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Lost Clubs: Manningham Mills

Lost Clubs: Manningham Mills

Manningham Mills Cricket Club was established as a branch of Lister’s Mill Sports and Social Club in 1865. Between 6,000 and 7,000 employees of the mill made weekly contributions from their wages towards their recreational club which provided them with facilities to take part in various activities, including football, cricket, tennis, table tennis, snooker, bowls and ballroom dancing.

Manningham Mills became founder members of West Bradford Cricket League in 1893 along with Allerton, Clayton, Cullingworth, Denholme, Ingrow, Lidget Green, Mountain Mills, Queensbury, Thornton and Wilsden. There are no records available of how the club shaped up in the West Bradford Cricket League in their nine-year spell.

When the Bradford Cricket League was formed on Wednesday, 17th September 1902 at the prestigious Queens Hotel, Manningham Mills was accepted. The Mills finished a worthy 4th in the Bradford Cricket League in 1903, recording seven wins and five losses. Surprisingly, they departed from the league after the one season despite their promising start.

It is thought that the club went on to become part of the Yorkshire Council Cricket league.

Into the Bradford Central League

Unfortunately, there are no records of their cricket activity until after the Second World War when they joined the Bradford Central League. This was a very worthy league with sides fielding players that could break into Bradford League cricket.

Even then, data on players is scarce, but in the sixties their leading players were Malcolm Chester, Jeff Gunn, David Simpson and John Wilde. Dudley Hill CC had an outstanding record in the league and for many years was the team to beat to win the major honours.

However, it could be said that Manningham Mills’ 27-year record in the league was a highly successful one. The ground on Scotchman Road was often the preferred choice for the league’s Waddilove Cup Final.  Our poicture ahows the opening of their scorebox in the 1950s.   

Section A League Champions: 1932, 1949, 1956, 1960, 1961, 1962.
Waddilove Cup winners: 
1948 1967, 1973.

Manningham Mills' title winning side from 1956 - Back: Harry Kitching, Alan Keighley, Geoge Whitford, AN Other, Kevin Boyle, Duggie Bates. Front: Bert Oddy, Harry Jackson, Cyril Whitford, Bill Wood, Eric Abbott .

Progress to the Bradford League

The club expanded their social facilities inside an ageing pavilion in the seventies, and set up a purpose built new club area within. This was the catalyst in applying to re-join the Bradford League in 1974 along with Yorkshire Bank.

They were far from being the dominant Bradford Central League club at the time, but their neat facilities and good catchment area paved the way for a successful application. They also had the satisfaction of winning the Waddilove Cup for the third time in their last season. 

Mills decided to enter their first season with their regular Bradford Central League side, and they found it tough going. They finished third bottom and avoided having to apply for re-election by run aggregate only.

The most productive players were Brian Swallow, Jeff Slater, left, and Malcolm Dent. For the following season they stiffened their side and finished the league season in eighth position, with new recruits Dick Terry (560 runs), Richard Noble (47 wickets) and Mick Robinson (53 wickets), all proving their worth.

However, the big story of the season was the Priestley Cup run that took them all the way to the final, and although vanquished by Undercliffe, gave them a taste for the big time. More progress was made in 1976, albeit just one place higher, but a season noted for Mick Robinson’s astonishing wicket haul of 88 in the league.

Robinson was a bespectacled, big man who had a long run-up, and had an idiosyncratic style of bowling, but was very effective throughout his career. His stock ball was just short of a length and he would often engender a steepling bounce for the batsman to encounter.

Manningham Mills 1976 - Back: B Swallow, J Slater, R Noble, M Taylor, C Woodley, M Robinson. Front: P Taylor. R Terry, R Coverdale, J Dale, M Dent

The Hey-day of the Mills 1977-1982

Ambition abounded at Scotchman Road, and their thriving bar and fundraising organisation allowed them to recruit players that would see the club elevated to elite status circa 1977-1982. Another positive in their favour was the presence of the Bradford City Chairman Stafford Heginbotham who would play in their Second Team.

