New Farnley's Priestley Cup final win over Methley in 2017 underlined the club's desire to challenge for major honours after a remarkable rise to prominence since joining the Bradford League in 2013.
New Farnley is far from being steeped in a long history of achievement, but have rocketed from very humble beginnings in 1952 when they joined the modest Dales Council League, playing on several grounds before putting its roots down in Farnley Park, and in doing so becoming one of the most consistently successful teams in the League.
As a club it wasn’t until the nineties when they made great strides in on the field achievement. In 1991 they won the B Section of the Dales Council before pulling off a remarkable double the following season by winning the A Section and the Cup competition. At the time their star player was all-rounder Simon Lindsay who could have played at a far higher standard.
They won the cup again in 1993, but perhaps more significantly that year moved to their present ground on Lawns Lane – a farmer’s potato field in its previous life. In 1994 they won the A Section again to reinforce their supremacy in the league, and when the Clubhouse was officially opened in 1995 decided to step into more senior cricket by joining the Central Yorkshire Cricket League.
The Club was promoted as Division Two champions in 1996 and finally, in 2003 season, began life as a Premier Division side having won the previous season’s Division One title. The Club took a couple of years to find its feet but from 2006 – 2012 never failed to finish outside the top three.
The most prominent player in the aforementioned era was former Yorkshire spin bowler Ian Fisher, above, who also assisted with the club’s coaching.
In 2010 he was the league’s top all-rounder scoring 826 runs at 48.59, and also taking 47 wickets at 17.74. He followed this feat in 2011 by finishing as the league’s top all rounder after David Paynter of Wrenthorpe when he scored 710 runs at 37.37 as well as taking 48 wickets.
Fisher, a left-handed batsman and left-arm spin made his first-class debut in April 1996 during 's pre-season tour off Zimbabwe and in his first innings took 5 for 35 against a Mashonaland Invitation XI. However, the surge in form of Richard Dawson stopped Fisher from progressing with Yorkshire, and he moved to Gloucestershire for the 2002 season. He had a decent summer, scoring over 500 runs and taking more than 30 wickets in first-class cricket; also scoring 103 not out against Essex which remained his only first-class century.
Fisher helped Gloucestershire to promotion to Division One in the County Championship in 2003, but gradually fell away from first-team contention. By 2008 Twenty20 was his main specialty, and in the following year left Gloucestershire to joinn Worcestershire, but he was not retained at the end of the season.
Apart from the exploits of Fisher in 2010 there were other remarkable individual performers. The runs that season were shared around between Nicholas Cullen who scored 653 at 40.81, and Matthew Good (455 runs), Sam Lavery (399 runs) and Steve Blackburn who averaged 40.22 in ten innings mainly due to an unbeaten century.
Two bowlers who took 40-plus wickets were David McCallum and Nicky Johnson, while Dan Busfield chipped in with 32.Joe Suggitt had a season to remember capturing 32 victims to take the League Wicket-keeping award.
Perhaps the most remarkable feat of the 2010 season was an unbeaten last wicket stand of 138 between Cullen and Johnson against Townville.
Suggitt excelled again in 2011, but this time with the bat as he scored 701 runs at 46.73 with a top score of 46.73. Medium pacer David Cummings finished third in the League Bowling Averages with 28 wickets at 13.50, whilst McCallum (41 wkts) and Busfield (32 wkts) also made their mark.
In their final season in 2012 they were the only side in the league to beat star-studded title winners Wrenthorpe, (apart from Hunslet Nelson when Wrenthorpe reversed their batting order in the last fixture).
Fisher again contributed well, but his season was truncated because of county calls. McCallum took over the mantle of leading all rounder averaging 45.30 with the bat, and also taking 50 wickets at the low cost of 16.76 per wicket. Montcin Hodge was the leading batsman with 752 runs.
Progress on the pitch at New Farley was mirrored by other improvements and developments – attaining ECB Clubmark status, enlarging the square, acquisition of roll-on covers, new all-weather pitch, artificial and grass netting facilities, and new digital score box. They possessed the infrastructure to make an impact on the Bradford League when deciding to leave the Central Yorkshire League at the end of the 2012 season.
