web banner bradford cricket leagueDY.jpg
 
 

Woodlands history

Woodlands history

The early days

Woodlands were formed in 1894, initially joining the Low Moor & District League in 1895, they then played in various other local leagues, including the Bradford League for two years, until 1920 when they settled for the Bradford Central Cricket League. It was thought that at the time this league fulfilled their needs, but they were off to a tentative start with years of mediocrity the name of the game as they struggled to make an impact.

New ground on Salthorn Common

Woodlands’ first ground was virtually a field at Hag Hall Farm, but when they were given notice to quit at the end of the 1950 season their very future was in jeopardy. After protracted negotiations a plot of land was purchased on Salthorn Common to turn into a cricket field. The job was massive with levelling being the priority, but the members rallied together to convert the land into an acceptable cricket field. It was a rural setting with very limited facilities until the erection of a pavilion in 1961.

First trophy in Bradford Central League

When Woodlands won their first major trophy in the Bradford Central League in 1936 it had taken them 15 years since joining the league. It was the First Division title, and they were led by Thomas Burchill who boasted a formidable bowling side.

Freddie Marsh topped the league bowling averages with a haul of 68 wickets at 7.17, but he had excellent support from Jack Parkinson who took 26 wickets at 7.34, and Eddie Lonsdale with 39 wickets at 8.43.

Lonsdale proved to be a genuine all rounder topping the club batting averages with a modest 172 runs at 24.57. Other consistent scorers were Reggie Harrison (223 runs) and Lawton Johnson (196 runs). The less than massive run aggregates illustrate that it was the bowlers who really did the deed for Woodlands.

A few short years later Woodlands embarked on a trophy laden decade winning the title in 1945 and 1947, and the Waddilove Cup in 1944 and 1946.

The 1945 title win was again based on a tremendous bowling effort by two bowlers. Lonsdale was still the key bowler taking 67 wickets at 6.25, and his partner Freddie Marsh grabbed 40 wickets at 7.42. Lonsdale won the League Bowling Averages, while Marsh finished 3rd.

Lonsdale was a medium pace bowler of remarkable tenacity who was in great contast to the slow left arm guile of Marsh. Their combined figures for 1945 was:

260.7 Overs, 41 Maidens, 716 Runs, 107 Wickets, Average 6.69

The 1946 Waddilove Cup winning side was led by Billy Lister when they beat Great Horton Church at Jer Lane. In a low scoring match Woodlands scored 103 with Bill Murphy (24 runs) the top scorer, before taking 3-24 to help Eddie Lonsdale who took 6-29 to bowl out the Great Horton side for 75.

There were many notable players who played for Woodlands but few as charismatic  as Billy Murphy who was a very fast, hostile bowler and much feared by opposition batting. He was also a hard hitting batsman who could turn a match in a matter of overs. In the 1948 season he hit the league’s quickest fifty when he scored 57 runs in 12 minutes- quite an achievement in a competition where sixes didn’t count.

Further successes

In 1950 Woodlands won the Waddilove Cup again under Eddie Lonsdale, beating Dudley Hill who were destined to be the star side of the 60’s. Woodlands suspended their innings at 121-7 with Cyril Butler (31 runs) and Fred Pearson (30 runs) the main scorers. Dudley Hill were skittled out for 114 with Billy Murphy 5-54 and Eddie Lonsdale 4-37 doing the damage.

The 1963 Waddilove Cup victory was remarkable given that Woodlands were a Section B side, and there opponents Jer lane would only lose one match in the top section that season. The hero in semi-darkness on a mid-week evening was Gordon Risman who ended on 54 not out in the successful pursuit of 139.

 After winning the cup in 1963, they went a couple of decades before enjoying their golden years of 1980-1987 when they won the coveted double in 1982, and two further titles and cups.

The aforementioned decade produced a cricketer who could well be regarded as the best on their books up to the nineties. Peter Godfrey was a classic left-handed batsman who could have graced any of the senior leagues of Yorkshire. During the eighties he won the league’s batting averages on two occasions, and finished in second place twice more. In 1984 he scored in all competitions 1,761 runs with an average of 50.31, including 2 centuries and eleven fifties.

To evaluate the Bradford Central League days one must study the records:

Division One Champions- 1936, 1945, 1947, 1980, 1983

Waddilove Cup- 1944, 1946, 1950, 1963, 1982, 1983

League Batting Averages Winners-

Basil Sugden 1959, Peter Godfrey 1984 & 1986.

League Bowling Averages Winners-

Jack Parkinson 1952 &1953, Donald Suddaby, 1964, John Morris 1983

Wicket-keeping

Donald Worsnop 1964, Barry Hodgkinson 1971, Jimmy Gomersal 1977 & 1982

In addition to these achievements in the early seventies Woodlands possessed a player in Harry  Brear who was an extraordinary fielder, winning the league award in 1972, 1973 and 1974 before signing for East Bierley.

Opening of new Sports Hall by Sir Lawrence Byford

When Sir Lawrence Byford the Yorkshire C.C.C. President opened the impressive Sports Hall in 1991 the club was showing ambition way above their station. This development was followed by new dressing rooms and club facilities the envy of most in the area.

In 1992, feeling the need to improve their standard of cricket Woodlands applied to join the Bradford League along with Northowram but were rejected. However, they were accepted by the Central Yorkshire League in their centenary year of 1994.

