The biggest shock in the sporting calendar of 1990 was when the unheralded Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson. However, there were no shocks about the Bradford League First Division that year, when a very strong Bradford & Bingley side took the title.
The Wagon Laners had strength in depth, but under the old points system they were narrow winners. In a real battle to the death East Bierley ran them close and finished just two points adrift of them, while Spen Victoria were five points further back in third place.
The nineties were the most momentous years in the Wagon Lane club’s history. It all started in 1990 with the arrival of Australian fast bowler Richard McCarthy who had terrified the Airedale & Wharfedale batters the previous year with Adel.
He was lightening quick and possibly the fastest in the league in the post war years. In an era of few `batsmen’s helmets’ and little protection from the gloves of the time, there were a lot of batsmen hopping about.
McCarthy’s 71 wickets at 12.70 won him the League Bowling Averages that year, and ensured his team were not chasing high totals.
Even if they were, they had the likes of James Robinson (940 runs), Bill Holmes (740), Neil Hartley (698), John Goldthorp (584) and Mark Best (468 ) to chase down targets.
Bradford & Bingley's title-winning side from 1990: Back, from left,: John Goldthorp, Mark Duffy, James Robinson, Mark Best, Richard McCarthy, Billy Holmes. Front: Chris Dobson, Jeremy Batty, Neil Hartley (captain), David Batty, Phil Padgett
East Bierley had a lot of talent in their ranks to challenge with the likes of Bradley Parker, Murphy Walwyn, David Jay, Paul Ingham and Dave Adams. Parker’s 858 league runs at 45.16 won him the W H Foster Jubilee League Batting Trophy.
Spen Victoria had a good outfit in 1990 under the leadership of left-arm spin bowler Solly Adam. It was a talented side which included three players who were to go on to play first class cricket, John Wood (Durham and Lancashire), Tim Walton (Northants and Essex), Mike Smith (Gloucester and England), and Indian Tosh Arothe.
Finishing third in the league, Steve Foster (879 runs), Andy Bethel (76) and Arothe (619) were the main run-getters, while Adam (49 wkts) and Wood (32) took the lion’s share of the wickets.
But, it was in the Priestley Cup final at Wagon Lane where the silverware was won. Inspired by the fast bowling of John Wood, Spen crushed Pudsey St Lawrence to lift the trophy.
The final was eagerly anticipated by the neutrals who flocked to Wagon Lane to see Spen do battle with a very good Pudsey St Lawrence side. Instead, it turned out to be a comprehensive defeat for St Lawrence who never looked like overhauling Spen’s handy 231-7.
John Wood, the cup hero of 1990, retired from Bradford League cricket last season
However, the neutrals could marvel at a wonderful fast bowling display from Spen’s John Wood who destroyed the batting with a haul of 7-20. It was a controlled and very hostile spell of fast bowling that indicated a county career in the future. He was the automatic choice as Man of the Match.
St Lawrence had a strong league campaign finishing fourth, 11 points behind the title winners. They had the leagues’ best all-round cricketer in Chris Gott, who won the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy. Gott would go on and captain the Bradford League Representative side to five successive wins in the Yorkshire League KO.
Things were stirring in the Second Division with a Test bowler spearheading Bankfoot’s successful bid for promotion. Haydn Richmond scored 607 runs, and ably assisted by Lee Hanson who contributed 569, the batting proved just about good enough.
But, the real catalyst was former Kent and England left-arm spinner Derek Underwood who in his one season for the club, took 54 wickets at a cost of 9.83 and predictably topped the Division Two bowling averages. This was a great coup for Bankfoot at the time and eyebrows were raised about how a relatively unfashionable club in the league could pull the signing off.
As ambitious as Bankfoot were, it was Baildon who took the Second Division crown by the decisive margin of 19 points, (which acquaints to three wins and a losing draw in the old points system).
Baildon, who had a reputation as a yo-yo club in this era, were far too strong for the division. They had overseas batsman Shahid Tanvir who scored 752 runs at 53.71, and also recorded the Highest Individual Score in the league when he struck 173 not out against Hartshead Moor.
Other major contributors were Richard Robinson who scored 818 runs at 48.12, and also picked up the Gordon Bowers Young Cricketer of the Year Trophy.
John Marshall, one of the best spinners in the league, was the leading Baildon bowler with 58 wickets at 11.10.
The make-up of the Bradford League in 1990 was as follows, in league table order-
Division One: Bradford & Bingley, East Bierley, Spen Victoria, Pudsey St Lawrence, Idle, Yorkshire Bank, Yeadon, Hanging Heaton, Undercliffe, Keighley, Manningham Mills, Bowling Old Lane, Pudsey Congs, Farsley.
Division Two: Baildon, Bankfoot, Drighlington, Great Horton, Eccleshill, Lightcliffe, Saltaire, Windhill, Brighouse, Cleckheaton, Ben Rhydding, Hartshead Moor, Lidget Green, Salts, Queensbury.
Methley were title challengers in the Central Yorkshire League in 1990, but missed out to Mirfield in a two-horse race. West Indian fast bowler Tony MartIn, above, broke records in obtaining a total of 94 league wickets with a further 17 in the Jack Hampshire Cup. His achievement easily won him the league’s bowling prize.
However, it was not a one-man effort as Andrew Jarvis scored 551 runs and took 32 wickets to win the league’s all-rounder prize, while David Jones was the leading batsman with 588 runs.
Mirfield won the Heavy Woollen Cup, while Hanging Heaton beat Batley to win the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy.
Townville completed a hat-trick of title wins in the Pontefract & District Cricket League. In 1996 they moved to the more competitive Central Yorkshire League.