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Tom Priestley, 91, wins league's top accolade

Tom Priestley, 91, wins league's top accolade

Tom Priestley has won the league's top accolade - the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy - for his outstanding service to the league.

The 91-year-old has made a marked impact on the careers of young cricketers, umpires and scorers in the Bradford League. 

There is a hardly a young cricketer who hasn’t taken their first cricket steps in the Gordon Bowers Competition which he helped to found in 1983.

Along with the 2010 winner of the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy, Joan Peel, he saw the potential of the pairs format to encourage youngsters to play and they used some of the trust funds left by our former league president Gordon Bowers to launch a competition which became such a big success.

Junior cricket was a passion for Priestley which is reflected by the fact he served on the Bradford Junior League Executive from 1981 to 2002 and was president from 2002-2014.

His other love was umpiring which he took up after a 25-year playing career in the Bradford Central and Bradford Mutual Sunday School Leagues with Wibsey Congs, Park Chapel and Great Horton Meths.

He started umpiring in the Bradford Mutual Sunday School League before being persuaded by former Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy winner Derek Shuttleworth to join the Bradford League in 1982.

It was the start of an association which was to see him take charge of around 1,000 league and cup games. He took charge of the Priestley Shield finals of 1986 and 2008 and the Priestley Cup finals of 1988 and 2002

He served as treasurer and chairman of the umpires association and his outstanding contribution saw him made a life vice-president. He also helped many new umpires as an examiner for the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers.

A straight-talking individual who was never afraid to stand up for what he felt was right, it is fair to say he ruffled a few feathers, but he only wanted what he felt was right. He served on the old league management committee and its successor the Management Board for a total of 15 years. His contribution saw him award life membership of the league

The saying that when you want somebody to do a job you ask a busy man certainly applies to the latest recipient of the league's highest honour.

And on top of his considerable achievements for the Bradford League he was also secretary of the Bradford Area Council for 30 years and has had along association with the Bradford Evening League holding a number of key posts including chairman, a position he held for 34 years before stepping down in 2006

Sadly, at the age of 91, he was unable to attend the league dinner at Headingley so league chairman David Young, secretary Chris Leathley and Development Officer Alan Birkinshaw visited him earlier this week to present him with his trophy. It is fair to say he was immensely proud and humbled to have been chosen to win the award.

He said: “I am chuffed at getting this award. It is a lovely surprise and one I never expected.

“In my eyes the Bradford League is the best league and I have enjoyed the comradeship and friendship of so many people through the years.”

Tom Priestley and his wife Margaret. Pictures: Ray Spencer

Click to view all the the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy winners