They left the league with Nicholas Cullen, Ian Fisher (when available), David McCallum, Matthew Good, David Cummings and Nick Johnson up for the fight in the Bradford League. They suffered a blow when Busfield and Suggitt both decided to join Hanging Heaton, but when they recruited Lee Goddard and Nick Walker from East Bierley for their debut season they clearly meant business.
After five matches they led the table with a healthy nineteen points lead on third place Yeadon. Gradually Farsley took over the top and Spen Victoria came from nowhere to be a real threat. After 14 matches New Farnley were in third place 29 points behind second placed Spen.
It was definitely not plain sailing as Lee Goddard scratched about for form, while his team was beaten by lowly Brighouse. They began to claw back the points and when they beat Spen in resounding fashion with Ian Fisher making one of his occasional appearances the second place was back in their sights. A flurry of late season victories ensured second place eight points behind title winners Farsley.
Tom Suggitt wenjoyed a good season
The effervescent all-rounder Nick Walker was the influential player of the season scoring 556 runs at 39.71, and taking 39 wickets at 14.10. Other batsmen in the runs were Tom Suggitt (503) and Matthew Good (487), while the wicket-takers apart from Walker were Nadeem Hussain (57 wickets), Nick Johnson (34 wickets) and David McCallum (31 wickets). Another individual triumph came in the shape of Craig Russell who took 36 victims to secure the League’s Wicket Keeping Award.
Craig Russell took the wiclketkeeping honours in 2013
The name of the game in 2013 was promotion, but the icing on the cake came with two club cup finals that year. In the Priestley Cup, Manningham Mills soon put paid to any ambitions with a comprehensive defeat of New Farnley at Lawns Lane. However, their extremely competitive second eleven reached the final of the Priestley Shield against Hanging Heaton in addition to promotion to the First Division. Despite being very well placed at one point they faded and Hanging Heaton ran out comfortable winners.
The First Team excelled in the Heavy Woollen Cup accounting for Delph & Dobcross, Morley, Scholes, and Wakefield Thornes before facing Hanging Heaton in the Final. In a much anticipated final New Farnley batting first could only muster 158 for nine with Lee Goddard (36) and Ian Fisher (27) being the principal scorers.
Although Hanging Heaton put on 54 for the first wicket they could have struggled if Gary Fellows (79*) had been caught when he spooned a shot to the mid-wicket boundary in his thirties. In the end they got there in some comfort by six wickets and 12.2 overs to spare. As for New Farnley, they had achieved their main goal of promotion and the cup adventures were a bonus.
Mark Lawson led New Farnley in their first season in the top flight in 2014 and they made an uncertain start. However, in the second half of the season they came to terms with the challenge largely down to inspirational displays by their very vocal all rounder Nick Walker. He often took the vital early wicket and boosted the middle order with some fine hitting. He scored a priceless 389 runs at 27.79 in often precarious situations. In addition the 36 wickets he took at 15.81 was testimony to a fine all round performer.
Lawson drove his troops in the field taking 34 wickets at 13.97, while Lee Goddard was the stand out batsman averaging 38.40. Big signing Scott Richardson from Woodlands had moderate success with 385 runs. New Farnley had consolidated well with an impressive ten victories leading to 5th position.
More team strengthening in 2015 led to higher expectations at New Farnley with the recruitment of James Middlebrook and Andrew Hodd. Despite this they dropped a place to sixth and lost a Priestley Cup semi-final against Bradford & Bingley when well placed to go through to their first Final.
Hodd was signed by Yorkshire in 2012 to cover for Jonny Bairstow's regular absences with England. A wicket-keeper and genuine batsman in his own right, he played for both Surrey and Sussex and had a top First Class score is 123. He played as a specialist batsman for New Farnley and scored 334 runs at 41.75 in limited appearances.
The 38 year old Middlebrook made a sensational return to play for Yorkshire weeks after making his debut for New Farnley. England calls for Adil Rashid led to a short-term contract that was extended to the end of the season as he played his part in Yorkshire’s second successive title win. He found time to score 538 runs for New Farnley at 35.87 and also took 28 wickets.
