Undercliffe Cricket Club, as members of the Bradford League since its inauguration in 1903, finished a modest ninth in their first season. Great Horton were the outstanding side of the decade and were Undercliffe’s bogey team, dismissing them for 27 in 1904.
T.E Wright became the club’s first centurion in 1905, scoring 107 not out against Dudley Hill as they finished fifth in the league and registered an isolated triumph against bogey team Great Horton when they skittled them out for 28.
The two sides met in the semi-final of the Priestley Cup in 1906 and Horton won by an imposing 201 runs. Wickets tended to favour bowlers in those days and runs were very hard to come by, a fact that was illustrated by Undercliffe being all out for 48 in one match, but still beating Lidget Green by 15 runs. Shelf was dismissed for just 16 in 1906 by Undercliffe, who only managed 41 against Clayton in that season.
Undercliffe won their first league title in 1907 with W Kemp taking 49 wickets for an average of 7.04. The following year in 1908 they won the Priestley Cup for the first time when they dismissed Shelf for 109 and replied with 111-3. This completed a full set of the major honours early in their history.
Not only did they win the cup, but they also finished strongly in the league in 1908 in second place behind Great Horton. They also won the two main individual awards in the Bradford League in 1908:
League Batting Trophy: A Robinson average 41.16
League Bowling Trophy: T Parrington 46 wickets at 8.41
The cup returned to Intake Road in 1910 when they scored 263 before bowling out Great Horton for 145 to secure a 118-run victory.
Another individual award winner was C W Binns who won the Bradford League Batting Averages for 1910 with 37.43.
The first occasion there were centurions in the league for two different players from the same club occurred in 1911 when Undercliffe batsmen C. W. Binns made 126 against Queensbury and Schofield Swithenbank scored 123 not out against Bingley.
Nine new clubs were admitted to the league in 1912 as Undercliffe again reached the cup final only to be defeated by Idle. Although Undercliffe’s H Booth won the Bradford League Batting Averages for 1915 with 55.4, the club had slipped to 11th place indicating the need for new signings. This materialised whenin 1916 two world class All-Rounders arrived.
Cecil Parkin had played one match for Yorkshire before the county discovered he was born outside the boundary, so he switched to Lancashire and went on to play for England. He was a mercurial, inventive off spinner who used flight, guile and turn to dismiss batsmen and demanded attacking fields from his captains He was equally inventive if a little unorthodox as a batsman and if rather less skilled.
In 1917 he became only the third bowler in the league to take all-ten wickets when he demolished Baildon Green with 10-15. This followed the 1916 season when he took a massive 95 wickets for 6.65. Parkin played ten Test matches with a haul of 32 wickets and a best bowling of 5-38. In all First Class matches he took 1,048 wickets which included a 9-32 performance.
Charles Llewellyn arrived at Undercliffe at the same time as Parkin and although he didn’t play quite as regularly proved to be a genuine match-winner for Undercliffe with bat or ball. Amongst his best performances was a bowling analysis of 8-40 v Bankfoot in 1918, and an unbeaten 75 against Farsley in 1920.
Llewellyn took a liking to Bankfoot’s batting because in 1917 he performed a hat-trick against them, all stumped by William Close, the grandfather of Brian Close.
Llewellyn had played 15 Test matches for South Africa with a top score of 90. His legacy as the first non-white South African Test cricketer remains large. During the apartheid period he was used to show that non-white cricketers could perform as well as their white counterparts, while modern day commentators have pointed to the erratic selection of Llewellyn for South Africa throughout his career as the result of prejudice due to his skin colour. He also played county cricket with Hampshire.
Coincidentally, Undercliffe were matched with Tong Park in both the 1916 and 1917 Priestley Cup Finals. They prevailed on both occasions, latterly by bowling their opponents out for a mere 48.
George Gunn arrived in 1918 and helped the club to fourth place with only two defeats from 20 games. The cup provided the story of the season when, after opponents Lidget Green complained that one end of the wicket was wetter than the other, it became known that a donkey had been used in preparation of the wicket. It was reported that the donkey had misbehaved on the square and this caused the complaint to be upheld.
