The demise of Queensbury Cricket Club in 1993 was a major shock, founder members of the Bradford League, it appeared incredible that a village with such a large catchment area could not adequately support their cricket club, if just for the sake of the future generations who might well show more passion for the game.
In retrospect, it was a mistake losing their independence in the mid-70's when they decided to merge with the rugby club, thus forming the Queensbury Sports Club.
Queensbury wore the Cinderella tag reluctantly, no major honours despite being a founder member of the Bradford League, and suffered long periods of depression.
Their two losing Priestley Cup-final appearances in 1927 and 1951, and Second Division Championships in 1955 and 1982, are scant reward for their long and turbulent history. And yet, amidst the gloom there were eras of excellence, and an overwhelming desire to prove the cynics wrong.
George Senior will go down in Queensbury folk-lore as their most charismatic cricketer, and he is still talked about in revered terms.
When the league was full of war-time county cricketers in 1942, Senior was still a huge star, and one the neutrals would travel to see.
That year he scored the fastest century in the league up to then, in 45 minutes, while battering East Bierley in an innings of 110. That rate of scoring would still be rapid today with the heavy bats and `covered’ wickets.
In 1946 he made the highest score in the league when compiling 161 against Brighouse.
The 1949 promotion season heralded a decade of turbulent times, but excitement all the way on the field.
The promotion winning side had two sturdy batsmen in C Priestley and Jack Moule, and had a couple of wicket-taking bowlers in L Powell and D Sheard.
It was five years of struggle in the First Division with three successive years finishing in third bottom place, just directly above the relegation positions.
Jack Moule and Jim Chadburn just about scored enough runs to sustain theiir survival until 1954 when they were relegated. Moule averaged 50.92 with the bat in 1951, and 45.91 in 1953.
In the middle of these frenzied times they had a cup run in 1951 which led to a Priestley Cup Final. However, they found Idle too tough a nut to crack going down by 9-wickets in a one-sided final.
They bounced back straight away as Champions of the Second Division in 1955, with a side which contained four players the envy of most clubs- Claude Helliwell, Jim Chatburn, Stan Longbottom, above, and Jack Moule.
All-rounder Moule was predictably the chief run-getter and also finished seventh in the league bowling averages.
Helliwell had a wonderful season, taking 70 wickets to finish fourth in the league bowling averages.
He went on to play for Bradford (Park Avenue) in a very strong side, before moving to Undercliffe. He made his name as a genuine spin bowler/all rounder who played many times for Yorkshire Colts in the early sixties.
With Undercliffe, he had a reputation of being an abrasive batsman who scored his runs quickly, often in a crisis.
The club ended the decade in 1959 with a re-election plea to the league- one of many they would make in subsequent years.
Despite Queensbury achieving very little in the sixties they maintained their strong post-war tradition for recruiting top class professionals. David Dent and Jack Moule of the early 1960's were as prolific a pair of opening batters as the league has probably known, a bowler's nightmare.
Dent had scored the League’s Fastest Fifty award in 1959 when he reached his half-century in 26 minutes. Five years later in 1964 he scored the league’s highest innings of the season with 158 not out against Eccleshill.
Moule was one of those rare breed genuine all rounders who would consistently ride high in the league batting averages, and at the same time figure significantly in the bowling.
Wicketkeeper Stanley Longbottom was a constant at Granby Fields in the early sixties with a reputation of being one of the best of his craft. This has been subsequently recognised by the Bradford League who have named a keeper’s trophy after him.
Former Nottinghamshire county player Barry Whittingham was brought to the club as pro in 1967. He scored 487 runs at 32.20.
Even in the depressing 1970's, when re-election regularly came knocking, the likes of Brian Collier, Malcolm Glaister, Howard Leach and Barry Haigh were brought to the club, and proved excellent `value for money' pros.
Glaister was a very tall left arm fast bowler who played for Kent 2XI and formed an all-left arm opening attack with Leach..
