hen a group of cricket officials convened at the Queen's Hotel, Bradford, in September, 1902, they represented seven clubs from the West Bradford League: Allerton, Clayton, Great Horton, Lidget Green, Manningham Mills, Queensbury and Thornton.
The outcome of their deliberations was the formation of a new league of 12 clubs, with Bankfoot, Dudley Hill, Eccleshill, Shelf and Undercliffe, as the Bradford League was born.
So, Lidget Green was now in the Bradford League after previously being one of the founder members of the West Bradford League from 1893.
Lidget finished a respectable fifth in the Bradford League’s inaugural year of 1903, and found a hero in Percy Yewdall, who finished fourth in the league batting averages in 1905.
The club had the distinction of having the highest aggregate league scorer in two out of the first three seasons-
1903 C. Harris 120 not out v Great Horton
1905 P Yewdall 116 v Saltaire
They finished third in 1904 and 1905, and were thought of as one of the top clubs in the league with success just around the corner. In 1909, they had a great opportunity to win their first silverware, but succumbed to Great Horton in the final of the prestigious Priestley Cup.
By 1913 the club had lost their reputation for finishing in decent positions, and were low down the league, despite E Jowett taking a remarkable tally of 80 wickets.
Another high achiever was W Hancock who hit the highest individual score in the league in the 1914 season when he registered 106 against Undercliffe.
Yorkshire cricketer John Newstead inspired a revival in fortunes, and by 1916 they finished runner-up in the league to Idle.
Newstead had emerged in county cricket in 1908 with an extraordinary analysis of 7 for 10 runs against Worcestershire. That year he made 927 runs and took 140 wickets and was a big factor in Yorkshire's regaining the County Championship.
He bowled at near medium pace `big in-duckers’ or it could have been defined as quick off spin. The county man was a great success at Lidget, with an analysis of 9-35 against Undercliffe in 1917, and two bowling feats of 8-25 and 6-15 against Queensbury. He would also score regular half-centuries to give extra value to the club.
Up to the Second World War the Lidget’s feats in the league were modest, but they did develop a good Priestley Cup reputation. They appeared in three successive Priestley Cup Finals between 1924-1926, and at last they won silverware in the first final.
1924 Bradford 159 Lidget Green 160-5
1925 Windhill 181 Lidget Green 140
1926 Lightcliffe 316 Lidget Green 183
Lidget seemed to be developing a healthy habit of recording the highest individual league score of the season, and in 1925 C Harrison carried on the tradition when he scored 142 not out against Bradford.
On Friday 1 September 1939, the British government issued its warning to Hitler, demanding that he cease his attack of that morning on Poland. Two days later war was declared.
On that same Friday, first-class cricket in England ground to a halt, and it was to be nearly seven years before it resumed in 1946. The cricket leagues of the north and midlands were the happy beneficiaries.
The Birmingham League prospered, becoming a top competition virtually overnight. It was, however, the Bradford League which really attracted the stars and, in turn, attracted the crowds.
Lidget Green had its fair share of county cricketers and in 1940 Glamorgan’s Arnold Dyson scored 72 runs in the Priestley Cup final against Undercliffe. However, they lost narrowly by two wickets after posting 150 all-out.
Dyson had a remarkable county career, topping a thousand runs in every season bar one from 1931 to 1947. His career best score in the county championship was 208.
By 1942, Lidget Green had assembled a side good enough to win the title, and they duly did this with an amazing two-pronged bowling attack.
The title win was built solely on the opening bowlers Arthur Bastow and Tommy Mitchell, who amazingly took all the wickets to fall.
Bastow, who won the league bowling averages that season with 63 wickets at 6.96, was partnered by leg break bowler Mitchell who took 78 wickets at 8.94.
Mitchell, who played for Derbyshire, was an accomplished spin bowler who took 1,483 first class wickets in his career. He also caught the attention of the England selectors and played in five Test matches.
Other First Class cricketers at Lidget in the war years were Arnold Dyson (Glamorgan), Philip King (Worcestershire), Paul Gibb (Yorkshire), George Lavis (Glamorgan), Denis Smith (Derbyshire), George Pope (Derbyshire, Alf Pope (Derbyshire), Cliff Gladwin (Derbyshire), Tommy Mitchell (Derbyshire).
After the war, Bill Copson (Derbyshire) was another prominent player at Lidget. Phil King might have had a modest county career with Worcestershire, but he had a good season with Lidget in 1943, the highlight being a brilliant 113 not out against Idle.
George Pope’s best season was in 1940 when he took 88 wickets and also scored 641 runs. He was regarded more as a bowler, but managed to achieve the highest individual score in the league with 94 not out against Eccleshill.
Pope’s wicket-taking skills diminished slightly in 1941, but he still ended the season with 68 wickets. In 1945, his brother Alf Pope took 62 wickets at 8.95 in a struggling side that finished at the wrong end of the table.
The club fell into decline in the immediate years after the war, finishing bottom of the second division in 1949 and 1950.
There were some highlights; none more so than in 1951 when Jack Van Geloven and Granville Padgett had an opening stand of 167 runs against Spen Victoria.
