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Bradford & Bingley history

Bradford & Bingley history

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

View our picture gallery of Bradford & Bingley's history

The early days

Bingley CC was formed in 1865 and joined the Bradford League in 1910. In their inaugural season they finished a satisfactory eighth with batsman T Wilcock taking second place in the League Batting Averages with a batting average of 35.13.

Early success in the Bradford League

Success followed quickly as they won the Division One championship in 1912. This triumph was built around the outstanding batsman E P Hardy who had the best average in the league with 39.40. They also had a very effective bowler in C Duffield who took 74 wickets at 7.90.

After that there were a number of nondescript seasons recorded with few virtuoso players to entertain the crowds at Wagon Lane.

This would change when in 1921 when Bingley pipped their local rivals Keighley to win the title for the second time in nine years.

Arthur Hyde and John Hardcastle were the main run makers in 1921. Hyde hit a century and six fifties and finished with an average of 52.07 while Hardcastle made a ton and four fifties. Charlie Osyton and Arthur Judson were the key bowlers, taking 143 wickets between them.

The outstanding batsman for 1924 was J R Hardcastle who was third in the League Batting Averages with 37.71.

In 1925 Bingley batsman Harry Firth recorded the highest individual score in the league with 142no against Laisterdyke. He had also figured in a 270-run record partnership for the second wicket with Harold Briggs.

A first Priestley Cup triumph followed in 1928 when they defeated Bowling Old Lane in a high-scoring final. Old Lane batted first and scored a challenging 243, with Bingley winning in a nail-biter by two wickets. Bingley’s best batsman in the league in 1928 was K R Davidson who averaged 47.33.

Fading fortunes at Wagon Lane

Fortunes declined markedly for Bingley with a lowly position in 1932, followed by rock bottom in 1933.

A great improvement in 1934 saw Bingley 2nd in the league with key bowler H Wilkinson taking 50 wickets at 10.10.

In 1935 M Wade recorded the highest individual score in the league with 136 v Baildon Green. In the following year in 1936 H Blower had an outstanding season with the ball taking 40 wickets at 10.42.

Bingley were elected to the newly formed Division B in 1937, such was their decline on the field of play. Despite this they possessed a prolific bowler in L Bullock who took 60 wickets at 8.71.

The war years were not particularly productive for Bingley with the range of county cricketers in opposition. Despite this Bingley could field first class cricketers- W.W.Keeton (Nottinghamshire), K Fiddling (Yorkshire), G L Majors (Kent), and R T Bryan (Kent) in 1942.

Keeton was by far the most accomplished with two Test appearances for England during the mid to late thirties.  He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1940 and played first-class cricket as a right-handed opening batsman between 1926 and 1952 for Nottinghamshire. He scored a century against every other first-class county and his 312 not out made in just under eight hours against Middlesex 1939 is still a record for the Nottinghamshire team.

Despite being relegated in 1944 Bingley could call on county spinner and accomplished batsman Johnny Lawrence who took 60 wickets at 11.60. He also registered the highest individual innings in the league that year with 141* against Keighley.

A rapid return to the top flight resulted after Bingley were Division B title winners in 1945, with Keeton the most prolific batsman averaging 39.54. The bowling strength was illustrated by the fact that the two top positions in the League Bowling Averages were occupied by Bingley men- J Lawrence 69 wickets at 6.50, R B Rae 51 wickets at 8.13.

Lawrence made his name in the Bradford Cricket League in the 1930s, but was not able to break into the strong Yorkshire side, though he played Second Eleven cricket at Minor County level. He qualified by residence to play for Somerset at the end of 1939 but then had to wait until after World War II before making his debut, by which time he was 35 years old.

John Lawrence, known as "Johnny", was a diminutive Yorkshire-born all-roundcricketer whose middle or lower order batting and leg-break and googly bowling were of great importance to Somerset in the ten cricket seasons immediately after the Second World War. He scored 9,185 first class runs including three centuries, and took 798 wickets with a best analysis of 8-41.

Miles Coope makes history

During the 1945 season Bingley batsman Miles Coope made Bradford League history by scoring 50 in two successive overs. In just three seasons of first-class cricket with Somerset, Coope made 2,789 runs at an average of 21.12. But his reputation for inconsistency, first aired in Wisden, remained as a constant through his career.

David Foot, the historian of Somerset cricket, wrote of Coope: "As a batsman his range of shots was ambitious and he had one of the most delicate late cuts ever paraded in the West. There were two centuries from him but he was also a luxury, never quite consistent or disciplined enough with his repertoire to make a successful county cricketer."

A lesser player did Bingley proud in 1947 when J Crowther scored 747 runs at 53.36 to clinch the Bradford League Batting Averages.