Undercliffe, who had won the game, were ordered to replay it. They won again, this time by five runs, and gained a home draw in the next round, but they were then compelled to play all cup games on neutral territory which cost them dearly as they lost to Pudsey at Laisterdyke.
Gunn underlined his class in 1919 by virtue of winning the Bradford League Batting Averages with 60.88 per innings. A Nottinghamshire county cricketer, he scored 35,208 runs including 62 centuries in a First Class career which saw him win 15 Test caps for England. His Test career was impressive averaging 40.00 with a highest score of 177not out.
The loss of Parkin and Llewellyn led to years of mediocrity, but fortunes improved in 1922 when Edward Clarke of Northamptonshire played for the club when county commitments allowed.
A lesser name was the leading light in 1922 when J T Bell topped the Bradford League Batting Averages with 65.63 per innings. This was the fifth occasion an Undercliffe batsman had achieved this feat.
y 1925 Undercliffe were again at the top of the league winning a close run fight with Bowling Old Lane. While the 1920s went out with a whimper the 1930s roared in with Undercliffe in fifth place and possessing an outstanding bower in A L Claughton. He topped the Bradford League Bowling Averages with 78 wickets at 8.80, and had two almost identical bowling performances in 8-32 and 8-33 against Great Horton.
Undercliffe won the cup in 1931 with a 13-run win over Bowling Old Lane and repeated their cup triumph in 1933 by beating East Bierley by five runs.
Thomas Alec ‘Sandy’ Jacques played his first game for Undercliffe in 1935, and despite his presence the club slumped to 11th place in 1936, and subsequently found themselves in the newly constituted Second Division in 1937.
But, history will regard 1935 as the year for Jacques in Bradford League cricket as he almost single handedly propelled Undercliffe to the title. The efforts of Jacques could not possibly be questioned as he topped the League Bowling Averages in 1935 with 93 wickets at 8.24.
His best bowling performances in 1935 were:
9-25 v Bradford Park Avenue
8-14 v Keighley
8-25 v Bankfoot
Jacques played 28 games for Yorkshire County Cricket Club from 1927 to 1936. He also appeared in first-class cricket for the Rest of England and The Gentleman in 1927. He took 62 wickets in all at 31.20, with a best return of 5 for 33 against Essex. His batting was more modest as he scored 168 runs; with a top score of 35 not out also against Glamorgan, with an average of 12.92.
The closure of the 1930s saw Undercliffe in the Division B, but they returned to top section with a bang after promotion in 1940, with Jacques the inspiration. Again he topped the League Bowling Averages- this time with 79 wickets at 8.52.
The next big star at Intake Road was left- handed batsman Vic Wilson who made a great impression in 1940 as a 19-year-old by scoring 570 runs at 38.00.
In 1944 the maturing Wilson scored 676 runs at 52.00 with a top score of 132not out. He also equalled a league record in 1944 by scoring three successive not out centuries - a record that stood unbeaten until 1983.
Wilson made his first-class debut for Yorkshire in 1946 as a left-handed batsman and a talented fielder close to the bat. In 1954-55, he was a surprise selection for the MCC tour to Australia and New Zealand under Leonard Hutton, but he never adjusted to the fast pace of Australian pitches, and was not picked for any of the Test matches.
Though he was by then far from guaranteed a place in the first team, Wilson survived the purge of Yorkshire's playing staff in 1958 and a new young team took shape under the captaincy of Ronnie Burnet.
After Burnet retired, Wilson was appointed as the first professional county captain of Yorkshire in 1960. He had a successful tenure, leading the club to the County Championship title in 1960 and 1962. Wilson was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1961 when he scored 1,650 First Class runs at 31.33 with a top score of 230.
In the same 1944 promotion winning side as Wilson was Jacques who took 49 wickets at 9.16, F Dennis who averaged 30 with that bat, and 46-year old former Yorkshire and England cricketer Arthur Wood who scored 593 runs at 45.61.
Wood was born in Fagley, Bradford appeared in 420 first-class matches from 1927 to 1949. A right-hander, he scored 8,842 runs, averaging 21.20, with one century and 43 fifties, and made 886 dismissals, including 255 stumpings.
