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Former footballer was close to a cricket career!

Anyone of a certain age may recall Keith Hanvey as a strapping central defender who, between 1971 and 1985 played for Manchester City, Swansea City, Rochdale, where he had two spells making 121 appearances as well as 205 appearances for Huddersfield Town and he represented Grimsby Town also.

When Keith quit playing, he became successful behind the scenes for Bradford City, Huddersfield Town and Leeds United – indeed he played a major role in establishing what is now called The John Smith’s stadium at Huddersfield.

The 68-year-old with entrepreneurial notions has developed an events business – and yet, despite being renowned as a football man, Keith loved cricket and as a young man he excelled as an all-rounder. As Keith revealed as a teenager, he had a dilemma – football or cricket and he admitted there was little to choose in the sports when he was a teenager:

“Cricket always ranked similar to Football in my younger days and really seemed a similar period then about six months each.

As soon as the Football season ended couldn’t wait to see the cricket wicket being prepared on the school field. Also, the kids of the area changed the coats for goals to wooden boxes for the wickets.

Every night we were playing cricket or football in the streets or local park.

I grew up in Newton Heath, Manchester which was home to Manchester United FC originally and had a local Cricket Club which had former footballers playing for them. Names such as Roy Cheetham (City), Alec Dawson (Utd), Nobby Lawton (PNE), David Herd (Utd) to name a few.

I played cricket for my school Briscoe Lane and in my last year there U-11s we won both the most prestige Junior trophies in Manchester. At that time, I was Captain and used to get five fors’ often and knock quite a few quick runs. A bit of a swing bowler in today’s terms mainly away swing.

Luckily, I was chosen for Manchester Boys U-11s several times and a highlight was getting a hat-trick against Accrington and the late great Lancashire and England fast bowler Brian Statham presenting me with the ball!!

Brian Statham and Yorkshire's Freddie Trueman (fiery Fred) bowled in tandem for England and as a young up and coming bowler, Keith was privileged to receive the match ball from the legendary Lancashire fast bowler after achieving a hat-trick

Weirdly I remember playing on red shale wickets quite a few times in the school leagues where they actually swept the wicket! It also contributed to my first broken nose as a ball reared up. No elf and safety then.

Playing at Old Trafford for Manchester Boys was another highlight and knocking 17 not out. Can’t remember my bowling figures so they must not have been great.

On to senior school and fortunately the school played cricket and I continued doing pretty well alongside being chosen for net practice at Manchester Boys nets in South Manchester once a week.

As I approached 15/16 years old and playing cricket for the school Brookdale Park and Manchester Boys, I approached a dilemma period as I was also reasonable at Football. I had also training at Manchester City on Tuesday and Thursdays and the crossover period between Football and Cricket had reduced. Football was taking about 8/9 months of the year.

I also had to play for the School football team and a local amateur side so as I took my exams for GSEs my time became very precious. Decisions had to be taken and I decided to go the football route and cricket took a decided back seat.

I feel I was better at cricket relatively and as I had trials for Lancashire ground staff it was a very difficult decision.

In the end I signed professionally for football at Manchester City despite having chatted to Don Revie about joining Leeds United. Manchester City had Joe Mercer and Malcolm Alison so again such a difficult decision.

Within six weeks of signing professional I made my City debut in the Texaco Cup and was sub for the game v Everton the following Saturday. On the Tuesday I played in the reserves at Newcastle Utd and within 30 minutes I had broken my thigh.

Keith enjoyed a distinguished playing career but off-the-field he became equally successful

Such are the highs and lows of careers and it then took me over two years to recover although I knew I was never the same.

I now love watching England cricket and actually filled a few nights in lockdown watching re runs of great England games.

I do unfortunately feel the sporting system and weather in this country will reduce the amount of kids playing cricket which is a big shame as it gave me many very happy years and gives kids a team bonding ethic and responsibility which is sadly lacking in the youth today.”

Still going strong at the age of 68, Keith Hanvey is a genuine sports fan whether it be his beloved football or cricket

Jacko’s enjoyed ‘lockdown’!

Tim Jackson was a successful and popular opening batsman at Cleck’ for several years and whilst it was a shame to lose his services to Woodlands, he’s achieved deserved success at Albert Terrace and he and his family are always made to feel welcome on their visits to Moorend.

Jacko’ has kindly put forward the following words for Cleck’s website:

"To be perfectly honest and without wishing to sound disrespectful to the large number of people who have found the last few months particularly tough, personally I have quite enjoyed lockdown. The slower pace of life, time I have been lucky enough to have off work/working from home and in some ways a break from cricket have all been appreciated.