Another player to create a little piece of history was left arm spinner Joe Burton who took 101 wickets in the 1948 season for an average of 9.48. Only the great S.F Barnes of Saltaire had previously achieved the feat and he had done it three times in 1917, 1918 and 1922. Burton’s long career saw him taking wickets impressively throughout the fifties at the rate of 40-50 per season. Burton’s season also featured an all-ten feat against East Bierley- 10-69.

Bingley were highly placed in the fifties decade with four placings at 3rd as they sniffed more silverware with some outstanding players in their ranks.

 Jim Rigg was the major batsman in their ranks scoring 825 at 48.53 in 1951, and 780 runs at 48.75 in 1952. During the latter season he compiled the highest individual score in the league of 140* against Bowling Old Lane. He continued in the same vein with tallies of 855 and 691 in an era when 500 runs was considered an outstanding season for a top order batsman.

Paceman Mike Cowan makes an impact

Left arm fast bowler Mike Cowan, above, emerged in 1954 with 50 wickets at 10.40. He went on to share the new ball with Freddie Trueman at Yorkshire in a county career cut short by injury. His bowling return in first class cricket was 276 wickets at 24.57, with a best of 9-43. He toured Pakistan with the MCC in 1955 but a back injury caused his early return home, and prevented him playing in 1956. In 1958 and 1959, he was the professional at Bingley C.C before returning to the county side in 1960 to take 77 wickets.

Gordon Spencer was the first in a long line of excellent wicket-keepers at Bingley. He proved it by winning the League Wicket Keeper’s Prize in 1956 with 27 victims.

In 1958 Cowan’s 47 wickets cost him an astonishingly low average of 6.19 as he won the League Bowling Averages at a canter. The following season his 72 wickets at 11.83 was the catalyst for Bingley’s first title win in 38 years.

Skipper John Harrison begins golden era

A new age had started at Bingley in 1959 under the shrewd leadership of John Harrison,above, who would enjoy a 13-year spell as captain. Bingley finished top with a three point margin on Salts. Rigg (612), Jackie Smith (544) and Barry Whittingham (546) all excelled with the bat.  Whittingham was a stylish batsman who would carve out a county career with Nottinghamshire.

After this triumph it was clear that Bingley had entered the sixties with a new found confidence to win the top honours.

In 1960 they finished 3rd with Whittingham scoring 606 runs, and skipper Harrison 450. But it was the lesser known Bingley batsman B Woodcock who recorded the league’s highest score of the season with 140* v Keighley.

The biggest capture of the sixties was Lancashire second teamer Ken Standring, above, who performed moderately well in 1960 with 246 runs at 22.36. He quickly proved to be one of the best Bradford League all rounders in the post war years proving equally effective with bat or ball. In today’s market he would be priceless in league cricket having opened the batting and bowling so effectively.

 He played regularly for Lancashire Second Eleven between 1954-1962 and also made 13 appearances for the county side. His highest score in First Class cricket was 41, with a best bowling analysis of 4-61. His first wicket in First class cricket taken in 1954 just happened to be the great Len Hutton.

In 1961 Standring had not reached the zenith of his powers at Bingley but still contributed 446 runs at 37.17, and took 36 wickets. Harrison was the heaviest scorer with 461 runs in a year they finished 4th.

The batting was strengthened by Brian Lymberry, above, who arrived in 1962 with 565 runs, while Whittingham really began to flourish scoring 786 at 56.14 in the same season and in doing so topped the League Batting Averages.  Standring again excelled with 495 runs to complete a formidable batting trio.

Below: The BIngley side of 1962

Standring was Bingley’s outstanding player of the decade, and he proved it in 1963 by winning the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy. He averaged 51.00 with a total of 765 runs scored, and a highest score of 140* to add to his 38 wickets. Lymberry also topped the 500-mark in a season when Bingley challenged for the title but had to settle for runners-up.

Although key players departed it was still a shock when Bingley were relegated in 1965. Ironically, Standring had his best season with the ball with 60 wickets at 10.31 to finish third in the League Bowling Averages.

When wicket-keeper Derek Isles joined in 1965 Bingley were assured of fine backing for their bowlers behind the stumps. He was quickly regarded along with Farsley’s David Pullan as the league’s finest, and so he proved in 1966 and 1967 when he won the league’s wicket-keeping prize.

 Isles played a single first-class match, for Worcestershire against the Pakistanis at Worcester in 1967. In this game his most notable achievement was his second-innings stumping of the legendary Hanif Mohammad. He also took a catch, and made 17 and 4 with the bat; both innings were not out so subsequently he did not have a career batting average.

In 1966 the team was rebuilt in vital areas and promotion was achieved at the first time of asking as Champions of the Second Division. The batting stability came from Standring (644) and Harrison (484), while the key bowler was E G Smith who took 52 wickets to finish third in the League Bowling Averages.

