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Morley history

Morley history

Morley's 2015 Bradford League Division Two championship winning team

Early origins

The Morley Cricket team, then known as Throttlers Off, played their first game on Fish’s Field, a mere long hop from the present field, in 1841. In the early 1850’s, now known as Morley, they moved to the Nelson ground just near the Prospect.

It was on this ground in 1862 that Morley played an All-England XI in a match which attracted 8,000 spectators. The game was repeated the following year and again attracted a similar number of spectators. In the early 1880’s Morley moved to Queens Park playing fields, only a six-hit from Scatcherd Lane.

The entrance to these fields was the present entrance to Brumfitt’s mill yard - the stone archway over the entrances still stands. In 1889 Morley moved to their present spacious grounds in Scatcherd Lane.These were officially declared open by the Mayor of Morley, David Thackary.

Morley’s most famous cricketer was, of course, Bobyb Peel, born in Churwell and of Yorkshire and England fame. Only three England bowlers have taken 100 wickets or more in Test cricket against Australia prior to the modern age.

One of these was Peel - the other two were SF Barnes and Wilfred Rhodes. Morley also had those two legendary cricketing characters, Bob Hutchinson and Charlie Pratt who, along with George Glover, carved an early niche for themselves in the club’s history.

In 1929 the committee of the Morley Cricket, Bowling and Athletic Club made, what was at the time, a momentous decision. This was a decision that was to affect the club, not only in the foreseeable future, but for all time. They decided to purchase the cricket field and the adjoining rugby field from Lord Dartmouth’s agents. The cost was £3,000 and in those days just after the general strike, this was nothing less than a small fortune.

The money was raised by means of a bazaar. This was to be no one-day event – it was to be the biggest bazaar ever held in the town, lasting a full week and staged in the Morley Town Hall. For two years before the bazaar was staged the ladies and gentlemen of the Morley C B &A club worked, as no committee before, or since, has every worked.

Herbert Sutcliffe officiates

Eventually the great week arrived. And, who better to open the occasion than one of the world’s finest openers, Herbert Sutcliffe of Yorkshire and England fame. Herbert duly officiated at the ceremony and the bazaar was a tremendous success not only financially but socially. The money was raised and the two fields duly purchased and at last Morley Cricket Club had a home.

To write of Morley cricket without mention of Kenyon Newton would be an injustice because Morley cricket and Kenyon Newton were synonymous. For over 42 years he was official scorer for Morley and recorded his last runs in September 1949.

His scorebooks were a work of art, far in advance of their time, immaculately and meticulously written. They truly reflected the man’s great love not only for cricket but for Morley Cricket Club. His daughter Jessie, and her husband Ken, became official scorers of the club in a subsequent generation

Morley had a long association with the Central Yorkshire League and its different guises linked to the old Yorkshire Council. Success was hard to come by but it was a different matter in the Heavy Woollen Cup.

Impressive Heavy Woollen Cup record

Morley’s very first major trophy came in 1893 when they won the Heavy Woollen Cup in a closely contested final at Batley against Chickenley.  Batting first they scored 138 which proved to be just enough as Chickenley were bowled out for 132.

Five years later in 1898 they again won the trophy, but in bizarre circumstances. The Final was scheduled for Dewsbury, but their opponents Batley refused to play as there was a rugby match at Mount Pleasant the same day. Morley was declared the winners by a `walkover’.    

Morley’s next Heavy Woollen Cup victory was altogether more satisfying when in 1908 they posted a score of 350 in the Final at Batley against Dewsbury & Saville who could only manage 227 in reply.

They further enforced their reputation in 1914 by winning the trophy again, and in doing so recorded their fourth successive Final win. It was a real thriller at Dewsbury where Morley’s 178 just edged Spen Victoria’s 172.

Morley’s winning streak in Heavy Woollen Cup Finals grinded to a halt in 1929.

1929        Morley     95            Liversedge 99-6       at Dewsbury
1942        Morley     123          Thornhill 124-4         at Heckmondwyke

In 1950 Morley were back to winning ways beating Batley by 22 runs in the Final at Dewsbury. Morley batted first scoring 205 before bowling their opponents out for 183.