On the other hand, it is however, hard to watch the tragic loss of life and sadness this virus has brought to so many families not just in this country but what continues to be worldwide. What I have witnessed closer to home is friends without any income and my partner and auntie who have both likely had the virus to the point of calling the emergency services. It is these more personal experiences that remind you of the seriousness of this pandemic which it is often forgotten when seeing so many people behaving carelessly. It is apparent when visiting supermarkets, local parks or anywhere outside of your home that people have long become tired of lockdown and have little regard for social distancing measures. I must admit though that it is virtually impossible to avoid all risk and it has been hard for all I think not to have regular contact with friends and family.

Personally, I am very fortunate to have a home with a garden that I have enjoyed working on in lockdown. I can't imagine what it has been like for people stuck in a one bedroom flat (particularly in a big city like London). The weather has also made a huge difference. Perhaps typically with no cricket I think this must have been the best spring and summer so far, we have had in decades. Without the sunshine though (and with the weather not being at its best the last few days) I think we are all getting a flavour of what it would have been like in lockdown should it have been miserable outside. The weather has been a blessing.

I have really missed sport in general not just cricket. The lack of cricket on TV, golf and football in particular which I enjoy watching in the pubs on Saturday's (when not playing cricket) has been a perhaps sad but significant loss in recent months. I enjoy meeting up with friends, sneaking in a few pints and having a cheeky bet which gives me some excitement and pleasure in what can be repetitive week at work. Now that golf courses have reopened there is no excuse for me to get out of the house and improve my game that does need a lot of work! We have also just started a feast of football that has recently returned so I really have very little to complain about.

As far as cricket is concerned, I have however, enjoyed keeping up to date with the Bradford League website and the team of the decade has particularly caused some debate. I was tempted to enter my side, but then again, I couldn't bring myself to actually write some of the Pudsey St Lawrence names on my team sheet - so I didn't bother!

Jacko' seen batting for Woodlands against Cleck'

Whilst I comment above about having quite enjoyed a break from cricket, in other ways I have of course missed the competitive nature of the Bradford League and in particular the lads I play with and against. Cricket provides some purpose and structure for me in the summer months and after last season’s double success I was looking forward to repeating that challenge with Woodlands this season.

Having kept the same side as last year including overseas Brad Schmulian I was hoping we might go one further this year and win at Headingley (something that still niggles me now).

There are a number of senior players in our side myself included that can't go on forever and have lost one of their last few years of being able to compete at the top level of amateur cricket.

I am particularly sad for those players even closer to retirement who may have only had this year’s campaign left in them and may be bowing out in dismal circumstances. It seems highly unlikely that any competitive cricket will be played this year and that the possibility of a couple of friendlies or inter-club games remains a glimmer of light. Having had a year out from cricket in my late teens I do feel this will make myself and others even more determined and appreciative of the game next season. As a result, I think the competition could be particularly strong in 2021 as sides will be even more hungry for success.

I do hope that Clubs have managed to survive this year in difficult circumstances which will have clearly put a real strain on finances, facilities and other resources. Let's hope cricket can return safely as soon as possible.

Wishing everyone at Cleck and all associated with the league all the very best."

Jacko' was a major influence in Cleck's back-to-back Championship victories - he's seen on the front row to the far right

‘Shack’ tells it as it is!

Cleck’s Cricket President Bob Shackleton is a seasoned campaigner, a font of all knowledge on both our Club and the Bradford League.

Bob is at times a 'colourful character' but a man that knows and cares about cricket to a level few can match.

The following are Bob’s words in full:

After all these years (a mere 73 ) being associated in various capacities with the Club, here are one or two moments I recall.

PLAYING –Junior cricket at the age of 10, then on to 2nd XI and the odd occasion “filling in “with the 1st team.

ADMINISTRATION –

Cricket - Official Fund Raiser, Secretary and now Cricket President.

Rugby – Committee

Club – Secretary

Bar – Steward.

To those of you who have not read Robert Speight’s “150 Years of Cleckheaton Cricket Club” then I will 100% recommend it, if he has any copies left purchase one immediately.

My personal congratulations to him on a “Club and Cricket” gem & all the work he has done in past years.

Many people spring to mind, but in order not to miss anyone I will omit names. The section committees are the backbone of the Club, this is the reason we thrive.

The Club has been a lifeline to me on many occasions The atmosphere and friendship of members of ALL SECTIONS is not only remarkable but also second to none , hopefully this will continue once activities resume.

There are many people worthy of note but without Keith Johnstone & John Hawksworth groundsmen, the Club would not survive and we owe them a great debt.

Prior to their involvement I do recall going round the entire cricket boundary with a pair of long handled shears to trim the edges, modern technology has now taken over which saves me a job.

