The Yeadon team which won the Division Two title in 1981. back, from left, Chris Farrell, Chris Smith, Clive Kelsey, Pat Fordham, Clarrie Samuel, Peter Hardcastle. Front: Robert Slater, Les Wood, John Harker (Captain),Geoff Cope, John Bridgman
The origins of cricket in Yeadon are historically very vague, but around 1850 scores of people played on Yeadon Moor when work ended at Saturday tea times. There was such enthusiasm that play continued as long as the light would allow.
At that time Yeadon boasted two teams, Topenders and Lowenders. The two teams decided to amalgamate at a meeting held in the Old Victoria Hotel, at the junction of Sandy Way and The Green, in 1859. The newly amalgamated club adopted the name Yeadon United Cricket Club, with ‘united’ label being dropped some time later.
The club’s first few seasons were played at Nunroyds Field near the present home of Green Lane. The move to the White Swan ground came in 1865 and since then the ground has been the scene of many a historic struggle and the platform for young men to develop into county cricketers.
In 1867 a United All England played 22 men of Yeadon and District in a three day game. The Yeadon side included some of the best known names in the County. Yeadon made 108 and 66 and UAE made 108 and 67 for two.
The legendary W G Grace, above, played at the Swan ground in 1877 with a United South X1. Grace was bowled for nought by an elated bowler who was then admonished by his captain for removing the man the crowd had paid to see.
Yeadon’s side included another legendary figure in Ted Peate, as well as John Smith – a man known locally as “Soldier Jonny.” He became in 1865 the first player from Yeadon to play for Yorkshire, while Peate was one of the county’s most famous cricketers. In 1881 Peate was chosen to go on England’s tour to Australia and America and, to celebrate, a dinner was held in his honour at the White Swan Hotel.
Peate played for Yorkshire from 1879 until 1887 and also made the grade for England, playing in nine Tests. Peate is one of eight Yorkshire cricketers buried in Yeadon Cemetery. The others are: JM Preston (1890), Amos Marshall (1891), Sam Flaxington, JH. Penny (1902), F Smith (1905), Jim Yeadon (1914) and Matt Myers (1919).
In 1878 the whole of the village was excited by the news that the Australian tourists were going to play at the Yeadon Feast Week. Eighteen Yeadon lads were picked to play the illustrious visitors over three days. The tourists were housed at the Swan and the Peacock Inns. Wagonettes, gigs, carts and even wheelbarrows brought people from Leeds, Bradford and the surrounding areas. The Australians, who included Alex Bannerman and the demon bowler Spofforth, took 80 per cent of the gate. Yeadon pulled off an historic victory. The Australians made a second visit in 1880 and avenged the defeat.
It was in 1883 on the Wednesday of the Feast Week that a rising ball from the fast bowler Merritt Preston struck Albert Luty on the head and killed him.
In 1900 Yeadon entered as the one of the founder clubs of the Yorkshire Cricket Council. They found success winning trophies in the Aire Wharfe section of the aforementioned league, and also participated in the Leeds Section for a short time. When the Airedale & Wharfedale Senior League broke away in 1935 to be constituted in its own identity Yeadon found stability by joining.
In the first year of the competition Yeadon performed the classic First Division League & Waddilove Cup double. They would retain the Waddilove Cup in 1937 and set their marker as a leading power in the league.
Despite their relish for the Airedale & Wharfedale Senior League they decided to leave to join the Bradford League in time for the 1942 season finishing a credible third in Division B. The hero was Jim Smith who took 53 wickets at 9.00. This was good enough for promotion to the top section, but they could not make a fist of it in 1943 and were unceremoniously dumped back into the bottom division.
1944 was the year when Yeadon's team, above, proved that they had really arrived in the league when they gained promotion from top spot, and also participated in the final of the Priestley Cup against Spen Victoria. They lost convincingly scoring just 79 to Spen’s 151-9, but they had tasted the big time and major success was just around the corner.
Yorkshire’s Horace Fisher topped the league bowling averages for Yeadon with 57 wickets at 6.14. This was a superior effort than assorted luminaries in the league that season such at Bill Copson, Sandy Jacques and George Pope. The second place in the league bowling averages went to Fisher’s team mate Jim Smith who took 54 wickets at 7.61.
