|Lightcliffe's 2013 Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup winninng side. Back, from left: Moin Ashraf, David Hester, Josh Wheatley, Oliver Robinson, Jonathan Wilson, Mahmood Rasool, Suleman Khan. Front: Mark Horne, Alex Stead, Chris Taylor (captain), Charlie Roebuck, Danyaal Ahmed, Jack Booth (scorer).
Picture: © Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League
Lightcliffe Cricket Club was founded in 1875, playing during its early years at West Field which is now known at The Stray, half a mile away from the present ground. The outstanding player in these years was batsman Seth Foster.
In the early 1890s the club moved to its present ground and in 1894 became founder members of the Halifax District League, in which they competed until 1914, when the Halifax Parish League was formed. In that year they created a Parish Cup record score for a game started and finished in one afternoon, making 419 against Greetland, who were bowled out for 109. Wilfred Aspinall, father of Herbert, scored 138 not out.
The appearance of the ground was little different from today. There were three tennis courts and a flourishing tennis section, which continued until the 1970s and the present pavilion, in red and white, which had been opened in 1922. There were benches all around the ground in the early days to accommodate the big crowds.
A minute of a committee meeting in 1926 records a decision to erect a canvas barrier above the wall on the north-east side of the ground to prevent locals watching matches without paying! This was the final year of Foster's captaincy, and he was succeeded by opening batsman Ronnie Somers, who was also a sharp fielder, as befitted a county hockey player.
In 1919 Lightcliffe joined the Halifax section of the Yorkshire Council before entering the Bradford League in 1924, under the captaincy of W H. 'Bert' Foster, who subsequently became league president. A prominent player was Harold Sharp who was then nearing the end of a long career at the club. He began keeping detailed records of every match from the entry into the Bradford League.
In the inaugural season in 1924 Lightcliffe finished halfway with the outstanding bowler F Pratt taking 31 wickets at the little cost of 8.35 per wicket.The next two seasons followed the same pattern, and in 1926 W Hirst figured strongly in the League bowling averages with 32 wickets at 9.84.
In the same year, 1926, Lightcliffe recorded the first of their five Priestley Cup successes, beating Lidget Green by 133 runs. Sam Cadman, a professional from Derbyshire, scored 103 not out, with Somers adding 55 and F T Pool 69. W. Hirst took five for 33 in 30 overs in a Lidget Green total of 183. Hirst was also the leading Lightcliffe bowler in the league taking 32 wickets at 9.84.
Samuel William Anthony Cadman played for Derbyshire for over quarter of a century between 1900 and 1926. He was an effective all-rounder and scored over 14,000 runs and took over 800 wickets in his first class career.
Lightcliffe were the first team to score over 300 runs in a final, but their 316 total was less than their semi-final score of 331 against Bradford Park Avenue in the same season.
Two charabancs travelled from Lightcliffe to Bradford Park Avenue for the cup final, one of them being paid for by club president Algernon Denham, who also provided two bottles of champagne for the players and committee. The cup was subsequently placed on view in the windows of a number of local shops.
Another stalwart during the early decades in the league was Harry Taylor, a master at Bradford Grammar School, who opened the batting with Somers and gained a reputation as one of the leading batsmen in the league. He won the league batting in 1928, his first season, with an astonishing average of 60.70. Eight years later in 1936 he won it again with 647 runs at 49.76. In between these years he averaged 49.00 in 1930 and 51.66 in 1935, such was his consistency.
Another outstanding batsman was Tom Patefield who in 1929 came close to winning the league bating averages when he averaged 50.86. He also had the highest league score that year with 118 against Eccleshill. This was Lightcliffe’s best league season so far with a top three position.
The following year there was two other batters than Taylor who enjoyed fine seasons. Somers averaged 43.50 with a top score of 124* against Keighley, while Albert Hartley recorded 119 not out versus Farsley.
Patefield showed his all round ability when in 1934 he became the first Lightcliffe bowler to take all ten wickets in an innings. This was in a Priestley Cup match against Spen Victoria when he took 10-33.
Lightcliffe 1962. Back, from left: B Wade, J Chatburn, P Lockwood, B Whitham, D Garside, T Barber. Front: H Waterhouse, A Warren, H Aspinall (Captain ), R Heywood, S Bottomley.