He was awarded his Yorkshire cap in 1929, and made the wicket-keeping position his own through the 1930s, including making 225 consecutive appearances. His most successful season with the bat was in 1935, when he scored his only century (123 not out against Worcestershire); in this season he passed 1,000 runs for the only time, the first Yorkshire wicket-keeper to do so.
In 1938, Wood made his Test debut against Australia, just days before his 40th birthday. He contributed 53 in 92 minutes off 95 balls, to England's then world record total of 903–7 declared. Joining Joe Hardstaff with The Oval scoreboard reading 770–6 when Len Hutton was dismissed for 364, he famously quipped "I was always the man for a crisis" before sharing a stand of 106 for the seventh wicket. He had six Test caps.
Following promotion in 1944, Undercliffe cashed in on their momentum and won the First Division title in 1945 for the fourth time. This was all about the influence of one man- L F Townsend who dominated matters on the field. He averaged 52.80 with the bat and took 37 vital wickets at the small cost of 10.54 each.
Townsend had a very productive county career with Derbyshire, and was one of the rare breed of genuine all rounder who could play as a specialist batsman or bowler. His best season in county cricket was 1928 when he scored 841 runs at over 30, and took 87 wickets for the small price of 8.48 each.
Surprisingly relegated in 1946, they returned with a bang as Division Two Champions in 1947 with G Carter topping the League Bowling Averages with 94 wickets at 8.52.
A lesser name in the annals of Undercliffe’s history was bowler C A Matthews who in 1949 took the modest haul of wickets of 34. That’s quite unremarkable apart from the fact that they cost just 6.88 each and allowed him to easily win the League Bowling Averages that year.
Undercliffe were relegated in 1950 and followed that by finishing bottom of Division Two. The re-election plea was a stark reality check that their glory years appeared to be well behind them.
Back in Division One in 1953, the club found it difficult to survive and had another spell in the Second Division in a decade that could be rightly described as the yo-yo years. The club was now relatively unfashionable with no virtuoso players to enable Undercliffe to challenge for the top honours.
In 1953 D Sloane had the most wicket keeper’s victims in the league, while batsman Derek Blackburn, who was destined to skipper the great Bradford Park Avenue side, topped 500-runs in one season. Other worthy players in the fifties were R Scarborough, G E Govier, G Curry and N Fell.
Undercliffe began a new chapter when regaining their Division One status after winning the Division Two championship in 1960. This gave them the impetus to build a real challenge for honours.
This they did by winning the First Division title in 1963 holding off the challenge of Bingley by three points with Jack Wainwright playing a key role. His 57 wickets at 9.16 ensured he would win the League Bowling averages that season. A key batsman was 40-year old Eric Barraclough who was
Undercliffe’s experienced professional batsman. His 328 runs were modest by comparison to his prolific years with the Bradford Park Avenue club.
Barraclough, who played two matches for Yorkshire from 1949 to 1950, was a right-handed batsman and right arm fast-medium bowler. In the First Class game he scored 43 runs at 21.50, and took four wickets for 34, with a best of 2-39. Despite having performed creditably in the second team in 37 matches over the next five years, he was not given a further opportunity to impress in first-class cricket.
After 1963 Undercliffe’s fortunes faded but they possessed some high class players in the remainder of the decade.
In 1964 David H K Smith finished fourth in the league batting averages with 568 runs, and in 1966 surpassed that feat by topping the batting with an average of 47.66.
Smith was a left-handed sheet anchor batsman who was first noticed at Bradford Park Avenue. He guarded his wicket with great zeal and in some quarters was regarded as too slow. However, he was signed by Derbyshire in an era when one had to be very special to be noticed by Yorkshire. He played 114 first class matches with a batting average of 26.56, scoring four centuries with a top score of 136.
Another former Bradford Park Avenue star who moved to Undercliffe was Claude Helliwell. He made his name as a genuine spin bowler/all rounder who played many times for Yorkshire Colts in the early sixties. With Undercliffe he made his name as an abrasive batsman who scored his runs quickly often in a crisis. In 1970 he scored 528 runs with a top score of 101*, and in the following year also scored an unbeaten century in a run aggregate of 336.