Entry into the Yorkshire Central League

A satisfactory first season when they turned out a virtual Bradford Central side gave the club an appetite for further progress. The ten local lads who had mostly graduated from the junior ranks were supplemented by Woodlands’ first overseas player Australian Len Blok. He would often bowl twenty five overs as well as bat high in the order. The mid-table position in the second division signalled healthy progress.

The signing of Stuart Fletcher

In 1995 former county bowler Stuart Fletcher was signed to lead the team. Fletcher played for Yorkshire from 1983 to 1991, before moving to Lancashire until 1994. A right arm medium pacer, Fletcher played in 114 first-class matches, 107 for Yorkshire and seven for Lancashire, taking 240 wickets at 34.89, with a best of 8 for 58 against Essex. In 132 one day games, he took 166 wickets at 29.06, with a best of 4 for 11 against Kent. He took 2 for 37 to help Yorkshire win the Benson and Hedges Cup final in 1987, against Nottinghamshire.

In Fletcher’s second season promotion was achieved to the top division when they finished runners up behind Kings Cross. This represented significant progress for a club still using a hard core of Bradford Central League players. The fact that they consolidated comfortably in the top division in 1997 illustrated the influence Fletcher had on the team.

A notable cricketer in Woodlands’ ranks in 1997 was opening bowler Naeem Khan who wasn’t particularly quick but bowled straight. He figured fairly high in the League Bowling Averages taking 62 wickets at 14.23. Khan had three six wicket bowling performances with the 6-20 against Gildersome being the best.

In June 1997 home product Jason Wharf scored 113 v New Farnley.

The arrival of Tim Orrell

For the start of the 1998 season Woodlands ambitions had grown once more and sights were set on further advancement with the re-joining of the Bradford League the eventual goal.  To this end Woodlands made their most significant signing when they recruited Tim Orrell, above, from Saltaire to lead the campaign to achieve this aim. This would prove to be the best cricketing decision made in the history of Woodlands CC. He immediately brought discipline to the team and set the standards for further progress.

Orrell had many memorable innings in the Central Yorkshire League, and none better than his remarkable innings of 150 against Methley. He faced their South African fast bowler Mulligan George who was taking the League by storm, and he blasted him to every corner of Albert Terrace. It was always a case of the `faster they come’ the faster they will go with Orrell, who’s only Achilles heel with the bat was good class spin bowling.

Heavy Woollen Cup Final

By 1999 Woodlands had engaged Indian opening batsman Nanda Kishore. In this first innings on English soil he had to bat on the greenest of wickets at New Farnley and hit a superb 57. The team was also strengthened by Richard Spittlehouse, Simon Wood and Nicky Rushworth from Saltaire.  That season was the first indication that Woodlands were capable of going places when the club reached the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup, beating Hanging Heaton, Pudsey St Lawrence and Windhill on the way, only to be defeated in the final by Baildon.

A further Saltaire capture was Brent Shackleton who provided some much needed aggression in the team with both bat and ball.

Woodlands last season in the Central Yorkshire League was complicated by the early return of Kishore to India for unexplained reasons. They struggled through the season with only Orrell and Rushworth’s runs keeping them clear from the relegation positions.

The seven year tenure in the Central Yorkshire League was an invaluable grounding for their future years in the Bradford League. The Heavy Woollen Cup run of 1999 had reassured the club that they could compete at the very top.

It’s prudent to mention that it was the old Bradford Central League players who were responsible for the meteoric rise in stature for  Woodlands. Showing no sentiment for their old league they all contributed in committee to the club’s cause namely, Gordon Rishman, David Wharf, Stuart Tordoff, Brian Pearson, Phil Godfrey and Wayne Richardson.

Into the Bradford League

By 2001 the club had finally achieved Bradford League status once more and celebrated by taking the Bowes Section of the Second Division, going through the season undefeated.They possessed a team not only built for promotion, but also good enough to consolidate in the First Division in the following year.

Led by skipper Tim Orrell, they had a fine array of talent in Russell Murray, Nicky Rushworth, Murphy Walwyn, Richard Spittlehouse and Sarfraz Ahmed. Under the shrewd stewardship of Brian Pearson gradual progress for 2002 was their watchword despite their burgeoning resource inducing-facilities. They set out to consolidate in the First Division in 2002 and they achieved that comfortably in 8th position.

A remarkable overseas player

Legendary overseas player Sarfraz Ahmed arrived in time for their debut season in 2001 taking an incredible 80 wickets at 10.69 to win the division’s bowling award, coupled with a batting average of 60.67 which allowed him to finish second in the division’s batting averages, and also take the Jack Hill All-Rounders Trophy. It was a sensational start for Ahmed who would arguably become the best of the overseas players of his generation.

Orrell led from the front with 458 runs as he accelerated the scoring from steady starts by left-handed sheet anchor Russell Murray who scored 696 runs. Also starring in 2001 was Walwyn with a batting average of 44.73 who also scored the Fastest Fifty of the season in 17 balls. This repeated his feat at East Bierley the season before. Nick Rushworth scored 604 runs and also won the League’s Wicket-Keeping Prize. Rushworth would go on and repeat this feat in 2003 and 2005.

Amongst the undoubted stars in 2001 a locally reared cricketer Richard Godfrey became only the 11th player in the history of the Bradford league to take 4 wickets in 4 balls.

