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2009: The year Baildon scored surprise title win and Methley pipped Wrenthorpe

2009: The year Baildon scored surprise title win and Methley pipped Wrenthorpe

Baildon's 2009 title-winning team: Back row: Craig Hitchenor, Simon Webb, Andrew Walker, Nahim Ashraf, Harry Smallwood, Mushtaq Ahmed. Front: Jonny Reynolds, Matt Webb, Ian Philliskirk, Tabbi Bhatti, Ahsan Butt

Since the turn of the century, the First Division title had been dominated by Pudsey Congs and Woodlands, and it seemed that nobody would break their monopoly in 2009.

The fact that Baildon were the team to do it appeared to be most unlikely in pre-season when key performers Simon Davies and Matthew Duce followed Phil Slater to Wagon Lane to play for a much-heralded Bradford & Bingley side.

However, they had a captain in Ian Philliskirk who would get the best out of an eleven who played as a team, and he himself led by example throughout the season. He was a `no nonsense’ leader who had the ability to cajole his players into going the extra mile.

It would be true to say that Baildon had four really influential players in 2009. Skipper Philliskirk, who made 677 league runs, scored quickly and led from the front, but on occasions he would dig deep at the crease.

Seamer Andrew Walker, above, was a total revelation, bowling left-arm at a brisk pace with an immaculate line and length, capturing 59 wickets. Those that remembered him at Farsley would not have recognised the 2009 version as he became the deserved recipient of the League’s Player of the Year Award. His left arm projection always made it difficult for batsmen who rarely got a wayward ball.

One could argue that Mushtaq `Mushy’ Ahmed, pictured below, could have also won the aforementioned award. Not only did he win the League Bowling Averages, he also topped Walker’s haul with 62 wickets. At times he spun the ball so outrageously he was impossible to play, and he would invariably take the `difficult’ wicket.

Craig Hitchenor, pictured below, was the fourth key player- beset with injuries in previous years he was back to more or else full fitness in 2009. He had the ability to wear batsmen down, gave nothing away and proved to be the second most economical bowler in the league that season.

His frenzied approach to the wicket when bowling would disturb the batsman into thinking he was lightening quick. Instead he relied on `line and length’ and guile, and would persist until the `cows came home’.

These were the quartet that effectively won the title, but they were well supported by Ahsan Butt, Tabassum Bhatti, Matthew Webb, Harry Smallwood and Naeem Ashraf,

Baildon had a fast start winning their first eight matches, but the cricket intelligentsia preferred to look to East Bierley or Bradford & Bingley, who were chasing behind them, as title favourites. A sudden dip in form resulting in three defeats saw Baildon lose the leadership for several weeks, and it did appear that their critics had a point.

In the closest title race in years, their rivals also floundered and they were back on top with seven matches to go. They held on despite sketchy form in a league where every team could beat every other, illustrated by the bottom team Manningham Mills beating them twice.

Amidst celebratory fire crackers at Jenny Lane, on receiving the trophy from league president Keith Moss, skipper Philliskirk spoke of how the title win was dedicated to club stalwarts Tony Reid and Mick Illingworth who had died in recent years.

This was a high point in Baildon’s history, and Jenny Lane became the chosen destination for many a neutral supporter. Unfortunately, they could not take advantage of the momentum of the title win in subsequent seasons.

Baildon could have won a notable double after reaching the Heavy Woollen Cup Final. However, they were no match for a very good Wrenthorpe side who recorded a third successive win in the tournament.

Gary Fellows top scored with an innings of 59 in Wrenthorpe’s total of 182. Baildon never made a fist of it and was bowled out for 88. Fellows took three for three with the ball to confirm himself as the man of the match.

East Bierley might have lost out on the title, but they still won major silverware. With a side containing Greg Wood, Andrew Rennison and overseas quickie Muhammad Azharullah, it was no surprise when they won the Priestley Cup.

In a one-sided final, they amassed 272-9 to win the cup by a considerable 123 runs against Farsley, with Rennison making the key innings to claim man of the match.

Undercliffe topped the Second Division to gain promotion with second placed Bankfoot.

They had batsmen occupying the first two places in the batting averages with former Yorkshire batsman Chris Taylor scoring 840 runs at 76.36, and overseas player .Nawaz Sardar 422 at 52.75.

Chris Greenwood, with his slow left arm stuff, won the Second Division Bowling Averages with 68 wickets at 8.96.

Alex Stead of Pudsey St Lawrence won the much coveted Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.

Methley were top dogs in the Central Yorkshire League, despite Wrenthorpe’s star studded team carrying the pre-season favourites tag.

The title win was built around three former Harrogate players in Vic Craven, Alex Twigg and Ryan Bradshaw, and the prolific scoring batsman Nick Connolly.

Connolly scored 1,062 runs, supported well by Craven (682 runs) Twigg (781 runs) and Bradshaw (534 runs). Craven also took 61 wickets, while Chris Smith (45 wkts) and Chris Leaf (55 wkts) were the other chief wicket-takers.

Townville won the Jack Hampshire Memorial Trophy for the third time after beating Wakefield Thornes in a thrilling final. Batting first they had to settle for 207-8 despite a wonderful start given to them by Tim Walton, above, who registered 103. Peter Hepworth’s battling 51 took them to a challenging total.

Wakefield Thornes ran them very close and were in contention to the last ball ending four runs short at 203-9. Andy Carrington was the most successful bowler with 3-42, but it was John Rickers who really frustrated their run chase, conceding only 21 runs off eight overs for his one wicket.

An added bonus to this cup win came the following month when they won the Yorkshire Council Championship Final for 2009.

Townville’s season could have been even better if their ace batsman Tim Walton had not been restricted by injury to the last few league matches. As it was, they finished second, pushing Wrenthorpe into third place.

 Read more articles in this series

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