|Former Yorkshire and Gloucester spinner Ian Fisher has played his part in new Farnley's progress
Picture: © Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League
League president Keith Moss welcomes New Farnley chairman to the league in 2013
Club chef Tom Suggitt made over 500 runs in 2013
Craig Russell led New Farnley to promotion in 2013 and won the Division Two wicketkeeping award
Nick Walker had a good all-round season in 2013
New Farnley is far from being steeped in a long history of achievement, but have rocketed from very humble beginnings in 1952 when they joined the modest Dales Council League, playing on several grounds before putting its roots down in Farnley Park, and in doing so becoming one of the most consistently-successful teams in the League.
As a club it wasn’t until the nineties when they made great strides in on the field achievement. In 1991 they won the B Section of the Dales Council before pulling off a remarkable double the following season by winning the A Section and the Cup competition.
At the time their star player was all-rounder Simon Lindsay who could have played at a far higher standard.
They won the cup again in 1993, but perhaps more significantly that year moved to their present ground on Lawns Lane – a farmer’s potato field in its previous life. In 1994 they won the A Section again to reinforce their supremacy in the league, and when the clubhouse was officially opened in 1995 they decided to step into more senior cricket by joining the Central Yorkshire League.
The club was promoted as Division Two champions in 1996 and finally, in 2003 season, began life as a Premier Division side having won the previous season’s Division One title. The club took a couple of years to find its feet but from 2006 -2012 never failed to finish outside the top three.
The most prominent player in the aforementioned era was former Yorkshire spin bowler Ian Fisher, who also assisted with the club’s coaching.
In 2010 he was the league’s top all-rounder scoring 826 runs at 48.59, and also taking 47 wickets at 17.74. He followed this feat in 2011 by scoring 710 runs at 37.37 as well as taking 48 wickets.
Fisher, a left-handed batsman and left-arm spin made his first-class debut in April 1996 during Yorkshire's pre-season tour of Zimbabwe, and in his first innings took 5-35 against a Mashonaland Invitation XI. However, the surge in form of Richard Dawson stopped Fisher from progressing with Yorkshire, and he moved to Gloucestershire for the 2002 season.
He had a decent summer, scoring over 500 runs and taking more than 30 wickets in first-class cricket. His scote of 103 not out against Essex, which remained his only first-class century.
Fisher helped Gloucestershire to promotion to Division One in the County Championship in 2003, but gradually fell away from first-team contention. By 2008, Twenty20 was his main specialty, and in the following year left Gloucestershire to join Worcestershire, but he was not retained at the end of the season.
Apart from the exploits of Fisher in 2010 there were other remarkable individual performers. The runs that season were shared around between Nick Cullen who scored 653 at 40.81, and Matthew Good (455 runs), Sam Lavery (399 runs) and Steve Blackburn who averaged 40.22 in ten innings mainly due to an unbeaten century.
Two bowlers who took 40-plus wickets were David McCallum and Nicky Johnson, while Dan Busfield chipped in with 32.
Joe Suggitt had a season to remember capturing 32 victims to take the league wicket-keeping award.
Perhaps the most remarkable feat of the 2010 season was an unbeaten last-wicket stand of 138 between Cullen and Johnson against Townville.
Suggitt excelled again in 2011, but this time with the bat as he scored 701 runs at 46.73 with a top score of 46.73. Medium pacer David Cummings finished third in the League bowling averages with 28 wickets at 13.50, whilst McCallum (41wkts) and Busfield (32wkts) also made their mark.
In 2012 their final season they were the only side in the league to beat star-studded title winners Wrenthorpe, (apart from Hunslet Nelson when Wrenthorpe reversed their batting order in the last fixture).
Fisher again contributed well, but his season was truncated because of county calls. McCallum took over the mantle of leading all-rounder averaging 45.30 with the bat, and also taking 50 wickets at the low cost of 16.76 per wicket. Montcin Hodge was the leading batsman with 752 runs.
Progress on the pitch at New Farley was mirrored by other improvements and developments – attaining ECB Clubmark status, enlarging the square, acquisition of roll-on covers, new all-weather pitch, artificial and grass netting facilities, and new digital scorebox.
They possessed the infrastructure to make an impact on the Bradford League when deciding to leave the Central Yorkshire League at the end of the 2012 season.
They left the league with Cullen, Fisher (when available), McCallum, Good, Cummings and Johnson up for the fight in the Bradford League. They suffered a blow when Busfield and Suggitt both decided to join Hanging Heaton, but when they recruited Lee Goddard and Nick Walker from East Bierley for their debut season, they clearly meant business.
After five matches they led the table with a healthy 19-point advantage over third-placed Yeadon. Gradually, Farsley took over the top and Spen Victoria came from nowhere to be a real threat. After 14 matches New Farnley were in third place 29 points behind second-placed Spen.
It was definitely not plain sailing as Lee Goddard scratched about for form, while his team was beaten by lowly Brighouse. They began to claw back the points and when they beat Spen in resounding fashion with Fisher making a century on one of his occasional appearances, the second place was back in their sights. A flurry of late-season victories ensured second place eight points behind title winners Farsley.