Lightcliffe 1977 Back (from left): R Stead, B Horne, D Atkinson, D Garside, P Westerby, V Modgill. front: B Deadman, M Radcliffe, L Pickles (captain), D Roberts, R Davenport.
Roger Stead has played first team cricket in six different decades for Lightcliffe
Jonathan Wilson receives the Division Two championship trophy from league president Keith Moss in 2011
Long-serving groundsman Rod Heyhow collects one of the many awards he has won
Former Yorkshire and Derbyshire batsman Chris Taylor has been a consistent run scorer
Yorkshire paceman Moin Ashraf helped Lightcliffe to win the Priestey Cup in 2013
The year 1936 was one of Lightcliffe’s finest seasons despite not bringing any silverware home. They finished second in the league behind Bradford Park Avenue by a mere point, and lost out in the Priestley Cup final to Spen Victoria who scored 152-6 to Lightcliffe’s 120.
In 1937 they slipped to 4th in the league but went one better in the Priestley Cup by winning the Final against Great Horton. Lightcliffe’s 294 were far too many for Horton who nevertheless battled to 220.
Albert Hartley had a phenomenal run in the Priestley Cup in 1937 scoring 63*, 56*, and 43 in the lead up to the Final where he scored a massive 131 off the Great Horton bowling. Somers also excelled with the bat scoring 82 runs, while Charlie Young did the damage with the ball taking 5-43.
Things became turbulent at Lightcliffe with an unfortunate relegation in 1938, to be followed by a rapid return as Champions in 1939. Hartley showed his class again as he topped the league bating averages with a remarkable average of 54.60. Taylor was still producing the goods not far behind with an average of 53.50.
Lightcliffe's most prolific cricketer, Hartley, made his debut in 1925 as an 18-year-old. During his career he played 572 games, scoring 10,490 runs, taking 1,028 wickets with his left-arm spin and also took 306 catches. He missed occasional seasons when he was professional at other clubs, most notably Nelson, where one of his predecessors had been Learie Constantine.
After 1939 things went quiet at Lightcliffe with little advancement in the cup and a decline in standards in the league to such an extent that they had to apply for re-election to the league in 1948.
Bucking the trend was F Jakeman who topped the league bating averages in 1946 with 597 runs at an average of 49.75 with a top score of 111.
Herbert Aspinall played his first game in 1940 and went on to make 501 appearances before he finished in 1967. He was captain from 1949 until 1966; however, he was much more than a player. As long-serving secretary and league representative he supervised all aspects of the club with a military efficiency. He was also groundsman for the last two decades of his life.
Hartley returned to the club in 1949 and had his best all-round season scoring 607 runs at 33.72 and taking 79 wickets at a little over 12 apiece. He was a contemporary and close friend of the dapper Charlie Young, who played from 1928 to 1949, and was captain towards the end of his career.
In 1950 promotion was obtained with Hartley taking 50 wickets at 10.32. This achievement was overshadowed by the winning of the Priestley Cup for the third time in 24 years. Batting first Lightcliffe suspended their innings at 154-4 and bowled East Bierley out for 153. What appears to be a narrow win in the records books is nothing of the sort as Lightcliffe could have re-commenced their innings as the rules allowed at the time. Roy Booth top scored with 50not out, but it was Hartley that frustrated the Bierley batting taking 3-50 in 16 overs.
A leading bowler of a previous generation Joe Hirst, whose sons, Donald and Raymond, were at Lightcliffe from 1948 to 1951, were both members of the 1950 cup-winning team, as was Albert Smith, the former league president.
Lightcliffe made a fair tilt at the First Division title in 1952 finishing second. It was inevitable that Hartley would be the star bowler with 60 wickets at 13.85, but he also performed the all-ten feat for the first time taking 10-36 against Keighley. The top batsman was Roy Booth who averaged 64.50 with the bat.
In the early years of Aspinall's captaincy the batting and wicketkeeping skills of Booth was a feature of the side. Booth played for both Yorkshire and Worcestershire. A product of Golcar Cricket Club, where he lived most of his early life, he was professional with Lightcliffe from 1948–53 and 1955.