In the same season that Smith won the league batting averages his colleague Les Jackson won the bowling. The 49 year-old veteran seamer bowled an incredible 88 maiden overs in a wicket tally of 63 earned for the low average of 9.05.
Les Jackson was a fast-medium bowler renowned for his accurate bowling and particular hostility on uncovered wickets; he played county cricket for Derbyshire from 1947 to 1963, and was regularly at, or near the top of, the English bowling averages.
He played in only two Test matches for England, one in 1949 and a second in 1961. Jackson’s absence from Test cricket was largely because his batting was so underdeveloped: his highest first-class score was 39 not out, and he reached 30 on only two other occasions.
Jackson was genuinely quick from a slingy action, and remarkably accurate and economical. He was able to swing the ball both ways and move off the seam, and his six-foot height enabled him to make the ball lift awkwardly from just short of a length. He bowled from a short run-up, which enabled him to continue bowling for lengthy periods, and was particularly difficult to play on the uncovered wickets used in county cricket.
Jackson retired from Derbyshire at the end of the 1963 season, having taken more wickets for Derbyshire than any other bowler, a record that still stands (1,733 first-class wickets at 17.36 apiece). He played with great success for Undercliffe from 1965 to 1970.
The strong connection with the Peak District, and in particular Derbyshire in the seventies, saw many county players joining the club through the seasons. The Derbyshire stars who turned out for the club in this page of their history included Test fast bowlers Les Jackson and Alan Ward as well as batsmen David Smith, John Harvey, Harry Cartwright and Ashley Harvey-Walker. Probably the most notable was Jim Brailsford who led the team to championships in 1970 and 1971.
The stylish Harvey-Walker scored heavily in the 1970 triumph with 659 runs and a top score of 149*. Jackson was still going strong with the ball to the tune of 34 wickets at 10.12 which put him second in the league bowling averages. All-Rounder Ray Peel, one of three batsman to score a century, the others being Harvey-Walker and Claude Helliwell, contributed 507 runs and 37 wickets to the title winning cause.
Ray Peel was a great influence in this period winning the Learie Constantine All-Rounder’s Trophy in 1972 and 1974.
The 1971 title triumph was built again on Harvey-Walker’s runs (491), assisted by the fire of seamer John White (50 wkts), and the 35 economic wickets of Derbyshire bowler Les Bradbury.
Harvey-Walker was also a heavy run-getter in cup cricket at Undercliffe starring in the 1972 Priestley Cup Final when his side beat Lightcliffe by nine wickets.
He played first-class cricket for Derbyshire from 1971 to 1978. He was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm off-break and medium-pace bowler. Early in his career he played purely as a top order batsman, though he struggled to hold down a regular place in a weak batting side. His best season was in 1974 when he scored 727 runs at 25.96.
Not regarded as a regular bowler he was regularly employed when selected in the 1978 season, taking 10–82, including 7–35 in the second innings against Surrey on the notoriously uncertain wicket at Ilkeston.
Despite playing in the 1978 Benson & Hedges Cup Final he was not re-engaged at the end of the season. On 28 April 1997, at the age of 52, Harvey-Walker was shot dead at a private club in South Africa.
John White gave sterling service to Undercliffe over many seasons and was at the forefront of fast bowlers in the league. His haul of 112 wickets in seasons 1970/71 were influential to his side’s title wins.
The seventies proved to be an outstanding decade for the club in not just the league but the Priestley Cup as well. In 1974 Final they dismissed Bingley for 127 before cruising to a six-wicket win. Powerful batsman Andrew Lush took the Man of the Match Award in Undercliffe’s Priestley Cup Final destruction of Manningham Mills in 1975. Undercliffe made 234 for nine before bowling Manningham Mills out for 138.
