|Liversedge's team of 1897 pose for a team picture
by Reg Nelson
In the 1860s cricket was strong in the Liversedge area with teams including Hightown Heights, Roberttown Star of Brunswick, Littletown United, Littletown Young Alma, and Hightown Young England. However, it was another club- a parish church-connected club called Roberttown All Saints that is generally viewed as the precursor to Liversedge CC.
Roberttown All Saints had entered the inaugural Heavy Woollen Cup in 1883 but was defeated in the first round against Scholes.
A cutting appears from 1887 that indicates that Roberttown and Liversedge both had teams in existence, nine years before the official birth date of Liversedge CC. However, it has always been accepted that the only ground the Liversedge club has played at is on Roberttown Lane.
The ground is sited on an old tip linked to an old glassworks using land that was probably 'made into' a cricket ground around 1900, soon after the birth of Liversedge CC as successor club to Roberttown All Saints CC.
Originally the ground had a big slope, but the well-known Dymond family of the nearby Dymond Pit, in Headlands Road, rectified it somewhat. They arranged for rails and tubs to be used, and a band of volunteers from the village shipped tons of earth from the top end of the field to the lower regions, and negated the slope to some extent.
One of the early famous cricketers at Liversedge was William Thewlis who peaked in the early twentieth century as opening batsman. He had a long standing alliance with fellow opener H Haigh, and reigned for twenty years in that position.
In 1905 Liversedge became founder members of the Spen Valley Cricket League and actually won it in the first season. They retained it in 1906 after a real battle with Rastrick, edging home by just four points. The make-up of the league that season was Liversedge, Rastrick, East Bierley, Heckmondwike, Gomersal, Mirfield, Scholes, Hartshead Moor and Staincliffe.
Liversedge proved their power in the area when they won the title again in 1909.
Up until the beginning of the First World War, Liversedge’s best achievement in the Heavy Woollen Cup was to reach the semi-final. However, in 1916 they reached and final, but succumbed to Ossett despite bowling them out for 88. Chasing this modest total they collapsed to 57 all-out. The following year they had their chance for revenge in the final against the same opponents but lost by nine wickets in another low scoring match when they scored only 61.
Liversedge enjoyed security off the field when three local benefactors bought the ground for the club in 1919 on condition that it was used exclusively for cricket.
In 1920 Liversedge joined the Heavy Woollen League but suffered a disastrous debut year finishing bottom with only two points gained.
The most momentous day in their history up to 1929 came when they won the Heavy Woollen Cup that year in a low scoring final at Dewsbury. Replying to Morley’s 95 they knocked the runs off for the loss of six wickets.
Liversedge’s liking for the Heavy Woollen Cup continued into the thirties when they had a trilogy of finals against arch rivals Heckmondwike. In 1933 they triumphed at Cleckheaton by 28 runs, before losing the 1934 and 1937 finals quite decisively.
After 18 years spent in the Heavy Woollen League, Liversedge joined the newly formed Central Yorkshire League for the 1938 season. This set-up was designed to bring clarity to the over-staffed Yorkshire Council which was widespread and unwieldy.
The clubs that formed the league were Ossett, Dewsbury & Savile, Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Birstall, Batley, Morley, Liversedge, Staincliffe. There was little early success for Liversedge in their new league but they were still fierce cup fighters. and reached the 1943 Heavy Woollen Cup Final where they were easily defeated by a good Batley side.
In 1952 the first Central Yorkshire League silverware came in the form of the Second Division title under skipper V Trevitt. Liversedge were competitive but flitted between the two divisions for the next twenty years with further title wins in the lower division in 1963 and 1971.
The continuation of their Heavy Woollen adventures were remarkable as they lost to Dewsbury in the 1956 Final after being bowled out for 51, but triumphed ten years later in 1966 when beating Chickenley by eight wickets.
Liversedge had the legendary figure of Sonny Ramadhin taking part in the 1966 final, but his two- wicket contribution was modest. However, the real hero was Keith Goddard who took six wickets with his unique brand of in-swingers, and also helped to steer his side to victory to with eleven not out. Ramadhin had proved to be the match-winner in an earlier round against Gomersal when he took 8-35.
|Sonny Ramadhin played in the 1966 Heavy Woolllen Cup final when Liversedge defeated Chickenley
|Mark Gilliver, a prolific run scorer in the Bradford League, played for Liversedge in the 1988 Heavy Woollen Cup final
|Matthew Baxter made 220 not out in 2003
|Simon Purdy took 91 wickets in 2006
West Indian Ramadhin was a mystery bowler- though he was a wrist spinner, his leg break rarely turned, adding to the batsman’s confusion. In the 1957 tour of England Ramadhin exerted his hold over the batsmen, taking 7/49 to dismiss England for 186 in the first innings of the First Test at Edgbaston.
