Scholes celebrate their most recent success the 2017 Championship One title
In the 1860’s it was widely known that cricket was tremendously popular in the inner and outer environments of the village of Scholes. A cricket team attached to the local Victoria Institute was founded in 1869. This served the local community and was in effect the centre of the village life at the time.
The origins of the club known as Scholes today was formed as Scholes Albert Mills around 1870. It is probable that Scholes Albert Mills CC played all their home games at New Popplewell Lane, on a patch of land that was once a quarry.
The land came into being as a cricket ground when between 20 and 30 workers filled and levelled the ground using nothing but picks, shovels and wheelbarrows.
Scholes Club have only ever played at New Popplewell Lane. From three-quarters of the way through the nineteenth century up until 1914, they did so as tenants. But in 1914 they were able to purchase the ground from Low Moor Co. Ltd by means of donations from villagers and local business people.
In 1882 Scholes Albert Mills were drawn against Robert town All Saints in the first round of the inaugural Heavy Woollen Cup – staged in 1883.
Then, in 1886 the Scholes club merited an entry in the Athletic News Cricket Supplement and Club Directory.
In 1894 Scholes joined the Spen and Calder Valley League – one of the many localised cricket competitions that were in existence in this era.
In Scholes’ third round Heavy Woollen Cup tie against Heckmondwike in 1897, there was amazing controversy surrounding the climax to the game. Although they defeated Heckmondwike the losers protested because the Scholes players had left the field of play before the final batsman had an opportunity to appear. The result stood, as the umpires agreed that at least two minutes had passed.
In 1906 the club was a founder member of another local competition - the Spen Valley & District League. They finished the season in 7th place.
Scholes Cricket Club displayed its ambition and aspirations when, in 1916 - as war raged across the globe - it was accepted as a member of the prestigious county-wide cricket competition, the Yorkshire Council.
On 26 August, after only their third victory of the season, Scholes occupied 5th place in Section ‘E’. In this league they would face local heavyweights such as Heckmondwike CC.
According to researcher David Wilding, there is evidence to suggest that knur and spell - an early form of golf - was played in the village in this period: 'In May 1916 Dan Smith, landlord of the Rising Sun, was granted permission, by the Bradford Justices, to sell intoxicating liqueur provided he undertook not to have any rabbit coursing or Knur and Spell matches.
He must have found this difficult as he was well known as an expert at rabbit coursing, and a referee for knur and spell. In addition locals engaged in illegal cock fighting, arrow throwing, pigeon shooting, dog racing, and ‘pitch and toss’.
In 1919 the fields in the village that were used for sport, and two adjoining fields, were put up for sale. It was decided that the local community would purchase the land in order to use it for cricket and other games. A former playing member, Thompson Jowett, was generous enough to donate £550 towards the total cost of the land (£1,050).
In 1921 two tennis courts were erected adjacent to the cricket field. The year after a football pitch was created – thereafter used by Scholes Old Boys AFC.
In 1922, a pavilion was built at an estimated cost of £850. Viscount Cowdray presented the trustees with a cheque for £3,400, which enabled the work to be started.
1937 witnessed the formation of the Central Yorkshire Cricket League. The following season, 1938, ten clubs took part in the new competition, leaving only six in the rival Heavy Woollen League…including Scholes.
These mass ‘defections’ proved to be a blessing in disguise, as Scholes came out on top, with fewer clubs to contend with. This in effect was their first major silverware in their history.
1938- Heavy Woollen League
In 1939 Scholes reached the Heavy Woollen Cup semi-final tie where they triumphed in very unsatisfactory circumstances. Needing only 16 runs to beat Batley, a rainstorm flooded part of the square. The Batley captain, J.S. Barritt, did not wish to return on another evening, instead opting to put in a raincoat and continue the match in farcical conditions.
Scholes were eventually defeated by Cleckheaton in the final, but what a chance they had to win after bowling their opponents out for 112. H Walker bowled superbly for Scholes taking 5 wickets for 30 in 15.1 overs, supported well by Sykes (3-43) and Burnett who only conceded 12 runs in six overs..
Lee and Hargreaves opened confidently for Scholes but were parted when the score was 14. From then wickets fell rapidly mainly to the slip trap that Cleckheaton had instigated and with Asquith the top score with a measly 10 they capitulated to 45 all out.
In 1944 the Club joined the Central Yorkshire Cricket League, six years after it was formed in 1938. This was the year in which Drighlington, Gomersal, Hartshead Moor, and Thornhill from the Heavy Woollen League, as well as Chickenley, Hanging Heaton, and Gildersome from the Leeds Central League, also signed up to the new competition.
In 1951 A Wetherall won the Central Yorkshire League Second Division Bowling Averages with 47 wickets at 9.02.
1956 stands out as the Club’s best season in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Club won the second division and were unbeaten under the captaincy of J.K. Binns. They were also runners-up in the Yorkshire Council; reaching the play off-final.