Former Leicestershire and Derbyshire cricketer Nick Walker who scored 579 at 44.54 had some thrilling mid-order knocks complete with audacious reverse shots, while Goddard was the top batter again with 701 runs. Skipper Lawson drove his side on and took 49 wickets with his new style medium pace.
New Farnley signed prolific left hander Simon Lambert from York CC for the 2016 season, and were expected to challenge under the new captain Nick Johnson. However, their inability to extend winning runs like the top teams left them in fourth place, albeit their highest ever in the league.
Lee Goddard had a fine season scoring 647 runs at 49.77 with a highest score of 151* which propelled him to third in the League Batting Averages. Lambert (460 runs) and Middlebrook (410 runs) were the other main batters. Left arm seamer Mohammed Bilal was the pick of the bowlers with 45 wickets at 15.44.
Away from the league Johnson led New Farnley to their greatest achievement as a senior club when they won the Heavy Woollen Cup Final at Methley in August. Their path to the final was a difficult one as they accounted for prospective South Yorkshire Premier League title winners Wakefield Thornes, Woodlands, Morley and Scholes from the Huddersfield League.
New Farnley chose to bat first in the Final against Hoylandswaine and a second-wicket stand of 77 between Middlebrook (72 runs) and Lawson (38 runs) set the scene for a run glut. Goddard (58 runs) continued the rapid run-rate, but the momentum actually increased in a fifth-wicket stand between Nick Walker and Richard Atkins.
Walker blasted two sixes and 13 fours in an unbeaten 92, while Atkins, who shared an unbroken stand of 149 with Walker, hit a six and four fours in an unbeaten 47. This helped New Farnley to post the highest-ever final score in a 50 overs game of 341-4.
Hoylandswaine’s reply was rapid, but they lost wickets at critical times. Atkins (3-34) took the vital wickets of Gharib Nawaz, Alex Morris and SP Singh, but the overseas player Michael Cranmer gave his team hope. He hit two sixes and ten fours in a fine innings of 90 before becoming one of five victims for Lawson who reverted to his old art of leg spin.
Lawson was awarded the man of the match award as New Farnley finally bowled Hoylandswaine out for 220 to record an impressive 121-run victory.
The signing of left arm spin bowler Luke Jarvis for 2017 increased their chances of challenging for the title. Especially when later in the season team manager Paul Hutchison persuaded Australian born Sweden’s captain Mitch O’Connor.
However, despite their undoubted talent they again flattered to deceive in the league, capitulating on occasions, and then in complete contrast beating top sides. But, like the previous year they found salvation in the cup.
Priestley Cup Final win
Beating Baildon in the First Round of the Priestley Cup, they then put East Bierley to the sword with an impressive 9-wicket victory after chasing 231-7. O’Connor made a sensational debut for the club scoring a blistering unbeaten 168 which contained nine sixes and 21 fours. They then beat Hanging Heaton after again chasing in excess of 200, before edging Undercliffe in the semi-finals by 32 runs.
The Priestley Cup Final at Undercliffe against Championship 1 side Methley turned out to be one of the best finals in years. Taking first use of the wicket, New Farnley scored freely with O’Connor (97 runs), Andrew Hodd (46 runs) and skipper Goddard (54 runs) pointing the way to a score approaching 300. But, from 222-3, they lost momentum and had to settle for 254 all-out when they failed to fire in the latter overs.
Methley were relatively untroubled in the early overs and when openers Grant Soames and Marcus Walmsley put on 132 runs before being parted were well on course for victory. Jarvis broke the partnership and dismissed both openers to put New Farnley back in the game. Bowling in tandem with fellow spinner Middlebrook they went on to win the cup as Methley fell 24 runs short. Jarvis finished with 4-36, while Middlebrook notched 3-48.
New Farnley finished strongly in the league, and indicated their 5th position could well be improved upon in 2018. Lee Goddard had a prolific league season with 881 runs at 62.93, which included a highest score of 146*, while opener Simon Lambert was a model of consistency scoring 761 runs at 40.05, which included a top score of 147.
