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Lost Clubs:  Drighlington

Lost Clubs: Drighlington

1 Jan 2021

Drighlington village, which was recorded in the Domesday book in 1086, lies five miles south west of Leeds and four miles south east of Bradford. The name of the village is often shortened to Drig.

It was thought that Drighlington Cricket Club was formed in 1893, and the Church of St Paul was the main catalyst. The field is protected in so far as sport is concerned; it has to be played on the land.

The early playing history is difficult to ascertain, but it is thought that the Yorkshire Council was their preferred league. Although details of their cricket deeds are sketchy, it has been established that on June 2nd, 1928 their first wicket pair of W Hepworth and W Scott compiled a record opening partnership of 160 runs against Illingworth in the Council.

When the Central Yorkshire League was formed, and clubs broke away from the Council, the new set-up became a hot-bed for clubs in the Heavy Woollen area.

Drighlington joined and enjoyed just one honour in the Central Yorkshire League when they won the Second Division title in 1973 (G Ford- captain). However, they did win individual honours in the league.

June 2nd 1928 First wicket pair of W Hepworth and W Scott WHO compiled a record opening partnership of 160 against Illingworth in the Yorkshire Council.

The following is a list of the individual awards that came their way in the league.

1949 Bowling Averages- D Mackenzie 57 wickets at 7.70.

1962 Bowling Averages- Ray Bebbington 50 wickets at 11.0.

1963 Bowling Averages- Ray Bebbington 54 wickets at 8.68.

1965 Bowling Averages- Ray Bebbington 61 wickets at 7.25

Bebbington must have been a remarkable bowler because he won the trophy again in 1974 for Hunslet Nelson. He was a dual skilled bowler being able to bowl seam or off spin.

In the same year they won the Second Division title they staged a benefit game for Yorkshire bowler Tony Nicholson on their Station Road ground.

The squad selected were G Ford (Capt), E Howard, P Gamble, G Appleyard, S Jackson, R Wright, R Calton, J Lawrence, H Howard, L Glennon, J Turner, W Lavin, B Myerscough.

In their last season in the Central Yorkshire League in 1981 they finished a credible sixth in the First Division.   

The Bradford League needed a new club to `even up’ the divisions to solve the fixture dilemmas. Drighlington applied to join for the 1982 season, and the league was pleased to accept a club with good facilities.

The cricket field was probably smaller than any of the existing clubs, but it was neat and tidy and a credit to the groundstaff.

Drighlington had a fitful existence in the league, but they strived manfully for top-flight recognition, and rarely rested on their laurels.

But, the later years in the league was one of toil and trouble. Insufficient workers and the lack of a junior team was the reason for their collapse, and when Donald Gamble called time on their existence in 2004 it surprised few.

When they debuted in the league in 1982 it was a case of striving for respectability, but their tenth position was a touch disappointing. No progress was made the following season when they finished tenth again.

Drig’s key players were John Crowhurst, David Harrison, Alan Boothroyd, Trevor Gill and Terry Foy.

The club started to make an impact in 1984 in the shape of Australian fast bowler Len McKeown who took a stunning 88 wickets at 15.06. He also scored 331 useful runs, including a half-century.

He left the club at the end of the season to play First Division cricket at Farsley and took an impressive haul of 78 wickets.

The experienced seamer Alan Stansfield had also sharpened the Drighlington bowling up in 1984, taking 52 wickets as the club finished in sixth position.

The McKeown signing proved to be a big talking point in the league, and although he only stayed for one season, his replacement was equally as impressive.

Things were certainly changing for the better when Daryl Stranger signed for 1985. He bowled it very quick, and soon became one of the feared bowlers in the league in his two year spell at the club.

His bowling stats were:

1985- 94 wickets 13.94

1986- 78 wickets 13.99

In addition, he could bat, and in his second season he scored 749 runs at 41.61.

It was disappointing not to be promoted in 1985, but their fourth position proved to be a stepping stone to third place in 1986, and elevation to the top flight. 

