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Bankfoot history

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Bankfoot received the league championship trophy from Gordon Bowers when they won the 1972 league title

The early days

Bankfoot played their cricket originally in the West Bradford League behind the mill at the foot of Wibsey Bank. The Club moved their headquarters to Rooley Lane and then to a site on Carr Bottom Road, before in 1892, finally moving to their present ground on Wickets Close. They applied in late 1902 to join 11 other teams to become founder members of the newly formed Bradford Cricket League, beginning in 1903. Of these 12 clubs only three, Great Horton, Undercliffe and Bankfoot have survived the full test of time.

In their inaugural season in 1903 they competed well, but in the following year they were decidedly lowly. However, in 1905 they rocketed to 4th position, and uniquely their batsmen occupied the top three places in the Bradford League Batting Averages:

  1. F Scott                   41.07
  2. A Wellburn             35.16
  3. W Priestley            34.66

After this encouraging season their league form slumped and right up to 1930 they were perennial also rans.

Although Bankfoot’s form in the league was disappointing, the performances in the Priestley Cup were much more impressive. Even though Bankfoot are one of only a few teams never to lift the cup they do hold records from each of the three Priestley Cup Finals in which they have appeared –

Early Priestley Cup Finals

1907-Lowest score in a cup final - 27 all out against Windhill
1918- Only tie in cup final – Saltaire 99 Bankfoot 99 in 1918. They were beaten in the replay, scoring 89 to which Saltaire replied with 91 for three.

In the tied match they were 98 for nine chasing Saltaire's 99 all out. Bankfoot opener Shackleton (47not out) then straight drove the ball with great power, only to be denied the winning boundary when it struck the wickets at the bowler’s end, to rebound for a single to bring the scores level. It put No 11 batsman Fell on strike and he was dismissed next ball.

1920- Shortest cup final - Bankfoot 30 all out, Bowling OL 31 for none in 1920, total playing time, one hour 28 minutes.

During these fallow league seasons four bowlers managed to record a nine wicket haul for Bankfoot-

1913                 W Kemp           9-17      v Low Moor
1924                 R Blackburn      9-30      v Great Horton
1926                 H Brown            9-22      v Baildon Green
1930                 P Coates          9-37      v Great Horton

In 1919 Wilf Payton, signed from Nottinghamshire, scored a new league record of 187 not out against Great Horton (under the MCC rules). This individual score was not beaten for 61 years. Payton had a fruitful county career scoring 39 centuries which included a best score of 169.

An usual committee minute recorded in 1919 gave permission to J.Pearson to graze his horse on the field for £6 a year; July 29, 1919

Although the famous Emmott Robinson turned out for them gaining one of the club’s first hat-tricks in a 9-29 performance against Keighley, Bankfoot struggled to make any impression in the league.

Robinson played in 416 matches first Class matches for Yorkshire. He scored 9,744 runs in 460 innings at 25.50 with a highest score of 135*, and recorded seven centuries and forty eight fifties. He twice scored over a thousand runs in a season, 1,104 in 1921 and 1,097 in 1929, topping 900 on three occasions.

Years of failure

Robinson was a good fielder who took 322 catches in first class cricket. He was also an effective change bowler, taking 902 wickets at 22.04, with a best analysis of 9 for 36. He took five wickets in an innings thirty six times and ten wickets in a match on five occasions. He took 100 wickets in a season once: 113 in 1928. He took 96 in 1923. Jack Hobbs said Robinson was the best swing bowler he had ever seen.

In 1932 Bankfoot made the first of their re-election pleas when they finished bottom of the league.Recorded committee meetings at the time of the playing malaise featured-
Bradford Hockey Club was granted use of field;
March 19, 1935 a fee of four shillings paid for borrowing horse to roll the field;

May 24, 1935 paid D.Fieldhouse 30 shillings for making new scorebox; July 1, 1941 agreed to loan ground to Home Guard.