The ability to sign players like Yorkshire and England's Philip Sharpe and Don Wilson plus Jack Heron, Peter Squires, Alan Hampshire and Mike Valletta ensured they were high standing in the top flight. They won the Priestley Cup in 1977, and were losing finalists in 1979.

Maybe the six-year era should have yielded a First Division title, but at least they had come a long way from the debut season of 1974. Promotion was achieved in 1977 in second place after Sharpe (1,048 runs) and Wilson (64 wickets) proved to be a step above the Second Division. Heron contributed 587 runs, while Richard Noble bagged 51 wickets.

The 29-year old Heron would play six ODI matches for Zimbabwe in the 1983 Cricket World Cup. The icing on the cake that year was the winning of the Priestley Cup Final against Lightcliffe. In a very close affair the Mills batted first and totalled 198-6. 

Lightcliffe could have dismissed them more cheaply, but Sharpe batted as if his life depended on it and reached a crucial 97. The fact that the Mills prevailed by six runs was largely down to the perseverance of Noble who ended with 5-70.

Two years later they reached the final again only to be well beaten by Bingley, who had the admirable Neil Hartley and David Batty starring that day. Mills’ First Division record between 1978 and 1982 was excellent with positions 4th, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 6th respectively.

The side was a big attraction to locals and neutral spectators from afar. Their compact ground engendered superb views of the play, and the seats on the Scotchman Road side were particularly well sought after. The best season was in 1979 when they finished in third place, just four points behind champions Pudsey St Lawrence.

Phil Sharpe’s influence at the Mills was undeniable-

1977 1048 runs at 65.50 
779 runs at 38.95  
598 runs at 35.18 
791 runs at 39.55
865 runs at 41.19
824 runs at 41.20

Sharpe was recognised as one of the best slip fielders of his generation in First Class cricket, and as a batsman scored in excess of 22,000 runs. He might well have been unlucky to have only played in ten Test matches for England, having a record of 786 runs at a very worthy average of 46.23.Don Wilson was also instrumental in the club’s glory years, taking 64 wickets for 10.51 in their promotion year, and more impressively winning the league bowling averages in 1981 with 62 wickets at 12.30. Wilson was a left arm spin bowler, tall and wiry, he was a favourite with Yorkshire’s spectators, taking 100 wickets in a season five times, including in three of the seven seasons he was part of their Championship-winning side, and in 1966 he took two hat-tricks.  He was capped by England six times, and his contributions were modest.

Manningham Mills 1980 - Back: J Wilde, P Harrand, R Noble, A Hampshire, J Harker, A Houston. Front: J Dale, R Coverdale, P Sharpe (capt), D Wilson, D Jay.

Peter Squires performed usefully for the Mills, rather than with great zest, and he did not manage 500 league runs in any of the four seasons he was there. He did, however, win the league’s fielding trophy in 1981. Squires was a multi-talented sportsman who had played for the English Rugby Union side. He was also a fine cricketer who played in 49 first-class matches for Yorkshire.

Alan Hampshire had a more solid record with the Mills than Squires, averaging 30-plus on more than one occasion, but just topping 500 runs once in 1981. Hampshire’s more famous brother John, had a much more exalted First Class career, but he did turn out for Yorkshire once.

Jack Heron would play just the promotion season, and he returned to Zimbabwe to play First Class cricket. His career highlight was playing in six ODI test matches for his country in the 1983 Cricket World Cup.

Manningham Mills 1982 - Back: A Storr, J Slater, R Noble, S Clegg, J Wilde, M Valetta.Front P Kellett, D Jay, P Sharpe (captain), P Squires, B Swallow.

The last season of the glory years was in 1982 when Australian Mike Valletta topped the league batting averages with 718 runs at 79.78. He also had the honour of recording the league’s top individual score that year when he made168 not out against Lidget Green.

It could be said that one of the lesser names, seamer Richard Noble, was just as productive as most of the stars. He would regularly figure amongst the leading wicket-takers in the league with an economy rate to match.