The all round performance by Stranger was the main reason the side finished third to guarantee promotion in their 5th season in the league.

However, it could be said that Graham Boothroyd’s 892 runs at 59.47, which placed him second in the league’s batting averages, was equally as significant.

Left arm fast medium bowler Michael Smith, above, was also on the scene in 1986 when he was nineteen years of age.

Smith would go on and play county cricket for Gloucestershire, taking 533 wickets with a best analysis of 8-73.

He was such an effective swing bowler he was selected for England in a single test in 1997 against Australia.

Unfortunately for Smith, Graham Thorpe dropped Matthew Elliott at first slip off his bowling while on 29, for what would have been Smith's first (and only) Test wicket. Elliot went on to make 199 and Australia won comfortably by an innings.

He never played for England again, but remained one of the most consistent swing bowlers on the county circuit until his retirement in 2003.

Another player to make the county grade was David Ripley who played half a season in 1985, and went on to enjoy a long county career as wicket-keeper with Northants.

In his 307 first class games he scored 8,693 runs at 28.40 including nine centuries, and with the gloves took 678 catches and 85 stumpings.

In addition to the glory of their first promotion, the club had two batsmen who would win the league’s Fastest Fifty Trophy in successive seasons-

1984 Peter Gamble – 22 minutes

1985 Ian Webster- 26 minutes

The First Division standard proved a step too far for Drig’ in 1987, and they were subsequently relegated.

They had three batsmen in Colin Broadley (749 runs), Phil Pickles (626) and Graham Boothroyd (511) who came to terms with the competition, but the lack of penetrative bowling was a big factor in going down.

It wasn’t until the next decade that Drighlington would be promoted again, but they still had some very good players on their books.

Ray Peel was 43-year old when he was signed for the 1988 season, a player that was one of the pre-eminent all-rounders in the league in the two previous decades.

Giles Boothroyd scored 727 runs in 1988, while other good run-getters in this period were Ian Webster and Paul Vallance.

Fast bowler Neville Lindsay delivered the goods in fine style taking 320 league wickets between 1988 and 1993, with a best haul of 66 in the promotion season of 1990.

Lindsay went to play for Windhill and became a fixture in the Bradford League Representative side.

Wicketkeeper Gary Brook learnt his early trade at Station Road, and eventually became part of the Pudsey Congs dynasty that swept all before them in the early part of the 21st century.

The 1990 promotion season was built around a collective team ethic rather than a star overseas player. The main run-getters were David Bates (717 runs), Giles Boothroyd (582) and Paul Vallance (above, 481), while the big match winner was paceman Neville Lindsay, who took 66 crucial wickets.

Bates was part of the Yorkshire Cricket Academy at Headingley before he studied groundsmanship and became one of the best at Northamptonshire.

On this occasion the club managed to hang on to their top flight status with two tenth positions.

Lindsay took the vital wickets to sustain their efforts on the field, while Craig Chaplin, David Lawrence and Bates just about did enough with the bat.

A low point came on the 28th April 1992 when they were bowled out for just 13 at Saltaire- the home team knocking off the runs without losing a wicket. Ironically, Drig would finish above Saltaire in the league that season.

Relegation followed in 1993, and after a couple of quiet seasons, they were promoted again in 1996 after Richard Whitehurst had taken 60 wickets.

Graham Austin was an extremely accurate spin bowler who could grind the batting side down, and could open the bowling to great effect. He took 131 league wickets between the seasons 1994 to 1996. 

The `yo-yo’ status of the club continued with relegation in 1997, promotion in 1999, and relegation again in 2000. This was followed by the ignomy of finishing bottom of the Bowes Section and subsequently their first re-election plea.

In the middle of all this they had the services of a fine cricketer in Iqbal Khan. He was an expert batter who could improvise his shots, and was also a fine off spinner.

Khan’s 945 runs and 54 wickets were key to Drighlington gaining promotion in 1999.