These same opponents met again in the Heavy Woollen Cup Final of 1961 at Wakefield when Batley reversed the result winning comfortably by eight wickets.

Honours were proving very illusive for Morley in the league, but one of the first individual awards went to H.Newbould in 1948 when he won the League Batting Averages. He scored 423 runs at an average of 47.00.

Central Yorkshire League success

In 1971 Morley at last won meaningful silverware in the league when they won the First Division Championship under the inspirational captaincy of Graham Boothroyd. A major influence was Alan Denison who won the league batting averages with 516 runs at 36.80.

This success was not built on in the league, but Morley’s proud tradition in the Heavy Woollen Cup continued when in 1973 they beat a powerful Hanging Heaton side in the Final. Morley stunned the watching crowd at Cleckheaton as they demolished their opponent by nine wickets chasing a mere 125.

Roger Braithwaite was an inspirational player for his side and in 1979 with his left arm spin won the league bowling averages with 41 wickets at 10.58. His longevity would allow him to replicate this feat in 1992 when on this occasion he took 41 wickets for 14.12.

Most of the in between years were spent helping to establish Hanging Heaton in the Bradford League. He had wicket hauls of 64, 44, 51, and 54 for the Bennett Lane club, and actually won the W H Foster Memorial League Bowling Averages on three occasions.  

A Morley lad, he was Chairman when he instigated his club’s move into the Bradford League in 1998. Tragically he passed away without seeing Morley participate in the league.

Morley were Heavy Woollen Cup Finalists again in 1979 but lost to Ossett in a low scoring affair at Liversedge. Ossett’s 134 proved sufficient to beat Morley who could only score 112.

The glory years

The peak years for Morley were a decade later when they won major honours in successive seasons. In 1985, Peter Arundel skippered them to the title again after a gap of 14 years, and the following year pulled off the Jack Hampshire Cup.

These were truly heady days at the Scatcherd as they enjoyed their day in the sun at Mirfield beating Chickenley in the 1986 final. Arundel was an excellent bowler who scooped the league bowling prize in 1980 with a performance of 57 wickets at 9.78.

Another key figure in the 1985 title winning side was Peter ‘Golly’ Oldham who was a keen performer with bat and ball. That year saw Oldham at his zenith as he took the Clifford Sykes Trophy for All Rounders Trophy for 960 runs and 36 wickets. The highlight of 1987 was Howard Leach’s 10-33 against Altofts.

In 1988 Leach led Morley to their second title in three years. Ostensibly it was a great team effort but one man stood out- wicket-keeper/batsman Dave Jones. Recognised as one of the best post-war players at the club the Australian won the First Division Batting Averages with 855 runs at 75.90. To illustrate his class he replicated this feat in 1995 at Methley.

Leach was approaching the veteran stage in 1988 having given sterling service to Queensbury in the seventies. He was a rapid left arm pace bowler in those days, but he developed into a fine `line & length’ seamer with Morley.

After this golden period times were leaner for a while but they were ambitious and applied to join the Bradford League. 

Entry to the Bradford League

Morley was considered a welcome entry into the Bradford in 1998 with their well appointed ground on Scatcherd Lane. They appeared to have the cricket infrastructure to launch an immediate promotion bid, but surprisingly their progress was slow.

In their inaugural season in 1998 they consolidated into the league in ninth position. The batting wasn’t strong enough to launch a challenge, but their bowling was impressive with M Tordoff taking 69 wickets, backed by Chris Smith who claimed 53. An encouraging feature was Matthew Garside winning the Parkside Trophy- Wicket Keeping, in respect of most victims in the league.  

 It was much of the same in 1999 in 9th position again, but they had gained the services of left hander Colin Nuttall who score 729 runs for an average of 40.50. Smith again impressed with the ball taking 45 wickets. 

Re-election plea

Decent consolidation changed to disaster when in their third season in 2000 they finished bottom of the heap on six points, suffering 22 defeats in the process without a win or winning draw to their name. The points haul of six points was an unprecedented low in the league and led to them to seek re-election. The only player to come out of it with credit was Richard Winn who took 51 wickets.

This was a rude awakening for the former Central Yorkshire League outfit who were determined to make amends in 2001.

