He is the most successful wicketkeeper in the history of the Bradford League and at an age when most players have been long retired, John Goldthorp still has unfulfilled cricketing ambitions.
The man who took a record 706 victims and scored 11.056 runs, winning three league championships, two Priestley Cups and the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy twice, has his sights on international honours.
He would love to play for England over-60s and it is clear from speaking to him that he still has the drive and the motivation which made him the first wicketkeeper batsman to complete the league double of 500 victims and 5,000 runs.
He and his brother James are the only siblings to have made over 10,000 league runs, something John is proud of.
Goldthorp has for the last 15 years kept wicket for Pool in the Aire-Wharfe League and though he admits he has played more seasons for them than he originally envisaged, he is not ready to give up yet.
“It is a lovely club and a lovely ground, and I have enjoyed it. I still feel I am fit enough to do a good job and I would love now to get the chance to play over 60s cricket for Yorkshire and hopefully England.”
Goldthorp started out as a junior at Leeds Cricket Club after being taken thereby his grandad Billy Twigg, the former Sheffield United footballer who was an outstanding batsman in the Aire-Wharfe League.
He played junior cricket for Leeds and Adel before making his senior debut in 1979 wit Bankfoot in Division Two of the Bradford League. In that first season he claimed 28 victims and scored 241 runs.
His performance led to a move to Yorkshire Bank and he helped them to the 1980 league title with 27 victims and 233 runs.
He recalls: “Moortown was a nice place to play but the wicket was low and slow which made it hard work for batsmen and wicketkeepers.
“In that title-winning season we only scored over 200 once and we relied on just three bowlers, David Marshall, Peter Graham and John Marshall.”
Goldthorp learned a lot playing alongside the likes of Tony Page, Graham Boothroyd and Marsden Claughton, before moving on after three seasons to play for the old Bradford club in the Yorkshire League.
He says: “It was a great experience playing at the old Park Avenue ground with its magnificent pavilion.
“Playing at grounds like Scarborough and Barnsley seemed to bring my batting on. Playing on such lovely wickets was a real thrill.”
When Bingley were looking for a replacement after their outstanding wicketkeeper David Smith joined Birstall in 1985, they turned to Goldthorp.
“It proved to be a great move for ne,” admitted Goldthorp. “It was a fast and bouncy wicket at Wagon Lane, and I was thrilled to play at a ground with such good facilities.
“I feel it was important they kept the old pavilion with its upstairs viewing balcony when they developed the new clubhouse.”
Goldthorp quickly established himself as an accomplished wicketkeeper and number three bat. And in 1987 he was voted man of the match as Bingley defeated Pudsey St Lawrence by 16 runs in the Priestley Cup final.
He got the vote for a knock of 72 despite leg spinner David Batty taking seven wickets and James Robinson scoring a rapid 50 which enabled Bingley to score 94 in the last nine overs as they posted a score of 268-3.
Bradford & Bingley's 1990 championship winning team. Back, from left,: John Goldthorp, Mark Duffy, James Robinson, Mark Best, Richard McCarthy, Billy Holmes. Front: Chris Dobson, Jeremy Batty, Neil Hartley (captain), David Batty, Phil Padgett.
“It is always nice to get your name on a trophy,” said Goldthorp. “I can remember in the closing overs of the game David Batty taking more and more time over his overs. I am sure he was wanting to make sure the collection got round the game.”
In 1988, Bingley merged with Bradford to become Bradford & Bingley and in 1990, Goldthorp was celebrating the second championship win of his career.
That came one year after he set a new league record for the most victims of the season. He took 38 catches and 13 stumpings for a tally of 51 that has never been beaten. For good measure he scored 699 runs, his best tally in a season.
One of the key factors in that success was Australian fast bowler Richard McCarthy and Goldthorp has revealed how he came to end up at Wagon Lane.
“I had played a lot of Harrogate Evening League with Macca for Adel and persuaded his to come to Bradford & Bingley. That first season was just incredible.
“The fast and bouncy Wagon Lane wicket was made for him. He was lightning quick and looked on to take 100 wickets in the season when he suffered a serious shoulder injury. It was horrible hearing the crack. At that point he had 74 wickets with six games still to play.
“Prior to the injury he had an incredible throwing arm, but after that his throw diminished. Thankfully, he managed to remodel his bowling and went on to take 1,000 wickets,” he said/
With batsman of the quality of Robinson, Goldthorp, Bill Holmes, Mark Best and Neil Hartley and bowlers like McCarthy and Batty, Bradford & Bingley had the right ingredients for success.
