The Gomersal side that won Division Two in 2002
The early origins
The original club was founded as Gomersal St Mary’s in 1881 by the village vicar, but the organisation only lasted six years. It was re-formed in 1892 on the present ground which had previously been the site of the old Little Gomersal Colliery.
In 1898 the club joined the Bradford District League followed later by membership of the Spen Valley District League and in 1916 the Yorkshire Council. Efforts were then made to raise funds to buy the ground. The first event on July 9, 1921 was attended by more than 4,000 people. It was June 1929 before sufficient funds were raised and the purchase was completed.
Cricket continued in the meantime and in 1921 they reached the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup where they lost to Wakefield.
The following year, however, they won their first trophy when they lifted the Yorkshire Council championship. The 1922 league was comprised of as many as 50 clubs with a very irregular fixture listing. The only way to ascertain the champions was by means of a protracted average rating which in Gomersal’s case was 84.21% and superior to all the other clubs.
The next significant event was the changing of their name to Gomersal Cricket Club in 1927.
Into the Central Yorkshire League
In 1944 they joined the Central Yorkshire League under the overall control of the Yorkshire Council.
At the end of the Second World War the club bought an ex-army Nissan hut to use as a tea room. This was placed on the site of the present clubhouse and served a useful purpose for more than 30 years.
The club continued to provide facilities to play cricket for the local population without any noticeable success on the field and in 1962, with the aid of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, a bar was opened in the Nissan hut.
Perhaps the most significant event in the club's history occurred in the early 1970s when the adjacent football pitch was sold for housing. This sale created a firm financial base and the existing clubhouse and changing rooms were built.
Promotion from the Second Division of the Central Yorkshire League to the First Division was achieved in 1981 and in the same year the second team also won their division to move into the top flight. Both teams remained in the top division of the CYL, until a decision was made to move up to the Bradford League in 2000.
Tony Blain arrives from New Zealand
In 1984 it was decided to recruit an overseas player for the first time and Tony Blain, above, from New Zealand represented Gomersal for two seasons. The impact was immediate with the Heavy Woollen Cup being won in his first season. He topped the League Batting Averages both seasons scoring a thousand runs at more than 60.
Blain later went on to represent New Zealand in Test Cricket. Blain was an understudy to Ian Smith and Adam Parore playing in 11 Tests and 38 one dayers for New Zealand.with a top score of 78.
The glory days
After a period of 62 years without a senior trophy skipper Paul Nicholson led Gomersal to a historic Heavy Woollen triumph in 1984. Bowling first in the Final at Birstall they dismissed Ossett for 214, before knocking off the runs with 215-7 to win by three wickets.
The next trophy came along in 1987 when the CYCL's 40 over cup competition, the Jack Hampshire Trophy was won for the first time in their history. Skipper John Cammidge led them to victory in the final against Morley.
These two trophies proved to be the catalyst for a Gomersal domination of the Central Yorkshire League in the 1990s when seven trophies were won, plus a second Heavy Woollen Cup.
The captain was Tony Pickersgill who had great success at East Bierley in the Bradford League with his consistent seam bowling. He was part of the Bierley team who won the Haig Village Cup at Lords in 1979.
Pickersgill cut his speed and concentrated on wily spells as opening bowler to such a high standard he won the First Division League Bowling Averages in 1991 with 53 wickets at 14.69.
To usher in the triumphant nineties Gomersal beat Slaithwaite in the Heavy Woollen Cup Final in 1991. In a fairly straightforward victory in the Final against they overtook their opponents 133-9 to win by seven wickets.
Gomersal made it a cup double in 1991 by taking the Jack Hampshire Trophy after beating Batley at Ossett. They repeated this feat the next year by beating Soothill in the Final at Methley in 1992. Despite their cup success the elusive title was just out of reach as they finished second in 1991 and also in their centenary season of 1992.
In 1993 the classic treble was achieved with a side good enough to challenge the best club sides in Yorkshire.
They completed a hat-trick of Jack Hampshire Trophy victories after beating Mirfield in the Final at Liversedge. But it was the title they yearned for and it was duly won weeks after an emphatic victory in the Heavy Woollen Cup Final. Their opponents Slaithwaite set a reasonable score of 203-7, but after James Pamment scored 126 in an unbeaten second wicket partnership of 172 runs with David Ellis they eased home by nine wickets.