The 1940s were the truly halcyon days of Yeadon Cricket Club. Between 1944 and 1949 they appeared in four Priestley Cup finals lifting the trophy three times in 1945, 1947 and 1949. In 1945 they defeated Pudsey St Lawrence by 61 runs in the Final with a side which contained three county players, Charles Harris (Nottinghamshire), James Cutmore (Essex) and Horace Fisher (Yorkshire).
These were fine league cricketers with Harris being the most accomplished county man. As a genuine All Rounder on the county circuit he scored 18,823 runs averaging 35.05 per innings with a highest score of 239*. With the ball he took 196 wickets with a career best analysis of 8-80.
In 1946 Yeadon was one point from winning the top section in second place- a feat they equalled the following year in 1947 when they were four points adrift. At the opening match of that season the new scoreboard housed in the pavilion was officially opened. The project had been held in abeyance during the war years. They also won the cup for a second time with a stunning performance. They made 365 against Salts with Joe Lodge hitting 133 and Dennis Bateson (90). In a remarkable match, Salts replied with 307.
Bateson recalls that in the 1940s Yeadon took about £100 on the gate at 4d a time. The field was full every week and when the first team played away they ran two coaches from the White Swan pub filled with supporters.
The 1948 side competed moderately well finishing in ninth place in the top section. The side contained a young Brian Close, centreof team picture above, who finished fifth in the League’s Batting Averages with an average of 38.33. Slightly lower down was J C Rigg of Yeadon with an average of 27.00.
Close was one of the most courageous cricketers of all time; fielding inches from the bat at short leg, and withstanding the famous bombardment of bouncers from Hall & Griffiths in the sixties series between England and the West Indians. He was a great captain leading Yorkshire through their glory years, and also revived an England side at the lowest ebb for years. He was a genuine all-rounder capable of performing the perfect double of a 1,000 runs & 100 wickets on two occasions.
The left hander could bat in a crisis and also gain momentum for his team in a run chase with some audacious shots over the leg side boundary. He was a right arm `little seamer’ who would thrive if there was something in the wicket, but could also contain in good conditions. He scored 34,994 First Class runs at 33.26 with a highest score of 198, and took 1171 wickets with a best analysis of 8.41. His close to the wicket catching ability resulted in 813 catches. Most cricket historians agree that his 22 test match record should have been many more.
In 1949 Yeadon triumphed in the Priestley Cup Final again- this time at the expense of Farsley. They won by five wickets against a side which included the emerging young star Ray Illingworth. Yeadon owed their success to an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 180 between Tom Falkingham (97*) and Jim Illingworth (78*) after they had tumbled to 21 for five in reply to Farsley’s score of 200.
Despite Yeadon’s cup success they were relegated in 1949 only to return as champions of the lower division in 1950. This was down largely to two players who enjoyed spectacular success. Horace Fisher won the League Bowling Averages for the second time in six years taking 50 wickets at 9.38, while F D Booth averaged an impressive 53.33 with the bat.
Another budding star at Yeadon in the same era was Bryan Stott, above, who had a long First Class career with Yorkshire from 1952 to 1963. In 190 first-class matches, this solid left-handed opening batsman scored 9,248 runs at 31.45, with 17 centuries, and best scores of 186 against Warwickshire and 181 against Essex. After several years of sporadic appearances, he became a first team regular in 1957, while his best season came in 1959, when he scored over 2,000 runs for the only time.
Stott took a career haul of ninety one catches. As a very occasional bowler he took seven wickets at 16.00 with his rarely seen medium pace, including 4 for 34 against Surrey. His time in the game was ending as one-day cricket began, but he played two matches in the Gillette Cup in his last season.
Yeadon finished eighth in the top section for three successive season featuring 1951 to 53. In 1951 stalwart batsman Jim Illingworth figured highly in the batting averages with 687 runs at 42.94 with a top score of 105*. He would score even more in 1955 with a league aggregate of 690 runs at a lesser average. Another reliable batsman Tom Falkingham averaged 31.58 that season with a highest score of 77.
In 1954 Yeadon was relegated with a player in their side named F.Yeadon who proved to be their most successful bowler with 39 wickets. The club’s plight would get worse in 1956 when they suffered a re-election plea from the basement position.
Two years later Yeadon were title winners in 1958 and with it promotion to the top flight after a three-year absence. The key player for this triumph was All Rounder K Speight who figured highly in both the league’s batting and bowling averages. He averaged 31.00 with the bat, and took his 32 wickets for 8.78.