Bradford League Representative side 1990 - Back, from left: Paul Grayson, Dave Pennett, Andy Yates, David Adams, Jamie Robinson, and James Robinson. Front: Chris Leathley, John Goldthorp, Tony Page, Darrell Stranger and Chris Gott.
In 1990 they won the league and followed up by winning the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy in 1991 and completed a league and Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy in 1992.
“They were wonderful times and it was so enjoyable playing with so many good players," said Goldthorp. The records of David Batty and Richard McCarthy speak for themselves, but the player I had so much admiration for was James Robinson.
“He was a batsman ahead of his time and would be a star in the modern game. He was an opener who attacked the bowling from the first ball.
“I can remember one game where he hit the first ball of the game over the pavilion at Wagon Lane and it was never found.
“Under the league rules we had to give our opponents Hanging Heaton a new ball at the end of the game to replace it.
“On another occasion we were playing at Keighley and James repeatedly hit the ball over the rugby stand. At one stage he was 118 not out and his opening partner Bill Holmes 17 not out. I have never seen one opener outscore his partner by 100 runs when they were both not out.”
Bradford League Representative side 1992 - Back, from left: John Goldthorp, Iain Priestley, Murphy Walwyn, Andy Coutts, Steve Precious, Paul Spragg. Front: Steve Bethel, Lee Miller, John Whittle, Chris Leathley, Rashid Patel, David Jay.
The 1994 season saw Goldthorp captain the side as they were relegated to Division Two. It proved to be the end of his spell at Wagon Lane which saw him score 5,659 runs and take 355 victims.
Next stop was Farsley where he was to spend 11 seasons. He was persuaded to move to Red Lane by the club’s ambitious young skipper Matthew Doidge.
He recalls: “I was impressed with what Matthew wanted to do and I was to have a long and happy stay at Farsley.
“In that first year we won the Priestley Cup when we defeated East Bierley at Wagon Lane which made it even more special for me.”
Goldthorp continued to impress as a consistent and reliable wicketkeeper batman. He scored 4,638 run and took 275 victims before bringing down the curtain on his Bradford League career in 2005.
So, who were the opponents who impressed him, most? “Peter Graham was always such a difficult bowler to bat against as he gave nothing away, while the likes of Paul Topp and Harry Atkinson were not as quick but just as accurate.
“Another bowler who always gave you a tough time was Pudsey St Lawrence’s Mike Bailey while the two fast bowlers I remember most are Bankfoot’s Chris Killen and Pudsey Congs Rana Naveed.
“Killen was quick and hostile but didn’t have the control of a Richard McCarthy or a Rana Naveed.
“I have only painful memories of Rana. When he first came over, he played at Lidget Green and I was batting against him for Farsley.
“He hit me on the big toe on my left foot with a rapid delivery. I took off my boot and sock and there was blood everywhere. After treatment I was ready to bat on only for Rana to hit me on the big toe on my right foot with the next ball.”
Goldthorp came up against many fine overseas players: “Dilip Vengsarkar, Iqbal Qasim and Abdul Qadir were top Test players and it was an honour to play against them.
When asked about the best wicketkeepers he played against, Goldthorp added: “Steve Rhodes was the best, but there were so many all around the league.
“I don’t think wicketkeepers always get the credit they deserve. In recent times more and more have also been top batsmen and are key all-rounders.
“The days of the specialist wicketkeeper who batted down the order appear to be fading away as teams require their keeper to be an all-rounder.
“I always enjoyed the challenge of being both a front-line batsman and a wicketkeeper. And I am delighted to have enjoyed so many successful years in the Bradford League.”
|JOHN GOLDTHORP'S BATTING RECORD|
|1988||Bradford & Bingley||1||25||7||69||555||30.83|
|1989||Bradford & Bingley||1||24||3||96*||699||33.29|
|1990||Bradford & Bingley||1||21||0||68||584||27.80|
|1991||Bradford & Bingley||1||22||2||121*||427||21.35|
|1992||Bradford & Bingley||1||19||3||84||585||36.56|
|1993||Bradford & Bingley||1||23||1||88||641||29.14|
|1994||Bradford & Bingley||1||24||3||75*||651||31.00|
|JOHN GOLDTHORP'S WICKETKEEPING RECORD|
|1988||Bradford & Bingley||1||19||24||43|
|1989||Bradford & Bingley||1||13||38||51|
|1990||Bradford & Bingley||1||16||18||34|
|1991||Bradford & Bingley||1||7||25||32|
|1992||Bradford & Bingley||1||6||30||36|
|1993||Bradford & Bingley||1||5||20||25|
|1994||Bradford & Bingley||1||2||25||27|