Collier carried on the club’s tradition for making the highest score of the season in the league, with 149 not out against Baildon in 1972. This would prove to be his best season as he scored 603 league runs, and also took 39 wickets.
Left arm seamer Leach was signed from the Dewsbury & District League where he took 132 wickets in one season. He had a productive three year spell at Granby Fields-
|HOWARD LEACH'S BRADFORD LEAGUE RECORD|
Alongside these stars were good amateurs like Dilwyn Watkins, Glenn Rhodes, David Howes, Terry McGuire and Gary Soames who would all be `paid cricketers’ today.
He would later find fame helping to win a hat-trick of Central Yorkshire League titles with Heckmondwike circa 1976-1978, and he also took a remarkable 10-33 for Morley against Altofts in 1987.
Haigh would also play for Heckmondwike with his old Queensbury colleague, winning the league batting averages in 1978 with 622 runs at 77.75.
Watkins was an extremely talented all rounder who would often suffer chronic back pain. He could bowl genuinely quick, and be quite explosive with the bat. In 1973 he made the highest score in the league with 158 against Keighley.
Glenn Rhodes, above, was an extremely accurate seam bowler who carried the Queensbury bowling for much of the time in the mid-seventies, while Gary Soames was a stylish left-handed batsman who made his reputation as a excellent fielder in the covers.
Another good amateur was Terry McGuire who was a sound batsman, who became more of a bowler towards the end of the decade, bowling mainly `in-cutters’ at a brisk pace, with his best season being in 1976 when he took 41 wickets.
David Howes proved to be the most accomplished cricketer of the four, winning most honours in the game at Wagon Lane with Bradford & Bingley.
Despite the merits of the aforementioned players, performances on the field were dire, and they finished in bottom place every season between 1975 and 1978, with a subsequent re-election plea.
Towards the end of the decade Queensbury signed a Pakistani oversees player in Haroon Rasheed who livened Granby Fields up with some explosive batting. Rasheed would soon play for his country, and he went on to play in 23 test matches with a top innings of 153.
There was something of a renaissance in the next decade when in 1982, they captured the Second Division title, largely due to the magical qualities of their two overseas Pakistani stars Ali Zia and Asad Rauf (later a Test umpire).
They scored a lot of runs between them and helped to pioneer the trend for overseas players in the league.
Zia had exceptional all round ability and won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy in 1981 and 1982, and also won
the League Batting Averages in 1981. His statistics read like this-
1981 Batting 1,110 runs at 61.66 with a Highest Score of 138 Not Out
Bowling 50 wickets st 21.70
1982 Batting 738 runs at 36.90
Bowling 56 wickets at 13.7
In the First Division in 1983 his powers diminished somewhat when he didn’t make the league Batting Averages, but managed to take 55 wickets at 17..56.
Rauf joined in 1983, and his batting statistics were-
1982 1,097 runs at 49.86 with a Highest Score of 130 Not Out
1983 671 runs at 35.32
1984 865 runs at 34.60
Like Zia, it was noticeable that Rauf’s performances declined in the First Division, but his runs were vital in the club escaping the trapdoor of relegation.
Ironically, in 1981 the year before the promotion season, the club performed poorly finishing just one place above the re-election positions, despite the presence of Ali Zia.
Glenn Rhodes had battled away with the ball to the tune of 55 wickets at 14.87 in 1981, and took a further 45 wickets in the promotion season when he was captain.
His career took off in 1974 when he took 60 wickets at 14.16, followed in subsequent years with 60 and 54 wickets. The 1974-1976 were his peak years in terms of wicket-taking.
Rhodes made his debut in the First Team at 17 in 1960 before he had even played for the Second Team. He explains, “They were short and I lived nearby and Harry Woodford, the captain called me in.”
He established himself in the First Team by the mid-sixties and went on to be a regular for the next few decades. Rhodes bowled medium paced swing that arrowed away from the batsman on a consistent line & length. He was a clever bowler who could `cut’ the ball using the seam, and would extract the maximum out of a helpful wicket.