I recall the bowls section (not my forte ) at one time had only eight playing members and the top green ‘went to seed’ John & Keith and the late Ernest Fox ( Hunsworth Post Master ) were the saviours on that occasion.

Will local league cricket ever witness again the likes of: (as pictured) Keith Johnstone, Bob Speight and Bob Shackleton?

Since that time the bowls section has flourished and is now a thriving contributor to the Club events.

Incidentally, dear members – my one & only game (the team sheet does not show my name) took part AFTER I had ‘racked & tapped’ six old style heavy barrels of beer in the cellar. The call to play came as a complete surprise and to those that think I should have refused to play, I certainly agree.

My Rugby involvement was mainly committee meetings under the guidance of Fred Scott. I did make a rather memorable appearance as touch judge at Halifax Vandals.

During this match the referee cautioned me for ‘inciting my players’ but refrained from sending me off as there were no other officials available.

By the way, I still think their ginger haired prop was being too aggressive!

It would appear this dedication to duty passed on to my cricket when in my capacity as a spectator at Hanging Heaton, I was “asked to leave the field, so the game could progress” due to me holding a conversation with my dear friend Bruce Deadman on the field of play.

BAR STEWARD.

The bar in my time was across the room where the shirts, tv and trophy cabinet are now situated

This room was in fact the Rugby changing area in winter..

Where the lower seating area is now was a trap door which when raised became a flight of steps leading to the bath. (It may still be there)

The remainder of the area was complete with hangers for the players

Winter bar was in the top pavilion on the upper floor complete with snooker table.

Beer barrels were on the benches in the cricket changing room nearest to the bowling green.

Fridays were dedicated to scrubbing, on hands & knees the tiles in the extension (now function room) these may also still be there under the carpet.

One tip to all budding bar stewards – never persuade your colleague to miss his/her last bus home, offering to give him/her a lift unless you have your car with you.

Do any of you remember “The Parrot”?

Acquired on a midweek trip to the Wheatley Hotel in Ilkley with other bar colleagues.

The Landlady offered this colourful stuffed parrot on a perch as she didn’t like it.

I as driver took the party to Harry Ramsdens on the way back.

Whilst waiting at the counter I noticed that the staff of Ramsdens were coming one by one and peeping round the door to something occurring behind me.

A customer then remarked “that fellas got a parrot on his shoulder”

One of my colleagues had indeed got the perch pushed down the back of his sweater and on giving his shoulder a tweak it appeared the bird was alive.

We did get our fish & chips but I was politely asked not to bring live animals into the establishment in future.

At one time BBC2 filmed “The Wild West Show” at the Club. This was a play by Colin Welland.

The main bar had just been refurbished and was situated in what is now the ‘function room’. However, this was too posh and had to be downgraded for the filming. Time was not an issue with the camera crews and on one occasion a meeting of the Heavy Woollen Cricket Society  was scheduled to take place at 7.00 pm.

After waiting for them to “finish” it was necessary to literally “pull the plug” on the cameras so we could serve our customers.

Unfortunately, Lights and cameras were trained on the optics which by now were all at boiling point.

The BBC did replace all bottles (full or nearly empty) at no cost to the Club.

Just a bit of cricket.

I agree with Keith with regard to Ian Austin. Ian brought a new concept to the Club with his ideas on and off the field. His new ideas were an inspiration to a local Club.

Keith Johnstone and 'Shack' are in agreement that Ian Austin was an inspiration

However a couple of memories are as follows:

1948 – Overseas player was Noble Sarkar – a prolific batsman who was proud to own a Len Hutton bat.

Keith reveals a ‘brief bowls career'!

Keith Johnstone has been at Cleck’ as groundsman and treasurer long-term, indeed his association with the Club total’s 46 years and since around 1974 onwards he’s witnessed a great deal of cricket at Moorend.

At the conclusion of his answers to a number of pointed questions Keith reveals some things that he’s not shared before, which may be contradicted by some ‘older’ members, however, he believes that’s unlikely.

Before then, asking Keith who is the best player he’s ever seen represent Cleck’ in almost five decades - he said in an instant and without pausing: “Ian Austin.” Keith added: “I remember Ian playing against Idle who had scored 299 runs and he said we need to score over 300. In the last over he hit a massive six over the VW site that won the game.”

He said also despite so many brilliant bowlers that have represented the Club Kawaljeet Singh was head and shoulders above everyone and recalled the overseas star bowling almost four hundred overs at under three an over!

When considering which player stood out, who should have made a living in the County game but didn’t, and another player who surprised Keith that he did play at County level - he admitted that Craig Rika possessed lots of talent and he was a fine all round sportsman of striking appearance, six foot four and for whatever reason it didn’t happen for Craig.


