddie Paynter
The popular Lancashire and England Test star Eddie Paynter was a great favourite for Keighley

Many adjectives have been used to describe the Lancashire left-handed batsman Eddie Paynter - doughty, indomitable and unyielding spring readily to mind. The one thing that blighted his career was the Second World War. In the preceding years he was at the zenith of his career- records were there to be broken as he began a fantastic sequence of success beginning in 1936.

Trent Bridge
South Africa
South Africa
South Africa

A Legendary Bradford League Performer: At the age of 39 the doughty left-hander began his Bradford League career with Keighley in 1940. The war had disrupted the First Class game so a multitude of county players descended on the most competitive league in the land. Despite the competition Paynter's consistency was second to none.

He debuted at Spen making 60 followed by 56 against Bingley. He scored centuries against Lightcliffe, Spen Victoria, Windhill and Baildon. As the season reached its last match Paynter needed 61 runs to reach the cherished 1,000 mark

When one considered this feat had only been achieved once before, the pressure on him was intense. Keighley were chasing 162 for victory at Busy Lane against Windhill.

Not only had he to defy a bowling attack that included the great Learie Constantine, he also had to ensure that he scored the lion’s share of the runs. The fact that he battled to an impressive 101 not out spoke volumes about his class.

In 1941 he scored two centuries and seven half centuries in anticipation of a 1942 season of astonishing feats. A total of 15 league innings brought three centuries and nine half centuries, thus in only three innings did he fail to reach 50! Seven consecutive half centuries was a unique record for the time.

His average for 1942 was an incredible 138.55! Suffice to say in his first three seasons he topped the league's batting averages. In total Paynter scored 4426 wartime runs with Wilf Barber (3,746) his closest rival. After the war he decided to pursue a league career rather than return to the First Class game. He continued to delight the Bradford League crowds in a period of post-war austerity.        

Keighley 1960
Keighley 1960: Back, from left: M Hellawell, G Firth, A Fielding, G Spencer, B Wilkinson, W Tatton. Front: M Brett, A Skirrow, J Greenwood (capt), G Dyson, M Whitham.
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