Rhodes said, “Often I would bowl slow out-swingers widish of the off stump, and wait for the batsman to have a nibble. I ended up with in excess of 700 league and cup wickets, and would have taken more, but in my younger days I was used sparingly. I also left to have one season at Windhill, and two at Yeadon”.
“I was proud that as captain, I encouraged Zia to bowl out-swingers, as well as his `inners’, and I think I made him a better bowler. He was a superb player and I’m amazed he never played test cricket for Pakistan”.
Asked about his batting, Rhodes said that he actually won the club’s batting averages on one occasion, top scoring with an innings of 60-odd and scoring several 40s in the season”
Queensbury 1981:- Back, left Brian Sunter, Tony Smith, Terry McGuire, Talish Butt, Neil Pearson, Shabir Ellahi. Front Martin Dunne, Gary Soames, Glen Rhodes (captain), Ali Zia, Tommy Carroll.
The Queensbury CC title winning squad comprised of- Glenn Rhodes (Capt), Asad Rauf, Gary Soames, Stan Caines, Brian Sunter, Terry McGuire, Gordon McLennon, Ali Zia, Tommy Carroll, Martin Dunne, Dave Roberts, Keith Soames.
In addition to Zia, Rauf and Rhodes, there were telling contributions from McLennon and Caines. McLennon was a seasoned seamer with an excellent track record, while Caines was a wonderful hitter of sixes.
The club managed to stay up by the small margin of three points, but it was relegation in 1984 when Rauf’s 865 runs were not sufficient to save his side. No other player impressed enough to be registered in the league averages.
Fortunes took a turn for the worse after relegation in 1984, and the following season they were rock bottom and seeking re-election.
The club drifted a little, but after the title win still had some useful performers in their ranks in Chris O’Rourke. (who captained the 1984 side), Jasbir Singh, Eddie Halliwell and Trevor Smith
It is something of an irony that in their final season in 1993, skipper Geoff Cowgill (formerly of Saltaire) assembled a team that very nearly gained promotion to the First Division, being pipped on the last Saturday by Baildon.
The team contained a good cross-section of journeyman cricketers and the one star performer to rival any other player in Queensbury's past- Mansoor Rana.
He followed the Queensbury `Pakistani' connection and emulated Zia and Rauf in reaching the cherished target of a 1,000 league runs in a season.He finished in second place in the League Batting Averages with 1,087 runs at 63.94.
Cricketers in the Bradford League tended to dread the journey up the hill to Queensbury, being of two-sweater climes and the bearer of fabled talk of snow in July. But, Queensbury has been missed, if only for its character setting amongst the old property in the village and it's familiar views of the church.
They fought a relentless battle against cynicism from their detractors, and apathy from the village. They deserved a better fate then what befell them.
Legendary committee men Charlie Smith and Clifford Heseltine served for many years, and set the standard as workers for the club. The likes of Alan Blundell, who played for many years, and worked on the committee for even more years, and long time groundsman Donald Priestley deserved more support in later years.
Norman Jowett was another friend to the club, often giving lifts to players and helping with club’s finances.
In modern times, Terry McGuire took on many tasks on the committee, and famously brought in the overseas players, including driving to Heathrow to pick Zia up.
The ten most important cricketers in their history are widely acknowledged as George Senior, Jim Chatburn, Jack Moule, David Dent, Claude Helliwell, Stan Longbottom, Brian Collier, Glenn Rhodes, Ali Zia, Asad Rauf.
Another Queenbury Cricket Club was formed in 2000 following the amalgamation of Yews Green CC and Union Croft CC. They now reside in the Halifax League playing their matches at their picturesque ground on Old Guy Road, and at least keeping the name of Queensbury Cricket Club alive.
There is a shortage of records, and photographs to be sourced about the history of Queensbury Cricket Club, and I am grateful for the assistance of Glenn Rhodes in providing several private photographs, and a wealth of post-sixties information about the club. I also thank Terry McGuire for his guidance and advice regarding factual information.
If there is anybody out there with any memorabilia, or further information about Queensbury Cricket Club, please contact me on-
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