Craig Rika was a cricketer that Keith believed had talent to play County Cricket

However, Chris Pickles went on to play for Yorkshire CCC (later being the Captain at Cleck’) and Keith commented that ‘Picks’ worked hard to earn that accolade. “Chris was a useful medium pacer but a very good and forceful batsman,” he said. “He was unfortunate that he was at Yorkshire at the same time as Craig White who went on to play for England.”

Keith admitted also that the one-time Cleck’ Chairman Mike Williamson was extremely supportive of Chris and instrumental in getting Picks noticed and Chris impressed Arnie Sidebottom who was a County coach at the time.

When asked his favourite era from the 1970s onwards, Cleck’s experienced groundsman had little hesitation in pointing towards the Club’s double Championship winning side in 2013 and 2014 as well as proudly recalling the Twenty/20 Challenge match against Yorkshire CCC  on June 13th 2012 at Moorend when Joe Root, Adil Rashid, Gary Balance, Andrew Gale, Mitchell Starc and other star studded players including our own Azeem Rafiq provided a memorable evening for over 500 supporters on a damp evening.

Changing tact slightly Keith laughingly regaled two of his favourite ‘funny’ happenings at the Club. “I can see Barry Stead as though it was now,” he admitted. “Barry was bringing a tray of drinks on to the field for the drinks break – but he was a bit worse for wear and he tripped up at the bottom of the steps and the glasses spilled, emptied and some broke – and the umpires simply waved the players back to continue playing and doubtless still thirsty!”


Keith continued: “Before I arrived at the Club I was told of Gordon Pearson, who was the Second team Captain, being harangued by some of the locals from a nearby working men’s Club who were tipsy. Gordon asked the umpire for permission to leave the field, which he did and then he cracked one of the offenders who flew off his seat – Gordon then calmly turned around and asked for permission to return to the field!”

Keith was philosophical about grounds being better nowadays than in bygone years simply saying that quality equipment and good covers, which he believes are the most important, assist modern day wickets being much improved.


Keith pictured at Cleck' in typical 'groundsman mode'

However, the Club’s long serving committee member and dedicated groundsman is adamant that, despite many opinions to the contrary, the Bradford Premier League has enhanced local league cricket and Keith said: “You only have to look at the Clubs with players that have played First Class cricket now or previously and it definitely shows up.”

When asked who is the individual he’d pick out as the person he most respected, Keith was definite in his choice once more. “There are many people I admire but the person that I respect most is Dave Worrall who, since 1990, has been the guiding light at Cleck’ because of his good judgement, calmness and his knowledge of cricket – and to me they are traits to respect,” admitted Keith.


Former Cleck' Chairman Dave Worrall was praised highly by Keith

When asking Keith to regale several things about him that most people connected with the Club and outsiders also wouldn’t know he revealed: “I only ever played cricket for Wibsey juniors and for one-year – and they didn’t ask me back!

I fell in love with the game by watching First Class Cricket as a school boy seeing games at Park Avenue and Headingley. I’ve been a Yorkshire member for over 40 years and in my time have seen some part of Test Matches every year. My first ever match was England against India in 1952 and remember Vino Mankad an opening batsman and slow bowler sat on the grass in front of the Western Terrace, as you could in those days, and I saw most of the match as I was staying at my grandma’s who lived on Burley Road near to the ground.”

Keith perhaps may shock a few people when admitting he gave bowls a real go once as opposed to cricket and he admitted: “My claim to fame was not as a cricketer but playing bowls when the bowls section was being resurrected in 1977.

My close friend Tony Lonsdale, who was involved, persuaded me to be the Captain of the ‘C’ team and we finished bottom of the league. The following year I Captained the ‘D’ team and once again we finished bottom – and from then on I decided to stick to cricket!”

Finally, Keith admitted that Cleckheaton Cricket Club is extremely close to his heart and he concluded: “Making so many friends over the years is special and I admit my life revolves around the Club.”


The wonderful image of Keith on the Club's gruelling 'April Old Fools Day Walk' some years ago now - remains an iconic photo'

Keith has so much wisdom and knowledge that makes him a voice of reason in so many ways, his unstinting commitment to Cleck’ is both admirable and priceless.

The word legend is at times an overused term but not in Keith’s case, as he is and always will be regarded as a true Cleckheaton legend.

Headingley man admits: ‘It’s a waiting game’

Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Ticket Office Manager Chris Parkinson is at the so-called ‘sharp end’ at Headingley and he gives a graphic explanation of the difficulties he’s faced since the corona virus pandemic took hold.

“It’s certainly been a strange few month here at Yorkshire as has it been everywhere else in the world.

We started off the year very encouragingly, we sold out of our tickets for both international T20’s before Christmas, with the Australia one proving very popular. We had started to sell tickets for the hundred alongside the ECB, which was a new experience for a lot of us, setting up a brand-new tournament for the first time.