Opener Pamment scored over 2,000 runs in league and cup cricket in 1993 with his special brand of aggressive batting. He was the perfect foil for the classy Steve Foster who opened with him and won the League Batting Averages the same year.
On 14th August 1993 the openers set a league record opening stand when they put on an undefeated 307 against Birstall with Foster not out 125, and Pamment 166 not out.
Pamment, as a first class cricketer played 14 matches for Auckland from 1993 in the Shell Trophy. He played in 32 List A Shell Cup one day matches and in a one day match against the West Indies.
A right-handed batsman he scored 351 first class runs at an average of 15.95 with a best of 98 against Central Districts. This was his only first class fifty. He was more successful in the one day arena, scoring 933 runs at 30.09 with a top score of 105* against Wellington. He won two man of the match awards in the Shell Cup, for his century against Wellington in 1993 and against Central Districts in 1994 he scored an unbeaten 51 out of 124 to steer his team home.
The historic Gomersal class of 1993 was comprised of the following squad members:
A Pickersgill (Capt), S Foster, J Pamment, C Rhodes, A Sumner, M Gee, D Pike, D Ellis, M Chapman, M Barnes, D Pauley, P Robinson.
The one trophy they didn’t win in 1993 was the Cockspur Cup as they bowed out to a strong Idle side in a last over thriller.
The title was retained in 1994 when they accounted for Thornhill late in the season after an unbroken stand of 143 runs between Foster (77 runs) and Mark Gee (77 runs). Foster scored his almost inevitable 1,000 league runs, while the destructive bowling came from left arm spin bowler Matthew Barnes. His 73 wickets at 13.65 won him the League Bowling Averages.
The only disappointing aspect to the season was their defeat in the Heavy Woollen Cup Final. Batting first Gomersal totalled 201-8 which fell short to a Methley side who eased home on 202-6.
In 1996 Gomersal performed the domestic cup and league double for the second time in three years, this time under the captaincy of David Pike. Foster was the big star winning the League’s All Rounder’s prize while scoring 1,000 runs for the fourth time.
Steve Foster’s phenomenal success
Steve Foster, signed from Spen Victoria, had phenomenal success in this era with the bat at Gomersal heading the League Batting Averages in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996 while scoring a thousand runs each time. In 1996 his medium-pacers took the League Bowling Averages to give him the classic individual double. Whilst at Gomersal he captained the England Cricket Board X1 which comprised of a selection of the nation’s best eleven league cricketers.
Foster’s Stats 1992-1999:
1992 1029 runs at 79.15
1993 1104 runs at 78.85
1994 1130 runs at 94.16
1995 799 runs at 47.00
1996 1,140 runs at 87.69
1997 1,013 runs at 67.53
1998 1,198 runs at 79.87
1999 824 runs at 68.67
1996 64 wickets at 11.47
He went on to obtain further club and individual honours with Hanging Heaton and Treeton, including the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions with the former. In 2001 he won the Bradford League First Division Bowling Averages with Hanging Heaton, and also the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
Gomersal were rightfully regarded as the leading team in the Central Yorkshire League in this era. A slight lull in trophies occurred until 1998 when they regained the title under captain Paul Heaton. On the 19th September they clinched the title at Ossett chasing a moderate 187-4. Foster again excelled making an unbeaten 114 to ensure his team would win by ten wickets.
The last of the titles was the Central Yorkshire League’s Premier Division title in its first year of inauguration in 1999. Foster’s influence on these successive title wins were as immense as the previous times in the decade when Gomersal were winning doubles. He aggregated his sixth thousand runs in a season feat in 1998, and at the same time bowling well enough to take the League All Rounders Trophy for the third time.
Gomersal showed their ambition as a club when they entered the NCA Cup in 1999 knocking out Skipton, Holmfirth and York in an impressive run.
Move to the Bradford League
The success of 1999 was encouraging as they took their first steps into the Bradford League in 2000. The background to their move came about when in 1995 the finances had dwindled and it was evident a new club committee more orientated to cricket would have to be formed if its cricket section were to continue to prosper.