Fifth place in the Bowes Section of the Second Division in 2001 represented progress. Batsmen Colin Nuthall (pictured above, 551 runs) and Adam Larkin (448 runs) provided the bulk of the runs for a team with an impressive bowling pair of Smith (31 wkts) and Paul Kinder (59 wkts).

They slipped back to 12th in 2002 despite solid runs from Larkin (630 runs) and Smith (472 runs) who also took 30 wickets. Kinder was the most dangerous bowler again taking 56 wickets at 12.02.

In 2003 Morley never threatened to join the promotion race when finishing 10th but possessed some very handy performers. Their Australian Colin Nuthall was always the one to get out for the opposition, epitomised by his fine haul of 606 runs. Perhaps the most crucial player was all-rounder Chris Smith who never enjoyed the acclaim he deserved but contributed 512 runs coupled with 47 wickets.

Battling Nebard

Kinder was inevitably the key bowler taking 57 wickets at 14.02, while the up and coming off-spinner David Nebard chipped in with 38 wickets. Nebard was always a battler on the cricket pitch, but who could have predicted at this point that he would become such a stalwart off the field in years to come? 

Nebard, above, first made an impression on the Bradford League in 1999 when he helped win Hanging Heaton the First Division title. After John Carruthers he was the leading bowler that season with 32 wickets and in doing so was listed 7th place in the league bowling averages. This effort earned him the `Young Spin Bowler’ of the year award for the league.

Morley was a tough nut to crack on their ground where the fabled seamer Paul Kinder, above, caused no end of difficulties. He bowled an immaculate line and length of `little seamers’ and seemed to always extract the maximum out of his home wicket.

The opposition batters would enter the crease playing expansive shots and when dismissed wondered why a `little seamer’ like that could spoil their day. Of course the answer was clearly his underrated craft. He was a danger bowler if there was anything in the wicket, but he could also contain on `shirt-fronters ’.

In 2003 Morley’s second team struggled in 11th place out of 15 but had a player in David Goodlad (738 runs) who many thought should have been playing in the first.

It could be said that 2003 was not an earth shattering season in Morley’s history, but it did prove to be a catalyst for the following season. Morley finished the 2004 season runners-up to Bradford & Bingley, and in doing so secured promotion to the First Division for the first time.

A key signing was former Woodlands seamer Nathan Bromby (pictured above, 59 wkts) who gave more pace to their bowling attack, but it was Kinder who proved to be the most influential again. He finished third in the league averages with 63 wickets at a personal cost of 11.76 per wickets. Another bowler to take 50 wickets was Richard Winn.

An individual award winner for Morley in 2004 was Richard Soulsby who took the Parkside Trophy- (Wicket Keeping), in respect of most victims in the league.

Morley survived the 2005 season in the first division in 11th place with Bromby (49 wkts) and Kinder (45 wkts) proving they could take wickets in the higher sphere. The stability of the batting was largely down to overseas batter Vivek Mahajan who scored 819 runs at 48.18 with a top score of 105*.

However, they were relegated in 2006 largely down to the misfiring overseas bowler Shehzad Butt who could only muster 37 wickets at 21.68 each.

In 2007 Morley briefly threatened a promotion run but ultimately had to settle for fifth place. They had a fine overseas batsman named Shoaib Khan who scored 759 runs at 50.40 with a top score of 148, while the key bowler was the ever consistent Kinder with 33 wickets.    

Another feature of 2007 was Michael Cooper winning the Parkside Trophy- Wicket Keeping, in recognition of most victims in the league that season.

A reversal of fortunes in 2008 saw Morley finish second-bottom in the lower division ensuring that they had to seek re-election for a second time in their short history. This was despite the efforts of Adam Larkin who scored 487 runs.

The next two season Morley finished in ninth place with Larkin being the most dominate batting force with an impressive 511 runs at 46.45 in 2010. Bromby carried the brunt of the bowling with Nebard chipping in with his spin.

Kashif Naveed a match-winner

In 2011 there was definite progress in the camp reflected by a fourth place finish. Morley had an overseas player in Kashif Naveed who could do it with bat and the ball. He scored 930 runs at 48.95 and also took 67 wickets; such was his value to the side. Matthew Baxter scored 588 runs, while Nebard (49 wkts) and Bromby (42 wkts) took the bowling honours.