A specialist wicketkeeper, he took 948 catches and completed 178 stumpings in a career that spanned two decades from 1951 to 1970, with 468 first-class appearances. Booth came late to first-class cricket, not making his debut for his native Yorkshire until he was 24, and was a fringe player in the Yorkshire team until the retirement of Don Brennan at the end of the 1953 season. He was then first choice for Yorkshire in 1954, but lost his place in 1955 to Jimmy Binks.
After 1952 Lightcliffe struggled to survive in the First Division with predominantly lowly positions throughout the decade until relegation in 1959. Despite the struggles all-rounder George Bottomley won the league bowling averages in 1954 with 39 wickets at 9.71. He made his first-team debut in 1933 and played for the club for 29 years. Like Hartley, he occasionally played elsewhere as a professional; indeed, when he was at Pudsey St. Lawrence he played against Lightcliffe in the 1955 Priestley Cup final.
As a footballer Bottomley had the chance to sign for Herbert Chapman's Arsenal but took his boss's advice and made a career with local carpet firm TF Firth and Sons. He stood down as club chairman in 1998, but continued to be an active member of the committee.
True to form and given Lightcliffe’s cup tradition they confounded the critics by winning the Priestley Cup again in 1955. They put their poor league form behind them to overhaul Pudsey St Lawrence’s 142 in the final to win by four wickets.
The signing of Donald Garside in 1955, a young wicketkeeper from Triangle in the Halifax League, was an inspired move. He was a sound and consistent wicketkeeper in a career lasting from 1955 to 1979, with 554 appearances made. He won the F Milton Watmouth League wicketkeeping trophy in both 1965 and 1979. It is a testimony to the skill of Garside that, in 1979, his final season, he also won the Stan Longbottom ' Safe Hands' Trophy for most stumpings in the league.
In the late 1950s and for most of the 1960s Lightcliffe had its own 'Three W's' to rival Worrell, Walcott and Weekes. These were Alan Warren, Brian Whitham and Harry Waterhouse. Warren and Waterhouse were consistently heavy-scoring batsmen. Warren won the league averages in 1965 with 768 runs at 54.87 - second was Lewis Pickles, then at Pudsey St. Lawrence, with an average of 41.78. Off-spinner Whitham, who played friendly cricket into his seventies, took 529 wickets in his first ten seasons at the club.
For Whitham the years circa 1966/1967 saw him at his zenith at Lightcliffe. In 1966 he finished second behind Derbyshire’s Les Jackson in the league averages with a haul of 57 wickets, with one of every four overs he bowled resulting in maidens. The following year Whitham won the Fastest Fifty Award with a strike rate timed at one wicket every 20 balls.
Pickles, doyen of opening bats, joined Lightcliffe in 1970, and played for 16 seasons, often making as important a contribution with his off-spin as with his runs. During the seventies the, leg-spinner Vijay Modgill, and off-spinner David Atkinson bowled many of Lightcliffe's overs to great success.
Pickles played as an opening batsman for Somerset for just over three seasons in the mid-1950s. He had made appearances for Yorkshire's Second Eleven, before featuring in a couple of games for Somerset in 1955 He cemented a regular place as opening batsman for the 1956 season. He did well enough to win his county cap, scoring 1,136 runs at an average of 24.
He made a top score of 87 against the bowling of Lancashire. The 1957 season proved more difficult for Pickles, with more competition for batting places after the arrival of Bill Alley. Alley often opened, and Pickles' uncertain form saw him play in less than half the first-class matches. Pickles left the county's staff at the end of the season, returning to Yorkshire where he played League cricket for Pudsey St Lawrence and from 1970 until 1985 for Lightcliffe, where his off-spin was a useful adjunct to his status as an opening batsman.
From 1963 Lightcliffe had 14 seasons in the First Division, their longest spell in the top flight. A cornerstone of this side was Martin Radcliffe, remembered not only for his 10,000 career runs, but also as a fine cover-point. Indeed, he was once compared, on the old Home Service, with Sir Jack Hobbs as a fielder in that position. With Bruce Deadman and Peter Westerby he led the way in an athletic fielding side. All three were captains of the team at some point.