We’d just gone on sale for the Vitality blast and our Game of Roses was well on the way to being another sell out. As well as this we had an encouraging start for the first game against Durham in which we offered a £10 ticket for the game, which was due to be played Friday 29th May.

Like everywhere else though, overnight everything seemed to stop and before we knew it the season had been put on hold and everything, we had planned throughout the winter to do in the summer had stopped.

It’s been very strange having no cricket, similar to the players a lot of our summer revolves around cricket and home fixtures for Yorkshire so to not have any is very strange and is still taking some getting used to.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we will get some cricket back on but similar to everyone else, we’re waiting for further updates from the ECB and the government. In the meantime, I’m trying to fill my time as best as I can without cricket and I’m a very keen golfer so I’ve been able to play a lot more than I normally would during the summer.

It sounds like there will be some international cricket back soon so that will be good to watch, albeit slightly strange with no fans and no fixtures at Emerald Headingley at the same time.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and hopefully cricket will be back in its full capacity in the future and everyone will be able to come down to Emerald Headingley safely and see Yorkshire playing.”

Thanks goes to Chris for his time in putting forward a detailed explanation of his role and just how hard things have been since lock down.

Headingley is a magnificent arena to watch cricket

Blast from the recent past!

Ammar Mahmood was a big favourite at Cleck' and a major part of the side that won the Club's first ever Bradford League Championship in 2013.

Below he's pictured with Lloyd Campbell, who was a Cleck' cricket committee member and once a real threat to batsmen as a feared opening fast bowler.

Nowadays, Lloyd's taken a back seat at home making occasional visits to Moorend - pre-lockdown of course - as for our former overseas star Ammar, he remains a respected and a popular figure by everyone at the Club.

Ammar Mahmood was pal's with the ever 'cool' Lloyd Campbell and even whilst in hospital as he's seen, Lloyd was dressed in stylish fashion

Geoff Miller asks the question: “What has Dickie Bird been doing since lockdown?”

Cleckheaton Cricket Club invited Geoff Miller O.B.E to advocate some words for the Club’s official website and he’s duly and kindly obliged -  with the onus very much on Yorkshire.

As a respected figure both in the domestic and international spheres of cricket Geoff has carved out an excellent career as a highly-regarded after-dinner speaker in recent years.

Geoff has entertained diners at Cleck’ for both the Cricket and Rugby sections several times and he is rated as one of the best if not the best after dinner speaker on the circuit.

His stories, humour and reputation as a brilliant orator have made him much sought after but his wonderful career in cricket is of course one to admire.

As a right arm off-break bowler and right-handed batsman between 1973 and 1990, Geoff played mainly for Derbyshire with a two-year spell at Essex during the late 1980s and he made his England Test debut against the West Indies in 1976.

He took 888 first class wickets in 283 appearances and captured 60 wickets in 34 Test matches played.

As National Selector appointed in 2008 Geoff led a panel, which included Ashley Giles, Peter Moores and James Whitaker after previously serving on the panel since 2000 overseen by David Graveney. Following retirement as an England selector in 2013, Geoff was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to the game.

Geoff Miller recalls good times at Cleck'

Geoff puts the onus on Club cricket as well as the County of Yorkshire and he said: “When a conversation concerning the world of cricket crops up, it is not long before Yorkshire enters the debate!! Whether it is about the County team, itself, or the players it has produced.

So, depending on your allegiance, varying opinions surface...!!

Well, allow me to take the chat to another area....Yorkshire Club cricket!!

That is where the County players, in the main, are produced. I have spoken at a goodly number of Club dinners/functions, and the passion at all of them is super.

None more so than at Cleckheaton, where the organisation and atmosphere is second to none.

Always welcoming, and more to the point, as a speaker, responsive.

I have to say as a Chesterfield lad, that has not always been the case.....

During my teenage years, developing my game, I played for a Derbyshire village team in the Sheffield League. Was invited to nets at Bramhall Lane.

At 15 years of age I was asked by the coach to put my pads on, which I did, and faced three balls. He walked down the net and said...

“We might have something here, what’s your name?”

“Geoff Miller”, I replied.

“Where were you born?”

“Chesterfield”

“Oh, take your pads off, and sort out your lift home!”

The days of having to be Yorkshire born!!!

Nevertheless, I played a lot of cricket in Yorkshire, both County, and Test, and loved the devotion to the game.

We are in difficult sporting times at the moment, and how things are going to progress.....who knows?

What we do know is the game will definitely survive, even in its modern twist.

The format, since my 55 years ago rebuke, has changed dramatically.