He took 158 career test wickets at 28.98., and over 700 in First Class cricket.
Ramadhin won the First Division Bowling Averages for Liversedge in 1966 taking 56 wickets at 7.47. He would replicate this feat for the next three years for Wakefield in the same division.
The old pavilion burnt down in the sixties along with most of the club archives. There was an appeal to the villagers to fund the rebuild, and the cash came flooding in and in consequence a large new building was erected.
The 1971 title win was coupled with the Wheatley Cup making it a unique double for skipper J Marwood. In addition Tony Leighton won the Second Division Batting Averages with an average of 63, while M Naylor made it a double by winning the Second Division Bowling Averages taking 76 wickets at 6.89.
Another honour for Liversedge in 1971 came by way of hosting their first Heavy Woollen Cup Final on a ground that had become to be regarded as one of the best in the league.
The last silverware of the seventies came with the Heavy Woollen Cup as they defeated Ossett in a dour final in 1977. Liversedge laboured to 148-8 before bowling out Ossett for 101.
The 1977 Heavy Woollen Cup Final line-up for Liversedge was-P Nicholson, R Elstub, A Trevitt, S Kelsey, D Lloyd, C Kelsey, J Ward, R Mayhew, D Whitaker, S Atkin, N Gould.
Liversedge had signed former Yorkshire player John Woodford in 1980 and he ensured they would be chasing major honours.
In 1980 they won the Yorkshire Council Championship with the following team: P Elwick, A Walker, P Nicholson, P Gould, J Woodford, D Johnson, A Tickle, R Jarratt, M Holden (Capt), E Walker, N Brackenbury.
The following year in 1981 they played what has proved to be their last Heavy Woollen Cup Final when their old foes Heckmondwike beat them in a good final. Chasing 218-3 Liversedge ran out of steam at the end with a final total of 182.
Losing out on the Heavy Woollen Cup gave them the determination to regain silverware and they made history in 1982 by winning the First Division title for the first time under skipper M Holden. But it was Woodford who proved to be the catalyst for this triumph.
Not only did Woodford score vital runs but he was also the major threat with the ball, winning the First Division Bowling Averages with 43 wickets at 13.13. This replicated the same feat the previous year in 1981 when he took 50 wickets at 9.98.
Woodford played for Yorkshire from 1968 to 1973 and appeared subsequently for Northumberland in the Minor Counties Cricket Championship.
He was a right-handed batsman, who scored 1,204 first-class runs in thirty eight matches with a highest score of 101, his only century. In seventy four one-day games he compiled 951 runs at an average of 21.61, with a best score of 69 not out. Although he only took four first-class wickets, he was more successful in the limited over format, snaring 79 victims with his medium pacers at 21.01.
There was a remarkable performance for Liversedge 2XI in 1981 when bowler Allan Trevitt took 9 wickets for no runs against Batley 2XI.
After a lull in glory Liversedge, C Binks skippered them to the 1988 Jack Hampshire Cup, beating WYCO in the Final at Thornhill. The team that won the cup comprised of G Scott, B Haigh, P Nicholson, R Needler, E Noble, H Burdin, A Bentley, S Kulkarni, S Rowse, G Binks (Capt), M Gilliver.
Gilliver, who was 19 at the time of the final, went on to have an illustrious career in the Bradford League scoring 15,908 runs. He also topped 1,000 runs in a season on two occasions with his best tally in 2002 at Esholt when he scored 1,328. Although he had county trials the furthest he went in the First Class game was representing the Yorkshire Cricket Board.
Four years later Liversedge won the 1992 First Division title under the captaincy of D Johnson. This team benefited from the experience of all rounder David Dobson who had a long and glittering career in the Bradford League with Undercliffe. Other key performers that season were E Noble, S Wolfenden and Indian S Kulkarni.
Liversedge were now considered a power in the league with more silverware to follow. However, this was the last they would achieve in the way of major trophies as their fortunes dipped and the likes of Gomersal, Mirfield and Methley would dominate.
By 1997 they were well entrenched in the top division as a mid-table side, finishing exactly half-way despite losing eleven matches. However, they had some very worthy performers in Paul Marlow who scored 648 runs, and Nigel Doyle who took 63 wickets. But, it was Mark Hydes who enjoyed most of the plaudits winning the League’s All Rounders Trophy as a wicket-keeper/batsman. He won the Tom Senior Wicketkeeping award and also scored 846 runs at 47.00.