Morley was determined to launch a promotion campaign in 2012, but their chances seemed very slim in August because of the consistency of Baildon and Yeadon who kept interchanging at the top.

However, when Yeadon went down by 34 runs to Baildon and surrendered the leadership late in the season it gave hope for Morley. Baildon ensured promotion before a final day clash between Morley v Yeadon would decide the destiny of the title and also the second place. It turned out to be a glorious day for Morley as they inflicted a six-wicket defeat on Yeadon and ensured promotion right at the death of the season.

They had never given up and had snapped at the ankles of their rivals in the last third of the season, and the youthful Yeadon just couldn’t quite get over the line. In the final analysis it was a well deserved promotion feat given that the records confirmed that Morley scored the most runs in the division (3349) and jointly took the most wickets (169) with Keighley. 

Morley’s Kashif Naveed, above, also contributed the division’s top score of 142* versus Brighouse in his fine aggregate of 891 runs at 68.54. He also snared 54 wickets at 9.98 to ensure he won the Jack Hill All Rounders Trophy for the second division. Nathan Bromby was his usual consistent persona with 39 wickets at 13.62.

Off the field initiatives sparked by David Nebard pointed to a definite revival of Morley Cricket Club in 2013 as they took their place again in the top flight having lured a virtuoso cricketer in David Paynter.  Paynter was a product of Windhill CC before transferring to Pudsey Congs. He then left for all-conquering Wrenthorpe in their hey-day when he was at the peak of his career.

His First Class career saw him play as a top-order batsman and part-time spin bowler for Northamptonshire. He initially joined the Yorkshire Cricket academy before appearing for Worcestershire 2nd XI. After five first-class matches and four List A matches in three seasons with Northants, Paynter returned to the Worcestershire 2nd XI, but stopped playing First Class in 2004.

Several weeks into the season Morley just could not get off the bottom of the league despite featuring in tight games. Suddenly their fortunes changed and a great run took them clear of the basement weeks before the end of the season.

All Rounder Kashif Naveed again excelled with 705 runs, and 40 wickets while Paynter was not quite as prolific as his Wrenthorpe’s days contributing 533 runs. Bromby took his usual 30 wickets, while Nebard could never be taken lightly.

Twenty/20 triumph

Morley created history in 2013 by winning the Dyson Insulations Twenty/20 cup on a memorable night at Wagon Lane when they beat favourites Lightcliffe.

Before the 2014 season began Morley were faced with losing their star player David Paynter to Hanging Heaton. Further blows hampered them when his replacement Tosh Baker decided to join Pool just before the season began, and they then lost Gary Wainwright to Buttershaw St Pauls during the early part of the season.

Despite this they romped to victory in their first two matches and enjoyed a mini-spell at the top. The manner in which they beat New Farnley and Pudsey Congs indicated that they had the stomach for a real battle. This stayed with them throughout the season and when in defeat they took their opponents all the way. A late season collapse in form condemned them to a relegation fight with East Bierley who eventually prevailed by 21 points.

Although the normally prolific Kashif Naveed took nine wickets in the first two league matches he had a subdued season with both bat and ball. Former Spen Victoria batsman Matthew West proved to be the most effective batsman with 477 runs at 28.06, while the battling Nebard was the best bowler with 31 wickets at 20.77.

Morley was determined to return to the First Division at the first time of asking and they held sway at the top for virtually all seas

Morley had the best all round side in the division with three batters all averaging over 40 runs per innings-  Kashif Naveed (760 runs at 63.33), James McNichol (798 runs at 49.88) and skipper Matthew Baxter (688 runs at 40.47).

The bowling department was equally adept with 18-year old former Sheffield United paceman  Ben Jenkinson winning the League Bowling Averages with 41 wickets at 9.88, complimented by Bromby (38 wkts) and Dowse (41 wkts). Spinner Nebard ran Jenkinson close in the league averages finishing second with 33 wickets at 12.21.

Jenkinson’s season got even better when he was judged to be the Gordon Bowers Young Cricketer of the Year for 2015.

A second individual league award came when Luke Heinemann won the League Wicket Keeping Trophy with 35 victims.

Premier League status gone   

Morley made a confident start to the 2016 season in the Premier League with three wins and a tie in the first five fixtures. Slowly it all unravelled and by mid-season they were involved in a relegation fight which went down to the last day.