2003 saw the club achieve another milestone when they reached the Priestley Cup final for the first time. They were much fancied in the final playing second division opposition Bradford & Bingley at Wagon Lane, and should have scored well in excess of the their final score of 210-9. Tim Orrell had put them in a commanding position with a superb century which would have normally won the Man of the Match Award. It wasn’t to be as Richard Nichols guided his team home with a century of his own as they won by six wickets.

Woodlands had tasted the big time and it was obvious they would be back for more. In the league they enjoyed gentle progression to seventh place with Orrell being the star performer with 713 runs at 44.56 with a top score of 122*. Murray was his usual consistent self with 682 runs at 35.89, while the bowling honours went to Ahmed (53 wkts), Brice (43 wkts) and Richard Spittlehouse (32 wkts). Richard Pyrah (635 runs) had signed from Cleckheaton with Chris Brice.

Challengers to Pudsey Congs

Clearly the big honours were just around the corner but in 2004 they realised just how far they had to go to overtake the legendary Pudsey Congs. They finished a highly credible 4th in the league with Orrell (725 runs) and Murray (736 runs) leading the way with the bat, and Ahmed storming to 70 wickets. Ahmed also proved his prowess with the bat taking the Fastest Fifty Trophy with an 18-ball innings. But, despite a magnificent run to the Final of the Priestley Cup they met their match in no uncertain manner when they were defeated by the Congs by 8 wickets.

Compensation of sorts was gratefully received when they won the Heavy Woollen Cup for the first time with a comfortable final victory over Spen Victoria by 36 runs at Liversedge. Naeem Khan outshone Ahmed for once taking a match winning 5-19.

Knowing just what they needed to reinforce their challenge for 2005 Woodlands made two key signings- Paul Winrow and former Yorkshire seamer Pieter Swanepoel. This gave the team extra firepower in the seam bowling, and strengthened the batting considerably.
 

South African Swanepoel played two First-Class matches for Yorkshire in 2003 against Durham and India A. He also appeared in two Twenty20, and three Pro40 matches for Yorkshire in the same year. He scored 20 first-class runs, with a best of 17, for an average of 6.66, and took three wickets with his right arm medium pace. He was more successful in one day cricket, playing from 2001 to 2004 and taking fourteen wickets at 20.09, with a best return of 3 for 9, and scoring 73 runs at 24.33, with a top score of 28 not out.

Woodlands break Pudsey Congs' domination
They were neck and neck with Pudsey Congs who were going for their sixth successive title, and still dominating the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy. Ironically, they met in the Priestley Cup final again and the result was the same, but not quite as convincing for the Congs.This could have been a huge psychological blow in favour of the Congs but Woodlands had the last laugh taking the title with a 4- point margin.

Woodlands had a very solid look about their batting in 2005 with Winrow (735 runs), Orrell (687 runs), Murray (692 runs), Rushworth (357 runs) and Ahmed with his vital little cameos all scoring richly for the cause. The bowling was now as potent as any team’s in the league with Ahmed (71 wkts), Brice (48 wkts, above) and Swanepoel (45 wkts) all restricting the opposition’s batting.

As Pudsey Congs had relinquished their domination of the title after a sensational 5-year period, it was up to Woodlands to hammer home their newly found superiority. Firstly, they had to equal the Congs classic treble of Champions/Priestley Cup Winners/Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions of 2002 and 2004 to obtain the same sort of legendary status.

The classic treble

There was rising optimism at Woodlands in 2006 with Richard Pyrah available more often and the rest of the title winning side intact. In addition Scott Richardson was signed from Baildon to bolster the batting.

 Richardson played thirteen first-class matches for Yorkshire between 2000 and 2003. After his release he turned out for Cumberland in the Minor Counties Cricket Championship from 2004 to 2006. A right-handed batsman, Richardson scored 377 first class runs at 17.95, with a top score of 69 against Kent. He also scored 68 against Somerset,  and 50 against Glamorgan. In league cricket he played belligerently, always giving the bowler a chance – but usually not before a rich diet of profitable cover drives has boosted the score.

It was clear early on that it would be a three-horse race with the Pudsey teams snapping at their heels. Woodlands appeared to be determined to win the Priestley Cup after three final losses in three years as they made clinical progress to the Final where they would play second division Bowling Old Lane in a low key affair at Wagon Lane. The first passage was straight forward enough restricting Old Lane to just 144, but they certainly wobbled in reply sliding home by two wickets with Swanepoel taking the plaudits as Man of the Match.

Despite the unconvincing final performance a great weight had been lifted after their Cup bogey and their relentless surge to the title proved to be successful. They won with 9 points to spare on the Congs with Richard Pyrah carrying off the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy after a stunning season.
 

Pyrah won the league’s bowling averages with 48 wickets at 11.71, and top scored for his team with 573 runs. Pyrah made his one day debut for Yorkshire in 2001, but had to wait until 2004 for his First-Class bow. Although he has a First Class score of 134* and a best bowling analysis of 5-58, he has been regarded more of a one-day specialist by Yorkshire. As a bowler he has the invaluable ability of taking the pace off the ball in limited over run-chases.   

Woodlands bowling was unbeatable in 2006 with Brice second in the league’s bowling averages with 37 wickets, backed by Ahmed (42 wkts) and Swanepoel (49 wkts). In the batting Richardson (616 runs), Orrell (428 runs) and Rushworth (429 runs) had assisted Pyrah sufficiently.