We need to move with the times, yes, ...but never eradicate the history.

Invention...yes

Creation...yes

Appreciation of what has been achieved to make cricket a GREAT game...certainly.

Well done Cleckheaton CC for playing your part so admirably.

My final question.....What has Harold Bird been doing with himself for the last two months??"

What is confessed cricket nut Harold 'Dickie' Bird doing just now?

True football man reveals his cricket exploits

Terry Dolan has been steeped in football all of his life but little is known about his career in cricket, a sport Terry embraced playing in the Bradford League for Manningham Mills during the 1970s.

Between 1969 and 1981, he made 448 football League appearances and scored 58 goals as a positive midfielder who had a long stride and a powerful shot and Terry played at all 92 league grounds.

For 20 years he was in football management at Bradford City, Rochdale, Hull City, York City and Guiseley and more recently held a senior role at Bradford Park Avenue for a spell. He’s been a referee’s assessor for many years and overseen duties for the League Managers Association.

Whilst Terry’s renowned for his time in football he turns his memories for Cleck’ back to his time in the Bradford League as a middle order batsman and part-time bowler.

Terry has one particular recollection that’s hard to believe could happen nowadays – as he revealed: “I can’t remember the exact dates that I played at Manningham Mills but I played for them when they were elected into the Bradford League alongside Yorkshire Bank in 1974. In fact, that summer of 1974 (June 15th to be exact) was our wedding day and several of the players were invited to the wedding. John Wilde (the Captain) was my best man so, he obviously stayed for the whole day but the other players came to the wedding at 11am in Clayton, stayed for the first course of the meal at Green Top restaurant then left at 1pm to go play cricket!”

By his own admission Terry was probably more adept in the field than he was with the bat and ball and he added: “As a player I was a middle order batsman and an occasional medium pace bowler but I think I was usually picked because I could run around in the field ( mid-wicket or covers in particular).

Terry Dolan's football career is well documented but recalls his time in the Bradford League

I had the pleasure of playing with Yorkshire CCC stars such as: John Hampshire, Phil Sharpe and Don Wilson during my time at Mills. My best innings was when we played in the Evening League and I opened the innings and scored 54 in a 20 overs game at Eccleshill.”

Anyone of a certain age may remember the charismatic Bradford City Chairman Stafford Hegginbotham who was a colourful character a brilliant orator and a man with a good sense of humour, which Terry recalled.

“One of the funniest stories of my time at Mills was when we used to play a lot of charity games on Sundays,” he said. “I can’t remember the exact time and place but it concerned Stafford.

He wasn’t the best cricketer in the world but was always willing to give it a go.

Anyway, on this occasion he managed to score fifty and in charity games if you scored fifty you gave your innings up.

So, Stafford was delighted with himself and walked back to the Pavilion with his bat in the air acknowledging the applause from the crowd. When he got to edge of the pitch, he then took his cap off and waved it to the crowd. Then finally and typical of Stafford he put his cap down and proceeded to take his toupee off and he waved that at the crowd to rapturous applause.”

For the last six years Terry has been a guest at Cleck’s Annual dinners and for several years he was able to offer an auction prize of taking one of our guest bidders to a Premiership game with the opportunity of a seat with the board members and other celebrities with excellent hospitality also.

The Club is grateful for Terry’s support in the past that we’re sure will continue in the future.

The late Stafford Hegginbotham seen with his toupee on this time!

Deeg’s cites patience with wise words

Cleck’s Vice-Captain Andrew Deegan was set to Captain the side in 2020 due to the absence of injured Skipper Mally Nicholson but despite no cricket being played so far, he remains a pivotal part and a worthy voice of discussions concerning future proceedings.

The following sentiments from Andrew are not just heartfelt but thought provoking from an intelligent man who has given the current corona virus pandemic a great deal of thought.

It has been suggested that the players return to practice but Andrew thinks such thoughts are premature. He commented: “I haven’t really given a thought to training until it was muted last week by some of the lads. I know we are all keen to ‘get the show on the road’ but until there is a firm date set for the start of a shortened season, I don’t think us going to the ground is the right thing to do just yet.

I understand the arguments for being able to social distance whilst practicing etc but there is nothing unique about us guys that should make us exempt from any of the rules.

There are people up and down the country desperate to play sport, socialise or see family so we just need to be patient like everyone else and wait until we get the green light.

Having said that I have said from the outset that cricket – after tennis and golf – is one of the safer sports to play in a post Covid world. If you remove the changing room and the bar from the equation as well as shining the ball using saliva, which seems likely, the only regular contact within two metres on the field is between the keeper and the batter and the umpire and the bowler. An umpire can quite easily wear a mask, for what good they do, but I’m not sure what the wicketkeeper can do.