John Harvey will be remembered for years to come at Intake Road for his prolific season of 1975 when he topped the league averages with 925 runs. He was picked up by Derbyshire in 1963 and, after three matches, made his debut in that year's County Championship against Somerset. He scored a century against Kent in his second Championship match. Harvey was a right-handed batsman and played 344 innings in 206 first class games with an average of 24.16 and a top score of 168. He also played 81 innings in 84 one-day matches.
David Dobson joined the club in 1973 and had an outstanding performance in 1976 taking seven for 17 against Baildon. Dobson, a genuine all-rounder, won the League Bowling Prize in 1976 with his left-arm spin taking 45 wickets at 11.13. His batting was equally as impressive with an average of 50.60 allowing him to walk away with the Learie Constantine All-Rounder’s Trophy.
If Dobson had not won the Learie Constantine All-Rounder’s Trophy in 1976 his team mate Ray Peel would surely have done so. Peel scored 702 runs including a top score of 138not out, and also took 32 wickets.
Despite these two fine individual performances Undercliffe finished in the lowest position of the decade so far (4th).
In 1977, Undercliffe replicated this position with Harvey scoring 688 runs at 49.14 with a season’s best of 143*.
Andrew Dalton, who had played for Yorkshire between 1969 and 1972, excelled with the bat for the Intake Road club in 1977 scoring 703 runs. A right-handed batsman, he scored 710 first-class runs at 24.48, with a best score of 128 against Middlesex. He also recorded first class centuries against Worcestershire and Oxford University.
Undercliffe were back as title challengers in 1978 finishing second behind surprise champions Bowling Old Lane. The batting carried the team with M H Page (649 runs), A Dalton (362 runs) and Dobson (421 runs), leading the way. They finished second in the cup as well going down decisively to Bingley in the Priestley Cup Final. The decade ended disappointingly as they sank to their lowest position for years despite Dobson’s fine all round display of 418 runs and 34 wickets.
The eighties started in fine style with another Priestley Cup triumph - this time by 32 runs against East Bierley. Dobson was the mainstay of the 1980 side featuring prominently in the league averages with bat and ball yet again.
They were riding high in the league too with the acquisition of Derek Crossland paying dividends as he scored 551 runs.
In 1981 the team sank towards the bottom of the division despite Crossland’s 734 runs, and Peel’s 545 runs to go with his 43 wickets. Not even the signing of paceman Peter Hartley, who ended the season with 48 wickets, could push the team to challenge. An unusual feature of this season was the appearance of tail-ender John White in the league batting averages with 395 runs at 30.38.
The star of 1982 was obviously Peter Hartley who was effective with both bat and ball. Not only did he take 45 wickets, but he scored 431 runs and also bagged the Fastest Fifty Award in 20 minutes. Hartley enjoyed a long county career with a career record of 683 First Class wickets.
Yet another county player in Undercliffe’s ranks was John Woodford who ensured the Learie Constantine All-Rounder’s Trophy would return to Intake Road in 1983 when he scored 395 runs at 39.50 and took 30 wickets. In 1985 Pakistani batsman Asad Rauf joined after his great success with Queensbury as their overseas player. He had moderate success scoring 586 runs at 27.90. Rauf had a mediocre First Class record in Pakistan scoring 3,423 runs at 28.76 with a top score of 130. His higher claim to fame came when he entered the International Panel of Umpires in 2004, and later was implicated in match-fixing allegations.
During the 1980’s batsman Howard Reeve was a constant scoring runs in abundance, with his best season in 1986 when he scored 632. In 1986 they lifted the league championship again. Their side included Simon Kellett (930 runs), Jerry Mytton (502 runs), Peter Booth (623 runs), David Dobson (403 runs) and Howard Reeve (632 runs) who were all regular run-scorers while former Leicester paceman Booth also took 38 wickets to win the league’s bowling prize. Undercliffe were strongly challenged by Hanging Heaton who finished six points behind.
Simon Kellett finished third in the league averages with a top score of 120not out. This was good enough for him to scoop the Young Cricketer of the Year Award. Two years later in 1988 he would score the highest individual score of the season in the Bradford League with 137not out. In 87 first-class matches for Yorkshire he scored 4,234 runs, with two centuries and a top score of 125 not out, for an average of 30.46. In 67 one day matches, he scored 1,494 runs at an average of 25.32, with a top score of 118 not out.