Although Lightcliffe never challenged for the big league honours in the sixties they re-ignited their cup tradition with a fourth Priestley Cup in 1964. Lightcliffe reached 200-8 in the final after a brave knock of 43 by veteran Aspinall. The target was just about enough for victory as East Bierley came very close on 188-9. Lightcliffe’s undoubted man of the match was G D Beaumont who added 33 priceless runs to the total before bowling 15.3 overs for 4-32.
Roger Stead's career spanned six decades, having made his debut in 1968 when he was a tearaway young fast bowler. With maturity his pace decreased, but not his ability to hit massive sixes. He went on to captain the side for many years in the 1980s and 1990s.
Times were difficult on the field in the seventies with survival the name of the game. Eventually they were relegated in 1976 only to return with a bang when promoted in 1978. During the struggles Lightcliffe continued their fine cup tradition by reaching two Priestley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, they had lost the habit of usually winning on these big occasions. In 1972 they were well beaten by Undercliffe when posting a poor score of 148-8 and only taking one wicket defending it.
It was different in 1977 when as a Second Division club took big spending Manningham Mills all the way in a very close affair. Former Yorkshire and England batsman Phil Sharpe was the difference between the two sides scoring 97 in a total of 198-6. Radcliffe carried the fight with a classy 72 but could not quite see his team home as they fell six runs short.
A member of Lightcliffe’s losing side was David Roberts who won the fastest fifty award in 1977, which replicated Whitham’s feat ten years previously. Another member of that side was leg-spinner VK Modgill who took career best figures that year of 10-45 against Eccleshill.
1In 978 Radcliffe became the first Bradford League amateur to score 1,000 runs in a season. At the time this was a rare achievement; in fact, he was only the seventh in the history of the league to reach 1,000 runs and most of the others had been Test cricketers. His 1,003 runs came with an average of 52.78 with a top score of 123.
Left-armer Mike Bore took 103 wickets that season at 9.36 to win the league bowling averages. Bore played his early cricket with Hull Town. before making the Yorkshire Federation side in 1966. He played with Leeds taking 9-21 versus Doncaster Town in 1968, before moving to Bradford Park Avenue, taking 7-9 against Bowling Old Lane in 1970. He also helped them to win the Priestley Cup in 1973.
Bore made his debut for Yorkshire in 1969. He played for his native county until 1977, when he moved to Nottinghamshire where he played past the age of 40 until 1988. A doughty campaigner on the county circuit he took 372 first class wickets at 30.22 with a best of 8-89. He conceded 2.43 runs per over, bowling a mixture of accurate swing and seam. He was a noted rabbit with the bat, with a highest score of just 37 not in 158 innings, and an average of 8.24. He took 139 wickets in one day cricket.
Relegated in 1980 they made a fair chase for promotion in 1982 finishing third with G Binks taking an impressive 77 wickets at 12.57. Pickles had lost his prolific batting streak but became a 30-wicket a year man in the 1983-1984 period, during two mid-table campaigns for Lightcliffe.
The next momentous year came in 1985 when Lightcliffe won the Second Division Title by five points followed by Laisterdyke. If bowlers win matches, medium pacer John Foster quite possibly won Lightcliffe the title that season. He bowled 106 maidens in 275 overs taking 51 wickets for 12.33, and in doing so he won the league bowling averages by a margin of 0.01. He was well supported by John Pickles (39wkts) and express fast bowler Shahid Mahboob (60wkts). The batting in 1985 complemented the bowling with Andrew Battison (683), John Pickles (517) and, Simon Booth (669) scoring plentifully.
Mahboob built a reputation as a fearsome fast bowler when he took 89 wickets for Hartshead Moor in 1982 which included a 10-39 analysis against Idle. Mahboob actually played Test cricket for Pakistan and once added 144 in a crucial partnership with Imran Khan in a one-day international against England at Headingley. John Pickles graduated into a genuine all rounder during his 1980-87 tenure at Lightcliffe playing for Worcester seconds whilst at Alsager College.
Lightcliffe were relegated in 1988 and accepted their fate as a Second Division club as they entered the nineties. The outstanding performer in the early part of the decade was batsman Richard Walker who scored 830 runs in 1990 at 41.50. The following year he became only the second Lightcliffe batsman to score 1,000 runs in a season. His haul of 1,005 runs at 62.81, with a highest score of 131 not out catapulted him to second in the league batting averages.