Andrew Deegan is not 'bowled over' with the thoughts of premature practice

Life will not go back to how it was for a long time, if ever. We will all have to make compromises and entertain some level of risk in our lives. The question is whether starting cricket again is worth the risk? If you asked all the lads in the cricket bubble they would say yes. I’m not sure many others would see it the same way yet.

I feel for everyone that has suffered over the last few months. Things have been really tough for some families but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s continue to support the health workers that are saving lives every single day.

If we continue to do our bit by sticking to the rules the sooner we will get back to some semblance of normality and fingers crossed may be even some cricket.”

Cleck' welcomes voice of experience

David Markham is highly regarded within local cricket circles and well known as one of the area’s most respected journalists.

For many years David was the sports correspondent for the Bradford Telegraph & Argus covering Bradford City and even now well in to retirement he remains a prolific writer.

David kindly put forward his thoughts exclusively for Cleckheaton CC on the affect the corona virus situation is having on cricket in general as well as highlighting the problems his own Club has endured.

David commented:

“Like everyone else who enjoys cricket I am missing the game I love following the suspension of competitive sport at least until mid-summer.

The lack of cricket is made all the more frustrating because of the sunny dry weather we have enjoyed in the last six weeks.

So often Clubs have been blighted by a wet spring and more than once the Bradford League and other leagues in our part of the world have had to delay the start of the season because the grounds were too wet.

I am the Cricket Chairman at Bradford & Bingley and as most people know our ground at Wagon Lane was under several inches of water in February after exceptionally wet weather in the New Year.

When we met for a committee meeting towards the end of February our fear was that we would not be able to start the season because of flood damage.

Ironically, although the ground recovered more quickly than we expected thanks to some dry weather and a £9,000 grant from Sport England that enabled the prompt renovation of the outfield to be undertaken, we could not start the season because of the Government imposed lockdown in response to the coronavirus crisis.

So, like so many grounds, Wagon Lane is in excellent condition but sadly we can’t play cricket. The optimistic of us still hope that we may still be able to play and watch cricket later in the summer and the Bradford League have plans for a start in July with a revised schedule of fixtures.

Bradford & Bingley have been blighted by floods but thankfully recovered

However, at the time of writing the high number of daily registered deaths and new cases are still depressingly high so it is difficult to be optimistic.

The lockdown restrictions, although necessary to try to contain the spread of the virus, are still frustrating for cricket lovers coming out of a long winter and looking forward to their favourite sport.

All the publicity in the national media has centred on whether England can play international matches against the West Indies and Pakistan in the final three months of the season behind closed doors at least to provide some cricket for TV viewers and access some broadcasting revenue for the ECB which benefits us all.

The hope is they will go ahead, but there are enormously complex arrangements and expense involved in staging these matches to make sure the health of everyone is protected.

Like thousands of members, I am still hoping there may be some county cricket before the end of the season, but that is likely to be behind closed doors. So, as weeks go by without cricket think of all the county members – me included - who have paid their subs and may go for a full season with no cricket to watch.

I know from watching Yorkshire over many years that, for county members, it is not just the game they enjoy but a day’s cricket is a social occasion when they can meet old friends, some of whom they may see only in the summer at cricket matches. The social side is also big feature of league cricket.

Cricket like all other sports has taken a huge financial hit through the absence of matches at all levels. The ECB have had to postpone the launch of the Hundred, but have managed to provide some £60 million to counties and league cricket.

Despite this welcome relief, counties, most of whom have furloughed their staff and in some cases agreed pay cuts, face a challenging year with lots of expense and little income.

It’s the same for League Clubs. They are frustrated after putting a competitive team together for the 2020 season, arranging sponsorship, hospitality and overcoming a wet winter to get their grounds in pristine condition while their players have trained in the nets only to find they can’t play cricket.

No one can underestimate financial problems at National, County or Club levels, but another big problem facing the game of cricket at local level is that the junior season looks likely to be wiped out.

David Markham has been a prolific journalist and author for many years

Normally the junior leagues in Bradford run from April to when schools start their summer holidays towards the end of July. However, with no cricket possible until July the league programme looks certain to be lost unless some matches can be arranged towards the end of the season – virus permitting.

This means all youngsters will miss not only the enjoyment of playing cricket but also an important season in their development. And, for some this will be their last season in junior cricket.

The question is will these youngsters come back next year to play cricket or will they have found something else to do? It presents another challenge for Clubs to face. For, developing juniors and giving them the opportunity to play senior cricket is crucial to the future health of the game.”

The Club is grateful to David for his input and to a man who is a true stalwart of cricket and football in Bradford.

Message from Elliott

With more tales to follow in the coming days, there’s a message from the Club’s Second Team Skipper Elliott Hallas.