In the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions the passage to the final was relatively comfortable with wins against Fenners, Bilton and Honley. In the final at Hanging Heaton it would be against a strong Townville side. For a time Townville looked like getting a decent score with former county batsman Tim Walton very much on form, but when the unsung seamer Spittlehouse clean bowled him for 54 it was obvious Woodlands would prevail. Sarfraz had the sensational figures of 10 overs, 4 wickets for three runs.

Woodlands chased down Townville’s 178 in a canter with Russell Murray unbeaten on 87 in his last innings for the club, while anchoring Scott Richardson’s quickfire 50. The nine wicket victory emphasised their superiority in a season where they performed the classic treble and caught up with the fabled Pudsey Congs.

For the historians who consider this team the best in Woodlands history the regular side was: Richardson, Murray, Rushworth, Orrell, Pyrah, Walwyn, Brice, Goldthorpe, Swanepoel, Ahmed, Spittlehouse.

The glory years continue

Woodlands were red-hot favourites for the 2007 title and it showed with 21 victories and no defeats in a 26-match fixture list. Pudsey Congs were still their closest rivals but the gap had widened to 72 points.

This was the season that Chris Brice arguably became their most influential player. He topped the league’s batting averages with a massive 83.00 courtesy of 10 not outs, and also took 37 wickets at 15.59. This inevitably led him to winning the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy- a feat he would replicate in 2010, and also the League’s Player’s Player award.

Brice was never short of  giving advice on the field and this was part of the package of a priceless player.

Sam Frankland, who had been signed from Elland to replace Murray, was top run-getter with 552 runs. He took the steady role as opening partner to Richardson, but had the ability to play exquisite leg side shots. Again the bowling was potent with Ahmed (55 wkts) and Swanepoel (54 wkts) taking the first two places in the league’s bowling averages.

The 2007 title triumph became a notable double when Woodlands won a late-in-the- season Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Final at Hanging Heaton against their great adversaries Pudsey Congs. After beating Streethouse and Kirkstall Educational they met Barnsley in the semi-final at Shaw Lane. Woodlands scored a modest 175 batting first, but soon had Barnsley struggling with Ahmed making early inroads. The Yorkshire League side were beaten by 27 runs with Brice top scoring with 31, and also taking 4-32 to prove yet again that he was the man for the big occasion.

 In the final Woodlands showed great courage in battling without two key bowlers in Ahmed and Brice against a full strength Congs side. To complicate things further, Rushworth dislocated a finger and had to replaced by Goldthorpe behind the stumps. Congs had made a challenging 245-7 taking advantage of some makeshift bowling.

At the half-way stage of the Woodlands innings they were definitely second favourites but a stand of 140 between Orrell (71*) and Goldthorpe (73) won the day in the gathering gloom. Sheer will to win won the day for a team with a developing habit of not knowing when they were beaten. For skipper Tim Orrell, it was five major trophies in two seasons after only eight seasons in the league with the club.

Woodlands had reached the stage where they were in range of replicating the Pudsey Congs feat of 5 consecutive titles. However, it was not to be as 2008 proved to be the last of their unbroken run. Congs had hit back with a vengeance and were only two points behind at the final reckoning. Again, Brice had a great season winning the league’s bowling averages with 38 wickets at 9.92.

Not to be outdone Swanepoel took the most league wickets with 71 at 10.75. Tosh Baker, who had proved to be a useful replacement for Pyrah, won the League Fielding Award. Openers Richardson (646 runs) and Frankland (573 runs) were the pick of the batters.

Decline in fortunes

After 2008 there was a definite decline in playing standards at Woodlands. From title winners in 2008 to 6th position in 2009, and 5th in 2010 was not received very well by stalwart Secretary Brian Pearson MBE. They had become too reliant on a potent bowling force with not enough emphasis on consistent batting.

During 2009 Swanepoel led by example taking 45 wickets to add to his 436 runs with the bat. He also created history by taking two hat-tricks in the same match at Saltaire to  save the day for his side who were in danger of being beaten. Openers Richardson and Frankland both topped 500 runs in 2009/2010, while Ahmed’s wicket-hauls were just pushing past 40.

The aforementioned secretary Brian Pearson was constantly seeking that elusive player to make a difference, and for 2011 he came up with the league’s marquee signing in York’s prolific batsman Simon Mason. For years he had dominated Yorkshire League attacks and he was considered one of the prized captures of the era. 

The other signing of note was Yeadon’s all-rounder Grant Soames who would bring balance to the team. However, things went slightly awry with the latter obtaining a long-term injury through recreational football, and a further complication came about when his colleague Danny Shuffe suffered  perennial back pains.

Back in the title groove

Despite these problems Woodlands regained the title in 2011. The start of the season didn’t exactly inspire confidence. But, after Mason had got acquainted to the slower wickets he made his mark with 768 runs and a top score of 163*, and with  Richardson  enjoying his best season at Woodlands scoring 1010 runs, the batting took care of itself.  The bowling was as thrustful as ever with the formidable trio of  Ahmed (43 wkts), Swanepoel (60 wkts) and Brice (54 wkts) all making hay.

This trio occupied three of the top four places in the league’s bowling averages with Ahmed leading the way at the top.  Ahmed also made 431 runs with the bat which included many entertaining knocks in a season he claimed the the league’s fastest fifty in 16 balls.

Rookie wicket-keeper Usman Salim won the League Wicket-Keeping Trophy for 2011 to establish himself as Rushworth’s natural replacement. To illustrate his progress he replicated this feat in 2013.  