Leg-spinner David Batty a significant signing

One of the most significant signings in Bingley’s history occurred in 1966 when Yorkshire Colts leg spinner David Batty, above, left Lidget Green for Bingley. He would make an immediate impact taking 43 wickets and also being the recipient of the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.

The renaissance of Bingley began in 1967 when they defeated a strong Bradford Park Avenue side by 50 runs in the Priestley Cup Final. Standring and Jack Roe shared a decisive second-wicket stand of 108 as Bingley declared at 219 for eight. Spinner David Batty followed up with five for 68 as Bradford were restricted to 169 for nine.

In the league they finished third with 42 year old Frank Lowson contributing 411 runs. Lowson’s elegant stroke play was obvious for all to see and he was a favourite autograph capture for cricket mad schoolboys in the area. Lowson played in seven Tests for England from 1951 to 1955. In first-class cricket, Lowson amassed 15,321 runs at an average of over 37, but had drifted away from the county game by his early thirties.

In 1968 Bingley finished fourth in a season when their opening fast bowler Phil Hill failed to make the league averages but managed to take 10-52 v East Bierley. The little known Hill normally played second team cricket.

Bingley win league and cup double

With very much the same squad Bingley made history in 1969 winning the league championship and Priestley Cup double while their second team did the league and Priestley Shield double.

The league championship triumph was achieved in dramatic style. They went into the final game – against Lightcliffe – tied on 55 points with Spen Victoria. Bingley made 187 for seven and restricted Lightcliffe to 88 for eight to secure three points. Spen dismissed Idle for 117 but lost by two runs.

Standring scored 542 runs at 49.27, and won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy for the second time in six years, while Harrison was again his major support with 331 runs. Batty’s 41 wickets would prove vital as he invariably broke the difficult partnerships.

Yorkshire’s seam bowler John Waring also played his part with 33 wickets. He played twenty eight first-class matches for Yorkshire from 1963 to 1966, and one match for Warwickshire in 1967. A right arm fast medium bowler, Waring took 55 wickets at 22.74, with a best of 7 for 40 against Lancashire in the Roses Match. He scored 152 runs with a best score of 26, at an average of 10.85. He held seventeen catches in the field.

Bingley defeated title rivals Spen by nine wickets in the Priestley Cup final after bowling them out for 109. It was the first of an incredible nine final appearances in the next 13 seasons.

Their second team, under the leadership of stalwart Paul Meredith, won the league championship and Priestley Shield to complete a unique 'double double' in 1969.

The 1970 Priestley Cup final was a match to forget for Bingley. They were defeated by seven wickets after being bowled out for just 44 by Bradford. The trophy returned to Wagon Lane in 1971 after another win over Spen Victoria. This time the margin of victory was three wickets as Bingley were made to fight for their success despite bowling out Spen for 119.

After missing out on honours in 1972, Bingley came close to another double in 1973. They won the league title by eight points from Undercliffe but suffered a 24-run defeat to Bradford in the Priestley Cup final where they made 142 in reply to their rivals’ score of 166.

The main batting honours in 1973 went to skipper Harrison who scored 827 runs at an average of 51.68, while Batty took the bowling plaudits with 62 wickets at 10.67. The seasoned seamer Michael Fearnley was also an influence in the title win with 48 wickets at 11.14.

Fearnley had given fine service to both Farsley and Bradford before joining Bingley. He didn’t look a natural athlete with his horn-rimmed glasses and awkward gait, but he was one of the most feared seamers in the league during the post-war years. He was no quicker than medium pace but could make the ball talk, particularly when excess water had spilled on the wicket. His league career was comprised of 1,324 league wickets, with a remarkable 222 additional Priestley Cup wickets.

In 1974 Bingley went close to retaining their title when they finished in second place thanks largely to the consistency of Harrison (530 runs) and Batty (55 wkts). This season would mark the first time that Neil Hartley would make the league averages when he scored 446 runs. In the Priestley Cup Final Undercliffe bowled out Bingley for 127 and knocked off the runs for the loss of four wickets.

Hartley emerges as key player

Despite Bingley’s crushing defeat in the final Neil Hartley took the Man of the Match Award by virtue of scoring half his team’s runs and also taking two wickets for four runs.

Harrison, as captain, was keeping Bingley at the forefront of the league with his calm captaincy. His consistency with the bat was highlighted in the 1975 season when he made the highest individual score of 128* against Bankfoot. He went on to score 781 runs in a season when his team finished sixth.  

Kevin Sharp emerged in 1975 with 421 runs. He would go on and make his first-class debut for Yorkshire in 1976, but had to wait until 1982 to be awarded his county cap. After finishing his Yorkshire first-class career in 1990, Sharp played for Shropshire. He scored 9,962 First Class runs, with an average of 30.84 which included a top score of 181. In 1976 he scored the Fastest Fifty in the Bradford League in 23 minutes.