This was done with considerable success and progress on the field continued and by 2000 the clubhouse was refurbished at a cost of £100,000 and the club started its first season in the Bradford League, the highest form of league cricket in the area
A Gomersal product who made it in part was Mark Lawson, above, who played for the first team at an early age. This early baptism into senior first team cricket aided his progress to First Class cricket. A leg spinner, he most recently played first-class cricket for Kent in June 2010. He has also played for Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Middlesex and Staffordshire.
Yorkshire announced his release towards the end of the 2008 season, and he was subsequently registered by Derbyshire with the opportunity to earn a full-time contract.
Lawson moved to Kent in 2010, but first team opportunities proved elusive and he was released. His career record in First Class cricket is 52 wickets, and 311 runs. Since leaving Gomersal he has played for Farsley, Scarborough, Barnsley, Hanging Heaton, Woodlands and New Farnley.
Many would have thought a period of consolidation in the Bradford League would have followed, especially after losing their talisman Foster to Hanging Heaton, but the first team won promotion to the Bradford League First Division. The second team had an incredible time going through the whole season without losing a game, winning the league championship and Priestley Shield.
Up and down the divisions
The First Team just pipped Esholt for the third place in a thrilling promotion race. Simon Horkin who had seen service at Hartshead Moor was the leading batsman with 589 runs, while David Bradbrook was the most consistent bowler. Matthew Garside won the keeper’s prize for this division.
The first team were relegated back to the Second Division after just one season. Garside followed up his success in topping the Division Two keeper’s charts in 2000 by claiming most victims in Division One. Gomersal didn’t stay down very long.
They won the Second Division title in 2002 to return to the top flight once again as champions with skipper Bradley Parker making 908 runs to top the Division Two averages, and overseas fast bowler Matthew Hawking taking 67 wickets. Parker would top this in 2004 scoring 1,092 runs.
Once again Gomersal were unable to cling on to Division One status and were relegated to Division Two at the end of the 2003 season.
In 2005 they recruited former East Bierley captain Rob Burton, above, to lead their new-look side which also included one of the Bradford League's most instantly recognisable figures Murphy Walwyn. However, a poor start to the season resulted in the club finishing an uninspiring ninth.
The next two seasons were largely uneventful apart from the emergence of two virtuoso batsmen- Sri Lankan Malintha Thuwilage and Richard Gould. The stylish Thuwilage was only at Gomersal for one season in 2006 scoring 619 runs at 31.59, but Gould would put his stamp on Gomersal’s history with some heavy run-getting. He won the Second Division League Batting Averages during seasons 2007 and 2008 with impressive figures of 960 at 68.57 and 1,108 runs at 79.14 respectively.
Gould’s heroics in 2008 were matched by Pakistani Kashif Naveed who scored 644 runs at 53.67, and took 51 wickets at 12.04. This dynamic pair was largely instrumental in Gomersal’s promotion from second place, and Gould in particular helped his team’s three-year tenure in the top division with further run tallies of 721 and 807.
Richard Whitehurst’s fastest recorded fifty
Gomersal’s Richard Whitehurst, above, made history in 2010 scoring the fastest recorded fifty in just eleven balls. It is unlikely to beaten soon. He was also very high profile with his hitting in the 2011 Heavy Woollen Cup Final when his team chased Shepley’s 336-5.
Whitehurst made a real fist of it for his team peppering the outer environment of Spen Victoria’s ground in a heroic attempt to drive his side to victory. The fact that they fell 45 runs short could not take away their achievement of reaching this final in their relegation season.
After relegation in 2011 they lacked the strength in depth to bounce back in the subsequent seasons. Good young players emerged in Andrew Gorrod and Jack Seddon, with the former scoring 705 runs in his first full season of 2010. Seddon impressed as a wicket-keeper who could score vibrant runs down the order. The fact that both were lured away was is a disappointment for a club who always strived for the best. Good experienced players like Ben Platt, Robert Burton and Richard Whitehurst also departed after being the bedrock of the side.
In 2013 promotion was never realistically on but some things didn’t change. Gould, above, added to his league awards by taking the Second Division batting prize for the third time when he scored 1,181 runs at 62.16. He also broke the league record for the highest individual score with an innings of 218 against Great Horton.
Gorrod, who had returned from Lightcliffe, also excelled with 817 runs and earned himself a contract with First Division Cleckheaton the following season.