In 1998 Liversedge’s ground was enhanced further with a new dressing room extension. Deservedly they hosted more prestige matches including the Black Sheep Final and sundry representative games. In addition to this the Heavy Woollen Cup Final was almost their domain as they hosted it thirteen times since 1994.
Like most senior leagues the Central Yorkshire League instigated a Premier League for their top division. Liversedge were not perennial members in the new century, but they had exciting players in the lower division.
In August 2003 Liversedge’s Matthew Baxter hammered 11 sixes and 18 fours in an unbeaten 220, failing by only two runs to equal the league’s all-time record individual score. Baxter, who struck 27 off the final over, put on 229 for the second wicket with Mark Hydes (104 runs) in Liversedge's 378-3 against the First Division's bottom side King Cross who replied with
Determined to get to the Premier league, Liversedge found the First Division to their liking in 2006, and achieved their ambition, and also took the two major individual awards:
Vernon Grace Trophy - Division One batting: Azhar Chunara 591 runs at 53.73.
GD Wolfenden Trophy - Division One bowling: Simon Purdy 91wkts at 9.36.
Purdy was a slow left arm spinner who peaked in the previous decade playing for Hanging Heaton winning all the top honours.
Despite their strength it was not until the last weekend of the season that they clinched promotion with a six-wicket success at Hopton Mills.
Hopton Mills were off to a good start but gradually the Liversedge bowlers ground them down with Jamie Hardcastle (2-40), Simon Purdy (3-47), Josh Tingle (3-37) and Steve Blackburn (1-19) restricting them to 158-9.
After Chunara was dismissed without a run on the board, Alan Bentley (54*) and Blackburn (40) steadied the ship with a 74-run stand, as Liversedge reached 159-4.
Back in the Premier League they exceeded all expectations in 2008 by reaching the Jack Hampshire Memorial Cup Final where they played Wakefield Thornes. On the day they were easily beaten as they replied with 178 all-out to the Thorne’s 250-9. Few excelled on the day except Jonathan Gould who had the best batting and bowling performance on the day for his team with 46 runs and 2-37 respectively.
Liversedge were relegated in 2010 after a torrid season that just brought five victories. Purdy led from the front as captain with 43 wickets, but the batting wasn’t strong enough with only David Bolt (389 runs) and Jonathan Trevitt (359 runs) making a fist of it.
The expected promotion push fizzled out under captain Tom Smith who did manage to extract eleven wins from his team. There was some powerful batting from Max Power who scored 632 runs at 48.62, and David Winter who contributed 556 runs at 46.33. These two finished number 2 &3 in the League Batting Averages. Bolt also contributed well with 551 runs, but apart from Simon Kay who took 30 wickets, there was little penetration with the ball.
Things took a turn for the worse in 2012 as their promotion ambition evaporated after enduring 10 losses as three different captains attempted to stop the rot. The one highlight of the season was the performances of young batsman Conor McInern who scored 607 runs at 37.94 with a top score of 119*.
There was a vast improvement in 2013 under skipper Graeme Winn, with 15 wins and four losses, but still no promotion. The batting was strong with Alan Sumner leading the way scoring 743 runs at 67.55 with a top score of 127*. Sean Wilson also did well contributing 884 runs at 55.25 and a top score of 134. The reliable Marlowe topped 400 runs, but the bowling did not match the batting as only Doyle with 44 wickets made an impression.
Determined to win promotion in 2014 they fought all the way but again missed out. They fell three points short in third place behind the second promoted side Buttershaw St Paul’s. The best individual performances were from Hydes who scored 103 v East Ardsley, Doyle who took 6-20 v East Leeds and Kay who took 6-55 v Batley.
In what would prove to be the last year of the Central Yorkshire League, Liversedge at least finished the 2015 season in the top two. With the advent of the move to the Bradford League Championship, promotion was denied, but at least they would finish their tenure in the league with pride restored.
From the start Liversedge were involved in a title race with Hopton Mills. It was obvious how the season progressed that it would go to the wire and this was the case with the latter prevailing by one point. Sumner ended the season with 534 runs at 33.68, while Kay was again the best bowler with 47 wickets at 15.06. Another noteworthy performance came from William Atkin who took most outfield catches in the league that season with 13.
It was not an auspicious start to their Bradford League era with just five victories and a lowly ninth in Championship A.
There was some solid performers in Mark Hydes (487 runs) Paul Marlow (406 runs) and Jessie Dinnie (383 runs), and off spinner Stephen Lane (30 wkts), but a lack of star quality negated their progress.
|Liversedge has been a popular venue for the staging of cup finals