Another worthy performer was spin bowler Graham Austin who took 64 wickets in 1990 and 47 in 1991. The unthinkable happened in 1993 when Lightcliffe had to apply for re-election after a season of four wins, and 16 defeats. They did recover and even made the top division again in the same decade only to be relegated the following season.
In 1994 there was a stark improvement on the field with a powerful batting line-up containing Richard Nichols (723 runs), Sean Humphreys (584 runs) and the emerging Nick Pyrah (761 runs). Only the lack of a cutting edge in the bowling department negated a promotion push.
Similar seasons in 1995/1996 saw Pyrah (603 runs) lead the batting in 1995, while Nick Whitaker (816 runs) was the highest scorer in 1996. Alex Stead first made an impression in that year scoring 606 runs.
All-rounder Stead was taken onto Yorkshire’s books and played his peak years in league cricket at Pudsey St Lawrence. He really came to the fore in 2004 there when he enjoyed his best season scoring 635 runs and taking 32 wickets. Stead played in two first class matches for Yorkshire with a top score of 28.
In 1997 Alex’s father Roger toiled hard to take 45 wickets to finish fourth in the league bowling averages, but more importantly helped to take his side to promotion. The leading batsmen were Pyrah (418 runs) and Humphreys (367 runs).
This success was short lived as they lasted just one season in the First Division. A brave attempt to return the first time of asking in 1999 failed as they ended in fourth place with Humphreys (453 runs) again excelling with the bat. Humphreys was one of the most prolific run-scoring keepers in the league in the late nineties.
However, it was Indian Test batsman Mohammed Kaif who caught the eye for Lightcliffe scoring 1,139 runs for an astonishing average of 81.35, and in doing so won the league batting averages. Kaif’s early international career was considered patchy, with the occasional outstanding performance backed up by ordinary batting. His most famous feat was helping India chase down 326 with 87not out (off 75 balls) in the 2002 NatWest Series Final. The effort earned him his first Man of the Match award. In the series against Bangladesh in late 2004, he was named Man of the Series for his consistency in all the three ODIs.
Kaif earned himself a Test cap against South Africa when he was 20. Although dropped after some ordinary performances, he made a good comeback to the Test side against Australia late in 2004 scoring two half-centuries. He was a very fast runner between the wickets and an excellent cover fielder; most notably his agility and throwing accuracy. He also has the world record of five catches in a World Cup match. His 13 Test matches garnered 624 runs at 32.84.
Medium pacer Roger Stead finished second in the league bowling averages in 2000 with 41 wickets at 12.37. Again Pyrah was the pick of the batters with 574 runs.
Lightcliffe won the Verity Section of the two-league second division in 2001 after a virtuoso season from their overseas player Mohammed Nazir. He averaged 54.57 with the bat and took 67 wickets. In the higher division the following year his talents were diminished as his side was relegated.
In an era of increasing professionals in league cricket it was admirable that they kept knocking on the door of the First Division. Despite the success of their overseas player they relied on a sizeable nucleus of loyal local lads boosted by aspiring talent from the junior section. Two such players were Michael Brooke and Nick Pyrah who built the best opening stand in the league in 2001 with 220 runs.
A few lack-lustre seasons in the Second Division followed with the star performer Jonathan Wilson who scored 709 runs in 2003, and would invariably reach 500 in a season. The best of the bowlers were L Smith who topped 50 wickets twice and Richard Tesseyman who took 54 wickets in 2003.
Fortunes on the field were sinking fast and in 2006 Lightcliffe suffered the indignity of applying for re-election after finishing in the bottom two.
Lightcliffe may not have been splashing their cash on players but they made an expensive undertaking to secure land behind their pavilion for a car-park. A slip road opened in 2006 on Wakefield Road opposite the Sun public house. This leads to a rural retreat around the perimeter of the ground to a splendid grassy space for cars. This has increased their potential as a club and has put them on short-lists for Shield Finals.