In 1961 Scholes batsman T Broughton won the Central Yorkshire League First Division Batting Averages with a tally of 404 runs at 50.50. Incredibly in the same year C Fox won the Central Yorkshire League First Division Bowling Averages with 51 wickets at 10.17.
In 1964 Scholes were involved in a marathon Heavy Woollen Cup tie with Cleckheaton that lasted a fortnight (ten innings). Scholes, the home side, made 251 runs after previously suspending their score at 150 in accordance with the rules at the time. Cleckheaton chased the score manfully but were 30 runs short at the end finishing on 221.
The Scholes regular team of 1964 was: J. Humphreys, M. Kent, R. Breaks, C. Parkin, R. Kent, I.Greenwood, B. Ingham, C. Hirst, K. Haley (captain), M. Blamires, J. Colsan.
There followed many barren years with few highlights or acknowledgments in local cricket files.
In 1986 C Raynor won the Central Yorkshire League Second Division Bowling Averages with 47 wickets at 11.68.
In 1997 the club received a grant from the Lottery Sports Fund for over £130,000 to extend and improve the pavilion.
Neil Gunter turned out for Scholes around 2002- a left-handed batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler. He played initially for Berkshire and joined Derbyshire in the 2002 season where he had limited success.
Scholes netted the Division 1 title in 2004, finishing an impressive 21 points above the second-placed side. The icing on the cake came when the club also claimed the ‘best-kept ground’ award –a great tribute to hardworking groundsman Andy Spencer.
In the five preceding years to the club’s entry to the Bradford League it was quite eventful and full of interest.
In 2010 relegation to Division Two resulted from an inconsistent season that removed them to two divisions below the Premier League.
Despite this blow there were several good performers in their relegation season with Majid Majeed excelling with 755 runs at 37.75 with a top score of 125 v East Leeds. Neil Kellett also topped 500 runs with the bat, whilst all rounder Matthew Barnes toiled on the field scoring 406 runs and also taking 38 wickets.
Promotion was achieved in 2011 with solid batting from Dan Clifton (536 runs), Chris Metcalf (571 runs), Kellett (574 runs) and Joe Duffy (492) who all averaged over 30. Duffy also took 43 wickets to complete a fine all round season, while Barnes also took 47 wickets.
Chris Metcalf also had a fine season winning the League Wicket-Keeping Trophy for 2011 after snaring 31 victims.
In 2012 consolidation rather than promotion was achieved under the captaincy of James Little but there were some fine individual performers. Although batsman Andrew Spencer only batted on seven occasions he scored the qualifying 250 runs for an average of 70.25 and in doing so won the CYL First Division League Averages.
Other good performers in 2012 were Joseph Duffy with 465 runs at 35.77, and spinner Mohammed Sharafat who took 36 wickets at 14.50. Liam Thomas first made an impact as wicket-keeper with 19 victims.
Although not tipped to do so Scholes gained promotion to the Premier League led by Tom Smith in 2013. Dominic Cumming was the mainstay of the batting with 564 runs at 31.33, and again Duffy performed well, topping 400 runs and 30 wickets.
Sharafat was the match-winning bowler in 2013 winning the First Division League Bowling Averages with a haul of 40 wickets at 9.77. Opening bowler Aleem Ladak also had a fine season taking 41 wickets at 11.56.
It was fitting that promotion in 2013 allowed them to complete their last Central Yorkshire League season as a Premier League club in 2014, before joining the Bradford League for the 2015 season..
Chairman Paul Calvert, talking about the move into the Bradford League, said, “Geographically it made sense given our location. We wanted to play a better standard of cricket and attract better players while retaining the club ethos”.
Against all the odds Scholes were amongst the early season pacesetters in the premier league under new captain James Stansfield who had joined from Hanging Heaton. They fell back mid-season finishing in a credible 7th position and being competitive all the way.
They were well served by their overseas all-rounder Zain Abbas who scored 515 runs at 36.79 with a top score of 111*. He also contributed 36 wickets with the ball at 19.11 with a best return of 5-31. Stansfield (346 runs) and Nick Whitehill (322 runs) also scored runs consistently, with Christian Jackson (pictured above, 30 wkts) and Sharafat (29 wkts) the mainstays of the bowling.
20 year old wicket-keeper Liam Thomas capped a remarkable season taking 34 victims to win the Premier League Keeper’s Award for 2014- ten more than his closest rivals. Thomas, who had his lower right leg amputated shortly after being born has played for the England physical disabled side.
Signings for the new challenge in the Bradford League included Kasir Maroof (pictured above, Holmfirth), Toby Thorpe (Copley) and Daniel Cross (Hunslet Nelson).
Scholes entered the Bradford League hoping for healthy consolidation in contrast to their captain Stansfield who craved promotion. However, in the early weeks it was clear that one of the two promotion places were up for grabs as Scholes found themselves in the mix.
At the half-way mark it appeared that Morley were probably going to be champions with the runners up spot between Baildon and Scholes. On July 25th these teams met at Jenny Lane in what was billed as the early decider to at least stamp some authority on second place. Scholes passed the big test with flying colours beating Baildon easily by ten wickets to earn a huge psychological advantage on their rivals.