After five seasons in the Bradford Cricket League, and two major cup competitions won, the foundations had been built for future challenges at the top.
Getting closer to league title
The club meant business in 2018, and further strength to their seam attack with the acquisition of former Yorkshire player Ajmal Shahzad, and Alex Lilley meant they had arguably the best attack in the league.
Entering August they were well placed for a unique treble, but on the first weekend of that month lost twice to Farsley which negated their title chances, and brought elimination from the Priestley Cup.
After defeating Hanging Heaton to reignite their title chances, they lost the season’s defining match at Tofts Road where Pudsey St Lawrence defeated them by 46-runs. Their target was a modest one, but on a wicket that had not recovered from being relaid, they lost their way.
They had one last chance when St Lawrence was rained off on the last day at Methley, leaving them to beat Bradford & Bingley at Wagon Lane to secure the 17-points needed. However, in a game reduced to 26 overs a side they could only manage a 13 points win.
Salvation was found in the Heavy Woollen Cup as New Farnley piled up the runs- 284-8 v Buttershaw St Paul’s, 296 v Shepley and 210-6 v Birstall which brought a pulsating semi-final at Methley.
Methley would rue the fact they were bowled out for 241 when at 194-3 they were dictating the game. However, on a good wicket, Ajmal Shahzad (3-44) and spinner Luke Jarvis (3-40) were the telling bowlers for New Farnley.
Wicketkeeper Steve Bullen (70 runs) and skipper Lee Goddard (57 runs) led the New Farnley reply, but once they were dismissed, wickets tumbled and they found themselves struggling at 231-9 and still needed 11 to win from the last over. The last pair of Alex Lilley and Jarvis was up to the task as the former managed to carve the penultimate ball over the shorter leg side boundary for a six.
The Final at Spen Victoria was equally as thrilling, but went the way of Hanging Heaton who posted a challenging 264-6. At 7-3 in reply, New Farnley looked as though they were going down with a whimper, but opener Steve Bullen kept going throughout the innings, and with No. 9 David McCallum (41 runs) made a late bid to get the runs, falling just 2-runs short.Bullen was awarded the man of the match with his unbeaten 126.
The best performers in the league were Simon Lambert (606 runs), Steve Bullen (462 runs) and Alex Lilley (43 wkts). Second place represented real progress, despite the late disappointment of missing out to Pudsey St Lawrence.
As further development to the ground was to take place and an increased investment in their Academy/Junior sides, clearly the club was setting out to be `big players’ in the league under cricket manager Paul Hutchison.
Alex Lilley was a great addition in 2018. Picture: Ray Spencer
A rebuilding job was done for 2019 when key players like Lambert, Hodd, Shahzad and Atkins left the club, and Brewster missed the first half of the season through injury.
The reinforcements were not early successes and the team struggled for consistency. As the injury crisis deepened, Charlie Parker was brought in from Horsforth Hall Park.
The side still had some classy performers, and their best day of the season came on 6th July when they halted the unbeaten run of runaway leaders Woodlands at Albert Terrace. Lilley proved unplayable on the day with a bowling analysis of 5-15 as Woodlands slumped to 68 all-out.
New Farnley could have salvaged some silverware when they reached the Priestley Cup Final to play Woodlands at Undercliffe. They batted first and were in big trouble at 33-3, but Adam Waite carried his bat for 97 to take the score to a respectable 178-6 on a wet wicket. Woodlands prevailed by four wickets after early traumas when they stuttered to 41-3. Waite duly won the Man of the Match Award.
Earlier in the competition, the New Farnley pair of Alex Baldwin and Dan Hodgson both hit centuries in their 49-run win at Wrenthorpe. They came together with their side on 2-1 and built an alliance worth 233 runs which bettered the previous Priestley Cup record of 210.
The best performers in the league campaign were Waite, Goddard and Hodgson who all topped 400-runs, while Lilley was the top bowler with 46 wickets at 12.00.