It was a similar scenario in 2014 with a seventh position drawn from eight victories. The batting was strong, particularly at home with Jonathan Boynton starring with 565 runs at 51.36 to take second place in the Second Division League Batting Averages. Other run-getters were the returning keeper Jack Seddon (442 runs), Greg Pickles (594 runs), and Graham Hilton (387 runs), while Chris Rhodes (42 wkts) and Joel Pollard (42) were the pick of the bowlers.
In 2014, 52 year old Tony Blain topped the Second Team League Batting Averages with a total of 687 runs at 57.25. Former test player Blain took up residence in the UK in 2007 and started to play 2nd team cricket for Gomersal. He scored 790 runs that season followed by 651 and 707 in the following seasons.
With an eye for the future Gomersal became an ECB Clubmark accredited club in 2014.
For the second successive season Gomersal finished in seventh position with few thrills in the league at Oxford Road. The leading batters were Hilton (607 runs) and Ben Hyde (573 runs).while James Russell (37 wkts), Pollard (34) and Rhodes (pictured above, 32) were the chief wicket takers.
The outstanding feat of the season came in the Heavy Woollen Cup when they knocked out Huddersfield Premier League outfit Delph & Dobcross by three runs in a thriller at Oxford Road. Jack Seddon put aside his patchy batting form that season to strike an impressive 111 in a Gomersal total of 289-7. Delph were well place at one point to pass this total but Russell with 4-47 was largely instrumental in denying them victory.
Gomersal’s sixth position in 2016, after a solid season with ten victories, allowed them to qualify for the more senior championship in the following season.
Their outstanding performer was seamer James Russell who took 53 wickets at 12.87, while Boynton (461 runs) and Greenwood (489 runs) both averaged in excess of 30 with the bat.
The club finished seventh in Championship One in 2017 with seven wins and 12 losses. The fact that they finished only 14 points above a relegation place indicates it was a struggle, but in reality they were never in danger of going down.
Hilton was again the leading batsman with 597 runs at 35.12, and Rhodes the best bowler with 38 wickets. Richard Wear and Joseph Duffy both performed well with bat and ball. This foursome were the main successes in the following year.
It was a similar season in 2018, but they were in real danger of going down at the end after a bad finish to the season.
On August 4th they had a remarkable victory when they successfully chased Baildon’s 324. Hilton (81 runs), Boynton (62runs) and Duffy (51*) kept the momentum going for a four wicket victory with two overs to spare. After that they would not win again and consequently could have gone down if Hunslet Nelson had won their last match.
In 2019, Gomersal finished in sixth place, but were in a group of clubs that were at one time on the fringes of the relegation dog-fight. But, they were always capable of beating a good team and this they proved when they performed the double over promoted Morley.
They beat Morley in the first part of the season after being set a target of 245. This could have been far more but for the excellent bowling of Wear who took 5-20 off his 10.2 overs.
Wear was instrumental in the successful run chase scoring an unbeaten 98, and he was capably assisted by Liam Fletcher (50 runs) and Callum Flynn (61 runs) in the eight-wicket victory.
The return fixture was remarkable in a different way, when Chris Greenwood and Chris Rhodes put on 20 runs for the last wicket to beat Morley in a low-scoring game.
Boynton was the club’s top batter, finishing second in the league averages with 466 runs at 46.60, while Rhodes again showed his value to the club with 48 wickets at 11.52.
When Covid-19 struck in 2020, Gomersal took part in the Gordon Rigg Division One League Cup, winning three, and losing three in the eight-game programme. The best performers were Liam Fletcher, Jonathan Boynton and Chris Rhodes.
Gomersal made a storming start to the 2021 campaign, winning their first three matches and leading the table. Strangely they would win only two more matches and avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth.
They entered the last fixture of the season locked in a four-way relegation struggle with Lightcliffe, Hartshead Moor and Keighley and had to play champions Ossett.
Gomersal duly lost but picked up six bonus points that saved them from relegation as the final league table read Keighley (183 pts), Gomersal (182 pts), Lightcliffe (180 pts) and Hartshead Moor (177 pts).
The batting was up to scratch with Andy Gorrod scoring 606 runs at 37.78, followed by Liam Fletcher (568) and Graham Hilton (387). However, the bowling lacked penetration, and had trouble defending even impressive scores..
The most notable match of the season was in the Heavy Woollen Cup when they hit 362 runs against Sandal to win by 286 runs, Hilton top-scoring with 131 runs.