Playing with a new confidence Scholes stretched their lead over Baildon to 50 points to secure promotion to the new Bradford Premier League in their first season.
Stansfield led from the front scoring 487 runs at 37.46 and also taking 33 wickets. The two most productive batsmen were overseas man Atif Zaidi (pictured above, 491 runs) and Kasif Maroof (861 runs) who both averaged 40-plus. Teenaged spinner Daniel Cross made an early impression on the league securing 42 wickets at 12.83 with a best analysis of 6-41.
It was always going to be a culture shock in the Premier League for Scholes in 2016, but they showed battling qualities all the way under captain James Stansfield, and their bottom place belies their season. They had five league wins and in the final analysis were a matter of only 14 points from safety, in a season when they reached the Priestley Cup Semi-Final.
The leading batsmen were Kasir Maroof (560 runs) and Rizwan Ahmed (501 runs), while Stansfield (38 wkts) was the most productive bowler.
Relegation often brings player departures and Scholes were not immune on this occasion. However, shrewd close season signings brought immediate reward for Stansfield’s side as they headed the Championship after a flying start. A blip in the second half of the season brought the two promotion favourites Methley and Wrenthorpe within touching distance, and when Undercliffe defeated Scholes, the promotion race was wide open.
The vagaries of the weather took a hand and by the last weekend’s fixtures, Scholes led the table with a four-point advantage on Wrenthorpe. To further complicate matters Methley were only a further three points behind ensuring it could be any two from three.
Methley had the advantage going to a weakened Baildon side, while Scholes were away to Wrenthorpe in a `winner takes all’ game. However, they were dealt a blow when their overseas batsman Akbar Badshah (625 runs) decided to return home missing the biggest match in the club’s recent history.
Scholes inserted Wrenthorpe on a wicket tinged with green, and soon had them in trouble with some accurate seam bowling from Yasir Ali and left-armer Andrew Robinson. They struck early reducing Wrenthorpe to 46-5, who fought back to 100-8. The tail then added fifty-six valuable runs to take the score to 156-9. Seamers Ali (3-45), Robinson (3-40) and Stansfield (2-11) had given their side a realistic chance of victory, but the extra runs at the end made the job that bit more difficult.
Scholes were off to the worst possible start in their innings losing a wicket before a run was on the board, and struggling on 17-3. Opener Shoukat Ali found his range after a tentative start, and with Yasir Ali (36 runs) took the score to the relative comfort of 101-3. Wickets fell spasmodically but Shoukat Ali was unperturbed playing shots and ending on an unbeaten 78 from 89 balls, and taking his side to a 3-wicket win.
This result confirmed the title as well as promotion, and having beaten Wrenthorpe twice in the league deserved their success.
Shoukat Ali, above, won the League Batting Averages with 879 runs at 51.71, while spin bowler Gareth Lee finished second in the League Bowling Averages after taking 45 wickets at 8.56.
The captain James Stansfield led the team by example scoring 416 runs, and taking 30 wickets, while the tireless seamer Yasir Ali bore the brunt of the hard work taking 48 wickets at 13.29, assisted by Andrew Robinson who took 35 wickets at 14.37.
Back in the Premier League for 2018, it was clear from the start they would have to battle to survive. With East Bierley seemingly doomed from an early stage of the season, it appeared to be Scholes and Bradford & Bingley to accompany them down to the Championship.
After Scholes had defeated Bradford & Bingley on July 14th to complete the double over them, it looked like they were the most likely to survive. However, by early August they were in turmoil as Stansfield left the club along with several other First Team players, and player availability worsened to such an extent they had to forfeit the First Team fixture against Methley.
Weakened sides and penalty point deductions, took them to the bottom of the league with relegation the inevitable the result.
This was particularly hard on Shoukat Ali who was the league’s ninth highest aggregate run-getter with 622 runs, and the tireless Yasir Ali, below, who battled away for 30 wickets.
It was difficult for the club to recruit real quality for the 2019 season, and the end result was a second successive relegation from bottom place. The side won two matches and were 77-points from safety at the conclusion of the season.
The best result was a 81-run victory over Ossett in June, when Neil Kellett’s 54 runs ensured a competitive score of 178-9. Hammad Khan did the rest with a bowling analysis of 5-37.
The overseas batsman Muhammad Ali Rafiq only enjoyed moderate success with 461 runs at 27.12, while young spinner Jude Roberts was the one bright spark with 40 wickets at 18.88.
When Covid-19 struck in 2020, Scholes took part in the Gordon Rigg Division Two League Cup, winning one match out of eight in the West Section.
Skipper Craig Wood was the one shining light of the season at the club, scoring 299 runs at an impressive 59.80.
Fortunes declined further in 2021 as they were relegated for the third time in four seasons. Only three wins were registered in a season when only Ali Rafiq and Saif Tahir were partial successes.