The club might have finished sixth in 1982, but that proved to be the last season of the golden years, as they were abruptly relegated in the following season. They were competitive to a man with left arm slow bowler David Jay taking 44 wickets, but they went down just one point behind Eccleshill. Andy Storr still managed to win the F Milton Watmouth Wicketkeeper’s prize in the relegation season.

The Yo-Yo Years 1983-1995

In 1984, they came back with a bang as champions of the Second Division. Paul Holdsworth scored 895 runs at 47.11 to win the divisional batting prize, while Cec Woodley also contributed 756 runs.

The big all round performance came from Numan Shabbir who won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounder’s Trophy with an impressive 622 runs, and 73 wickets. They were relegated the following season, and again David Jay with 51 wickets battled all the way.

The Mills had learnt their lesson and after another promotion in 1986, assembled a side with classy players who could sustain a top flight season. They would finish thirrd and seventh in successive seasons and appeared to be back in the big time. 

Big names like Alan Gilliver, Phil Taylor and Paul Topp supported the new breed of Iain Priestley and Mark Gilliver to ensure promotion in 1986.

Paul Topp took exactly 200 league wickets in three seasons, while Iain Priestley regularly topped 600-runs per season. Topp was an extremely accurate seam bowler who ended his career with 1,167 league wickets at 16.29.

Priestley was on Yorkshire’s books and in 1989 he took 4-27 on his first-class debut against Nottinghamshire at Headingley. He only played once more for the county, but carved out a brilliant career as a swashbuckling batsman for Pudsey St Lawrence.

Dermott McGrath, left, was another accomplished player- an orthodox opening batsman who would guard his wicket with great zest. His best season at the Mills was in 1997 when he scored 787 runs. He would leave the club to forge a trophy laden career with East Bierley, including leading them to a hat-trick of Priestley Cup wins between 1998 and 2000.

Fortunes dipped a little in 1989 as the team finished fourth bottom despite hiring a very useful Australian called Paul Johnson. He scored 683 runs and took 52 wickets with his probing spin bowling.

In the early 1990s, the club experienced a series of damaging attacks on its premises, including arson attempts, which nearly brought its demise. Fortunately, the membership rallied round and refurbished the premises enabling the club to continue its activities.

In the next two years, Priestley and Johnson continued to perform well, but after another struggle in 1990, they were relegated again in 1991. Johnson had several seasons at the Mills, and scored runs and took wickets and proved to be their talisman cricketer in this era,

The same pattern emerged when promotion was instant, but relegation the next year an almost inevitability.Jimmy Poutch was a great find for their promotion season of 1992, taking 70 wickets, and also chipping in with 380 runs.

Adam Cook won the Fastest Fifty award in 1990- reaching the target in 18 minutes. Another notable feat by a young cricketer was when Jason Shepherd won the A Waddington Fielding Trophy in 1993.

Manningham Mills 1991: - Back A Cook, P Johnson, J Poutch, A Swallow, C Mallows, J Bridges. From S Reape, M Bentley, I Priestley (captain), M Thomas, A Miller.

Club in Disgrace

Changes at first team level led to the 1994 season going down in their history as their worst ever, as `team irregularities’ would earn a penalty charge of 27-points that rendered them bottom of the league. They failed in their bid to apply for re-election.

They spent a solitary season in the Mutual Sunday School League in 1995 with Adam Swallow keeping the faith, and performing magnificently.

Back in the Bradford League in 1996, and with certain reassurances made, they had to rebuild from scratch and had to seek re-election from basement positions for the first two seasons. They were principally a Second Division club for another ten years, and although they had their ups and downs bloodied some impressive players.

Phil Slater, left, was a real find, scoring 709 league runs with a top score of 133 in the 1999 season and eventually making his mark with Bradford & Bingley where he led them to Priestley Cup triumphs in 2010 and 2015.

Adam Swallow was also a home product who turned out to be an accomplished cricket, going down the same route to Slater to Wagon Lane where he is now the club chairman.