Further cup disappointment followed in 1976 as they fell at the last hurdle once again. It was a former Bingley player, Lymbery, who helped put the skids under his old club. He made 82 and guided his side to a total of 221 for four which Bingley fell well short as they were dismissed for 156. In essence it was a great effort to reach the final with a team precariously close to relegation.

The cup winning formula was rediscovered in 1978 when Undercliffe were their final victims, making only 141 in reply to Bingley’s 213 for nine. Neil Hartley was Man of the Match after scoring 97.

Manningham Mills went the same way in 1979 as an inspirational innings of 119 by Hartley won him the Man of the Match for the second year running, and a record third. Equally effective for Bingley was Batty’s seven for 57 in securing an 87-run win with Mills sliding to 56 all out in replying to 243 for seven.

The 1979 cup winning team came agonisingly close to performing another double finishing a mere two points behind champions Pudsey St Lawrence. Hartley had his best season yet when he showed his county pedigree by scoring 617 runs at 61.70 with a best innings of 157*.

Hartley had a ten year first class career with Yorkshire and Orange Free State from 1978. A right-handed middle order batsman and right arm medium pace bowler, he scored a total of 4,667 runs at 24.95, with four centuries, and a best score of 114.  He also took 48 first-class wickets at 45.45. In 1974, he played for England Young Cricketers. 

The eighties decade began with two lowly positions during the early emergence of batsman Phil Padgett. He scored 614 runs in 1980 and would score consistently throughout the decade. In 1983 he scored the Fastest Fifty in the league in 14 minutes.

Stephen Silvester was a useful acquisition in 1981 taking 38 wickets and scoring 425 runs. He had played six matches for Yorkshire during 1976 and 1977.  He also made appearances for Northumberland,Warwickshire Second XI, Derbyshire Second XI and Yorkshire Second XI. A right arm bowler, he took 12 first class wickets at 26.08 with a best of 4 for 86 against Lancashire.

Despite a poor start to the decade Bingley won the title convincingly in 1982. They finished 12 points ahead of Keighley; an outstanding effort by the team led by Phil Padgett. The batting was strong with Billy Holmes (861), Padgett (551) and Ibbotson (611) scoring runs freely. Inevitably Batty was the most potent bowler with 45 wickets.

Holmes was a model of consistency in this decade, topping 500 runs in every year except 1983. He would score the magical thousand runs in 1984- the only Bingley batsman to do so up to the present time, and also contributed 934 runs in 1988.

Batty at his best

In 1983, no silverware was won but David Batty, above, was at the top of his game. He had always been a threat with his special brand of leg-spinners but he surpassed even himself that year taking 65 wickets at 11.42 and in consequence winning the League Bowling Averages.

Batty could bowl overs in less than two minutes such was his urge to get on with things and unsettle the batsman. His control of leg spin was phenomenal and when he fired in a fast yorker the batsman was often bemused at the pace.

He was competitive and a winner- attributes that were reflected in his inspiring coaching which would take him to Yorkshire. It was unfortunate that in his era first class counties looked at leg spin with disdain. In years to come his sons Jeremy and Gareth took the off-spin route to the county scene.

Bingley who were led by Holmes had introduced young players like John Goldthorp, Mark Best and Lee Hanson to their team by the time they won the Priestley Cup again in 1987. Goldthorp top scored with 75 as Bingley made 268 for three, a total Pudsey St Lawrence chased bravely. Eventually they were dismissed for 252 with Batty again taking seven wickets in a final – this time at a cost of 115 runs.

Batty had the bizarre distinction of twice taking seven wickets in a Priestley Cup Final for a winning side to be overlooked as the Man of the Match.

Goldthorp scored heavily topping 500-runs in 1985, 1986 and 1988, and also proving himself to be one of the best wicket-keepers in the league. In 1988 and 1989 he won the League Wicket Keeping Trophy, and repeated the feat in the next decade in 1992. As a batsman he was renowned for a remarkable anticipation of the quick single. He would virtually steal runs if his partner read his mind.

Name change following merger

It was in 1989 that the club’s name changed to Bradford & Bingley Cricket Club following a merger with the Bradford club after their departure from Park Avenue. It was nearly a celebration year as they pursued Hanging Heaton all the way in the title race finishing just four points behind.

The batting was formidable with James Robinson scoring 955 runs at 43.41 with a top score of 101*. Robinson was one of the league’s most exciting opening batsmen who attacked the bowling from the start, often striking the first ball he received to the boundary. He was assisted by Hartley (614), Holmes (794) and Goldthorpe (699). David Batty took 68 wickets, but it was the other Batty (Jeremy) his son, who caught the eye with 50 wickets and 302 runs.