The club celebrated their centenary in 1959. Special events included the staging of a Yorkshire second eleven game against Northumberland and the hosting of the first ever Sanderson Cup match between Yorkshire and Lancashire’s under-18 players.
At the inception of the sixties relegation arrived with only John France with 368 runs applying himself with the bat. Quick bowler Ben Serotsky, who would make a real impact on the league elsewhere, burst on the scene with 47 wickets at 12.74.
From 1961 to 1980 the club was in the doldrums and indeed its very future existence was in doubt at times. Without such men as Jim Illingworth, Tom Merrick and the late Gilbert Firth the club may not have been around to celebrate its 125th anniversary. In this twenty-year period the club would have to apply for re-election eleven times- 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1980.
There was some respite to their problems when Dennis Bateson, above, returned to the club from Windhill. In 1969 he ensured they would not have to apply for re-election with steady performances of 353 runs at 27.26, and 33 wickets. This ensured an impressive fourth position. He would be even more productive the following year in 1970 with 595 runs for an average of 42.50 with a top score of 70*, and took 37 wickets at 14.08.
Once Bateson was late arriving at a match after a wedding reception held for one of his colleagues Tony Mortimer. Despite having a couple of drinks he strapped his pads on at arrival at the match with Yeadon deep in trouble at 15-4. He dug in and ended with an unbeaten 86.
A remarkable happening at Yeadon in 1970 was the stunning performances of opening bowler Chris Fordham. For years he was an also-ran at Bradford Park Avenue hardly squeezing into the first team. Suddenly he exploded at Yeadon with an incredible 90 wickets at 9.24 and in consequence taking the League Bowling Prize. Oddly he never kicked on from this and quickly went into obscurity after playing for Idle.
Seamer Brian Redfearn finished second in the League Bowling Averages in 1973 with 52 wickets at 9.68. Still Yeadon had to apply for re-election.
In 1974 a raw young medium pace bowler Colin Pearson took a sensational 4 wicket in four balls against East Bierley to equal the same feat by Arthur Vickers for Yeadon in 1955. Pearson concluded a very promising season with the ball taking 49 wickets at 15.91. Surprisingly little was heard of him in the subsequent years other than second team appearances for Queensbury and Saltaire.
During the seventies Brian Redfearn was a doughty fighter for Yeadon and probably worthy of playing for any of the top teams. His best season was in 1976 when he scored 600 runs at 37.50 with a top score of 97*, and also took 58 wickets at 12.44. Bateson took 71 wickets in the same season. Despite these two prolific performers the team finished a lowly ninth.
In 1980 Yeadon had to apply for re-election despite the batting ability of Yorkshire’s Barry Leadbeater who won the League’s Batting Averages with 703 runs at an incredible 78.11, with a top score of 109*. Leadbeater played for Yorkshire as a middle-order batsman from 1966 to 1979.His promise went largely unfulfilled having an average of 25.34 in 147 first class matches with just one century. The highlight of his playing career was his man-of-the-match award for scoring 76 in the 1969 Gillette Cup final, a match in which he was not expected to play.
The year 1981 saw the rebirth of the club with John Harker bringing together a team mostly of local talent which exceeded all expectations by climbing into Division One at the first attempt. John Fordham was the pick of the batsmen with 763 runs at 42.38, ably assisted by Aire Wharfe recruit Chris Smith who weighed in with 622. Smith proved himself a good all rounder taking 30 wickets to finish second in the League Bowling Averages, behind team mate Geoff Cope whose 65 wickets cost just 8.81.
Unlike days of old promotion was not followed by relegation as Yeadon finished an impressive third in the top section in 1982. Fordham was again the most consistent batsman with 629 runs, while Sean Atkinson scored 417. Cope again won the League Bowling Averages, but this time the First Division’s version, taking 72 wickets at a cost of 12.51.
Cope took 686 first-class wickets in 246 games, with a best of 8 for 73 against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1975. His average of 24.70 compares favourably with other bowlers of his type during his career. He took his largest seasonal haul, 93 wickets at 24.13, in 1976 and averaged just 13.82 with the ball in taking 40 wickets in 1967. He played in three test matches with a best performance of 3-102 v Pakistan.
