The relatively brief Bradford League existence of Yorkshire Bank CC is a remarkable story. The cricket club’s balance sheet for the 27 years was impressive with two league titles and three Priestley Cup wins banked.
But to survive it needed the funding from Yorkshire Bank and after years of rumour about their well-appointed Moortown ground in an affluent part of North Leeds being sold for development, the inevitable happened.
The club said farewell to the Bradford League on 16th September 2000 when an eighth wicket partnership by former Yorkshire players Chris Pickles and Paul Booth, secured a three wicket win for Cleckheaton and a tenth-place position for the Bank, in a 14-team top division.
It was a time of great change in the banking industry, leading to many redundancies, it proved difficult for Yorkshire Bank’s business, to support its social side. The closure of the cricket club was related directly to the development of new homes.
The old Yorkshire Bank ground and the new houses that now stand on the land
The continued recruitment of the quality of players needed to compete in the First Division of the Bradford League became nigh on impossible due to the uncertainty regarding the ground.
With four other cricket clubs within a three mile radius, Yorkshire Bank was never a community club as such. They had no junior section and was reliant on finances provided by the bank for recruitment, and sufficient employees making up the second team.
As the funds were reduced in the latter years, the club was indebted to the hard work put in by committee members, and especially Brian Claughton, who sadly passed away recently.
Accepted into the league in 1974, they had no previous track record in a playing sense, but they enjoyed unmatched facilities.
Keith Barratt was the first captain of the first team who had to play at least three employees of which he was one. These constraints were subsequently eased and they recruited well with generous funds afforded by the bank.
Future Yorkshire player Neil Hartley, David Holden and Stuart Herrington made the club competitive in these early years, and by 1978 promotion was won to the top divisions.
By 1980 they had won the First Division title under the captaincy of Graham Boothroyd and repeated the achievement three years later, thereby taking their place amongst the elite band of clubs in the league who competed for the top players.
Their bowling attack was spearheaded bt the immaculate Peter Graham who along with off spinner John Marshall went on to take over 1,000 Bradford League records in his career.
Skipper Boothroyd was a consistent performer who scored 11,452 league runs while Stuart Herrington was another to notch 10,000, demonstrating the quality they had in their ranks.
Always competitive at the highest level, the Bank was a watchword for cricket excellence and by 1989 had also won the Priestley Cup.
Skipper Tony Page had assembled a team that was so strong it became the backbone of the league’s representative side. They won the cup again in 1992 and 1993, and were also finalists in 1983, 1988 and 1991.
Spinner John Marshall was a leading player in the late seventies, while off-spinner John Hespe came to the fore in the eighties along with Marsden Claughton, Phil Gatehouse, Mark Abbott, Paul Grayson, Mike Smith, John Walters and later Nigel Leech. Smith was a reliable opener whose tally of 11,298 runs demonstrated his value to the team/
Paul Grayson went on to play for Yorkshire and Essex after topping the First Division Batting averages in 1992. He was also key to the Bank’s 1989 Cup triumph, picking up the Man of the Match Award.
Jatin Paranjape, who was one of several impressive overseas stars recruited for the Bank during their tenure in the league, scored 1,071 league runs in 1997. He would later play ODIs for India and married the sister of a Bollywood actress!
The club showed its progressive side when in 1999, Kathryn Leng, above, an England International, turned out for the Bank’s 1st XI and became the first women to play in the Bradford League.
Another Yorkshire player was Simon Dennis who played in the second half of the nineties.
In the new Millennium season of 2000, they were no longer the force they were, and their halcyon days very much behind them.
But, they were still competitive with a fine array of talent in former Yorkshire batsman Bradley Parker, Carl Smith, Bill Holmes, Andy Carrington, Giles Boothroyd and James Goldthorp.
Three of those players, Parker (13,836), Hoimes (12,604) and Goldthorp (10,343) were among the most successful batsmen of their era.
It was a source of some surprise that a club with such a strong cricket history could not attract players for the second team to support the diminishing pool of bank employees. Any aspiring young player in North Leeds would have found an ideal environment to learn cricket at Moortown
The demise of Yorkshire Bank CC was a great loss to the Bradford League. The Bank had achieved more in their 27-year history than some member clubs had in nearly a hundred.
On their entry into the Bradford League some clubs muttered about the travel but soon changed their view after visiting the pleasant ground with its excellent facilities. Often the evening continued in the very popular Chained Bull pub that was close by.
The club had some fine administrators such as Graham Reid, a bank manager who captained the second team in the early days, and later became league chairman.
They have indeed been missed.
Note: The closure of the club was written in consultation with former players Nigel Leech and Bill Holmes, who could clarify specific details.
Yorkshire Bank Roll of Honour
First Division Winners: 1980, 1983 Priestley Cup Winners: 1989, 1992, 1993
Former player Raymond Scott had this to say about his years at the Bank, “I feel privileged to not only have worked for the Bank, but also have played for them, and my playing time coincided with the Division Two Championship in 1978, above, and the Bradford League First Division title in 1980 .
“I considered myself lucky to play with and against some wonderful league cricketers; Having played at Ossett and Dewsbury, and learned about their history, and saw how the clubs were run by dedicated clubmen, Yorkshire Bank was very different. With no normal cricket club structure, such as juniors, and lacking a reputation in the area, it was always only ever going to be short lived.
“However, the club was well funded and therefore able to recruit some very good players. There were some good cricketers working for the Bank, but many had ties to their local teams and were reluctant to travel”
“The first team was usually made up of eight non-staff and three employees with the bank, whereas the second Team was comprised of all employees”.
“In my time, Graham Boothroyd was captain and he set the standards both on the field and off it. He brought all his Bradford League experience to help run the club. He had a tremendous cricket brain and was a big help to all players.”
“I can agree that other sides did enjoy the trip to Street Lane and the hospitality.
“When you look at the batting of the first five, my opportunities to perform were limited. It was for that reason that I joined Lightcliffe (back to a proper club) at the start of the 1982 season.
“I do recall standing in as wicketkeeper, a job I did on occasions at Bowling Old Lane, and I once took five catches off the bowling of Peter Graham, a magnificent bowler. Wasn’t so good standing up to John Marshall though.
“I can state here and now that visiting teams enjoyed the trip to Street Lane, and certainly the hospitality.”
Raymond concludes- “The Ground has now been developed with a number of houses where the clubhouse and pavilion were, with the rest set out as Moortown Park. This was opened in June of last year, and I got a mention on the history plaque in the grounds. Fame indeed!”
The Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League are indebted to the Friends of Moortown Park Trust who supplied the excellent photograph of the 1979 Yorkshire Bank CC Pavilion.
Friends of Moortown Park is an association whose aim is to work actively with local residents, elected Councilors, City Council Officers, the Moortown Community Group, Moortown Primary School and other partners to maintain and develop Moortown Park. This will contribute to Moortown being a safe, clean, green, attractive, sought after and desirable place to live, work and play. For more info email: email@example.com