On the field Bankfoot were entering an unprecedented period of failures the like unmatched by any of the member clubs. With an absence of virtuoso players they finished in the re-election places in 1932, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1950, 1958, 1959 and 1960. They completed a bizarre hat-trick of sorts winning only one match in seasons 1923, 1933, and 1943.

Amongst spells of doom and gloom there were indeed famous matches where Bankfoot were involved. In 1955 against Queensbury they had collapsed to 26-6 in pursuit of 152. The wise move in those days was to bat time out for a shared draw. All-Rounder Allan Clarke thought otherwise when he set about the bowling to win the match for his side with an exhilarating 76 not out in a famous one-wicket victory.  Five years later he scored the fastest fifty in the league in 28 balls. Ironically, Clarke was more of a bowler than a batter and took a career tally just short of 900 wickets.

New Pavilion

Things began to pick up for the club in the 1960s. After celebrating their centenary in 1963, they formed a partnership with the Bradford Hockey Club in 1965 and initiated the building of the new pavilion which was opened by former Yorkshire captain Norman Yardley on April 9th 1965.

Howard Cooper shines

The first signs of a renaissance came in 1963 when Bankfoot finished 5th with Ken Hill averaging 52.86, and Clarke taking 38 wickets at 12.76. In 1968 they had future Yorkshire seamer Howard Cooper on their books and he drove them to promotion with 46 wickets at 9.83.

The club consolidated nicely in the top flight in 1969 with Cooper again taking the plaudits- averaged 38.00 with the bat including a century, and took 33 wickets at 13.03. In 1970 he took 68 wickets, and followed that in 1971 with 38 wickets at 10.89.

In 101 first-class matches for Yorkshire, he took 233 wickets, with a best of 8-62, for an average of 28.02. He also scored 1,191 runs, with a highest score of 56, at an average of 14.34. He took 177 wickets at 23.63 in 142 one-day games, with a career best of 6-14.

Title Winners

Bankfoot confounded themselves and their critics when their experienced team came together as one to win the 1972 title. The first silverware in their history was due reward for their fortitude in battling long periods of underachievement in their history. Nobody could say they did not do it in some style as they enjoyed a massive a 17-point lead on the runners-up Bradford Park Avenue.

The major player in this triumph was seamer Howard Cooper who took 50 wickets at a cost of 8.92 each to allow him to finish in second place in the League Bowling Averages. He also performed the fastest fifty in the league that season in twenty-two balls.

The batting strength came from solid performers Stuart Verity (458 runs), Brian Hudson (368 runs) and leading run-getter Ken Hill who averaged 44.00, while Raymond Hirst took the league wicket-keeper’s award after an excellent season behind the sticks

The season opened against Bradford PA and Cooper took 8-40 ensuring his team would win by seven wickets. He bettered this in match three with 8-30. The Championship was clinched at Bingley when Bankfoot made 209-7 with Hudson top scoring with 57. Skipper Allan Clarke in his nineteenth season with the club finished Bingley off with an astonishing bowling analysis of 4-5.

The oddity was that of the three defeats Bankfoot suffered during the season, two of them were against bottom club Farsley who only won three matches themselves.

In 1972 Charles Hodgson, the club’s longest serving president received the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy for services to cricket, an honour he richly deserved. Charles joined the club as a player in 1939 and was invited to be president in 1959, a post he held for 34 years until he retired in 1993. Charles, who died in 1995, turned his hand to most tasks around the club but spent most of his time maintaining the ground and in particular the preparation of the wickets.

In the aftermath of the title win there were several seasons (1973-1976) of mid table cricket at Bankfoot with S Verity, B Hudson, C Carter, J Tiffany and K Hill being the principal batsmen, and Duncan Leng the main bowler.

An individual award went to D Walker in 1974 in respect of the F Milton Watmough Wicket Keeper’s Trophy for the most victims in the league.

