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Adwalton history

Adwalton history

The Adwalton players celebrate winning promotion to Championship Two in 2018

The early days

The club was first known as the "White Hart' Social and Sports Club, and actually cricket began at Adwalton in 1871.The White Hart was a coaching house where, it is reputed, Queen Elizabeth I once slept. It was situated where the old feast ground was at the bottom of Moorside Green.

The aim and objects of the club was and still is to give the men and boys of the village an opportunity to enjoy cricket and to provide entertainment for those who are unable to play.
The original club had 21 members who paid 2/6d.

In 1874 Adwalton signed their first professional, a cricketer by the name of William Briggs "Bill" Foster of Morley. He was a square arm bowler and was paid a fee of 5s. per week plus rail fare on condition that he was available for all Saturday games. The following season he was given a rise of 2/6d and a further shilling the season after.

Other professionals included bowler Jack Driver who hailed from Gildersome and was paid 6s. plus rail fares, and John Bedford Greenwood, Smith Walsworth, Ellis Sutcliffe and George Bedford.

Name change

In 1875 the club changed its name to Adwalton Queen Elizabeth and also started a Second XI. From early records dating to 1899 it would appear that the star batsmen included George Roberts, Bob Render, Asa Horrocks, Sutcliffe Booth, Arba Rushworth, Willie Bedford and Tom Naylor, while the bowling strength comprised of James Henry Steal, Rufus Barker, Edgar Robinson, Jim Metcalfe and Nimrod Scott. The All-Rounders were players such as Willie Bedford, Tom Naylor, Edgar Robinson's brother Rufus and John Pitts.

One of the biggest events of the year during these years was the Whitsun Gala that was a 3-day cricket game - Saturday, Sunday and Monday rounded off on Tuesday with a "shindig' that consisted of a sports day with beer and skittles. The refreshments included 2 sides of ham, a forequarter of beef (the dripping had to be saved to use for sandwiches), various ladies were even commissioned to bake over two stone of bread! 40 cases of ale as well as bottles of Port, Gin and Whiskey, 110 tickets in total were sold and only 4 glasses were broken in the day!

In those days the two teams would decide on 11 men plus and 3 reserves and if both teams had a full complement on the day then they would play 14 a side. Another peculiarity of the time was that the home team captain and the away team opening bowler would choose which wicket to play on, and the home team captain would decide whether to bat or field!

Various local leagues

The club played in various local leagues, including one based in Dewsbury and another in Pudsey, but they struck gold during their era in the Gildersome and District League. In 1895 they were crowned champions and picked up their first major silverware as a club.

Although Adwalton participated in the Heavy Woollen Cup they were hardly one of the leading lights of the competition. However, in 1901 in the 1st round, they cruised to victory, dismissing Birstall for 24 and winning by 10 wickets. Further success followed in the 2nd round with Cleckheaton, the victims, dismissed for 40 in reply to Adwalton’s score of 100.

However, Cleckheaton lodged an objection to Adwalton playing J.H. Greenwood who had not played in seven qualifying games and had played nine games for Morley that season. Cleckheaton also alleged that the Adwalton ground was unfit, there being no proper boundaries and at several times their fielders were behind spectators who appeared to wilfully obstruct them. Adwalton admitted that Greenwood had only played five qualifying matches and the tie was awarded to Cleckheaton, who duly lost in the following round.

In 1907 Adwalton performed the immense feat of going throughout the league season unbeaten, and in consequence winning the title for the second time.

This obviously inspired the club to become founder members of the Bradford Central Cricket League in 1908. This had a more extensive membership and was deemed to be a better standard.

Another name change

In 1920 the club took the name by which it is known today - Adwalton Cricket and Athletic Club. The aim of the club was to stage half day, one day and holiday matches and in later years held single wicket challenges, galas, picnics, tennis tournaments, band performances, walking matches and even flower shows.

Between the wars players who will long be remembered include Edgar Sykes, Tom Naylor (captain in the 1920's), the Child brothers, Ernest Lodge, George Johnson and Herbert Binks.

Thoughts of building the sporting facilities resulted in new tennis courts and the start-up of an association football team.

Emmott Robinson

In the 1930s the Yorkshire Cricketer Emmott Robinson played at Adwalton. Although of elderly years for a cricketer it was a coup for Adwalton to have his services.

In his first-class career, Robinson played in 416 matches, scoring 9,744 runs at an average of 25.50 with a highest score of 135*. He made seven centuries and forty eight fifties, and twice scored over a thousand runs in a season- 1,104 in 1921 and 1,097 in 1929, and also topped 900 on three occasions.