David Dobson made it a full set of individual honours in 1988 when he won the League Batting averages with 870 runs at 54.38. This completed the unique set of batting, bowling, and Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
Amongst the wealth of talent in 1988 was pace bowler Peter Martin who grabbed a modest haul of 36 wickets for Undercliffe. The following season he would embark on a First Class career at Lancashire until 2004, taking 606 wickets with a career best of 8-32. He also recorded two centuries as a tail end batsman with a top score of 133.
Martin’s consistency on the county circuit led to a brief Test career of eight matches where his best bowling performance was an analysis of 4-60. He was probably regarded more as a specialist one day international by England’s selectors, playing in 20 matches with a best bowling feat of 4-44.
The nineties saw many virtuoso players at Intake Road but also ups and downs to the extreme. Relegated in 1991 they regained their top status after promotion in 1993 only to be relegated the following year. In the 1991 relegation season the only refuge at Undercliffe was seeing ace keeper Chris Burns score 568 runs to take on the mantle of leading batsman. Burns was many pundits choice as best keeper in the league as his three league prizes in 1992, 1995 and 1997 might well indicate.
Dermot McGrath was a reliable opening batsman during 1990-1992 and he put on 217 with David Bairstow in 1990 to win the highest league stand award for the season.
In 1992 rookie off-spinner Paul Whitaker took the second division bowling award as his side finished fourth. Whitaker joined Hampshire in 1994 and made his first-class debut that year against Leicestershire. In the 1995/96 New Zealand cricket season, Whitaker also represented Central Districts in six one-day matches in the Shell Cup. Whitaker was released by Hampshire at the end of the 1998 County Championship season. He also represented England at U 17, U 18 and U 19 level.
In the promotion season of 1993 young All-Rounder Alex Wharfe came of age with 383 runs and 36 wickets. He was a brisk pace bowler who could hit the ball very hard in middle order. He commenced his first-class cricketing career with Yorkshire in 1994, and played seven times for the county until 1997.
He later joined Nottinghamshire, before moving to Glamorgan in 2000. He made his EnglandOne Day International debut at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, against India in 2004.Wharf announced his retirement from cricket during the 2009 County Championship, after failing to recover from a long-term injury. He took 293 First Class wickets with a best performance of 6-59.
Another great success in the promotion season was David Bairstow who scored 823 runs in his usual engaging way. He played for Yorkshire throughout his career, and captained the club from 1984 to 1986, though this was a far from happy period. Nicknamed "Bluey" on account of his red hair, Bairstow was influential for his aggression on the field and for his playing statistics.
He was particularly well loved by the Yorkshire crowds for his ability to turn round limited over games by his late-order swinging of the bat. In 459 first-class cricket matches he scored 13,961 runs at an average of 26.44 with a highest score of 145. He snared 961 catches and 137 stumpings and perhaps stands second only to Jimmy Binks in the annals of Yorkshire wicket-keeping. He played 429 one day matches, scoring 5,439 runs at 20.68 with one century.
He played four Test matches for England, though was usually behind first Bob Taylor and later Paul Downton in the selectors' minds. He had more opportunities in One Day Internationals on the strength of his batting in domestic cricket - he made ten first-class centuries - but consistently failed to break through, and never scored more than 23 in his twenty ODI innings.
In 1994 the unthinkable happened when relegation again struck despite netting fifty points. The only performer of substance was Jason Shepherd who scored an impressive aggregate of 830 runs.
Promotion was assured in 1995 with Russell Heritage influential with both bat and ball and also securing the Learie Constantine All-Rounder’s Award. Mark Gilliver was the leading batsman with a very healthy tally of 915 runs. The much travelled Gilliver reserved his peak years for Undercliffe with run aggregates from 1995 of 915, 992, 707, 746, 876 and 876, with the highest individual score in the league in 1996 of 153*. He was an ebullient character at Undercliffe who backed his talking with an abundance of runs.
