Author: Alan Birkinshaw
Statistics alone justify Murphy Walwyn’s place in the pantheon of great Bradford League cricketers.
He is the only player in the 117-year history of the competition to do the double of three league titles in successive years and a hat-trick of Priestley Cup wins.
He has been part of six league title wins - four with Woodlands and two with East Bierley - plus six Priestley Cup triumphs – five with East Bierley and one with Woodlands.
And who can forget he also featured in East Bierley’s 1979 triumph in the National Village Cup final over the Welsh side Ynsygerwn a result that Walwyn says; “Put the village on the map.”
Walwyn is also one of only three players to have taken ten wickets in an innings twice. He is in distinguished company there with the great SF Barnes and the prolific Sandy Jacques who achieved the feat first with Saltaire and then for Undercliffe.
Walwyn took 10-47 against Farsley in 1986 and followed up with 10-45 against Yeadon the following season.
If that isn’t enough to justify his place among the very best players to have played in the Bradford League, Walwyn won the fastest fifty trophy a record seven times, and lifted the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounder Trophy in 1985.
He was a great entertainer and somebody who always played his cricket in the right spirit. In all he scored 14, 869 league runs at an average of 29.1 and took 587 wickets at 20.69 apiece. It is fair to say that Walwyn is a modern-day legend. At his peak he was a deadly fast bowler and a big-hitting middle-order batsmen.
Bars around the league emptied when he was batting or bowling. He had a wonderful natural talent which illuminated the competition over the 40 years of his career.
As a bowler he had a rhythmic approach which enabled him to deliver the ball at a pace which disconcerted a lot of batsmen.
His batting is best described as destructive. He was a big-hitting batsman who played with typical West Indian flair.
He made his debut in 1971 aged 15 and the early years of his career with East Bierley saw him make steady progress before playing a prominent role in their 1979 National Village Cup triumph.
In 1981, when East Bierley did the league and cup double, Walwyn spent a year playing in the Huddersfield League, but when he returned, he certainly delivered.
He helped East Bierley to lift the Priestley Cup in 1984 when they defeated Keighley by nine wickets at the end of a season which saw him make his highest Bradford League score of 145no.
Walwyn missed out on another title triumph in 1988 as he was in the midst of a two-season spell with central Lancashire League side Carlton.
After returning to his spiritual home, Walwyn featured in successive title wins in 1993 and 1994 for East Bierley. Both were under pinned by solid contributions from Walwyn who made 436 and 587 runs in the respective seasons.
Walwyn wasn’t just a big hitter, he was a batsman who could assess a situation and adapt his game to the requirements of his side. He turned many unpromising positions into match-winning outcomes.
His best season with the bat came in 1985 when he made 786 runs and as his big-hitting became an ever more potent threat, he helped East Bierley to win the only hat-trick of Priestley Cup wins in the league’s history between 1998 and 2000.
East Bierley defeated Pudsey Congs by eight wickets in 1998, beat Yeadon by 73 runs a year later, and completed their treble with a 68-run win over Hanging Heaton.
The East Bierley team that completed the Priestley Cup treble in 200. Back: Anthony McGrath, Matthew Barnes,Rob Burton, Jaffer Nazir, Richard Gould, Paul Hemming, Andrew Stothart. Front: Andrew Bairstow, Murphy Walwyn, Dermot McGrath (Captain), Paul Carroll, Kez Ahmed.
When Woodlands entered the league in 2001, Walwyn was one of their big name captures, and though his bowling was now more military medium, his big-hitting prowess remained.
Walwyn helped Woodlands win Division Two at the first attempt and went on to help them establish themselves in the top-flight over the ensuing three seasons.
He missed out on their dramatic first league title win of 2005 after deciding to join Gomersal for what proved to be a solitary season.
Back at Woodlands in 2006 he was part of the team that won the treble of league title, Priestley Cup and Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy.
Woodlands 2006: Back: Scott Richardson Cieran Garner, Pieter Swanepoel, Sarfraz Ahmed, Murphy Walwyn, Richard Spittlehouse, Chris Brice. Front: Tim Orrell (Captain), Russell Murray, Nicky Rushworth, Adam Goldthorpe, Greg Godfrey
It was the first part of what was to prove to be a title hat-trick for Walwyn. By now he was a bit part player, but when he called upon to perform, he seldom disappointed.
With his career drawing towards a close, Walwyn joined Bankfoot in 2010 for a solitary season, a campaign which also saw him go back to Carlton and Lascelles Hall as well as turning our for Kirkheaton, before returning to Woodlands in 2014.
His final Bradford League outings were for East Bierley in 2015 and 2016 as he tried to lend his experience in times of struggle.
Since then he has concentrated his effort on playing for the Yorkshire Over-60s and averaged 44 on a tour of Australia with them.
It is a measure of the respect that the Bradford League community have for Walwyn that he is a popular figure at whatever ground he turns up at to watch a game.
He has thrilled, he has entertained, and he has shown over almost 50 years a dedication and love for the game that those starting out on their careers now would do well to copy.
He was quite deservedly given a place ion the Wisden Club Cricket Hall of Fame earlier this year and deserves every accolade that comes his way.
Knowing his longevity and love of the game, who would back against him playing the Bradford Premier League in 2021 – the 50th anniversary of his debut.