Robinson was a renowned fielder who took 322 catches, and was also an effective change bowler, taking 902 wickets at 22.04. He took five wickets in an innings thirty six times and ten wickets in a match on five occasions. Jack Hobbsonce said that Robinson was the best swing bowler he had ever seen.

A less exalted Yorkshire player who played for Adwalton during this period was Billy Bedford who once represented his county at Bradford (Park Avenue).

After thirty-one years membership of the Bradford Central League they won the 'B' Section title in 1939.

Players in the forties and fifties include Jim Appleyard, Harry Shoesmith, John Roper, Jack Haley, Harold Webster, Alfred Elliott, Joe Oversby, Jimmy Ruglan, Arthur Stakes, Peter Heron, Stanley Brough Herbert Griffiths, Jack Kilvington and Sam Carter who all served the club loyally.

First major trophy in Bradford Central League

It was in 1945 when Adwalton really came of age winning the Waddilove Trophy for the first time- the league’s major cup competition.  To complete the best period in their history they then won the 1946 First Division title in the following year. These early post-war years were their hey-day as a cricket club, but it would not last.

In June 1949, Mr Brennan, who owned the field, was approached by the club to see if it could be purchased. A price was fixed at £500. Six trustees were appointed to purchase the field on the behalf of the Club and remain trustees until the loans were repaid. Several members offered loans of £10 and several more gave £1. About £170 was given in the meeting, three other members loaned the rest.

In 1953 Mr Brennan was asked if he would let his horse on the field so it could "cut the grass'.

Back in Division Two Adwalton found it difficult to sustain life in the top flight, and engendered a reputation as a yo-yo club. But, at least it kept the silverware flowing with two Division Two titles in 1954 and 1958 to keep their followers happy.

In 1959 £50 was allocated to purchase Premium Bonds, presumably as a `safe’ gamble to raise future funds for the club.

Although still in Division Two the club had a remarkable season in 1961 winning the title for the third time in seven years, but more importantly taking the Waddilove Trophy for the second time in their history.

Decline

Like the previous decade success was followed by failure and the inevitable relegation. By 1966 Adwalton were at the bottom of Division Two and without a player in the league averages. The following season in 1967 saw slight improvement with a `second-bottom’ finish but still without a player in the league averages. However, J Severn-Ellis did feature with four fielding points.

The 1970s saw an improvement with steady progress as the club consolidated its position in the Bradford Central League in what was an increasingly competitive league. The 1980's followed the same pattern with a competitive side but without tangible success.

In between, Adwalton had a brief spell in the Dewsbury Cricket League during the late 1970’s.

Adwalton edged ever closer to honours in the 90s with a set of players of the calibre of Stuart Jackson, a future England player who toured India with the Disabled England side, Stuart Donohoe, Andrew Goor, Paul Bennett and Simon Bagnall.

Bagnall was an accomplished All Rounder who could have played a higher grade of cricket. In 1999 he won the Bradford Central League Bowling Averages with a fine haul of 91 wickets.

Into the Central Yorkshire League

As quality clubs like Harden, Northowram Fields, and Bolton Villas began to leave the Bradford Central League, the standard got weaker.  Adwalton took the decision to compete at a more competitive standard with an application to join the Central Yorkshire Cricket League for the 2009 season. They were admitted on a probationary basis and proved they could fulfil all the necessary criteria.

After an impressive second place finish in Division Two in 2009, the club nearly found themselves promoted to the second Tier of the league. After a league enquiry following a controversial incident in another match, Adwalton were expected to be promoted. However, a later decision ruled that Adwalton would stay in Division Two.

In 2010, Adwalton more than held their own with three batters in Paul Bennett (467 runs), Chris Priestley (450 runs) and Bagnall (433 runs) all scoring runs freely. In addition to his runs Bagnall also took 58 wickets at 16.22.

The momentum of two promising seasons evaporated when relegation was the name of the game in 2011 after 15 losses in the league campaign. Bagnall took 38 wickets in a team with few achievers. It was a sobering thought to be in the fourth sphere of the league in 2012.

Eleven victories in 2012 could not drag Adwalton up the divisions despite Christopher Curtis winning the League Wicket-Keeping Trophy with 19 victims. Gary Sagar averaged 43.83 with the bat, while Matthew Donohoe was the top aggregate scorer with 520 runs.

Bagnall came close to winning the All Rounders Trophy for the division after taking 49 wickets and scoring over 400 runs again. He closely replicated this feat in 2013 with 499 runs and 42 wickets, but had few colleagues except Ben Garner (615 runs) to help him launch a promotion bid.