With the bat he scored several first-class fifties, usually grinding affairs to stave off defeat. He often was sent in as a stolid night-watchman, and opened on occasion in emergencies. His highest knock was 78 against Essex at Acklam Park, Middlesbrough in 1977. After leaving the first-class game he played for Yeadon Cricket Club, helping develop the club and the ground, before finally retiring from the game completely at 40.
Next to Cope in the averages in 1982 was his team-mate Richard Illingworth who took 36 wickets at 13.51. A product of Salts CC, he would go on and forge a county career. Playing mainly as a left-arm spinner Illingworth made his first class debut in 1982, promoted to the Worcestershire first team after just two Second XI appearances and taking 3–61 against Somerset. His figures that year were fairly modest; eighteen first-class wickets cost him over 45 apiece, and he bowled just eight overs in one-day cricket but Worcestershire saw potential and persevered.
By 1983, Illingworth, pictured above in his current role as an international umpire, was a first-team regular, taking forty eight first-class wickets, a figure he improved on (with 57) the following year. For most of his twenty-season county career, Illingworth remained with Worcestershire, but after he failed to win a contract extension in 2000, the last two years of his time in the first-class game were spent with Derbyshire. He finished his career with 831 wickets at an average of 31.54, and more than 7,000 runs at 22.45, including four first-class centuries. He met with limited success in his nine test matches taking 19 wickets at 32.36.
From 1983-1986 things were stable at Yeadon with comfortable league positions the order of the day. In this period Cope was a tower of strength with the ball taking hauls of 52, 66, 63 and 53 wickets. John Fordham had an excellent season in 1986 scoring 727 runs at 40.39. It all unraveled in 1987 when they finished in bottom place with just two victories despite Cope’s 53 wickets.
John Fordham scored runs in prolific fashion despite his activities behind the stumps as wicket-keeper. He was so efficient at the latter that he won the Stan Longbottom Safe Hands Keepers Award in 1985 and 1986.
1988 was an encouraging season with Mark Greatbatch, above, joining as an overseas player and scoring 594 runs at 34.94. He would have a superb career with Pudsey St Lawrence and become a Test player with New Zealand. In 1988 he set a new Priestley Cup record second wicket stand with Nick Tubbs of 201.
Tubbs was a consistent scorer in the league with 663, bettered only by Peter Booth who scored 666 runs at 44.40 and also took 38 wickets. Booth played county cricket for Leicestershire between 1972 to 1981.He appeared in 90 first-class matches as a right handed batsman who bowled right arm fast medium. He scored 767 runs with a highest score of 58no and took 162 wickets with a best performance of six for 93.
Another good all round performance was from Phil Berry who scored 326 runs, and took 43 wickets. He and Booth were largely instrumental in guiding Yeadon to promotion from the Verity Section in 1989. They were big achievers again in both batting and bowling skills with Berry winning the Division Two Bowling Averages with 50 wickets at 10.12. Such was Berry’s craft as a spin bowler he won the 1st Division Bowling Averages two years later in 1991 with 37 wickets at 13.95.
Berry played for both Yorkshire and Durham in County Championship cricket In 26 first-class matches, he scored a total of 516 runs at 20.64, and took 39 wickets with his right arm off breaks at a cost of 45.02. Berry made his first-class debut for his home county in 1986, during which year he also played for England Young Cricketers against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge.
He played for Yorkshire until 1990, but made just seven first-class appearances before playing for Durham, appearing in 19 matches from 1992 to 1994. In 26 first-class matches, he scored a total of 516 runs at 20.64, and took 39 wickets with his right arm off breaks at a cost of 45.02.
Although his overall record is modest, Berry did enjoy one spectacular game for Durham against Middlesex at Lord's in July 1992, during which he recorded both his highest score and best bowling figures. In the home team's first innings of 366 he dismissed the first seven batsmen in the order, including Desmond Haynes and Mike Gatting at a cost of 113 and then scored 76 in Durham's reply of 232, more than twice as many as any other batsman. Middlesex went on to record a victory by 175 runs, but even at the end Berry was defiant, left unbeaten on 14 as Durham were bowled out for 118.
The other good performers in 1989 were Peter Dobbs (817 runs) and Nick Tubbs (514 runs). Tubbs gave excellent service to Yeadon and would captain Scarborough in the Yorkshire League in 1999.