Young Scott Richardson (junior) proved that Woodlands are able to afford opportunities to their own juniors. Played as back-up medium pace in the First Team he impressed Cumberland enough to be given a run in their Minor Counties Championship team in 2012.

Entering the 2012 season there was good reason to back Woodlands to retain their title. None of their rivals had recruited impressively but Woodlands had Soames fully recovered to embark on his first injury-free season, while all-rounder Steve Piercy was added to the squad from Easingwold.
 

They started like a train and gave an early impression that the title race would be effectively over by August. After a further ten matches Woodlands had stretched their lead to 45 points and nobody could predict what was about to happen.
 

Woodlands lost to Lightcliffe by 51 runs, before recovering to beat Manningham Mills by the narrow margin of two wickets. They had previously proved to be mortal by escaping defeat by the skin of their teeth in the Saltaire and Farsley fixtures, and avoided seemingly certain defeat when the weather intervened against Cleckheaton.
 

When Ahmed had to return to Pakistan due to the death of his father their fortunes dipped alarmingly. Three successive defeats rendered their lead a mere 4-points entering the final day’s fixtures when four teams could have conceivably won the title.
 

After being bowled out for 153 by a depleted Bradford & Bingley side they were facing certain defeat with their opponents poised for victory on 149-6 with half-centurian Matthew Duce on strike, and a very watchful Harry Smallwood supporting.  Somehow the Bingley batters conspired to get themselves out and didn’t manage another run to hand Woodlands the title. Woodlands had again pulled it out of the fire on Tim Orrell’s final appearance for the club.
 

The consistent batting came from Soames who scored 418 runs at 34.83, Richardson with 528 runs at 33.00 and Mason who contributed 606 runs at 31.89. Brice again excelled  at both skills scoring 408 runs at 25.50, and also taking 37 wickets at 17.03. Skipper Swanepoel, below, was the outstanding bowler taking 54 wickets at 15.09.


 

Favourites to win the title in 2013 Woodlands were overtaken by a Cleckheaton side who in previous seasons had flattered to deceive even though they had the talent. On this occasion they prevailed during a season when Woodlands lost their talisman cricketer Chris Brice with half a season to go. He had incurred an injury in an impressive Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions defeat of the holders Whitley Hall.
 

Disappointingly they lost to Woodhouse Grange in the semi-final after a lacklustre performance. In the league it wasn’t until mid- August that they looked like surrendering their title in a race that saw Pudsey St Lawrence pip them for second place. The best performers with the bat were Frankland (699 runs), Mason (pictured below, 642 runs), Richardson (571 runs) and Soames (510 runs), while Ahmed was the most penetrative bowler with 50 wickets.

Changes for 2014 saw Farakh Hussain departing to Undercliffe, and Scott Richardson to New Farnley, being replaced by prolific left hander Duncan Snell from York and  Cumberland batsman Logan Weston who performed impressively for Southport & Birkdale in 2013.

Duncan Snell arrives from York

Snell was one of those outstanding signings that the Bradford League, and in particular Woodlands, can attract from time to time. In 2013 Snell scored 1,411 runs for York at an average of 56.44, including a top score of 187. His Yorkshire League career record stands at 10,560 runs amassing 57 fifties and 24 hundreds.  

Woodlands were many pundits favourites for the title, but they lost the defining home clash with Cleckheaton in mid-season and in doing so lost the initiative.  Weston was the success of the batting with 543 runs, followed by Mason who scored 443, but Snell found it difficult to impress.

Sarfraz Ahmed again performed well scoring 332 entertaining league runs, and figuring second in the League Bowling Averages with 42 wickets at 11.90. Brice was the next best bowler with 41 wickets.

Usman Salim equalled Nicky Rushworth’s feat of winning the F Milton League Wicket Keeper’s Trophy for the third time. This proved to be his last season with Woodlands as he joined Undercliffe for better batting opportunities.

For the second season Woodlands suffered a serious injury which disturbed the balance of the team when Grant Soames had a reuccurence of a serious injury. Despite this they finished second and featured in two remarkable tied matches against Pudsey St Lawrence and Cleckheaton.

For Woodlands, 2015 was a transitional season with the late departure of Simon Mason upsetting their batting order, and the introduction of young players Elliot Richardson and Jordan Laban.

 The batting suffered from early collapses and was often bailed out by the consistent Logan Weston who scored 644 runs at 40.25, and a resolute tail end. Despite this they challenged strongly for the title and only a late surprise defeat at East Bierley negated their chances. 

Left arm spinner Brice was again their talisman in the field striking at vital times and taking 68 wickets at 11.96. This earned him the First Division Bowling Averages for the second time in his career. Another notable achievement was Weston’s impressive haul of twenty-one outfield catches.

Taste for the cup
Woodlands continued their  Priestley Cup malaise with a home defeat in a closely contested match against New Farnley. However, they progressed in the Heavy Woollen Cup beating some good sides in Barkisland, Wakefield Thornes and Pudsey Congs on route to the final at Ossett. Without their skipper Swanepoel and carrying injuries they went into the final as second favourites against a strong Hoylandswaine side who had won the Blacksheep Yorkshire Champions trophy in 2013. 

Woodlands took first strike and found batting to be extremely difficult as the ball seamed around. Skipper Sam Frankland (25) battled hard but could not prevent his side sinking to 89-6. Logan Weston rallied his side making a valuable 59 from 106 balls, and with contributions from the tail the final score crept up to 182.