On this occasion Undercliffe consolidated sensibly and by 1997 had become champions of the top division for the first time since 1986. This was an excellent all round side with strength in depth in both skills. Pakistani overseas batsman Iqbal Khan (520 runs), Matthew Wood (482 runs) and Gilliver (707 runs) scored the consistent runs, while the wickets were shared mostly between Wharfe (38 wkts), Heritage (38 wkts) and Andrew Wilsden (32 wkts), with Burns keeping exceptionally well.
Matthew Wood was a capable rather than a prolific batsman at Undercliffe. However, he did graduate to county cricket playing for Yorkshire and Glamorgan in a career lasting 11 years. He was primarily a right-handed batsman and made his debut in first-class cricket in 1997.
Wood played in 136 first-class matches, scoring 7,052 runs with a highest score of 207, at an average of 32.80. He compiled sixteen first class centuries, took 118 catches and snared two wickets at 21.50.
The following year was undistinguished as far as the league was concerned with a lowly position gained and only Gilliver (746 runs) impressing.
However, Undercliffe would break new ground in winning the much vaunted Yorkshire Club Champions Trophy for 1998. On the way to the final they beat the pride of the Yorkshire League Harrogate on a damp day at Intake Road. On final day at Knaresborough they faced the reigning champions from the East Yorkshire League - Pickering. They were expected to win but had to negotiate a very sluggish wicket to reach a modest 160-9 in 50 overs.
Chris Schofield and Gilliver had to dig in despite disgruntled Undercliffe supporters barracking them for slow batting. However, this would prove to be more than enough as Pickering folded for 63 with Wilsden and Wharf enjoying the bowling honours.
Andy Wilsden was something of a popular figure at Undercliffe with his wholehearted performances as opening bowler. His selfless contribution to the title win of 1997 was immense. Incredibly, the `yo-yo- trend of the last two decades continued with relegation in 1999 despite 876 runs from Mark Gilliver. The same side nearly retained the Yorkshire Club Champions Trophy going down in the final at Liversedge against Bradford & Bingley.
It was no surprise that they came back immediately in 2000 as champions given the quality of the side assembled. Former Yorkshire off-spinner Jeremy Batty provided the balance of the side contributing 477 runs, and taking 52 wickets. The strong batting side was clearly evident with Gilliver (1085 runs), Mark Chapman (573 runs), Howard Reeve (342 runs) and Toby Drummond (465 runs) scoring runs freely
A significant achievement in the 2000 promotion season was the opening partnership at Intake Road between Gilliver and Chapman against Gomersal which reaped 304 runs- still a record. Batty made his Yorkshire debut in 1989, leaving the county in 1994 to play for Somerset until 1996. In 84 first-class matches he scored 1,149 runs at 15.95 with two fifties, and took 179 wickets at 41.56, with a career best of 6 for 48. He appeared for Buckinghamshire in 2003 and 2004.
While 2001-2003 was largely uneventful given the turbulence of previous years there were several notable performances. Left hander John Sadler scored 500-plus runs in successive seasons, while Toby Drummond from Saltaire scored 633 runs in 2001. In 2003 left hander Mark Gill scored 755 runs to go with his 34 victims behind the stumps.
Undercliffe’s paceman Jaffer Nazir- acclaimed as one of the best ever overseas players seen in the league- took the League Bowling averages in 2003 with 56 wickets at 12.54.. He also achieved the all-ten feat with the ball- 10-65 v Yeadon. This replicated another Undercliffe’s overseas bowler’s feat – M.Khan 10-25 v Cleckheaton 2001.
Sadler had an abbreviated county career with 60 First Class appearances spread out between Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. He averaged a very handy 32.30 with the bat.
As the modern trend would have it Undercliffe were relegated again, this time well adrift at the bottom in 2004. This was despite Yorkshire’s Chris Taylor (759 runs) and Gill (694 runs) scoring runs virtually every week. This was followed by a nondescript season in 2005.
During 2006- 2008 the team was not good enough to gain promotion but had the usual talent in the camp. In 2006 southern-based left-hander David Taylor made an immediate impression with his attacking technique resulting in 787 runs. He made the Bradford League Representative side that won the Yorkshire KO at Elland and contributed with distinction. Another highlight in this period was the performance of Durham batsman Darren Blenkiron who scored 732 runs in 2007.