 In 1998, Richard Bostock had a fine season scoring 658 runs at 34.63. There was also another Fastest Fifty award to a Mills batsman, as overseas player Azhar Abbass did the feat in 1998 from 19 balls.

Fine Asian players

The club was signing a clutch of talented Asian cricketers in Mahmood Rasool, Nadim Hanif, Gulsheraz Ahmed (right), Yassir Ali and Adil Islam. The greatest of them all was Adil Rashid who helped the under 11s win their age group competition.

He went on and took all-ten wickets in a second team match for Bradford & Bingley, before making the grade with Yorkshire, and the rest is history.

In 2000 the overseas player was Safraz Butt, and his performances were the talk of Scotchman Road. He scored 715 runs at 39.72, and also took 52 wickets at 16.10.

Other overseas stars were-

2002    Akeel Mukhtar 742 runs
Shahid Khan 540 runs/ 56 wickets
Afsar Nawaz   1019 runs at 59.94 with a highest score of 152 not out
Afsar Nawaz   644 runs at 49.54

Mahboob `Booby’ Hussain was installed as captain in 2001, and his six years at the helm would see the club rise to the top flight. He would take over 300 wickets for the club with his economical off spin.

By 2005 the club had become all-Asian, and they became the recipient of valuable sponsorship money which would lead to success on the field. They just missed out on promotion in third place, and this was partly the result of a magnificent all round effort from Nadim Hanif.

As a `slow medium pace’ bowler of immense control he took 58 wickets. But, it was his characteristic hard-hitting technique with the bat that got the pulses racing. He crashed 529 runs with a top score of 129.

In 2006 the club was the recipient of a £1.5 million grant, under the banner of Manningham Mills Sports Association, of which Campion A.F.C and Heaton Juniors F.C were included. This would include a large clubhouse which would also take on community centre use.

The positioning of the clubhouse would suit football better than cricket, and apart from an electric scorebox, the cricket ground was not enhanced with dedicated seating. It was the start of a great chapter in the history of Campion AFC but it made little difference to the cricket side. 

Back in the top flight

The disappointment of missing out of promotion in 2005 was eradicated the following year, as the Mills finished runners-up to Hanging Heaton in the Second Division.

Overseas star Afsar Nawaz was the major batsman, and Nasir Jamal the telling strike bowler with 53 wickets.

They spent three years in the top flight before relegation again, following the yo-yo pattern of the preceding decade. Talented players abounded, and only a lack of consistency was their undoing.

Asif Hussain, Gemaal Hussain and Zeeshan Qasim were top players, and two more excellent overseas cricketers made their mark. Qaiser Abbass notched up 587 runs and 42 wickets in 2008, while Imran Khalid bettered that with 757 runs and 57 wickets in 2011.

Gemaal Hussain, a 6’5” pace bowler, made the first class grade with Gloucestershire, and took 111 wickets in county cricket with a career best 6-33.

In 2010, promotion was obtained when Gulsheraz Ahmed (744 runs), Amjid Hussain (599 runs) and Zeeshan Qasim (right, 60 wickets) proved their worth in the Second Division. Qasim won the league bowling averages.

They just about survived the drop in 2011, but had a season to remember in 2012 when they finished in eighth place in the First Division and reached the Priestley Cup Final.

Farakh Hussain was the main batsman in the league with 570 runs, and overseas spin bowler Nauman Ali, left, was the key bowler with 48 wickets.

But, in the Priestley Cup they were inspired with some scintillating displays on the way to the final. In a rain sodden season that invariably affected cricket weekends, the Mills semi-final clash with Hanging Heaton at Scotchman Road was reduced to 30-overs per side.

Hanging Heaton was asked to bat first and Rob McFarlane hit a magnificent 107 to help his side to a formidable 201. Few spectators on the ground gave the Mills much of a chance with the slow outfield. Only the spirited bowling of Adil Islam (2-33) and Zeeshan Qasim (2-34) kept the score to reasonable proportions.