In 2007 Rodney Heyhoe was awarded the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy for services for cricket. Heyhoe as groundsman has the arduous task of ensuring that the ground is prepared for over 100 games a season. He first arrived at Lightcliffe, wearing short trousers, in the early 1950s to be coached by Major Wade, who organised junior cricket at the time. Rod played first and second team cricket as an attacking batsman.
His duties have been league representative, club secretary apart from the prodigious amount of time and craft into the upkeep of the field, buildings and machinery. With a talent for hard work, and an acceptance of only the highest standards, it is true to say that Lightcliffe could not be the club it is today without his selfless contribution.
The quality of his work is known in wider circles and has been recognised with sundry national awards. To anyone who visits the ground, it is evident in the meticulously maintained playing surface and surrounds. His talents are now key to the continual improvements of all the member clubs through his initiatives as a Bradford League Board Member.
Thrills were few at Lightcliffe on the field – with Wilson continuing to be the key batsman. In 2009 Nichols, who scored 710 league runs, recorded the highest opening stand in the league that season with Umar Salim who helped him put on 185 runs. Nichols also had the league’s largest individual score for 2009 with 157not out.
Former Yorkshire batsman Chris Taylor came to the club in 2010 and scored 1,436 club runs in his first season. This beat the club record of 1,323 set by Indian Test batsman Mohammed Kaif in 1999. Taylor’s 1,182 league runs at 78.80 secured for him the Second Division League Batting Averages, and also the distinction in reaching the four-figure mark quicker than any other batsman in Bradford League history (14 innings). Despite Taylor’s efforts Lightcliffe finished third after looking good for promotion.
After ten seasons in the second division Lightcliffe, under the captaincy of Wilson, gained promotion as champions in 2011. The title win was after a remarkable last-day dual with Saltaire who were on the same points at the top. Maximum points for Lightcliffe would deliver them the title no matter what Saltaire did.
As it happened Saltaire scored a massive score against Windhill to grab the maximum points in a canter. Lightcliffe struggled on a very slow wicket at Great Horton and appeared to be in a hopeless position to score 225 and clinch full batting points but a late assault took them there. Great Horton’s batting crumbled in reply.
Taylor retained the Second Division bating averages with 95.77 from 1,284 runs. He was joined by his brother-in-law Alex Stead, who returned to his home club, after eight seasons at Pudsey St. Lawrence and scored 672 runs to go with his 31 wickets. With the left-arm spin of Chris Greenwood and the all-round skills of Josh Wheatley who took 51 wickets, Lightcliffe were a formidable team.
For years Lightcliffe were regarded as the quintessential English club who put on fine teas and stuck to the fine tradition of all-amateur status. All this was changing as decent sponsorship was found to bring in players with county associations.
Yorkshire second teamer and first team prospect Alex Lees was brought to the club in 2012, to join the effervescent all rounder Charlie Roebuck. Roebuck, a right handed batsman and right arm medium pacer, played one first-class match in 2010 for Yorkshire. This was against India A in June 2010, when he scored 23 runs in his only innings. His association with Yorkshire goes back to 2007, when he played for the Yorkshire Academy in the Yorkshire ECB County Premier League, and the Yorkshire Second XI. He then moved to Kirkburton before signing for Lightcliffe. He later played for Durham Second XI.
Lees scored 677 runs at 37.61 for Lightcliffe in 2012 and quickly established himself at Yorkshire in 2013 as opening batsman. In 2014 he was named Young Cricketer of the Year after scoring 971 Championship runs at an average of 44.13.
Another notable signing was Bradford-born pace bowler Moin Ashraf who started at Great Horton before entering the Yorkshire Academy to play Yorkshire League Cricket. A tall lad with a flowing action and run-up he played Championship cricket for Yorkshire, but particularly excelled in the shorter version of the game being part of Yorkshire’s bid for the Champions League Twenty/20. Depending on his county commitments he was available spasmodically, but he did play an influential role in the 2013 Priestley Cup run.
If the intention was to nicely consolidate in 2012 they quite conveniently found they were embroiled in a last-day title battle with Woodlands, East Bierley and themselves. At one stage of the day the league championship trophy was being driven on Huddersfield Road towards Lightcliffe. Woodlands were making a right mess of it against a weakened Bradford & Bingley side who were chasing a small score. With Matthew Duce at the crease and going well only five runs were required with four wickets in hand. Incredibly they didn’t score another run, Grant Soames taking the last wicket from a long-hop caught on the boundary edge by young Scott Richardson.
