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East Leeds history

East Leeds history

Richmond Hill origins

East Leeds Cricket Club was founded in 1900 by the local Conservative Association under the guise of East Ward Cricket and Athletic Club. Home matches were played in the bank area of Richmond Hill.

Initially, the club competed in the Leeds South League before moving into the newly formed Leeds League on its formation in 1923.

Name change

The club’s name was changed to East Leeds Cricket & Athletic Club and shortly afterwards moved to its present ground on Pontefract Lane in the mid-1920s.

They would become a founder member of the Leeds & District Cricket League in 1939.

Dominant Force

East Leeds were a dominant force in the pre-war period as a top-flight club winning three league titles and two Hepworth Cups.

Harry Close, (father of future Yorkshire, Somerset and England captain Brian) kept wicket during this period and for three years, the club benefitted from the services of former county cricketer Horace Fisher.

Fisher played fifty two games for Yorkshire between 1928 and 1936 as a slow left arm bowler taking 93 wickets at 28.18. He briefly challenged Hedley Verity for Wilfred Rhodes's vacated berth, but was soon overshadowed, and played only when Verity was on Test duties.

He was notable as the first bowler to ever claim a hat-trick of LBW victims in the course of taking 5 for 12 against Somerset at Sheffield in August 1932. In the same match, Fisher posted his highest-ever first-class score in Yorkshire's only innings, an unbeaten 76, as Yorkshire ran out winners by an innings and 93. Earlier that week Fisher took six wickets for 11 runs, against Leicestershire at Bradford, which remained his best bowling return.

Former Yorkshire and England star Ray Illingworth with the ball Fisher used to take his hat-trick of lbws.

Whilst East Leeds never recaptured the height of their pre-war success, the club remained successful in terms of title wins in Division Two, and Second Team successes in both league and cup.

The most significant event during this period occurred in 1950 when the club became a founder member of the Leeds Junior Cricket League. East Leeds could now breed their very own players and success in junior competition increased their reputation as a club.

Into the Central Yorkshire League

Following the demise of the Leeds & District League, East Leeds joined the more senior Central Yorkshire League in 1999. Starting in Division Two, the club gained promotion in to Division One in 2003.

The club struggled to reach premier league status, but remained competitive and established in Division One cricket.

In 2006 Alan Olbison figured high in the league bowling averages with 47 league wickets at 12.36.

Struggling times

By 2010 it was clear that progress had stagnated as they just about held their head above water under the captaincy of Zarid Tarvaz. That year Allan Olbison, above, had an outstanding season with the ball taking 44 wickets at 16.52, with a divisional best analysis of 8-50.

Things got worse in 2011 with 15 losses in the league and little to celebrate except for Jeffrey Naish’s 614 runs at 36.12. Ravi Manajan (below, 400 runs) showed consistency with the bat for the second successive season.

There was a marked improvement in 2012 with 8 league wins under captain James Watling. Olbison had another profitable season taking 34 wickets at 12.71 with a season’s best of 9-40.   He also scored 250 runs for an average of 35.71.

Progress continued in 2013 when 10 league wins reflected their best season for a number of years. A promising season from junior Ben Quirk resulted in him scoring 410 runs at 27.33, while Zarid Tarvaz was the chief wicket-taker with 33.

In 2014 East Leeds struggled in the newly named Division One Championship, and found themselves in the third sphere in 2015 (1st Division).

A solid performance in 2014 from Kirti Tandel which saw him score 359 runs at 27.62, and take 25 wickets, along with Shamon Mushtaq’s 411 run at 31.62, was the individual highlights of the closing years.

In what would turn out to be the last season in the Central Yorkshire League the club ended their reign on a positive note in a promotion position. Ironically, the promotion was in name only after major league restructures saw the club placed in the Bradford League Conference.

Into the Bradford League Conference

East Leeds made an inauspicious start to their Conference League career finishing ninth after recording seven wins.

Watling, the captain, led by example proving to be their most consistent player with 336 league runs with the bat, and 31 wickets at 16.65. Olbison was again the leading bowler with 47 wickets at 13.60.

The recruitment of South African left-handed batsman James Van Der Merwe for the 2017 season turned the club’s fortunes.  They finished sixth with 13 wins recorded, and at one time were on the fringes of the promotion race. The fact that they beat both the top two was testament to their competitiveness.

Van Der Merwe, who had played for Adelaar CC in the Northern Premier League in South Africa, scored 923 league runs for East Leeds. It was a stunning season for him as he averaged 54.29, and scored three centuries.

Watling, above,  was again the main man, scoring 311 league runs, and also taking 41 wickets at 10.29.

In 2018, East Leeds made a poor start to the season, but picked up and proved their ability by beating pacesetters Adwalton and Oulton. However, the defeats against the lower-ranked sides negated any chance of progress as they had to settle for seventh position.

They showed their true potential when they beat much-fancied Great Preston by 94 runs on June 9th. Batting first, East Leeds set a target of 301 after Jacob Naylor had smashed eight sixes in an incredible innings of 172.  Great Preston struggled to 207-9 after Banaras Hussain had taken 6-40.

There were two real stars in 2018- Tom Chapman who scored 607 runs, and took 36 wickets at 15.50, and Jacob Naylor who made 662 runs.

East Leeds had six abandonments in 2019 which contributed to their modest showing. They were only able to complete four victories in the season, and finished a disappointing seventh in the table.

They did have some highlights in the season and none better than when they beat Crossbank Methodists in their first completed game, when Gary Bettison hit 110 runs in his side’s winning 293-8 total. Later in the season they dismissed Brighouse for 46 with Ben Wilkinson taking 5-22. 

East Leeds might have finished higher in the table if Zahid Tarvas had played more than nine matches. In that time he hit 366 runs for an average of 40.67.

 Tarvas excelled again in the 2020 season, but the disruption caused by Covid-19 limited his potential to shine.

East Leeds took part in the Gordon Rigg Division Three League Cup and won two matches in a very competitive division.

 

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