The following statistics are impressive, but also reveal a dip in potency when the First Division was reached.Top of Form

Bottom of Form

IQBAL KHAN'S BRADFORD LEAGUE BATTING RECORD

YEAR

CLUB

DIV

INNS

NO

HS

RUNS

AVE

1998

Drighlington

2

24

9

147

1428

95.20

1999

Drighlington

2

25

7

144*

945

52.50

2000

Drighlington

1

22

3

70

661

34.79

 

IQBAL KHAN'S BRADFORD LEAGUE BOWLING  RECORD

YEAR

CLUB

DIV

OVS

M

RUNS

WKTS

AVE

1998

Drighlington

2

348

105

969

60

16.15

1999

Drighlington

2

307

45

996

54

18.44

2000

Drighlington

1

185

28

705

22

32.05

 

It was a hard struggle in the top flight and they were duly relegated in bottom place, and the following year in 2001, had to seek re-election after finishing in last place in the Bowes Section of the lower division.

Their rock bottom performance in the Bowes section illustrated the magnitude of their task, but at least in 2002 they steered themselves away from the re-election places. 

Whitehurst, above, gallantly battled on with successive season run aggregates of 732 and 547, while Imran Patel (841 runs) and David Maloney (61 wickets) also excelled for a side approaching the end of their days.

In 2004 they played bright, bubbly cricket with middle-order batsman Basil King proving to be an entertainer. Unfortunately, it proved to be Drighlington’s last season.

They did manage to finish in ninth place, and had the services of a very good overseas player in Montasim Ali, who scored 838 runs at 32.23 with a top score of 101.

The club had a year off before teaming up with another club to form Drighlington Whitehall CC, and take part in the Dales Council.

In recent years they have had a refurbishment, and have an electronic scorebox and now go by the name Drighlington CC again.

Recollections from John Roberts

John is secretary-elect at Morley Cricket Club, but was involved at Drighlington at key points in their history-

I started playing cricket at Morley in 1969 with the Under 18's. At that time Chris Leathley was captain and we knew each other from Morley Grammar School, although he was (and still is) two years older than me. His older brother Jim was the coach.

I got married in 1977 and bought a house in Drighlington. I knew a couple of players there that had played at Morley, so made the move in 1981, which was Drig's last hurrah in the Central Yorkshire League.

The committee was always very supportive and gave financial backing, much to the annoyance of our accountant, who every year at the AGM when presenting the accounts would publicly state how much better off the club would be if we did not pay any players. We knew why Great Horton generally struggled, as he was heavily involved there.

Being very close to Morley, many excellent club cricketers had associations with both clubs. The current League secretary Chris Leathley (who I have been friends with for around fifty years) played at Morley, and was captain at Drighlington when I moved there.

 Both Alan and Graham Boothroyd skippered both clubs and players like Peter Gamble (who at one stage held the Bradford League's fastest fifty), Terry Foy, Jimmy Muscroft, John Marwood and Peter Lloyd (who was still turning out for Drig last year at 68 years old) played for both clubs.

The accountant’s dream finally came to fruition in the late nineties, I think in 1997 when I was cricket secretary; I was delighted to have signed Yousuf Youhana, above, from Bowling Old Lane. Sadly, the committee informed me we could not pay any players and I had to inform Yousuf. That year he went to Pudsey Congs, later changed his name to Mohammed Yousuf and became an international star.

 If only the 'bean counter' hadn't had his way!! I walked away from the club as I told them I could not carry on having had to have given backword to Yousuf and others.

Lenny McKeown had just one season and then got a better offer from Farsley. He was very rapid, only a tad slower than Richard McCarthy. I think his career was brought to an early conclusion by getting hurt playing Aussie Rules.

One player who should get a mention is Neville Lindsay; he had quite a few years with us and bowled his heart out every game. He came off a long run but when we had a couple of injuries, one season in particular, he did 25 overs (before the restrictions came in) most weeks, often bowling in tandem with Graham Austin, our slow bowler.

