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2000: Pudsey Congs take first title and Townville lead the way

2000: Pudsey Congs take first  title and Townville lead the way

Pudsey Congs 2000: Back from left: Back Row Gareth Clough, Azhar Abbas, Rob McFarlane, Neil Gill, Phil Taylor, Andy Bethel Front Row: Stuart Clifton, Gary Brook, Matthew Doidge, Neil Nicholson, Babar Butt  

As the Bradford Cricket League entered the new Millennium, Pudsey Congs had not only converted their ground from an old recreation ground to a top notch venue, they had also assembled a side under Matthew Doidge that would rank with the best post war sides in the league.

After 14 years in the league, the dream came true as Pudsey Congs were crowned champions after pippng a very good Bradford & Bingley side by two points.

Doidge was their leading batter with 514 runs at 36.71, followed by that very efficient sheet anchor opener Andy Bethel who scored 662 runs at 34.84. Left hander Bethel, who they signed from Spen Victoria, would set his stall out to see off the new ball and play long innings for his team.  Left-arm seamer Neil Gill was the major influence with the ball taking 47 wickets, while overseas recruit Azhar Abbas also took 47 wickets.

This was a very good side, but they would only get better in future seasons with the recruitment of fast bowler Naveed Rana-ul-Hassan, and the former Derbyshire left-arm spinner Glenn Roberts. They went on to win the title in the next four seasons; this included two trebles which also comprised the Priestley Cup and the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy.

Runners-up Bradford & Bingley looked to Richard McCarthy, above, to sustain their challenge, and he won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy for a second time. There were other good performances from Carl Sharp (567 runs) and Pat Fordham who scored 340 runs to go with his F Milton Watmouth Wicket Keeping Award.

 To emphasise the vagaries of playing in this tough league, the Wagon Laners were relegated the season after.

Gomersal were new entrants to the Bradford League, and in their first season in 2000, just pipped Esholt for the third place in a thrilling promotion race. Simon Horkin who had seen service at Hartshead Moor was the leading batsman with 589 runs, while David Bradbrook was the most consistent bowler. Matthew Garside won the keeper’s prize for this division.

Individual highlights of the season included Undercliffe’s opening pair of Mark Gilliver and Mark Chapman breaking the record for the highest league partnership with 304 runs against Gomersal.

But, it was an Australian all rounder called Grant Lambert who really made waves whilst is team Spen Victoria to secure promotion.

Lambert (above) literally ripped up the Bradford League record book in the 2000 season. He set a new league scoring record of 1,683 runs, beating the previous best by over 200 runs, he hit a record seven centuries, and made the highest score of the season, 170 against Manningham Mills.

Lambert finished the season with an incredible average of 120.21 to easily top the league batting averages. For good measure he topped the bowling averages too with 31 wickets at 7.77 each, making his award of the Jack Hill All Rounders Trophy a formality.

Murphy Walwyn, above,  of East Bierley won the Fastest Fifty Trophy for an incredible sixth time, getting there in 27 balls.

Chris Taylor, who would go on and play county cricket with Yorkshire and Derbyshire, won the Gordon Bowers Young Cricketer of the Year Trophy while playing for Farsley.

The Priestley Cup trophy went to East Bierley, who completed a hat-trick of wins under the captaincy of Dermot McGrath:

1998     Pudsey Congs 168-6  East Bierley 169-2

1999     East Bierley 224-9 Yeadon 151

2000     East Bierley 241-7  Hanging Heaton 173

Jaffer Nazir was a great influence in their success, and in 2000 won the WH Foster Jubilee Bowling Trophy for the second successive season.

Windhill were relegated despite having the talents of young Indian batsman Amol Muzumder. He was a classy performer who became an attraction in the league for those who enjoyed the wristy technique of an Indian master batsman. He topped the First Division Batting Averages, scoring 851 runs at 65.46.

Hanging Heaton didn’t pick up any domestic silverware, but they became the first club to perform the unique double of the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy and the Heavy Woollen Cup for 2000. They would repeat this feat in 2018 and remain the only club to have achieved this.

Their best performance came in the semi-final of the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy when they decisively beat Doncaster who was the reigning National Club Champions.

Having been put into bat, Steve Bartle and Steve Foster put on 68 for the first wicket to lay the foundations for a final score of 207, with the latter scoring 97. Doncaster never came to terms with the seamers of Hanging Heaton with Elliott Noble (5-23) and John Carruthers (3-41) reducing the Yorkshire League team to a meagre 119 all out.

The Bradford League Representative team won the Yorkshire Senior League Knock-Out competition, beating the South Riding League in a one-sided final at Rotherham Phoenix. Paul Winrow won the man of the match award in the nine-wicket victory, taking 4-48 with the ball, and finishing with an unbeaten 83 runs with the bat. The Bradford League had beaten the Aire Wharfe and the old Yorkshire League on route to the final.

Woodlands Cricket Club was spending their last season in the Central Yorkshire League before embarking on two remarkable decades in the Bradford League. The early return of their Indian overseas player Nanda Kishore cost them dearly as they took stock awaiting a close season recruitment campaign.

Meanwhile, Townville were the team to beat in the Central Yorkshire League winning the title in 2000 and 2001. They had a strong side with Tim Walton (above), Giles Boothroyd, Andy Ward and Khasif Ahmed all capable of scoring a lot of runs.

Mirfield were the Jack Hampshire Cup winners after telling performances from their two key bowlers Mohammed Asif and Neil Parkinson. The club joined the Bradford League the following season, but unfortunately lasted just four seasons.

Great Preston took the decision to move from the Leeds League, into the Wetherby League, ahead of the 2000 season. This was met with immediate success as they won the Fred Fleetwood Cup Final against South Milford.  In a remarkably one-sided final leg spinner Andrew Clark took a hat-trick, while Chris Wormstone made 80 not out in the 9 wicket win.

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