John Woodford delivers the goods

The most accomplished cricketer during these years was former Yorkshire cricketer John Woodford. In 1973 he scored 557 runs for Bankfoot for an average of 39.78, and also took 32 wickets.  Woodford played for  Yorkshire from 1968 to 1973 and appeared subsequently for Northumberland in the Minor Counties Championship.

Woodford was a right-handed batsman, who scored 1,204 first-class runs in thirty eight matches with a highest score of 101, his only century. In seventy four one-day games he compiled 951 runs at an average of 21.61, with a best score of 69 not out. Although he only took four first-class wickets, he was more successful in the limited over format, snaring 79 victims with his medium pacers at 21.01.

Bankfoot had a disastrous time in 1979 winning just two matches and being relegated from bottom position, despite having the services of Yorkshire batsman Colin Johnson who scored a moderate 435 runs.

Johnson scored 2,960 first class runs as a right-handed middle order batsman at 21.44, with two centuries against Somerset and Gloucestershire  and In 102 one-day games he scored 1,615 runs at 20.18, with a top score of 73 not out. He also took four first-class wickets with his occasional off breaks, and two more in one day cricket.

Second division cricket was a sobering prospect for a club who won the coveted title seven years previously. It was clear that there would be no quick route back as 1980-1983 saw Bankfoot down the league with only Brian Hudson, who scored 809 runs in 1981, and seamer Duncan Leng with 52 wickets in 1983, to sustain them.

In 1983 they finished third bottom with only the emergence of Richard Peel, who was the top run-getter with 440 runs, to gladden their hearts. That year they were involved in a match that would go down in history as one of the most controversial and talked about of all time.

At Hartshead Moor the home team batted first and made 123, all ten wickets resulting from close to the wicket catches with Duncan Leng getting nine wickets. When Bankfoot batted Test bowler Shahid Mahboob took full advantage of a deteriorating pitch and when they had reached 18 for 7, skipper Brian Hudson declared the innings closed to protect the tail end from possible injury.

Leng was a tower of strength with the ball for Bankfoot taking on the role of the premier bowler in the team during the late 70’s/early 80’s.

Yo-Yo club

Bankfoot had no competitors in the history of the Bradford League for the title `yo-yo’ club when one considers the period 1984 to 2010. Promoted in 1984, 1988, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2009 and relegated shortly afterwards- often the next year. For all the turbulence they could never be accused of a lack of ambition as they strived for the top flight on increasingly limited budgets.

When Bankfoot won promotion in 1984 they had to thank largely Dermot McGrath (739 runs) and Howard Cooper who took 44 wickets and in doing so won the League Bowling Averages with an average of 14.32 per wicket. McGrath scored heavily in the next two seasons before moving to Manningham Mills. Cooper continued for two more seasons taking 30-plus wickets on each occasion.

In the subsequent period the staple batsmen were sheet anchor Geoff Fisher, Richard Peel, Michael Fraine and Adrian Fitzpatrick who scored 716 runs in the 1988 promotion season, while off-spinner Phil Walker took 58 wickets in the same term.

In 1989 batsmen Haydn Richmond (584 runs) and Chris Killen (442 runs) fought a losing battle as the club was relegated again. Killen played first class cricket for South Australia and also made the Australian U19 side. Richmond persevered with the club and was an influential figure in their rapid return in 1990 when he scored 607 runs, assisted by Lee Hanson who contributed 569.

Derek Underwood at Bankfoot

But, the real catalyst was former Kent and England left-arm spinner Derek Underwood who in his one season for the club took 54 wickets at a cost of 9.83 and predictably topped the Division Two bowling averages. This was a great coup for Bankfoot at the time and eyebrows were raised about how a relatively unfashionable club in the league could pull the signing off.

Underwood was one of the foremost spin bowlers in the world for over a decade, starting from the late 1960s. Not a classical spinner, Underwood bowled at around medium pace and was often unplayable on seaming English wickets, earning his nickname 'Deadly'.Underwood was asuperb bowler from his teens, and he took his 100th Test wicket and 1,000th first-class wicket in 1971, aged only 25.