Taking away the disappointment of missing out on what would have been their first title win of the top division, they had enjoyed a fine season. The underrated Wilson finished fourth in the league bating averages with 411 runs, while other run-getters were Lees (677) and Taylor (597). Great Horton overseas recruit Suleman Khan was the pick of the bowlers with 48 wickets.
If 2012 had a bittersweet ending 2013 fulfilled all Lightcliffe’s new ambitions in these renaissance years. New recruit Oliver Robinson proved to be a charismatic cricketer with bat and balll, and his exploits earned a Yorkshire contract. In the league Lightcliffe never really challenged but they were comfortable competing with all the big noises in the league.
Chris Taylor was not always available but when he was he recorded 500 runs at 50. Other heavy scorers were Roebuck (657), Robinson (444), Stead (705), and Khan (444) who was also the premier bowler with 51 wickets. Amongst the array of ready-made stars an exciting young talent emerged in young left-arm spin bowler Daanyaal Ahmed who impressed enough to win the league’s Young Spin Bowler of the Year Award.
But it was in the cup that they achieved greatness again when they brought it back up Wakefield Road for the first time in 49 years. Nobody could say that they did it the easy way having to negotiate Woodlands in the way they did. Chasing a score in excess of 200 they were effectively out for the count with ten overs to go until Robinson turned the game on its head with a brilliant innings.
The outcome of the 2013 final at Farsley when they were paired with Hanging Heaton was based largely on the toss as overnight rain had seeped on to the square rendering it difficult for the first batting side. Danger batsman Gary Fellows was an early casualty as his side struggled against the pace of Ashraf who took 3-32 in his ten overs. As the wicket dried out James Stansfield (88) gave the score some semblance of respectability at 189-9. But, Suleman Khan with 2-35 off his ten overs ensured they would not reach the 200-mark. Lightcliffe won at a canter with all their batters scoring solidly in a score of 197-3. Stead top-scored with 45, while Robinson made an entertaining unbeaten 41. Skipper Taylor was magnanimous in victory as he took hold of the prized silverware.
In years to come the historians will refer to Lightcliffe circa 2010-2013 as the `Chris Taylor years’. Not only did he score an enormous pile of runs, but he had used his contacts in cricket to recruit for the betterment of Lightcliffe Cricket Club.
Lightcliffe were expected to build on their cup win and cement their place as one of the top clubs in the league in 2014. However, a series of early season departures actually put their top flight place in jeopardy. Roebuck moved to Kirkburton, followed almost immediately by Taylor’s announcement that he would concentrate on his business interests. All rounder Robinson’s Yorkshire duties negated his appearances, while the same could be said for Moin Ashraf.
An early damaging defeat at Woodlands suggested they would struggle but Suleman Khan and Alex Stead jointly saved their season and buried any thoughts of relegation. Khan scored 715 runs at 42.06 with a top score of 128, while Stead recaptured his career peak form with 766 runs at 42.56 with a top score of 152. Khan was also the most penetrating bowler with 40 wickets at 16.10. The varied exploits of Khan brought him the 2014 Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
It was much of the same in 2015 with a flirtation with relegation for much of the season. Taylor was expected to play more but incurred an early season injury which ended his campaign. Again the salvation came in the shape of Alex Stead (724 runs) and Suleman Khan, who scored 736 runs at 40.89 and also took 33 wickets. Khan retained the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy and in doing so equalled Ian Austin’s feat of an earlier decade.
Lightcliffe surprised the pundits by reaching the Priestley Cup Final for the second time in three years after beating fancied teams Cleckheaton and Pudsey Congs on the way. The actual Final was a disappointing affair with Bradford & Bingley easily winning by 106 runs.
It was a difficult season in 2016 for Lightcliffe, with Chris Taylor announcing his retirement part way through. For a time they hovered precariously close to the relegation placings ending 22 points clear in ninth place.
The best performer was Stead who anchored the batting more often than not with 792 runs at 49.50, while Khan’s usual consistency shone through as he scored 592 runs at 37.00, and also took 36 wickets.