Jeremy Batty, an off-spinner and late order batsman made his Yorkshire debut in 1989, leaving the county in 1994 to play for Somerset until 1996. In 84 first-class matches he scored 1,149 runs at 15.95 with two fifties, and took 179 wickets at 41.56, with a career best of 6 for 48. He appeared for Buckinghamshire during 2003 and 2004.

Richard McCarthy arrives at Wagon Lane

The nineties were the most momentous years in the Wagon Lane club’s history. It all started in 1990 with the arrival of Australian fast bowler Richard McCarthy who had terrified the Airedale & Wharfedale batters the previous year with Adel. He was lightening quick and possibly the fastest in the league in the post war years. In an era of few helmets and scientifically padded gloves there were a lot of batsmen hopping about.

McCarthy’s 71 wickets at 12.70, which won him the League Bowling Averages, ensured his team were not chasing high totals.. Even if they were they had Robinson (940), Holmes (740), Hartley (698), Goldthorp (584) and Best (468) to chase down targets in a close title race which was won by the small margin of two points.

In 1991 they surprisingly dropped to 9th place despite the batting consistency of Robinson (801), Holmes (597) and Best (475). McCarthy took 53 wickets at 20.04, and also chipped in with 457 hard hit runs.

Yorkshire Club Champions

By virtue of being champions in 1990 they were invited to enter the Yorkshire Champions Trophy for 1991. They took to this competition with relish reaching the final at East Bierley to play the holders Hanging Heaton. Bradford & Bingley prevailed on the day to rightly call themselves the best club side in Yorkshire with a team of this calibre:

J Robinson, B Holmes, J Goldthorp, N Hartley (Capt), M Best, R McCarthy, D Howes, D Pennett, S Dennis, A Webster, D Batty. 

It got even better in 1992 when the First Division title was regained to go with the retention of the Yorkshire Champions Trophy when they beat Elland in a truncated final at East Bierley.

McCarthy came to the fore with the bat scoring 456 runs to add to his 65 wickets at 13.13. This ensured he would win the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy. His bowling efforts were also good enough to win him the League Bowling Averages.

The other major contributors were Steve Bethel (539), Holmes (505), Goldthorpe (585) and Robinson (495) with the bat, while Simon Dennis (41) impressed with the ball.

Dennis’s First Class career was principally spent at Yorkshire from 1980-1988, before moving to Glamorgan for three seasons. He was a brisk left arm seamer who took 254 First Class wickets including a career best of 5-35.

1993 was an anti-climax as Bradford & Bingley slipped to 10th despite Bethel, Best, Holmes, Goldthorp and McCarthy all topping 600 runs. In a season when they lost more matches than they won it was the bowling that let them down with only Best impressing with 51 wickets.

 It got worse the following year in 1994 when they were relegated despite Holmes, Goldthorp, Best and Robinson all scoring 500-plus, and McCarthy taking 51 wickets. Despite this calamity Best achieved the Fastest Fifty in 24 minutes.

As expected, promotion was achieved at the first time of asking in 1995 in a season that McCarthy again topped the League Bowling Averages (this time the Second Division’s) with 76 wickets at 8.78. Robinson, who was still getting his team off to rapid starts, scored 685 runs.  

In 1996 Bradford & Bingley consolidated in eighth place and also reached their 14th Priestley Cup Final. In the final at Undercliffe it was a case of a missed opportunity as they went down to second division Baildon by 56 runs.

In the league former Yorkshire batsman Bradley Parker piled up 859 runs at 45.21, while Robinson nearly matched him with 816. McCarthy was still the key all-rounder with 510 runs and 57 wickets.

David Batty’s second son Gareth came of age in 1997 with 529 runs and 30 wickets. He topped this the following year in 1998 when his exploits with bat and bowl would not only prove to be the catalyst for his team’s third title win of the decade, but he also won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy. He scored 805 runs, and took 40 wickets.

Batty began his county career with his native Yorkshire, after playing for England Under 19's, making his County Championship debut in 1997. Due to lack of opportunities he transferred to Surrey in 1998, and returned there after a spell with Worcestershire. He made the England 5-day test team playing 7 matches with a top score of 38, and a best bowling analysis of 3-55, and was later recalled in 2016 against India.

Despite Batty’s heroics it was essentially a team effort in regaining their title after six years. The bowling was powerful with McCarthy (41 wkts), David Pennent (40) and PC Graham (39 wkts) all playing their part. Martin South was the best batsman after Batty with 708 runs.

The title chase was a thriller with Baildon seemingly having the upper hand until they lost ground suffering rain affected draws in winning positions against Hanging Heaton and Pudsey Congs. This gave Bradford & Bingley the edge as they managed to avoid the rain and went into the last match of the season against Baildon at Jenny Lane knowing that the home team had to win.