Hoylandswaine looked to be in for a regulation win as their first pair put on 81 at a canter. However, when left-arm spinner Chris Brice separated the pair the momentum began to shift, and a dramatic collapse resulted in Hoylandswaine being 135-9 after the introduction of Scott Richardson, pictured below. He took 5-43 to rip the heart out of the innings and earned the Man of the Match award for his efforts. He ably assisted by Brice who produced a masterful spell of 3-14 in his ten overs, and opening bowler Sarfraz Ahmed who only conceded eight runs in eight overs.

For Woodlands, the 34-run win meant more silverware and the first Heavy Woollen Cup since 2004. Added glory for the club came when their second team lifted the Crowther Cup for the third time in four seasons by beating Pudsey Congs by 46 runs at Morley. This success meant that Woodlands became the first club since Ossett in 1978 to complete the Heavy Woollen Cup and Crowther Cup double. All Rounder Liam Collins completed a fine season, in which he scored a double century in a league match, to win the man of the match award.

Second Team bowler Tom Lightfoot also achieved a notable personal achievement on July 11 when he took 10-44 against Keighley.

Tim Jackson takes over as captain

Tim Jackson took over as captain in 2016, and with the acquisition of former Cumberland batsman Alex Atkinson, the batting was expected to be stiffened enough for a title challenge. This did not happen as only Tim Jackson (601 runs) and Sam Frankland (611 runs) topped 500 runs in a season of inconsistency in the league which brought a fifth position.
 

The main bowling came from Chris Brice who won the league bowling averages for the second successive season, and the third time in all, with a record of 44 wickets at 13.59, and fellow spin bowler Kez Ahmed who almost matched him with 43 wickets at 14.42.
 

Woodlands reserved their best form for the Priestley Cup, beating New Farnley and Cleckheaton on the way to the Final at Spen Victoria, where Pudsey St Lawrence was the big favourites.
 

After overnight rain, Jackson still elected to bat first after winning the toss, and put his side in the ascendency with an opening stand of 83 with Frankland. However, when both were dismissed in their forties it was left to Logan Weston (49 runs) to drive them to a slightly under-par score of 214-9.


Pudsey soon lost their lynch-pin batsman Mark Robertshaw to Sarfraz Ahmed, and later capitulated in the face of spin bowlers Brice (3-14) and Kez Ahmed (4-11) to be dismissed for 99. This was Woodlands second Priestley Cup win in a tournament which had eluded them somewhat with four losing appearances in 13 years.


Brice was named the man of the match by virtue of his bowling performance, coupled with his cameo innings of 17 which accelerated the scoring at a key time.


 

Sarfraz Ahmed plays his last match

This Final marked the last match in a 16-year career for overseas player Sarfraz Ahmed. He was given a guard of honour when taking the field and made his inevitable mark with a fine analysis of 2-32 from 10 overs. It was a season where he was dogged by a knee injury and often he played through the pain barrier, such was his determination to go out in a blaze of glory.
 

Mere statistics don’t do justice to a player who could turn a match with bat or bowl without a hint of nastiness.  Ahmed took just short of 800 league wickets at a cost of less than 15 a wicket, while his batting statistics of over 4,500 runs give no indication of the explosive manner he got them. However, when he won the Fastest Fifty Trophy for the third time in 2016- this time in 20 balls, it illustrated perfectly his rapid run-scoring. His benefit match against a team of Pakistani overseas players was well attended with his century well received by an appreciative crowd.

The 2016 Woodlands Second Team had a notable achievement winning the league & cup double.

 

Life after Sarfraz Ahmed could have been a real negative, but 2017 was considered a success for Woodlands. More cup silverware for the third successive season, and runners-up in the league behind a very strong Hanging Heaton side told it’s own story. 
 

They made an impressive start to their league campaign and vied with Hanging Heaton and Farsley for the leadership until 26th August when they were defeated at Townville.
 

This put an end to their title campaign, but they were worthy challengers and proved it by performing the double over Farsley. However, they had difficulties with their early batting and were often bailed out by their strong lower order. The most consistent performers were Tim Jackson and Chris Brice.
 

Another Heavy Woollen triumph
 

The club found their Heavy Woollen prowess again, defeating New Farnley and Townville on the way to their second final in two seasons. Coincidentally, their opponents were Hoylandswaine again, and they would be without Tim Jackson, their captain for the big match.
 

In the circumstances, the powerful Hoylandswaine, who had more or less clinched the Drakes Huddersfield League title, would start as favourites in front of a decent crowd at Hanging Heaton.
 

Hoylandswaine batted first and made good progress in the early part of the innings, with Chris Holliday (51 runs) threatening to take the game away from Woodlands. However, after being brilliantly caught out on the boundary edge by Scott Richardson, Hoylandswaine lost their way and only a good measured innings from Gurnan Randhawa (57 runs) took them to 213 all-out.


Chris Brice, who skippered Woodlands in Jackson’s absence took 2-23 in 10 overs, while paceman Elliot Richardson had a telling analysis of 3-39.


Although Woodlands lost an early wicket, Sam Frankland took the game by the scruff of the neck and stroked boundaries on both sides of the wicket for a match-winning 67. He was accompanied by Greg Finn (53 runs) who also batted positively in a more considered innings.


Despite a late shutter of wickets victory for Woodlands was never in doubt as they eased home by 2 wickets with eleven overs left. Frankland was awarded the man of the match award.


The club’s Second Team retained the Priestley Shield, and also won the Crowther Cup for the fourth time since 2012.