Van Geloven was a genuine all rounder who played 247 first-class matches, mainly for Leicestershire, scoring 7,522 runs, taking 486 wickets as a medium pacer, and also holding on to 137 catches in the field.
Bill Copson gave the club a huge lift, and was largely responsible for dramatically changing the club’s fortunes. He helped to take them back to the top flight and consolidate into high positions in the top flight.
He took 50-plus wickets in every season between 1951 and 1956, and won the League bowling averages three times with a best tally of 88 wickets in 1955.
Copson was a right-arm fast medium bowler, very quick by league terms, who took 1,094 first class wickets at an average of 18.96, with a best performance of 8 for 11. He also took 15 Test wickets. He was a limited right-hand batsman with a top score of 43.
The club was engendering a reputation for producing their own gifted cricketers, and David Batty, Jack Roe, Ray Peel, Peter Atkinson, Bob Fisher and Barrie Jenkinson all came off the conveyor belt at Clayton Road.
They were also one of few clubs in the league to have their own coach in Bert Hinchcliffe, and this helped with the team organisation.
By 1957, although very much a surprise package, they won the title by an avalanche of 17-points more than second place Bradford.
Jenkinson was third in the league batting averages, while the pro cricketer B Wood, won the League bowling averages with 67 wickets.
The side was picked from the following 12- P Atkinson (Capt), J Roe, W Jamieson, C Maston, R Green, R Wood, T Thornton, B Topham, B Fisher, B Jenkinson, B Wood, J Metcalfe.
They failed to retain their title in 1958, but could still have won silverware when they reached the Priestley Cup Final. However, Salts beat them decisively by eight wickets when they could only muster 134-9.
In 1959 they finished third with Atkinson, Jenkinson and J Cliffe all performing well. Cliffe had the rare distinction of taking all ten wickets against Lightcliffe for 22 runs.
Bernard Ellison was a gritty batter that was hard to get out, and in 1960 he hit the highest individual score in the league of 119 not out against Salts.
Jenkinson had grown from strength to strength and had become the major player at Lidget. His unique record of winning the League’s Batting, Fielding and Bowling prizes in consecutive years (1957-1959) was unprecedented and could well stand for ever.
He began his career at Wibsey Congs, playing senior cricket at a very early age before breaking into Bradford League cricket.
He was a consistent and very correct batsman whose tour de force shot was the square cut. He also bowled a gentle medium pace to great effect, occasionally given the new ball because of his abilities to swing it.
He went on to pro’ at Bowling Old Lane, Bradford and Idle and was regarded as one of the outstanding post-war players of his generation.
Lidget were relegated in 1962, but incredibly came back and won the First Division title in 1964. In a closely fought battle with Idle they prevailed by the narrow margin of three points.
Although the batting was more than reliable with Fisher, Atkinson and Huddlestone difficult to dislodge, the title was probably won because of the potency of the spin bowling of David Batty and Ray Peel, who shared 100 league wickets.
Lidget would never be the same again, as more affluent clubs signed their top players and they flipped in and out of the top division in the next decades.
David 'George’ Batty played several games for Yorkshire Seconds, but in an era when leg-spinners were frowned upon, he failed to get a county contract.
He moved to Bingley and became a legend at the club, winning every team award open to him. His career record wicket haul of 1,823 league wickets at 15.51 will probably never be surpassed in the `batsman friendly’ age of modern cricket.
In addition to this, if one included the wickets he took in the Priestley Cup, he had a tally comfortably past 2,000. He also won the coveted Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy in 1966.
Lidget Green 1964: Back from left: E Senescal, K Barrett, F Ough, A Jackson, D Batty, M Huddlestone. Front: R A Fisher, W Jamieson, P Atkinson (captain), D Huddlestone, R Peel.
Peel went one better then Batty, winning the All Rounders Trophy twice in the seventies, albeit at Undercliffe, and he went on to win all the top prizes in the league.
He was a prolific batsman, and a deadly off-spinner which made him one of the pre-eminent cricketers in the league. In 1967, he made the highest individual score in the league when he scored 130 runs for Lidget.
Peel, who went to live in Dorset, reflected on his time at Lidget in December 2020s. He said: “Lidget Green had many good cricketers and I owe a lot to many of them along with the coach (Bert Hinchcliffe). Bert was a task master but certainly knew how to treat and get the best out of his players. A significant point is that we had good practice nets and practiced Tuesday and Thursday without fail and this helped, but he was the man! Bert taught me a lot.
“ I had one or two decent performances in both league and cup, but I always remembered the people who got you there, and it was always good to play with or against those players later on."
Bob Fisher was a prodigious left hand batsman who peaked at Bradford in 1968, scoring 776 runs at 51.73, and in doing so winning the W H Foster Jubilee Batting Trophy.
Seamer W A J Bowes, (son of the famous Yorkshire & England bowler, Bill), won the W H Foster Jubilee Bowling Trophy in 1969 with 44 wickets at 9.04.