 In a winter temperature Baildon had the neutrals on their side and seemed as if they would prevail in a low scoring affair. Baildon’s off spinner John Marshall was at his immaculate best reducing Bradford & Bingley to a lowly score. Baildon were effectively winning the match until a battling collapse halted their march to the title in a thriller. Pennent’s pace was the decisive factor as Baildon’s late order crumbled.

Three times Yorkshire Club Champions

Bradford & Bingley ended the decade in 1999 half-way down the league but as Yorkshire Champions Trophy winners for the third time. This would prove to be the best record in the competition at the time after fellow Bradford League side Pudsey St Lawrence with four wins. After beating Woodhouse, Meltham and Harrogate they faced the holders Undercliffe in the final at Liversedge.

Bingley were indebted to a fine opening partnership of 126 between skipper Pat Fordham (72) and Martin South (58). However, they failed to build on this start and had to settle for 215-8 when at 177-2 they were likely to score in the region of 250. Undercliffe were in contention almost all the way before falling 28 runs short with McCarthy’s 3-28 being crucial.

David Batty departs

David Batty, who had moved from Wagon Lane to Keighley, and then later to Esholt retired after the 1999 season. His career record wicket haul of 1,823 league wickets at 15.51 will probably never be surpassed in the `batsman friendly’ age of modern cricket.  In addition to this his wickets in the cup took him comfortably past 2,000 wickets. Although he first made his name at Lidget Green he will ostensibly be recognised as a Bingley legend.

Bradford & Bingley were still a top class team in 2000 when they challenged Pudsey Congs all the way for the title. In a close battle for supremacy they ended the season two points behind in second place.

McCarthy won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy for a second time mainly due to his 67 wickets. There were other good performances from Carl Sharp (567 runs) and Fordham who scored 340 runs to go with his League Wicket Keepers Award.

Surprise Relegation

Astonishingly they were relegated in 2001 with a similar squad of players. Former Yorkshire contracted batsman Alex Stead scored 598 runs and Fordham 638 as they both played their part to no avail..

It would take them three seasons to return despite having a team good enough to win the Priestley Cup Final in 2003. However, the infrastructure of the club strengthened.

The Wagon Lane ground at Bingley was always regarded as one of the premier grounds in the league, and for years enjoyed hosting Yorkshire 2ndXI fixtures. However, they did not stand still and in the 21st century, developments have continued with the erection of a new marquee to boost the function facilities.

Another innovation was the installation of the new outdoor practice wickets behind the old indoor practice shed. These wickets of natural grass were consequently more authentic in aiding the development of young cricketers. Another crucial initiative was the later building of a second cricket ground across the river to facilitate their youthful Craven League team.

Left hander Sharp emerged as one of the leading batsmen in the league and was selected for the Bradford League Representative side. His run tallies between 2000 and 2007 was 567, 787, 853, 869, 680 and 565, such was his consistency. Sharp was one of many high calibre cricketers who came through the ranks of the productive junior set-up at Wagon Lane. His career record on retirement was 13,019 runs at 30.63.

In 2003 they just missed out on promotion in third place but managed to reach the Priestley Cup Final against red hot favourites Woodlands at Wagon Lane. They should have been chasing in the region of 250 but after Orrell was dismissed for a superb 101 they fought back to restrict the score to 210-9.

Richard Nichols, who had scored 761 runs in 2002, batted superbly and was largely responsible for guiding Bradford & Bingley home by six wickets to take the Man of the Match Award.

In the league Matthew Cockshott took 69 wickets at 10.83 to maintain his progress as the leading off spinner at Wagon Lane.  In 2004 his 47 wickets would prove vital in winning the 2nd Division title. A triumph that leant on the consistent batting of Sharp (869) and Mark Beckett (629), who shone again in 2005 to ensure Bradford & Bingley’s safety in 12th position.

2006-2008 were largely uneventful seasons at Wagon Lane as they failed to challenge but were in no danger of the drop. Phil Slater had an impressive debut season in 2007 with 584 hard hit runs with a top score of 133, while Chris Thompson emerged as a very dangerous player with bat and ball.

Realtitle challengers again

In 2009 they were real title challengers with Matthew Duce (594), David Clow (462) and Thompson (564) providing the batting class, and McCarthy again proving to be the  most menacing bowler with 37 wickets at 11.32. Baildon prevailed in the end but a comparatively young Bradford & Bingley were only seven points behind in second place.

Yorkshire and England swing bowler Matthew Hoggard played on an ad hoc basis for Bradford & Bingley in 2009. He was swinging the ball so prodigiously he didn’t get always get full value from the slip cordon. However, he helped his new club to their fourth win in a row – an eight wicket home victory over Manningham Mills, when he took three for 13 as Mills were bowled out for 73.