Yeadon were in good heart at the inception of the nineties and they enjoyed five fulfilling seasons in the top flight. The arrival of Steve Bartle was a real bonus for them. He had impressive run aggregates of 682, 744, 653 and 378, but saved the best for 1994. He scored 1,010 runs with a top score of 113 to average 56.11, and subsequently claim fifth place in the League Batting Averages.
He did even better with the ball winning the League Bowling Averages with 30 wickets at 11.35. Bartle was an obvious choice for the cherished Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
When Bartle was on Yorkshire’s books they tried to turn him into a fast bowler when in effect he was a natural medium pacer who moved it both ways. However, they made no attempt to try him as a specialist batsman which was his real forte. He drifted away to Leicestershire where he played one First Class match in 1995 against Oxford University scoring 32 runs.
Peter Graham, above, was a fine acquisition for Yeadon in this period having hauls of 50, 63 and 61 wickets. He peaked in 1993 when he won the Bradford League Bowling Averages. He was a very clever seamer with immaculate line and length, and only fell partly short of county standard.
He represented Northumberland for several years and played his only first-class match in 1994 for the combined Minor Counties teams against the touringg South Africans. In this match he took four wickets including an innings figure of 2/39. He later represented the Yorkshire Cricket Board against Buckinghamshire in the 1999 Natwest Trophy.
When Bartle moved to Yeadon from Saltaire he came with experienced swing bowler Robert Hodson. His best season at Yeadon was in 1994 when he took 50 wickets.
Bruce Percy, another recruit from the Airedale & Wharfedale League, had his best season in 1995 when he scored 660 runs.
The highlight of these times was an appearance in the 1994 Priestley Cup Final. Yeadon batted first and posted an under par 190-6 which the emerging Pudsey Congs knocked off by eight wickets with few alarms.
In 1996 Yeadon succumbed to relegation with only Bartle who scored 378 runs carrying the fight. Yeadon were determined to fight back and made two audacious signings from Scarborough in Damon Gormley, above, and Neil Elvidge. These were quality batsmen who could have played for any team in the top flight. Elvidge was a classical left-hander who had all the shots, whilst Gormley was particularly prolific with the hook shot, and could also bowl `little floaters’.
Yeadon didn’t have the all round power to be promoted in the 1997/98 seasons and finished fifth on both occasions. However, Gormley’s 708 runs in 1997 were supplemented by 32 wickets which earned him the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
By 1999 they had developed their team sufficiently to gain promotion as champions. Elvidge’s aggregated league runs thus far was 677, 963 and 576 respectively, while Gormley managed an equally impressive 708, 484 and 852. The prolific pair was supplemented in 1999 by overseas man Naeem Khan who scored 762 runs and took 58 wickets at 11.86.
There was also a very accomplished wicket-keeper in the camp in Paul Hebden who proved his class by winning the Bradford League Wicket Keeper’s Award.
In 2000 there was another Scarborough recruit in Ian Philliskirk who topped 500 runs. He would be a major batsman at Farsley and Baildon in the years to come.
In the next two years Yeadon survived in the top flight with Elvidge, Gormley and Khan performing with less dominance but sustaining the batting. Seamer John Roper took 51 and 49 wicket respectively to maintain a certain danger with the new ball.
In 2001 Craig Thornton, still finding his feet as a utility man, had the astonishing bowling figures of 8-6.
Yeadon had two great cup runs in the space of three years- both ending in final defeat. In 1999 they lost to East Bierley who posted 224-9 before bowling Second Division Yeadon out for 151. In 2001 they were expected to make a better fist of it having finished seventh inthe top flight but Baildon blew them away in the final by the convincing margin of 120 runs.
Bizarrely, Yeadon finished in relegation positions in 2002 and 2003 but only went down once. First Division status was saved in 2002 because of league restructuring. However, the writing was on the wall and they did lose their status at the end of 2003. The only heartening aspect of 2003 was the maturing of young all rounder Grant Soames. He scored 583 runs, and took 42 wickets with his promising off spin.
There was no swift return to the First Division with Yeadon finishing 13th out of 15 in the lower division in 2004. This was despite Chris Henry’s 71 wickets, and Khan’s 815 runs at 42.46 added to his 39 wickets. Henry followed this by taking 65 wickets in 2005.
In 2006 Aamer Sajid proved to be an excellent choice as overseas player scoring 617 runs at 47.46, and also taking 30 wickets. He would better this in the title winning season of 2007 scoring 607 runs with a top score of 101*, and an average of 67.44. Soames was also a major influence scoring 463 runs at 46.30.