 Underwood finished his career just three wickets short of 300 in Test cricket, at an average of 25.83. He took the last four Australian wickets in 27 balls in the final half an hour at the end of the fifth Test in 1968, after a heavy thunderstorm on the fifth day had all but ended the match, to square the Ashes series 1-1.

In 1991 Australian David Lovell was the major reason why Bankfoot kept their top flight status. In a season of real struggle for the club he scored an impressive 1,155 runs at 52.50. Hard hitting Lovell did not quite make the first class grade despite having trails with several English counties.

Anthony McGrath emerges

Dermot McGrath’s younger brother Anthony, above, was soon to make an impact at Bankfoot.  He started with Bankfoot’s juniors as an eight year old and progressed to make his first team debut as a 15-year-old in 1991. Anthony achieved many notable milestones while he was with Bankfoot and in 1992 he won the League's Young Cricketer of the Year award by virtue of scoring 507 runs. He replicated this honour the following year while scoring 1,020 runs in a season that saw him win the Division Two league batting averages.

McGrath’s First Class record for Yorkshire was 14,698 runs, with a top score of 211, and 134 wickets with his `little seamers’. He could consider himself unlucky to have just played in 4 test matches for England having averaged 40.20 with a highest score of 81.

In 1993 Richard Peel scored the League’s Fastest Fifty in 20 minutes- a feat that he would replicate in 1997 in 16 balls. Peel was a lynchpin of the batting capable of turning a game on its head. He would bat in middle order and often launch such an onslaught on the bowling that the match took a completely different direction.

Peel scored 7,515 career runs in first team cricket and it would be safe to say that it would have been in the main very watchable when he came to the crease. He became a conscientious worker for the club and took on most roles in his capacity as a committee member.

In 1994 Waheed Niazi proved to be a very effective overseas bowler propelling his side to promotion with a fine haul of 76 wickets.

Another influential bowler in 1994 was left arm spinner Charles Dracup who took 61 wickets. He proved to be the one consistent bowler at Bankfoot during these years with a further haul of 61 wickets in 1996. He completed the rest of the decade as a reliable 30-plus wickets a season man.

Other  bowlers to make their mark  was seamer Martin Kelly in 1997 who topped the league bowling averages with an aggregate of 10.80 per wicket, and Simon Kay who took 70 wickets in 1998.

Saleem Mughal’s consistency

As Bankfoot entered the new millennium there was little stirring apart from the exploits of their overseas player Saleem Mughal. His consistency was supreme:

2000     1012 runs at 59.53         Highest Score 150*
2001     812 runs at 50.75           Highest Score 77*
2002     806 runs at 62.00           Highest Score 132*
2003     702 runs at 50.14           Highest Score 123*

An individual league award went to Bankfoot in 2001 when Robert Ellis won the Federation Trophy- Fielding.

In 2003 Bankfoot were promoted with Mughal (702 runs), Ian Nicholson (571 runs) and Gary Wainwright (758 runs) providing the stability in the batting, while Colehan (65 wkts), Marshall (53 wkts) and Hanson (42 wkts) took the wickets.

The revival was short lived as Bankfoot had the `distinction’ of two relegation seasons, although they were reprieved in 2004 because of the departure of Mirfield. In 2005 relegation was a reality when overseas batsman A Saijid was the only tangible resistance when he averaged 47.33 with the bat.

Despite their modest ranking during these years Bankfoot were fortunate to call on two tireless seamers in Greg Colehan and Nigel Hanson. Never feted by the big clubs they have shown a remarkable consistency over the years.  Coleman’s 49 wickets in First Division cricket in 2004 typified his never say die attitude in a losing team, Hanson’s best season was in 2001 when Bankfoot just missed out on promotion with him taking 54 wickets.