He would surpass that with 68 wickets in their promotion season of 1971, helped by David Ross who managed 61. Ross won the much heralded Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy that year,
The club was competitive throughout the seventies decade, despite relegation in 1976, and continued to win a host of individual awards.
During the years 1970 to 1972 the club would win the A Waddington Fielding Trophy, with Gareth Terry winning the first two, and David Milnes the latter.
At the end of the decade David Dunne would replicate this feat in 1978 and 1979, with a record eleven fielding awards in the former season. Dunne was a genuine all-rounder who bowled awkward left-arm seam.
Keith Barrett had two very noteworthy achievements in the seventies- winning the Fastest Fifty Trophy in 1972, and the more prestigious W H Foster Jubilee Bowling Trophy in 1977.
David Wainwright was one of the leading keepers in the league, and he proved that by winning the Stan Longbottom Safe Hands Stumping award in 1979 and 1989, and Most League Victims Trophy in 1986.
He played at eight clubs in the league, and his 629 league victims placed him in second place in the 2020 all-time list.
In the late seventies Ian Phillips proved to be a prolific run-getter with season aggregates of 687, 748 and 574 runs in the league, while Dave Horsey took 77 wickets in 1978. Phillips scored a magnificent tally of 911 league runs at 60.73 in 1980 as Lidget remained in mid-table.
However, they were promoted in 1981 only to finish bottom in the following year with a side not ready for the top flight.
LIDGET GREEN 1983 Back, from left Back, from left D Peers, M Burrows, B Dunne, P Smith, I Quyam, S Atkinson. Front B Taylor, M Dunne, D Dunne (captain), M Ahmed, C Wolstenholme.
It got worse in 1983 when they finished bottom of the Second Division, and in consequence had to apply for re-election.
The rest of the eighties were a period of struggle with two more re-election pleas. Dunne was the one constant as he seemed to be battling on with very little support. In 1984, he kept his side out of the bottom two thanks to his 557 runs and 54 wickets.
He was exceedingly loyal to Lidget in an era when the more fashionable clubs would surely have liked to snap him up.
Former Yorkshire Second Teamer Tim Rukin was a notable player in 1985; a wicketkeeper who didn’t quite make it at county level.
Lidget Green 1985-back from left F Hussain, A Orrell (scorer), M Ahmed, S Atkinson, T McGuire, S Tanvir, D Pears, M Smith (secretary) Front G Soames, L Hanson, T Rukin (capt), G Orrell, P Taylor.
The club might have been lowly in 1985.but one bright spark was the overseas player Shahid Tanvir who registered the league’s top individual score that season when he scored 173 not out against Eccleshill.
The much travelled Maz Bhatti was an extremely competitive all rounder who had a good season in 1988, with both bat and ball.
The last eleven years of their existence was fraught with struggle, but also rich with overseas players.
Paceman John Roper averaged 50 wickets per season in the early nineties as he fought a lonely battle with Dunne to pull the club up the table.
For 1993, Lidget Green recruited Suresh Shetty as their overseas player and he had an astonishing season. He scored 945 league runs at 55.59, and also took 68 wickets at 17.53, winning the coveted Sir Learie Constantine All Rounder’s award,
Another overseas player of great talent was Indian Amol Muzumdar who won the league batting averages with 1,207 runs at 75.44
Off spinner Ijaz Khan was taking wickets 50 wickets a season for a time, and when he was made captain he assembled a side to get promotion in 1999.
Mushtaq Ahmed proved to be an inspired signing and made an immediate impact
The club made an inspired overseas signing that season in batsman Hassan Adnan who scored 1,261 runs at 70.05 which included a highest score of 171. They also signed a `mystery’ bowler from Luton, namely Mustaq Ahmed.
He would ball a bewildering variety of left arm flighted deliveries. It could be said that the Second Division batsmen could not read him as took 86 wickets at 10.45. He went on to have an illustrious career with Baildon, and took over 1,000 league wickets,
Wasim Munawar was a stylish right hander who had a yen for a cover drive, and he scored a very telling 696 runs in the promotion season.
Naveed Rana-ul Hassan, who would play for Yorkshire, and represent Pakistan, also made the odd appearance.
The strength of the team subsided in 2000 when they needed all their resources to survive in the First Division. The departure, in particular of Ahmed to Baildon, would be the decisive blow, and they were relegated.
In previous years, the strength of the cricket committee had evaporated somewhat, and the social side had the decisive votes. They reasoned that if the club switched to rugby, there would be a better `take up’ of the bar and the social side would be enhanced.
The club resigned halfway through the relegation season, and offered the ground to Clayton Rugby League Club.
The move was bitterly opposed by the cricket section of the club who formed a `Save Lidget Green CC’ organisation and presented a petition to Bradford Council who owned the land.
For Clayton to play there, the council had to agree to a change from cricket and athletics to rugby, which they did after four months of deliberations and consultations with ward councillors.
Lidget Green's ground in the 1940s
First Division Winners: 1942, 1957, 1964
Priestley Cup Winners: 1924
I acknowledge the assistance of Ray Peel and Alan Stansfield.in compiling this feature.