 He also played a key role with the bat to help Bradford & Bingley beat Woodlands by three wickets at Wagon Lane. The fluctuating match was delicately poised when he joined Clow with Bingley still needing 51 to win with only three wickets left.  Hoggard, who had scored a half-century for Yorkshire at Worcester two weeks previously, helped Clow add 53 in an unbroken match-winning stand.

The momentum from 2009 was carried forward the next season when a League & Cup double could have conceivably been won. Led by Phil Slater they finished runners up for the second successive season, a mere five points behind Pudsey Congs. This challenge was built largely by three players- Simon Davies, Thompson and McCarthy. Davies scored 887 runs with a top score of 129* and an average of 44.35, while Thompson’s swashbuckling season resulted in 744 runs.

The mercurial McCarthy who had replaced his blistering pace with line and length guile took his fourth League Bowling Averages Trophy with 34 wickets at 11.68, and also won the League’s Player’s Player award. He suffered from niggling injuries as he reached the winter of his career and he retired at the end of the 2011 season with 1,032 league wickets at 15.47.

Slater’s consolation for missing out on title glory was a thumping win in the Priestley Cup Final at Spen Victoria when Farsley were summarily dismissed. He helped his team pile up 309-5 with an innings that won him the Man of the Match Award.  In reply Farsley could only muster 120 to go down to a record Final defeat of 189 runs. 

Things quietened down after 2010, but they still managed to secure silverware in the shape of the Dyson Insulations Twenty/20 Cup Winners in 2011.

Bradford & Bingley and Cleckheaton had been pioneers of this brand of cricket and their willingness to promote the shorter form of the game helped to establish the Dyson Insulations Twenty/20 Cup.  They invested in second hand floodlights to purposely facilitate this type of night cricket and have attracted big crowds for their troubles on Final days.

Cumberland batsman Alex Atkinson scored 640 runs in 2012 with an average of 43.07. He also scored the highest individual score in the league with 151 against Pudsey St Lawrence.

In the same season James Davies scored the Fastest Fifty in 20 balls, and Matthew Duce took the League Wicket-Keeper’s Award with 25 victims.

In 2013 it was a struggle with no batsman featuring in the Bradford League Averages. This lack of consistency led to survival doubts until well into the season. The highlight was the progress of pace bowler Jack Hartley (son of Neil) who took 47 wickets with a best performance of 6-24.

Things took a turn for the better with ten victories and a top-4 place in 2014, despite some mediocre batting.

Overseas player Noman Ali was the architect in the club’s success with 45 wickets at 10.51 with his considered spin. This won him the First Division Bowling Averages, but more than anything put the brake on the opposition batting in mid innings. He also contributed 309 runs with the bat at an average of 25.75.

Pacemen Jack Hartley (39 wkts), and Matty Simpson (33 wkts) took the honours with the new ball, the latter enjoying a best of return of 7-36. The leading batter Ryan Cooper scored 362 runs at 25.86, while Charlie Best won theMilton Watmough Wicketkeeping Trophy, and scored vital runs for his team’s cause.

Bradford & Bingley made an impressive start to the 2015 league campaign with pace bowlers Matthew Simpson (35 wkts) and Jack Hartley (30 wkts) generating real pace until they both suffered injuries. Overseas spin bowler Noman Ali had an impressive season taking 52 wickets at 12.37 and finishing second in the League Bowling Averages. The batting was less impressive with no player topping 500 runs and all rounder Chris Thompson having the best average with 28.44.

Although the league season fell away with a final seventh position the club’s impressive Priestley Cup tradition continued apace after a semi-final victory at New Farnley. They looked down and out until skipper Phil Slater intervened with 4-26.  This took them to their 15th final appearance with the added advantage of playing on their own ground.

Tenth Priestley Cup win

Bradford & Bingley lifted the Cup for the tenth time with a convincing 106-run win over Lightcliffe. Their match-winner was paceman Matthew Simpson who was playing in his first final and won the man of the match award. He took 4-33 to rip the heart out of the Lightcliffe top order as they replied to Bradford & Bingley's 237-7.  

Wicketkeeper Charlie Best, who was their top scorer with 50, also had a fine league season with the gloves winning the League’s F Milton Watmouth Wicketkeeping Trophy for most victims. 

McCarthy bows out with four wickets

Bradford & Bingley stalwart Richard McCarthy played his last game at 53 years of age when he took 4-58 in the final First Team fixture against Saltaire. In a glittering career which saw his team win all the major honours, he had a career record of 1,036 league wickets, and proved to be one of the finest fast bowlers in the post- war years. 