A new overseas man in the shape of Nawaz Sardar was added to the squad in 2008 and he did not disappoint scoring 714 runs and taking 49 wickets. He had further successes averaging 52.75 in 2009, and scoring 699 runs in 2011. As a fast bowler he was not a prodigious wicket-taker but conceded a miserly rate.
In 2009 Undercliffe gained promotion again from top spot with Chris Taylor (840 runs) and Gilliver (667 runs) being the mainstays of the batting. Left arm spinner Chris Greenwood took the league bowling averages at a canter with 68 wickets. Greenwood was one of those spinners that looked innocuous from the boundary edge but would rarely bowl a bad ball. Two years of consolidation followed with Yorkshire contacted batsman Callum Geldart excelling in 2011 with 757 runs at 54.97.
In 2012 relegation beckoned again with Callum Geldart scoring 530 runs in a dispirited team. There was no rapid return as the 2013 side faded to a mid-table conclusion with Ben Heritage (1047 runs), Hamid Khan (730 runs) and Sardar (61 wickets) taking the individual honours.
It was clear that Undercliffe meant business in 2014 after assembling a powerful opening attack of Nawaz Sardar (overseas) and Zeeshan Qasim (Manningham Mills). They both took 45 wickets and were adept at early strikes with the former having the best average of 12.42. Michael Kelsey supported these strike bowlers well with 30 wickets
Undercliffe topped the league virtually all season under the leadership of Kelsey finishing 45 points clear of Saltaire having suffered only two defeats. They also showed their First Division pedigree beating Morley in the Priestley Cup by 182 runs, and then Pudsey Congs in the next round by 70 runs.
Young spin bowler Amir Hussain showed great promise with 53 wickets at 14.85. This earned him the Ernest Lodge Trophy for the most promising spin bowler and also the Gordon Bowers Young Cricketer of the Year Trophy.
The batting was as powerful as the bowling with Sardar topping the League Batting Averages with 838 runs at 52.38 with a top score of 136not out, and also winning the Jack Hill All-Rounder’s Trophy. Sardar was ably assisted by the consistent and sometimes flamboyant batting of Hamid Khan (708 runs), Farakh Hussain (514 runs) and Ahmad Raja (419 runs).
To epitomise their batting strength they had the distinction of recording the highest stand in the league for 2014, when Khan (114) and Sardar (114) put on 209 for the third wicket against Hartshead Moor.
After two decades the Priestley Cup Final returned to Intake Road in 2014 to great critical acclaim. The atmospheric ground is the favourite venue for a lot of cricket watchers and the crowd was certainly greater than in previous seasons.
Things were harder for Undercliffe in the First Division for 2015, but with the recruitment of acclaimed overseas pace bowler Fahim Ashraf they were expected to survive. Results were inconsistent but in the latter part of the season it appeared Saltaire and Farsley were doomed, and they went into the last match against Hanging Heaton with only a handful of bonus points needed for security.
When Farsley turned the formbook upside down by beating New Farnley they still only required four points for safety, but capitulated to Hanging Heaton with just a three-point haul having not reached the safety 125 run target for the extra point.
The batting proved to be mediocre with only Gulsheraz Ahmed topping 500 runs, while young off spinner Amir Hussain took 32 wickets at 23.16. Fahim Ashraf made an impact taking 39 wickets, but his early departure sounded the death knell for his team. Amir Hussain retained the Ernest Lodge Trophy for the most promising spin bowler Undercliffe were one of the favourites for promotion from Championship A, and their start suggested they would be challenging strongly. However, injuries and player departures negated their chances as they slipped off the pace by August, finally finishing in 4th place.
South African batsman Michael Loubster, who had a First Class century to his name, could only muster 421 runs, while Gulsheraz Ahmed (562 runs) proved to be the rock of the batting again. Seamer Zeeshan Qasim was the main bowler with 55 wickets at 11.31.
Long serving committee man Rodney Broadbent received the ultimate accolade of the Sir Len Hutton Trophy for services to cricket.