Author: Alan Birkinshaw
League president Keith Moss is nearing another impressive landmark in his distinguished career as a cricket administrator.
On January 6 he will clock up a remarkable 70 years of unbroken service at club, league and county level.
And the 85-year-old former Yorkshire chairman is hoping he can extend that figure still further as he continues to offer wise counsel to officials of the Bradford Premier League and his club, Pudsey St Lawrence.
Keith, who was made an MBE in 2010 for his services to cricket, has received a number of accolades. He won the Bradford League’s coveted Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy in 1999 and received a Yorkshire Cricket Board OSCA for his work in 2010.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement at all the different levels of the game,” Keith said. “I guess there cannot be many people who reach 70 years in cricket administration, so it is something I feel proud of.”
Keith was just 15 when he was appointed secretary of Fulneck Cricket Club on January 6, 1950. He was a young bowler who was studying for his school certificate at Pudsey Grammar School when he joined the committee of the Pudsey & District League club.
Little did he know then that he was taking the first steps on a route that would see him serve as chairman of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club for five years.
Even when he served in the army from 1952 to 1954, he retained a deep involvement in cricket.
After 25 years with Fulneck, Keith was persuaded to join Pudsey St Lawrence in 1976. “I was doing a lot of work in the Middle East at the time,” he recalls. “During a visit to Nicosia I found myself staying in the same hotel as St Lawrence stalwart, Roland Parker.
“He was very persuasive and urged me to join their committee in 1976. I accepted his invitation and the rest is history.
“I served as cricket chairman, club chairman and president, sometimes combining two of the roles at the same time.”
It was perhaps no surprise that he should join St Lawrence. His grandfather was one of the trustees when the club purchased their Tofts Road ground in the 1930s, while his father played for the club.
The Moss family link is being continued by Keith’s son Anthony who has succeeded his dad as club president.
Keith is now president emeritus as the Tofts Road club heads for its 175th anniversary year.
Keith was responsible for attracting a number of big-name players to St Lawrence. Test stars John Snow, Mark Greatbatch and Martin Crowe headed the list.
“They all enhanced the standing of the club and the league,” he said proudly. “I also believe Greatbatch was part of our best-ever side in 1984. We had players of the quality of Mike Bailey, Peter Graham, Steve Rhodes and Keith Smith. They were a match for anybody.”
After being elected to the Yorkshire Committee as the representative for Bradford in 1991, he became chairman of finance the following year.
In 1998 he succeeded Sir Lawrence Byford as club chairman, a post he held for five years. During that time he saw Yorkshire win the County Championship in 2001 and oversaw the start of the redevelopment of Headingley with the replacement of the old West and East terraces.
Just one year after relinquishing the reins at Yorkshire, Keith was invited to become president of the Bradford League in 2004 after the death of Albert Smith.
He has held the position now for 15 years and combined his presidential role with those of chairman from 2010 to 2014.
Much has changed during Keith’s 70 years in cricket. “These are challenging times for us now,” he observed. “Every facet of life has changed and gone are the days when players would readily play every Saturday and Sunday.
“I hear worrying stories of clubs struggling to field second teams. I am also concerned when clubs are unable to balance their finances due to spending too much on their teams. Prudence and careful management is important.
“I also believe that despite these changes, the Bradford Premier League remains a strong and highly-respected competition.”
As well as keeping a watchful eye on matters at Pudsey St Lawrence and within the Bradford Premier League, Keith still organises the popular 364 Lunch every June which is a tribute to his great friend Sir Leonard Hutton.
He has attracted a succession of star names, including Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir John Major, Sir Tim Rice, Jeffrey Archer and Mike Brearley to speak at the Headingley event.
“The money we have raised has been used to help clubs across Yorkshire. It has been such a good way to honour the memory of a great cricketer and outstanding man. I will keep organising the event as long as I am able,” he said.