Dismal days

After league re-organisation Adwalton found themselves in the 1st Division in 2014 which was effectively the third sphere for first teams. However, fortunes did not improve when they recorded just one win to finish next bottom to Mirfield. The only redeeming feature of a dismal season was Donohoe’s innings of 105 v Rodley.

In what turned out to be Adwalton’s last season in the Central Yorkshire League they never really threatened the top two, but did finish third in a much better campaign in 2015. The best individual performance came from Donohoe who scored 706 runs at 50.43 to finish second in the League Batting Averages.

Curtis won the League Wicket-Keeping Trophy for the second time in three seasons.

Into the Bradford League Conference

After a Yorkshire Premier League shake-up in the area the Central Yorkshire League clubs were absorbed into the Bradford League in 2016 with Adwalton taking its place in the Conference.

Adwalton found things tough in the Conference League in 2016 recording just three wins in a season where they finished 11th.

Matthew Donohoe (427 runs) and Andy Langley (334 runs) were the mainstays of the batting, while the bowling was relatively ineffective with only one bowler reaching as many as 22 wickets.

There was a marked improvement for 2017 with nine wins taking Adwalton to a respectable seventh in the table. They had a wretched start to the season before beating Oulton in late May, and then inflicting East Ardsley’s first defeat on the season in June. In a low scoring game Adwalton scored 150, and then bowled East Ardsley out for 113.

Donohoe was again the best batsman with 515 runs at 34.33, while Andrew Stolzenberg was the most effective bowler taking 38 wickets at 16.63.

Promotion to the Championship

The signing of Gareth Lee, above, for the 2018 season might have been the catalyst for progression, but the younger players had started to show their true potential.

After an early abandonment, Adwalton had nine straight victories, with the ninth putting down a marker for the season.

They decisively beat their main rivals Jer Lane by eight wickets after Vinit Patel (5-56) had reduced them to 157 all-out. The opening stand of 137 between Joshua Bennett (60*) and Donohoe (73 runs) effectively settled the match.

Ironically, after this significant victory, they began to falter with three successive defeats which gave the initiative back to Jer Lane and Oulton in the promotion race.

However, they got back on track when they defeated Oulton in some style. They amassed 388-6 with Gareth Lee (100 runs) and Chris Priestley (98*) in top form, before bowling out Oulton for 147, with Max Merton (5-54) doing most of the damage.

Oulton had more or less faded from the promotion race, but Azaad had emerged almost unnoticed to spike Adwalton’s top two ambitions. The last set of fixtures saw Adwalton three points in front of Azaad, but having to play Oulton who could still do it depending on an extraordinary set of circumstances.

Adwalton batted first and looked in danger of blowing their promotion chance when they slipped to 56-5, and then 134-7, but Paul Bennett (41 runs) and Chris Priestley (35 runs) were responsible for leading the recovery as they reached 197-8

Oulton were dismissed for 155, with Vinit Patel (4-46) and Tom Lindsay (4-30) doing the damage, and in consequence, Adwalton pipped Azaad by 2-points for promotion.

Lee was the season’s star performer in the league with 824 runs at 51.50, and 46 wickets. There were other fine efforts from Donohoe (694 runs), Joshua Bennett (pictured below, 446 runs), who also won the league’s wicket-keeping trophy, and Thomas Lindsay who contributed 399 runs and 34 wickets to the cause.

Josh Bennett was the Young Wicketkeeper of the Year in 2018. Picture: Ray Spencer

The club’s plans for the 2019 season went awry when Ryan Robinson, Gareth Lee and Thomas Lindsay left to join Yeadon. They didn’t have the strength in depth to survive in the higher division and were relegated in 13th place with only three wins to speak of.

They were competitive in most games, but relied too much on the same players to push the team to victory.

Joshua Bennett scored the most runs with 582 at 38.80, backed mostly by Matthew Donohoe (445 runs) and Australian James Sheerin (395 runs).Ghulam Hussain was the most penetrative bowler with 41 wickets at 17.39.

Adwalton’s best moment came when they beat Jer Lane by two-wickets in a thriller. Jer Lane set a target of 205 which would have been much higher but for the perseverance of Hussain who took 5-22. Adwalton reached the target with three balls to spare thanks to Bennett (80 runs), who anchored the innings, and No.7 Sheerin who hit a quick-fire 74.

With Bennett and Hussain departing to Pudsey Congs, the club still managed to compete well in the Gordon Rigg Division Three competition after Covid-19 struck in 2020.

Donohoe was the leading batsman in the shortened season, while Christopher Bishop-West had the most victims in the Division Three wicket keepers' listings.

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