Yeadon spent two seasons in the First Division in ninth place before league restructuring would ensure that they would be the third relegated club in 2010.
Former Yorkshire seamer Greg Lambert, above, had two solid season taking 47 and 45 wickets. He was known in league circles as an extremely competitive player who indulged in histrionics when he was close to taking a wicket. In 2000, he played two first-class matches forr Yorkshire against Surrey and Kent in the County Championship. With the ball he took four wickets at a bowling average of 33.25, with best figures of 2 for 62.
In 2009 batsman Dan Shuffe had the season of his life scoring 767 runs at 45.12, with a top score of 102, and in doing so won the Bradford League Batting Averages. This remarkable season earned him a lucrative contract with Woodlands.
Gormley’s off spin was becoming more precious than his batting ability, and although he looked innocuous from the boundary edge he certainly tempted the opposition batters into playing a less than prudent shot. He won the Division Two Bowling Averages in both 2011 and 2012, with analysis of 56 wickets at 9.68 and 40 wickets at 6.95 respectively.
In 2012 Yeadon led the way with Baildon virtually all season as favourites for promotion. However, they lost their nerve almost at the death to hand promotion to Morley on a plate. All Rounder Oliver Halliday had a fine season scoring 480 runs at an average of 36.92 with a top score of 134*. Neil Elvidge’s son Ben showed great promise with 357 runs at 35.70 and also a useful aptitude for spin bowling thrown in.
In 2012 Yeadon completed the purchase of their White Swan ground after considerable fundraising. This would give them security of ownership and potential to diversify their interests in future years.
Ironically, in 2013 Yeadon were always distant outsiders for promotion but a late surge saw them overtake Spen Victoria into third place. This gave them promotion by virtue of the need for an extra team in the First Division in view of Manningham Mills being removed from the league.
Ben Elvidge was a prominent player in their promotion season scoring 561 runs with the bat, and also taking 40 wickets which earned him a contract with Hanging Heaton for the 2014 season. Evergreen Gormley was less successful with the ball but scored 500 runs at 38.46, whilst Halliday finished third in the league bowling averages with 62 wickets at 11.55.
Mindful of improving standards Yeadon members led by groundsman Andrew Pickering installed a much needed new drainage system after the 2013 season. For years the pitches were slow and the outfield even slower to recover from downpours. This gave the club a distinct disadvantage when their rivals could get more cricket played.
Club groundsman Pickering said at the time: "We had had a problem with drainage for a number of years. Many of the old drains had collapsed or become blocked so we knew we had to do something about it. We looked at the costs of installing drainage systems and decided the most cost efficient was to do it ourselves. We have installed two main drains across the ground at the scorebox and pavilion ends of the ground with lots of smaller drains branching off them. We believe it will do the trick and give us a drier ground than in recent years when our outfield has tended to hold the water whenever there has been heavy rain."
Yeadon’s late inclusion in the First Division for 2014 negated their recruitment possibilities for the new challenge. They struggled from the start but were invariably competitive opponents for the bigger teams who were better prepared. Tariq Mehboob was their leading batsman with 474 runs at 36.46, and new recruit Jake Wray proved to be a productive wicket-keeper batsman. Overseas player Elliott Herd took 30 wickets and performed a hat-trick against champions Cleckheaton, while Muhammed Saeed (32 wkts) was the chief wicket-taker.
It was a brave effort by Yeadon but two wins and a tally of 127 points meant bottom position and with it relegation. They did show a commendable fight to the death which was amply illustrated by their rearguard ten-wicket stand of 65 against Cleckheaton. This represented the best last wicket stand in the division for 2014.
The loss of key players negated Yeadon’s chances for promotion at the first time of asking in 2015. They never really threatened the promotion pacesetters despite finishing a credible fourth. Jake Wray impressed with the bat scoring 784 runs at 41.26, backed by Oliver Stephenson and James Todd, above, who both topped 500-runs, and Altaf Mohammad was the pick of the bowlers with 45 wickets.
With a relatively young side the club did well challenging so strongly for promotion from the new Championship division in 2016. Winning twelve matches, they went into the last fixture with everything to play for but missed out to Batley by 24 points.
Veteran batsman Damon Gormley led the run-scoring with 440 runs at 40.00, while Jake Wray, James Todd and Max MacIver all topped 300-runs.