 

Difficult season ends with trophy

Things went awry in 2018 at Albert Terrace,despite more silverware which was won in less than ideal circumstances.


There were several unforeseen circumstances that negated any chance of a title challenge. All-rounder Mark Lawson left the club after three games, overseas batsman Ishfaq Ahmad started late and finished early and did little in the league inbetween, and several key players were plagued with injury.


Despite this, the club finished their league campaign strongly in fourth place after Jackson (663 runs) and Frankland (654 runs) ended the season with a flourish. The bowling strength was spin, with Brice (57 wkts) the league’s leading wicket-taker, and Kez Ahmed (46 wkts) his ideal partner.  


Woodlands’ habit of reaching cup finals continued after they beat Townville in a tense semi-final. On a day where it seemed to rain for long periods all over West Yorkshire, Townville escaped the worst and they managed to get a 35-over game in at 3.30pm.

Townville batted first and managed to grind out a score of 136 all out in the face of disciplined Woodlands bowling- Ishfaq Ahmed (2-13), Muhammad Bilal (2-21) and Chris Brice (2-27).

The reply was slow and measured, but  Tim Jackson and Sam Frankland laid the foundation for the promoted Elliot Richardson to strike 40 valuable runs to see Woodlands through by 5-wickets in a degree of comfort.

The much anticipated Woodlands v Farsley final at Undercliffe was rained-off on the scheduled day, and the latter forfeited the match rather than play a weakened side on the reserve date.

Despite the empty feeling felt by the Woodlands players, it represented the fourth major cup win in four seasons.

Garner’s double delight

As the 2019 season approached, Woodlands were under the radar as regards winning the title, with Hanging Heaton and New Farnley being chosen as the most likely.

Cieran Garner was a surprise appointment of captain as he had only established himself in the First Team in the previous year.

The one significant signing was overseas player Brad Schmulian who was born in Cape Town and moved to New Zealand at the age of nine. He made his first-class debut for Central Districts in the 2017–18 Plunket Shield season, and scored 203 runs in the first innings, the highest total on debut in first-class cricket in New Zealand. He was also a specialised leg spin bowler.

Nobody could have predicted that this new chapter in the history of Woodlands would start with a Bradford Premier League title and Priestley Cup double. The team spirit engendered by Garner was remarkable, as was the performances from key players.

The signs were there for all to see in the second fixture of the season. The Woodlands duo of Schmulian and Jackson set a new all-time record first team partnership of 326 runs against Methley.

Schmulian led the way with his maiden century for Woodlands. He scored 153 not out, an innings containing three sixes and 15 fours, while Jackson made 137 not out after striking three sixes and 17 fours.

Woodlands finished on a remarkable 329-1, and after beating Methley by 86-runs, began to build a good lead at the top.

By the time they had beaten Cleckheaton by eight-wickets in late June, they were regarded as the team to catch having established a 35-point lead at the top. Schmulian produced an outstanding all-round display that day taking 7-33 with his leg spin and following up with an unbeaten innings of 64, as his side breezed past their near-neighbours’ score of 140 in just 23.5 overs.

Woodlands signalled the half-way stage of the season with a decisive home win against Farsley and went 41-points clear at the top.

Into the second-half of the season, New Farnley inflicted an emphatic defeat on Woodlands, and later they had a surprise loss at bottom side Wrenthorpe. Suddenly, Bradford & Bingley emerged as the team most likely to catch Woodlands, and they had their chance at Albert Terrace to bridge the gap.

In a keenly fought match, Bradford & Bingley were in the ascendency after bowling Woodlands out for 131, and when they had reached 115-5 should have won. However, spinners Brice and Schmulian squeezed the run-flow so effectively that rash shots led them to be dismissed six runs short.

From then on, Woodlands coasted to the title 42 points clear of the surprise runners-up Townville.

Woodlands strength was based on their ability to `strangle’ the opposition’s batting by quality spin bowling in mid-innings.  Brice was the main architect of this with 53 wickets, helped enormously by Kez Ahmed and Schmulian, who shared 58 wickets.

Jackson scored 682 runs at 40.12 to finish second in the league averages, while Schmulian followed him in third place after scoring 672 runs at 39.53. This duo was the rock of the batting, and Liam Collins was invaluable with his hard-hitting cameos in the middle-order.

The route to the Priestley Cup Final was not an easy one, and after beating Methley they faced Hanging Heaton in the semi-finals at Albert Terrace. It had all the ingredients of a potential classic, but few pundits could have predicted the outcome of an extremely early Woodlands victory.

Hanging Heaton decided to bat first and their hopes were effectively in tatters once Mohammad Bilal (3-28) had helped to reduce them to 31-4. Spinner Kez Ahmed piled on the agony with 4-14 as Hanging Heaton's last four wickets fell with their total on 86.  Jackson’s innings of 33 set the platform for Greg Finn (23no) and Garner (15no) to see their side home by six-wickets.

If that was a disappointment for the neutrals, the final at Undercliffe against New Farnley was definitely not, as Woodlands won an attritional game by 4-wickets.

New Farnley batted first and they were in real danger of being dismissed for a small score when they collapsed to 87-6. However, Adam Waite was still anchoring the innings and ended with 97 not out after dominating a sixth-wicket stand of 91, to take the score to a semi-respectable 178-6.

Scott Richardson (3-28) and Chris Brice (2-23) were the pick of a disciplined bowling attack.