The effervescent all-rounder Nick Walker was the influential player of the season scoring 556 runs at 39.71, and taking 39 wickets at 14.10. Other batsmen in the runs were Tom Suggitt (503) and Good (487), while the wicket-takers apart from Walker were Nadeem Hussain (57wkts), Johnson (34wkts) and McCallum (31wkts). Another individual triumph came in the shape of Craig Russell who took 36 victims to secure the league’s wicketkeeping award.
The name of the game in 2013 was promotion, but the icing on the cake came with two cup finals. In the Priestley Cup, Manningham Mills soon put paid to any ambitions with a comprehensive defeat of New Farnley at Lawns Lane. However, their extremely competitive second eleven reached the final of the Priestley Shield against Hanging Heaton in addition to winning promotion to Division One. Despite being very well-placed at one point they faded and Hanging Heaton ran out comfortable winners.
The first team excelled in the Heavy Woollen Cup accounting for Delph & Dobcross, Morley, Scholes, and Wakefield Thornes before facing Hanging Heaton in the final. In a much anticipated final New Farnley batting first could only muster 158-9 with Lee Goddard (36) and Ian Fisher (27) being the principal scorers.
Although Hanging Heaton put on 54 for the first wicket they could have struggled if Gary Fellows (79no) had been caught when he spooned a shot to the mid-wicket boundary in his thirties. In the end they got there in some comfort by six wickets and 12.2 overs to spare. As for New Farnley, they had achieved their main goal of promotion and the cup adventures were a bonus.
Mark Lawson led New Farnley in their first season in the top flight in 2014 and they made an uncertain start. However, in the second half of the season they came to terms with the challenge largely down to inspirational displays by their all-rounder Nick Walker. He often took the vital early wicket and boosted the middle order with some fine hitting. He scored a priceless 389 runs at 27.79 in often precarious situations. In addition the 36 wickets he took at 15.81 was testimony to a fine all-round performer.
Lawson drove his troops in the field taking 34 wickets at 13.97, while Goddard was the stand out batsman averaging 38.40. Big signing Scott Richardson from Woodlands had moderate success with 385 runs.
New Farnley had consolidated well with an impressive ten victories leading to fifth position.
More team strengthening in 2015 led to higher expectations at New Farnley with the recruitment of James Middlebrook and Andrew Hodd. Despite this they dropped a place to sixth and lost a Priestley Cup semi-final against Bradford & Bingley when well placed to go through to their firstfFinal.
Hodd was signed by Yorkshire in 2012 to cover for Jonny Bairstow's regular absences with the England cricket team. A wicket-keeper and genuine batsman in his own right, he played for both Surrey and Sussex and had a top First Class score is 123.
He played as a specialist batsman for New Farnley and scored 334 runs at 41.75 in limited appearances.
The 38 year old Middlebrook made a sensational return to play for Yorkshire weeks after making his debut for New Farnley. England calls for Adil Rashid led to a short-term contract that was extended to the end of the season as he played his part in Yorkshire’s second successive title win. He found time to score 538 runs for New Farnley at 35.87 and also took 28 wickets.
Former Leicestershire and Derbyshire cricketer Nick Walker who scored 579 at 44.54 had some thrilling mid-order knocks complete with audacious reverse shots, while Goddard was the top batter again with 701 runs. Skipper Lawson drove his side on and took 49 wickets with his new style medium pace.
New Farnley signed prolific left hander Simon Lambert from York CC for the 2016 season, and were expected to challenge under the new captain Nick Johnson. However, their inability to extend winning runs like the top teams left them in fourth place, albeit their highest ever in the league.
Lee Goddard had a fine season scoring 647 runs at 49.77 with a highest score of 151* which propelled him to third in the League Batting Averages. Lambert (460 runs) and Middlebrook (410 runs) were the other main batters. Left arm seamer Mohammed Bilal was the pick of the bowlers with 45 wickets at 15.44.
Away from the league Johnson led New Farnley to their greatest achievement as a senior club when they won the Heavy Woollen Cup Final at Methley in August. Their path to the final was a difficult one as they accounted for prospective South Yorkshire Premier League title winners Wakefield Thornes, Woodlands, Morley and Scholes from the Huddersfield League.
New Farnley chose to bat first in the Final against Hoylandswaine and a second-wicket stand of 77 between Middlebrook (72 runs) and Lawson (38 runs) set the scene for a run glut. Goddard (58 runs) continued the rapid run-rate, but the momentum actually increased in a fifth-wicket stand between Nick Walker and Richard Atkins.
Walker blasted two sixes and 13 fours in an unbeaten 92, while Atkins, who shared an unbroken stand of 149 with Walker, hit a six and four fours in an unbeaten 47. This helped New Farnley to post the highest-ever final score in a 50 overs game of 341-4.
Hoylandswaine’s reply was rapid, but they lost wickets at critical times. Atkins (3-34) took the vital wickets of Gharib Nawaz, Alex Morris and SP Singh, but the overseas player Michael Cranmer gave his team hope. He hit two sixes and ten fours in a fine innings of 90 before becoming one of five victims for Lawson who reverted to his old art of leg spin.
Lawson was awarded the man of the match award as New Farnley finally bowled Hoylandswaine out for 220 to record an impressive 121-run victory.