McCarthy arrived in 1989 at Adel as a tear away Australian fast bowler who had played for Victoria. He made an immediate impression on the Aire Wharfe League before joining Bingley at Wagon Lane the following season.  For several years he was the talk of the local leagues such was his sheer pace and bounce when he occasionally bowled short.

Bradford & Bingley again finished 7th in 2016 and given the circumstances it was a considerable effort under new captain Scott Etherington to win eight matches. Into the second-half of the season they lost key players Jack Hartley and Matthew Walker, but managed to steer themselves away from the danger zone.

The success story of the year was 20-year old Jack Edgar who had been signed in the close season from Great Harwood. The left-handed opening batsman showed fine application scoring 706 runs at 44.13.

Charlie Best had his best season, winning the league’s wicket-keeping prize with 36 victims, and in addition scoring 500 league runs at the top of the order. This combined feat afforded him the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounder’s trophy- the first time a wicket-keeper had won the award.

The most notable bowlers were overseas spinner Noman Ali (45 wkts) and opening bowler Yassir Abbas (38 wkts).

Although the club could not retain the Priestley Cup, they won the T20 Cup for the first time beating Pudsey St Lawrence and Hanging Heaton on Finals day at Tofts Road.

In 2017, the club was off to a sticky start that conjured up thoughts of a relegation struggle. However, they gradually found some consistency under new captain Gareth Phillips, and their eight league wins ensured a healthy 7th position for the third successive season.

Noman Ali again gave good value as their overseas player, leading the batting and bowling with 422 runs, and 39 wickets at 16.54 respectively, while Jack Hartley (35 wkts) and Yassir Abbas (30 wkts) had a good term as the main seamers.

Matthew Duce, who had returned to the club from Pudsey St Lawrence, took the League Wicket-Keeper’s Award with 35 victims, and replicated his feat of 2012. He was made skipper for the 2018 season.

Relegation fight

Several new signings heralded an optimism for the new season, but wins were at a premium as they struggled to break away from the relegation zone. In late June they were battling with Scholes to avoid going down with East Bierley, and had conceded a league double against their relegation rivals.

Worse was to follow when East Bierley, who had only one win to their name at that point, bowled them out for 20, and knocked the runs off without losing a wicket. At this point they were bereft of confidence, but they found salvation in the capitulation of Scholes and survived despite winning only four matches.

The best of the new signings were Ed Brown (563), Jonathan Whitehead (452) who left the club before the season had finished, and Bradley Reeve (39 wkts).

Encouraging signs

Although Bradford & Bingley lost more games than they managed to win in 2019, for a time they were the closest challengers to runaway leaders Woodlands.

By August 24th, Bradford & Bingley had half a chance to catch them if they could beat them at Albert Terrace. However, despite being at full strength with their Yorkshire duo Daniel Revis and Harry Brooks available, they lost by six runs after dominating most of the game.

Brook had his best game of the season taking 4-41, as the Woodlands innings finished on an inglorious 131. He then put his team in control in their run chase until being needlessly run out for 39. They were still comfortable at 87-4 and 115-5, but the `soft underbelly’ of their batting let them down, and not for the first time that season. 

The last four matches of the season were lost, putting Bradford & Bingley back to sixth in the table as the cluster of clubs all finished stronger.

The batting was up and down with only Callum Goldthorp showing any consistency, while overseas batter Muhammed Afridi only met with moderate success. Spin bowler Bradley Reeve was the outstanding player taking 38 wickets for an impressive average of 17.18.

Ed Brown was made captain for 2020, and with the addition of Yasir Abbas, the club was expected to be very competitive again.

However, Covid-19 meant they would play a different type of cricket in a shortened season, and the club took part in the Gordon Rigg Premier League Cup and T20 Group A competitions.

They fell away a bit in the league cup season, but made the final of the T20 after beating Pudsey Congs in the semi-finals.

The final at Pudsey St Lawrence was a chastening experience as they ran into Hanging Heaton’s David Stiff who smashed an unbeaten 68 from just 19 balls.

The target was 207, and opener Patrick Dixon made a good fist of it, hitting four sixes in his 45, but the scoring pressure was too much and they lost by 60-runs.

Ed Brown scored 261 runs for an average of 65.25 in the eight-match league cup season.

Their youthful second team, playing in the Premier League Cup, topped their section and unluckily lost a thrilling final to Batley by one run.

Approaching the 2021 season, skipper Ed Brown was keen for his side to challenge towards the upper reaches of the table, but it just didn’t happen. In fact they skirted on the edges of the relegation zone for much of the season.

They finished eighth in the final reckoning with seven wins and 12 losses in a season where Kyme Tahirkheli, Ed Brown, Bradley Reeve and Yasir Abbas were the best performers.

They found form in the T20 Group A Cup, going down to Woodlands on Finals day in the semi-finals.