The wickets were shared around with young spinner James Massheder, Michael Hunter and Taine Jolley all taking 27.
Yeadon entered the 2017 season having lost key players and looking to consolidate in Championship One. This they appeared to be doing, until a late loss of form rendered them possible relegation victims. In the penultimate game they lost to Wrenthorpe on the last ball of the match in a reduced rain-effected match. This exposed them to a last match survival battle at Birstall.
They were five points in front of second bottom Bowling Old Lane who had to play fellow relegation strugglers Ossett. Birstall were already down, but gave Yeadon a tremendous game. Set to score 136 to win, Yeadon were 87-6 and in big trouble. Ryan Heptinstall fought gamely for 46 precious runs, but it was left to Gormley to keep his head and ease his side home by 2 wickets with a patient unbeaten 28.
Jake Wray (487 runs) and James Todd (462 runs) were the main run-getters in the league, while James Massheder and Michael Hunter both topped 30 wickets.
After an early win in 2018 against Hunslet Nelson, the club went on a long run of defeats that put them at the foot of the table.
A resounding victory against Gomersal could have been the start of a renaissance, but it was not to be. Chasing 233, they knocked the runs off for the loss of just one wicket, with James Todd making an impressive 124 not out, backed by Damon Gormley’s unbeaten 60.
Relegation was confirmed weeks before the end of the season, and the final points variance was all of 59-points.
Spin bowler Massheder provided the most resistance with the ball taking 47 wickets.
The recruitment of Ryan Robinson, Andrew Robinson, Thomas Lindsay, Gareth Lee and a fine overseas batsman in Sarmad Hameed, indicated that Yeadon were setting their stall out for promotion in 2019.
They failed to do so after heading the league in mid-season with some crunching wins- none better than their ten wicket victory over Altofts who were bowled out for 44 after seamer Andrew Robinson had taken 7-31.
In reality, Yeadon didn’t have the all round strength to stay the pace with Carlton and Birstall and fell 76 points short of a promotion place.
However, it would turn out to be a bittersweet season as they won their first major silverware in 70 years when they lifted the Jack Hampshire Cup.
Yeadon reached the final by beating one of the favourites Carlton, in the quarter-finals, followed by Buttershaw St Paul’s in the semis.
The final was a nail-biting affair at Liversedge where Birstall looked to be `bossing’ the match when Yeadon slumped to 85-7 in pursuit of a modest target of 132.
Birstall batted first on a slowish wicket and at 80-3 seemed to be in control. However, they started to lose wickets to the leg-spin of Massheder, and with Paul Machell, Alex Robinson and Tom Lindsay giving nothing away, had to settle for 132.
Yeadon were soon in trouble in reply, but with the steadying influence of Hammed, looked comfortable at 82-3. However, a shutter of wickets made Birstall firm favourites with the score 85-7, with Yeadon having to rely on the tail to get them through.
After losing another wicket it was left to Ryan Robinson and Paul Machell to see their side home and the pair had 8.2 overs to score the 20 needed for victory. They picked off runs carefully; content with scoring singles, amidst growing tension in the ground. Eventually, a boundary from skipper Ryan Robinson decided the game in one of the best finals in the era.
James Massheder, having made the influential breakthroughs for Yeadon with the ball, taking 3-25 at a critical time, won the Player of the Match award.
Yeadon’s league campaign had several good performers, and in particular Gareth Lee, who scored 542 runs at 36.13, and also took 37 wickets at 12.59.
Sarmad Hameed scored 533 runs at 44.42, while Massheder took 43 wickets at 12.95. Sam Massheder won the Tom Senior Wicket Keeping Trophy for most victims in the division.
Yeadon celebrate their 2019 Jack Hampshire Cup triumph
Doubtless Yeadon would have fancied a tilt at promotion in 2020, but with Covid-19 striking, they chose not to enter a team in the Gordon Rigg League Cup competition.
The three defeats at the start of the 2021 season probably knocked the stuffing out of Yeadon, and they had to settle for seventh place.
Gulsheraz Ahmed finished second in the league batting averages with 746 runs at 49.73, and other performing batsmen were Muhammad Z Khan and Asif Ayub.
However, the bowling was a bit thin and relied too much on the spin of Gareth Lee who took 46 wickets, including a remarkable return of 5-3 against Spen Victoria.