The club undertook further improvements to the ground for 2020, building brand new dressing-rooms on the opposite side to the existing pavilion.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the season of the Covid-19 season, hey suffered an arson attack that devastated their clubhouse and Cafe, to the tune of £100,000.00.
On the field they were competitive, but also had an eye on the development of players and they had five wins in their eight-game Gordon Rigg West Section Premier League programme, missing out to Pudsey St Lawrence who crucially defeated them at Tofts Road.
Steven Bullen topped the Premier League Batting Averages with 369 runs at 92.25, while Lee Goddard was also highly placed on 296 runs at 49.33. Just as importantly, they afforded opportunities to two young spinners in Sam Barraclough and Lewis Lomax.
Captain Lee Goddard had an outstahnding season with the bat in 2021 Picture: Ray Spencer
With the signing of left arm spinner Gurman Randhawa for the 2021 season, it was thought that the side possessed the balance to launch a title offensive. However, they came up 49 points short in third place after a titanic title race with Woodlands and Townville.
It would still be a momentous season for the club as they won the Heavy Woollen Cup, and the Priestley Cup in thrilling finals.
In the title race, they were always in contention and for a period were league leaders, but, on 7th of August their away match at Pudsey St Lawrence was abandoned when their two rivals played and won.
They were third favourites after that and when Townville and Woodlands beat them convincingly at the end of the season they had to settle for third place,
Lee Goddard had a season to remember with 983 runs at 57.82, while Adam Waite scored 675 runs for an average of 51.92.
Randhawa was the key bowler with 40 wickets at 14.85, and had the ability to stifle the scoring rate of the opposition in mid-innings
Dan Hodgson won the league’s F Milton Watmouth Wicket Keeper’s Trophy with 33 victims.
Mark Lawson, the second team captain, had an extraordinary season when called into the side, scoring centuries for both the first and second teams on the same weekend, and winning the Man of the Match award in both winning finals.
New Farnley were not really extended on the way to the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup Final at Shepley, but were expected to have a tough battle with title rivals Woodlands. They won the toss and decided to bat first and found themselves in big trouble at 24-3.
However, Lee Goddard (65) and Dan Hodgson (67) consolidated, picking up singles at will, before playing more expansive shots in a stand of 130.
After both men were dismissed in quick succession, Grant Soames (38) and Lawson (33no) launched a late assault taking the score to 246-6.
Woodlands looked to be building a solid platform when the openers put on 57, but in stepped Lawson who took three wickets in one over.
New Farnley did not let Woodlands off the hook as they capitulated to 120 all-out, with Lawson, pictured below, ending with 5-24.
The Priestley Cup Final at Undercliffe saw New Farnley outplayed by Townville for three quarters of the game, but they still emerged as winners after an amazing comeback.
New Farnley won the toss and decided to bat first in low cloud cover, and could not cope with Townville’s tenacious out-cricket in the early overs.
When they were reduced to 34-3 at barely two an over, they needed Goddard to keep batting on. However, Goddard’s departure for 44 triggered off more alarm bells, and only Grant Soames’ defiant 32 allowed New Farnley to reach a mediocre total of 141.
This looked to be plainly inadequate as Townville’s opener Athelbert Braithwaite took the game to New Farnley with a fine attacking innings.
He dominated a 52 run second wicket stand before left arm spinner Gurman Randhawa was introduced to the attack with devastating effect.
In his opening over, Randhawa trapped Braithwaite lbw and had Hughes caught by wicketkeeper Hodgson for a duck to reduce Townville to 62-3.
New Farnley still had a lot to do, but the dynamics of the game had changed, and Lawson cleaned up with 6-32 as Townville were dismissed for 107.
Lawson, sporting bleach blond hair, had perfected his gentle medium pacers in two finals, and appeared to be an essential ingredient in the side for the following season.
An added glint to New Farnley’s remarkable season was when they were awarded the Best Kept Ground award at the league’s annual dinner.
New Farnley, with their successes on the field, and progressive work off it, were getting closer to the holy grail of the title.
New Farnley celebrate their Gordon Rigg Priestley Cup final win over Townville Picture: Ray Spencer