The Mills got off to a flier with Farakh Hussain launching a furious assault which saw him smash five sixes and seven fours, and by the time he departed at 127-3 after 14.3 overs, Mills needed just 75 to win from 15.3 overs.

Hussain’s knock got the neutrals at the game talking in raptures, and the innings was probably the catalyst for his big move to Woodlands. Adam Patel eased his team to five-wicket victory with a disciplined 32 not out.

Priestley Cup Final Agony

The bad weather continued for final day at Spen Victoria where they would meet East Bierley, and it would be a bittersweet experience for the men from Scotchman Road.

Mills were in a dominant position when the game was washed out with East Bierley on the ropes at 99-6, and were decidedly favourites to win. Iqbal Khan, right, had produced a stunning ten over spell of bowling with figures of 1-7 

In the restaged final at Spen Victoria, more bad weather led to the reduction of the match to 40 overs a side. Bierley batted first and put together a credible score of 182.

Mills began well, and although losing wickets, were well on course for victory with Nauman Ali at the crease. However, a late collapse gave the impetus to Bierley who eventually held sway by 30 runs.

Ali made an immediate impact when Mills signed him in 2012. He took 48 wickets at 15.31 in his first season and also scored 316 runs. His performances helped Mills to reach the Priestley Cup final where he was man of the match taking 4-32 and scoring 40.

His left-arm spin bowling and big-hitting batting saw him follow up in 2013 with 42 wickets and 411 runs for the Scotchman Road club, before moving to Bradford & Bingley.

At the age of 34 he made his test debut for Pakistan against South Africa at Karachi in 2021. He made an immediate impact, taking 2-38 in 17 overs in the first innings before taking  a stunning 5-35 in 25.3 overs in the second innings which helped Pakistan to a seven wicket win. 

The club maintained its competitiveness for the 2013 season, finishing in seventh position with some fine individual performances. Adam Patel (620 runs) and Adal Islam (621 runs) excelled with the bat, while Zeeshan Qasim (56 wickets) was as consistent as ever.

The club appeared to have decent sponsorship money for quality players, but off the field work needed doing on their ground, and their administration was found to be lacking.

The Bradford League Board instructed the club to act on the issue of a lack of seating on the ground, unrepaired sightscreens and substantial unpaid fines. When this was not properly acted upon by the club, the Board called a vote of member’s clubs at an Extraordinary General Meeting at Pudsey Congs CC on September 18th 2013.

The member clubs voted Manningham Mills out of the league 17-7, with one abstention.

Recollections from Mo 'Booby’ Hussain

Mo `Booby’ Hussain (above) saw at first hand the amount of overseas talent brought to the club in the 21st century. He also saw the development of several rising stars in the late nineties.

Hussain said, “After returning to the Bradford League from the Mutual Sunday School League, we had some fantastic young ones in 1997/1998 in Phil Slater, Andy Luxton and Andy Lee. We also introduced overseas player Azhar Abbas to the league who went on to play for Baildon and Pudsey Congs.

From 2001 to 2007 I was captain, and in my first game as skipper young Gulsheraz Ahmed and Aqil Mukhtar (Pro) put on a 240 plus partnership. We still lost the game to Drighlington with Richard Whitehurst scoring a big hundred.

Some key players from then on were Gemaal Hussain (left), Amar Rashid (right) and Nadim Hanif who was a consistent bowler who hit a long ball. Other pros were Sarfraz Butt, Shahid Khan and an amazing batter from Karachi called Afsar Nawaz.

Mubashir Nazir was another interesting overseas player, an extremely quick pace bowler. He commuted from London and would get to the ground for 5am and sleep on the bench before the game.

Going up in 2005 was a massive achievement and the highlight of my playing days I guess.

Acknowledgements: Mo Hussain, Michael Kaye, John Wilde.

Footnote: Information about the club’s years in the Bradford Central League is difficult to find, and if anybody can assist in this matter I would be very grateful. My email contact being regnel1950@gmail.com

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