Woodlands lost early wickets in reply, and at the 25-over stage were creaking at 67-3. On commencement, Liam Collins unleashed an array of shots to take 24 runs off the 26th over to take the score to 91-3. Suddenly the pressure had been taken off and Woodlands were in the ascendency, especially with Schmulian dropping anchor.

New Farnley were not finished and they fought back to peg Woodlands back to 133-6.  However, No.8 batsman Mohammad Bilal came in to dominate a partnership of 48 with Schmulian, striking 4 fours and 2 sixes in an unbeaten 37 to pave the way for his team’s victory by 4-wickets. Schmulian finished unbeaten on a highly disciplined 68 not out.

The title win allowed Woodlands to take part in the Yorkshire Premier League Play-offs, and they started in fine style beating Doncaster Town by 189 runs in the semi-final at Albert Terrace.

Schmulian made 122 runs as Woodlands piled up 299-8, with additional contributions from Jackson (41 runs), Collins (43 runs) and Garner (31 runs). Doncaster was never in it and had no answer to Brice who took 6-20, as they folded to 110.

What would have been the icing on the cake for Woodlands was not to be, as their bid to win the Yorkshire Premier League Play-off final for the first time ended in frustration, as they lost an enthralling encounter to Sheriff Hutton Bridge by three runs at Emerald Headingley.

Sheriff Hutton Bridge batted first, and after Bilal had taken an early wicket, Yorkshire player Ed Barnes and skipper Adam Fisher took charge with a second wicket stand of 110.

 The scoring rate was high and a score in the region of 250-275 was at one stage probable, but Brice started to extract turn from the pitch and completed his 15 overs with 3-44, as Woodlands clawed themselves back into the game.

Woodlands were chasing a manageable 212-6, and got off to the worst possible start. They were quickly reduced to 18-3 as Tim Jackson, Sam Frankland and skipper Cieran Garner were all dismissed cheaply as the new-ball pair of Ed Barnes and Dave Henstock struck.

The chances of victory seemed slim, but Liam Collins – who had a habit of thriving on the big occasion – took the fight to Sheriff Hutton Bridge. Despite seeing Brad Schmulian and Greg Finn depart to the left-arm spin of Karl Carver as Woodlands slipped to 99-5, Collins went for his strokes.

Collins looked to be guiding Woodlands to victory until he sliced a ball from Henstock and was caught at third man by Barnes for an impressive 85. When he departed from the first ball of the 48th over, Woodlands needed 19 runs from 17 balls with two wickets standing.

Elliot Richardson and Kez Ahmed reduced the target to seven from the last over, but Sheriff Hutton Bridge, and Henstock in particular, held their nerve. With three needed from the final ball, Ahmed holed out at deep point to give Sheriff Hutton Bridge the White Rose Trophy.

It was a bittersweet end to a highly successful season, but they were back on the `big stage’ and proved that they were not merely a `cup side’ in terms of winning trophies.

The regular double-winning side of 2019 was- Cieran Garner (Capt), Tim Jackson, Sam Frankland, Brad Schmulian, Liam Collins, Greg Finn, Scott Richardson, Mohammad Bilal, Elliot Richardson, Kez Ahmed, Chris Brice.

Cieran Garner lifts the Priestley Cup in 2019 Picture: Ray Spencer

With the same side in line to play in the 2020 season, things were looking good for continued success. However Covid-19 changed all that, and the club decided not to take part in the Gordon Rigg Premier League Cup and T20 competitions.

The club cited Health & Safety reasons, and it also gave them the opportunity to hire contractors to do essential work on their outfield at the earliest possible dateline.

An aerial view of the new Woodlands outfield taking shape. Picture: Ray Spencer

 

Tim Orrell - Woodlands legend

Captain 1998-2009

Clearly, Orrell was a natural captain as he drove his side on in the field often fielding inches from the bat. Orrell, born in Prestwich played Lancashire League cricket before being snapped up by Saltaire in 1992. His cricketing career took off in 1986, when he played in an Oxford and Cambridge Festival tournament, for a Lancashire side which ran out 10-wicket winners.

He debuted in Second XI cricket in 1989, and played two matches in the Benson and Hedges Cup competition of 1990 for Combined Universities. Lancashire got to the semi-finals of the Second XI Trophy competition of 1990, following which he was noticed by the first team selectors and, during June 1991, was given his first and only first-class appearance, for Lancashire against
Oxford University. Orrell scored 21 runs during the game, and continued to represent the Second XI until the end of the 1991 season.

 

Orrell established himself as a leading Bradford League batsman with Saltaire before he was persuaded to join Woodlands in 1998 while making their mark in the Central Yorkshire League. He spent six seasons at Saltaire often winning matches for his side with his particular brand of aggressive play. He preferred the pace bowlers, especially if they pitched it short, as he so often proved that there was no finer puller of the ball in the league. He ended his Bradford League career at Undercliffe in 2013 with a career record of 10,558 runs at 29.91.
 

Orrell was the catalyst of ambitious plans to take Woodlands to the very top of league cricket in Yorkshire. He established Woodlands as a competitive Central Yorkshire League team before instigating a rapid rise in the Bradford League which would see them match the achievements of Pudsey Congs.
 

Tim Orrell's honours as captain
Bradford League Division Two 2001
Bradford League Division One 2005 2006 2007 2008
Priestley Cup 2006
Black Sheep  2006 2007
Heavy Woollen Cup 2004

UA-143927933-1