Father and son tops batting

In 2006 a father and son duo topped the Bankfoot batting - Neil Nicholson (338 runs), Mally Nicholson (538 runs).  Neil Nicholson played five games for Yorkshire in 1988 and 1989 which included a total of 134 first-class runs at 26.80, with a best of 56 not out, and he also took five catches. He also appeared for the Yorkshire Second XI from 1983 to 1990.

Mally Nicholson, above, would move to Cleckheaton and obtain several league individual awards for his wicket-keeping and also share in two title wins.

In 2008 former Durham left hander Darren Blenkiron was the leading batsman with 330 runs. His first class record consisted of 19 matches for Durham with a top score of 145.

Bankfoot strove for promotion again and in 2009 it was achieved with the batting stars being Greg Fotheringham (809 runs), Marcus Walmsley (654 runs), John Barton (350 runs) and Edward Walmsley (416 runs), with the perennial seamer Colehan taking 46 wickets.

South African Fotheringham played first class cricket in his native country for Kwa Zulu-Natal. He tried to carve out a county career with Sussex and Durham but it was not to be.

Relegated in 2010 with only Andrew Duckworth (657 runs) offering much resistance, things got worse the following year in 2011 when they had to seek re-election for the thirteenth time in their history. In a poor side hard-hitting Gary Wainwright had little support in scoring 819 runs,

Despite this an individual league award went to Bankfoot in 2011 when Robert Ellis won the Federation Trophy- Fielding, for the second time. He would retain this trophy for 2012. Ellis also won the A Waddington- Fielding award for the top flight on three separate occasions for East Bierley, ensuring he is the most decorated fielder in the league in modern times.

In the lower division with limited funds available Bankfoot relied on recruiting rising stars from other clubs and often struck gold. In this decade Ian Nicholson, Matty Nicholson, Marcus Walmsley and Eddie Walmsley and Andrew Deegan all made the journey down the road to Cleckheaton after finding their feet at Bankfoot.  

The only thing remarkable about 2012 was the name of Bankfoot’s overseas player- Kanchana Rodrigo, who scored an unremarkable 444 runs at 29.60.

In 2013 Ankit Rawat fared much better as the overseas batter averaging 52.70, while Neil Nicholson had a useful average of 31.11 per innings.

Colehan’s wicket haul

Colehan, above, reached the 999-wicket mark in 2014 in his chase for the coveted 1,000 career wickets. He helped his side to ten victories taking 32 wickets at 17.75, while his partner Hanson took 34 wickets at 17.15.

Bankfoot, having finished seventh in 2012 and 2013, descended to eighth in 2014 and 2015.

Colehan duly completed his 1,000 wickets in 2015 in a season when West Indian Cosmond Walters caught the eye scoring 607 runs and taking 24 wickets.

The next best player was 52 year old Nicholson who contributed 470 runs, and announced his retirement at the end of the season. Nicholson played five First Class matches for Yorkshire before scoring 12,910 runs in the Bradford League clubs, figuring in the great Pudsey Congs side at the turn of the century.

Robert Ellis took the League Fielding prize- the seventh occasion he has won the Waddington or Federation Trophy for the respective divisions, making this an unprecedented achievement.

Bankfoot had a much more solid season in 2016 with better strength in depth resulting in twelve wins. Shoukat Ali signed from Saltaire, brought balance to the team with 511 runs and 23 wickets, while overseas player Marupuri Suresh took 39 wickets at 11.77. The leading batsman was Neil Nicholson who made a swift comeback from retirement to score 316 at 35.11.

With Colehan as Chairman, and former Yorkshire fast bowler James Lee installed as captain after a lengthy spell at Cleckheaton, things looked bright for Bankfoot in 2017.

They were relatively encased in mid-table for much of the season, but later fell into the relegation zone. It was not until the first weekend in September that they were virtually certain to stay up. In a tight affair they beat Morley by 18 runs with James Lee taking a match-winning 7-61, after opener Micky Hutchins (63 runs) had played the decisive innings in their 160 total.