This meant that Neville got very little rest between his overs. He went to Bierley, but as he was a prison officer, his shifts caused travelling problems and I think he finished up at Methley which was nearer to Doncaster where he came from. He was a good opening bowler and a smashing bloke.

I can't remember the year, but Ray Illingworth turned up with his Farsley side to Drig for one match, batted first and they got either 299 or 300. He had a smile so wide; however, one of our players David Redfearn had not read the script and needing 12 to win hit the last two balls for six. Ray's smile had disappeared almost as quickly as he did on his way home.

Recollections from Daryl Stranger

As read to John Roberts

My time at DCC. 

I was the pro at Drig CC in 1985 and 1986; and it wasn’t long before I was just known as Oz.

David Harrison was the captain in 85 and we had a solid team with Ian Clough, Ian Webster, Graeme Austin, Ken Bradford and Max Wigglesworth the main stays. Len McKeown had been the pro the year before and had a good season so I was a little nervous about how I would go. 

My first memory of Drig was looking at a small square shaped area of green grass that was to become my second home. It was smaller than any ground I had played on and certainly not the traditional shape we used at home. It took me a while to adjust to small grounds and slow wickets but when I did it became an amazing experience. 

I lived about 300 metres from the ground with a Mrs Mountain a lovely old lady who took it upon herself to look after me. I had to get used to eating at 4pm in the afternoon and eating a lot!

Yorkshire pudding followed by a plate full of whatever she had whipped up that day plus sweets. 

The 1985 team didn’t get promoted but we did win more games than we lost and we had a great time doing it! Our fielding wasn’t great but we certainly enjoyed each other’s company after the game. I remember playing in the snow at Lidget Green and freezing cold days at Great Horton and Yorkshire Bank. 

I was very lucky to make two lifelong friendships that year, Bob McCutcheon who lived in the village and Chris Leathley who I first came across playing in a Tuesday night game against the mighty Tong CC. Both these gentlemen made me feel welcome and part of the life of an English cricket club. They have both visited down under and been welcome guests at my place in Ringwood. I can’t wait to see them again either here or back in England. 

Drig CC was filled with character and characters, Les Glennon was the president and Eddie Gedge the treasurer. Eddie lent me his car for a week so I visited the Dales in an old ford escort.

The cricket club was the meeting place for many; I worked behind the bar in 85 so I got to know many of the locals. 

When I returned in 86 I lived and worked on the Webster farm in the village, it consisted of cutting vegetables and lots of weeding. Graeme Boothroyd was our new skipper and we had a few new recruits. Mick Cartwright, Alan and Phil Pickles to name a few-once again all great people. Also a few guest appearances from David Ripley and Mike Smith who were first class players. 

Max Wigglesworth and Graeme led us to promotion and it was probably the most enjoyable cricket season I’ve ever played in. We enjoyed many wins and many beers!! The last weekend of the season we needed two wins to ensure promotion-on the Saturday we bowled out Saltaire for 39 so we only needed a win on Sunday to clinch promotion. We had an easy win on the Sunday with young Richard Marlowe top scoring. I think I got a first baller that day but it is still one of my fondest cricket memories. 

I look back on my time at Drighlington with nothing but happiness. In 1990 I returned to England with my wife Sandy for a season playing at Keighley  but we still spent more time at DCC. We lived with Bob McCutcheon in the village and spent many hours socialising at the cricket club. We were part of a large family and leaving to return home in the September of 86 was a tough time. 

Drig gave me the ideal experience of village cricket in England, more than that it gave me friendships that have lasted for over 40 years! For that I will be forever thankful that I took up the chance to play in the Bradford league in 1985.

Footnote

I can thank John Roberts, Michael Rhodes, Ian Lindley and Alan Stansfield for their input into this history. However, there are some gaps in Drighlington’s early years in the Yorkshire Council I would like to fill at a later date.

If anybody could assist please contact me-

regnel1950@gmail.com

Twitter @regnel1

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