The fact that they didn’t survive was down in part to the injury problems of their influential overseas all-rounder Naveed. He still managed to be their top run-getter with 414 runs and their main bowler with 31 wickets at 14.03, but vital points were lost when he was absent.

In a tough newly formed Championship of 2017, Morley struggled to keep pace with the leaders. However, in early August they beat Wrenthorpe by 73 runs, and then went on a run which saw them also beat leaders Scholes to put them on the fringes of the promotion places. This proved to be a false dawn when lowly Bankfoot defeated them to finally extinguish their promotion ambitions.

Led by Oliver Halliday, who scored 365 runs and also took 45 wickets, their most consistent batsman was James McNicol who topped 500-runs. The penetration in the seam department came from Matthew Dowse, below,  who had his best season taking 58 wickets at 11.62.

Sri Lankan Sangeeth Cooray probably underperformed given his First Class record. He had opened the batting for Saracens Sports Club, and in seven First Class matches had averaged 71.12, including a top score of 189* against Ragama. He was also recognised as a genuine off spinner at this level.

For Morley, he scored 449 runs with the bat at 26.41, and took 24 wickets with the ball at an average of 20.14, including best figures of 7-17.

Tipped to challenge again in 2018, Morley were very much in the promotion race until the last third of the season when the top two surged away. They finished 44-points short of a promotion place, but a final third position gave them the basis to challenge again.

Cooray had a better season with 632 runs, and a haul of 33 wickets, but it was veteran spinner Nebard who took the most wickets with 47, and remained the inspiration in the field.

Morley's all-round progress as a club saw them win the Albert Smith Spirit of Cricket Trophy.  

Return to the Premier League

Morley were amongst the favourites for promotion in 2019, and their early ten-wicket win over Wakefield St Michael’s should have given them the impetus of a fine start. Instead, they suffered two damaging defeats in May at the hands of Keighley and Gomersal.

This negated their progress at the top and they were in a cluster of clubs for much of the season vying for a top two spot. However, by August 24th they would make a charge of three successive victories at the exact time that Batley had a collapse of form, and they were now ensconced in the top two.

As they entered their final fixture at Jenny Lane against Baildon, they were aware that a victory would give them the title, and a loss would see them miss out if Batley and Bankfoot both won.

Baildon batted first and would have posted far more than 198 had Nebard not taken the last five wickets for 24. Morley was in trouble at 8-2, and despite a fighting knock of 76 by Henry Rush, finished an agonising four runs short.

It was a shattering defeat, but they were reprieved when the news came through that Bankfoot had been beaten by Wakefield St Michael’s. This left them nine points in front of Bankfoot in the second promotion place. It might have been a tightly run thing, but the club had achieved their target in a year that also included extensive improvements to their clubhouse.

Morley also had an excellent season in the cups, reaching the final of the JW Lees Brewery T20 Cup at Cleckheaton where they were defeated by Undercliffe, and pulling off a shock in the Priestley Cup Second Round by beating Premier League side Bradford & Bingley by 24-runs.

In a low scoring tie, Morley made a modest 152, largely thanks to opener James McNichol who top scored with 67. Bradford & Bingley struggled with the seam attack of Dowse (3-21) and Halliday (3-27) before being bowled out for 128.

Sri Lankan spin bowler Akash Senarathna was an influential player in the league taking 42 wickets at 12.57, but it was long-serving slow bowler Nebard who took the plaudits, claiming second place in the league averages after taking 35 wickets for 10.31.

The batting had a solid look about it with James McNichol (555 runs), Matthew Baxter (497 runs) and Henry Rush (399 runs) being the main run-makers.

Akash Senerathna was Morley's overseas player in 2019. Picture: Ray Spencer

Extensive renovations of their clubhouse gave the club a renewed optimism as plans were in place for the 2020 season. The signing of former Yorkshire seamer Moin Ashraf was a sign of their intentions to compete in the premier league.

 

However, the Covid-19 virus put paid to that, and they competed in the Gordon Rigg Premier Division League Cup, without registering a single victory.

 

The absence of five First Team cricketers allowed the club to give valuable experience to several promising youngsters.

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