This was typical of Lee’s influence on the team in the second half of the season, as he ended with 44 wickets at 12.86, and also scored 515 runs at 39.62. The other influential player for the club was overseas player Shanz Peiris Prangige who scored 463 runs at 28.94.

At the Bradford Premier League Dinner of 2017 Richard Peel won the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy for outstanding service from league chairman David Young, below. This followed his 2011 Unsung Hero Award.

Progress at Bankfoot

Off the field developments had improved the club immeasurably as they entered 2018 in their best shape in years. Finishing a credible fourth, Bankfoot had become hard to beat with a side containing youth and experience.

Lee led from the front taking 62 league wickets- the third highest in the league, and scoring vital runs at the top of the order.

In what was essentially a team performance, with most players `chipping in’, the other players to catch the eye were Hisan Ahmad (577 runs), Jawad Waheed (470 runs) and Andrew Stothart (44 wkts).       

Further progress in 2019 saw an agonisingly close promotion call which went the wrong way when they were defeated on the last day by a relegated side.

Bankfoot were very much in the promotion pack for much of the season, but they appeared to have sealed it on August 31st when they defeated the leaders Batley.

They went into the last match knowing a win against Wakefield St Michael’s would take them up, no matter what Morley or Batley did.

St Michael’s had a faint chance of staying up, and fought all the way bowling Bankfoot out for 119.  Prangige was the only batsman that resisted, and his innings of 33 gave his side something tangible to hang on to.

St Michael’s found it tough in reply, and lost wickets, but got home with six down.

Bankfoot had succumbed to pressure at the death and finished in third place, nine points behind Morley. 

In the league, James Lee was the leading batsman with 584 runs at 44.92. Hamzah Iqbal also did well, scoring 478 runs. But, these were the only batsmen to top 300-runs, and that played a part in their failure to gain promotion.

The success of the bowling was again dominated by Lee (42 wkts) and Stothart (47 wkts).     

The club couldn’t build on this in 2020 as Covid-19 struck, but they took part in the Gordon Rigg League Cup and finished second in the First Division West Section.

Lee performed the best with 235 runs at 47.00, and ten wickets with the ball.     

Into the Premier Division

The club was moving forward with wholesale improvements to their clubhouse and ground remedial works, and it was fitting that they were rewarded with promotion in 2021 after missing out in 2019.

They seemed to be trailing Ossett and Birstall for much of the season, but from late June they registered five successive victories and critically the last one was against the latter.

In a season defining match Bankfoot beat Birstall by 160 runs to edge significantly away from their opponents in second place.

James Lee, Hisan Ahmed and Jawad Waheed all scored half-centuries to boost the score to 273-9, while spinners Seif Hussain (4-44) and Andy Stothart (3-14) wrecked Birstall’s hopes as they were bowled out for 113.

Bankfoot needed just one point from their last game against Carlton to secure promotion, and they made no mistake with a convincing victory.

The team was led well by James Lee who proved to be an inspiration with the bat scoring 669 runs at 37.17 and recorded two centuries. He didn’t bowl as much as in past years, but still picked up vital wickets at crucial times.

Overseas batsman Azeem Ghumman showed his class with 648 runs at 49.85, while Hisan Ahmad scored 576 useful seasons.

The most effective bowler was spin bowler Seif Hussain (45 wkts) who also contributed runs with the bat.

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Former league president Albert Smith was a Bankfoot stalwart
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Skipper Richard Peel and the Bankfoot team celebrate winning the Priestley Shield in 1992
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Anthony McGrath went on to have a distinguished career with Yorkshire and England after launching making his bow in senior cricket with Bankfoot
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Greg Colehan is closing in on 1,000 wickets
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Nigel Hanson has been an outstanding club servant
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Bankfoot stalwart Richard Peel pictured with the players who appeared in his benefit match