Elliott is however, much more than a Captain and talented all-rounder - he is an integral part of Cleck’ CC and he rarely, if ever, misses a committee meeting and his grandad sponsor's the Club via his company GHE Stansfeld, where Elliott is also a leading figure.

In addition, Elliott and First Team Captain Mally Nicholson are in regular contact and they have an excellent understanding between them.

Elliott advocated the following words:

“I hope everyone is keeping well and entertained throughout this torrid time.

On a personal note I've been busy at work trying to keep the manufacturing and construction section ticking over.

Both the First and Second team lads are keeping in contact with each other over Whatsapp and Zoom and everyone seems to be in high spirits.

With more and more information being released on a daily basis, it’s making it more and more clear that we aren't likely to see any cricket at all. Unfortunately this is the way of the world at the moment and the health and well being comes first.

If we see no cricket this season we've spoken about getting all the lads together at the Club (once safe to do so) and having a knees up and getting some money back over the bar.

Hopefully everyone stays safe and well, see you all on the other side."

Elliott Hallas is a determined bowler and big hitting batsman who could so easily be playing First Team cricket elsewhere but he remains at Cleck'

Robbo’ admits ‘it’s been an eye opener’

Joe Robinson is too polite and unassuming to talk abut his influence in the First Team.

There were so many occasions when Joe’s ability in the field alone won games as he took crucial catches and he often came up with vital runs also at important times and the two First Division Championship medals he earned were deserved.

Robbo’ might not have had the Bradford League experience some of Cleck’s players possessed but his honest, no moaning and pleasant approach made Joe a big favourite at Moorend and as he points out it seems like only yesterday when he was a junior at the tender age of just eight. He commented: "The last 20 years at Cleckheaton have flown.

Starting from Under 9’s we probably had one of the best junior teams around with many going on to play at Bradford league level, the Walmsley twins Marcus and Eddie, Fahid Rehman, Chris Holliday, Matty West, Dom Sharp and later playing for us Nick Lindley and Lukey Patel.

With Marcus Walmsley (senior) at the helm we were a force to be reckoned with winning many trophies along the way and progressing to the latter stages of the ECB National competition on many occasions.

Even around Under 12’s we were helping out in the Second Team mainly because they were short but it was great experience and stood me well for the future banter/abuse that you take in a cricket changing room, especially playing with people like Deano (Dean Worrall), Bev (Matthew Evans) Alfie, Guy and Snake and at that age it was certainly an eye opener for me.

I then progressed from Junior to senior cricket apart from ‘a brief spell at Scholes’ which I really enjoyed.

Joe pictured with his Dad Mark (the cheque in Mark's hand was for charity not for his son!!) and it's fair to say both men are 'unsung' heroes at Cleck' as Mark has done lots of off-the-field work and made sure he watched Joe play at every level

John Wood gave me my First Team debut and it was away at Pudsey Congs when we had a lot of players missing and we got hammered Mohammad Azharullah the Pakistani quick bowler had just come over and ripped through us I think he took six for but it was still great experience.

After dropping back into the Second Team for a few years and doing reasonabley well I got my chance in the First Team again when Craig Thornton left. Over the next few years Woody assembled a fantastic team with an even better team spirit, bringing in people like Tim Jackson, James Lee and Richard Whitehurst - they completed us fitting in perfectly on and off the field.

After a few good years and coming reasonably close we then won Two titles back-to-back which was great for the club especially for Dave Worrall who as Chairman at the time put in a lot of hard work in behind the scenes.

Having people like Mally and Ian Nicholson, Iain Wardlaw and Andrew Deegan the dressing room was full of characters, which led to the end of season do’s we went on and they became a tradition mainly venturing to Albufeira or Albafury as Wiggy called it but I think these stories best remain untold.

Joe pictured back row alongside one of the dressing room characters he spoke of (Deeg's) who told us a few weeks ago he doesn't recall matchday incidents just times in the bar!!

The team spirit played a massive factor and got us through in a lot of these games.

After dropping back into the Second Team it has been really enjoyable to get more of a bat and bowl again and play with a great bunch of lads people like Shire horse (Elliott Hallas), Bal, Russ Noble and Dobby (Chris Dobson) there has been some talented players still kicking about and some great youngsters coming through with Ethan Lee being the top of that list and going on to play in the First Team this year and I wish him all the best.

I’ve had some great times at Cleckheaton and although this year looks like it could be a non-entity because of the current situation I’m sure Cleck will continue to produce some great youngsters and teams."

Actor’s ‘alternative’ view of cricket

Steve Morley is a few short weeks away from retiring as a drama teacher at the City of London school for girls but the man who was a full-time actor for many years (a career he may resurrect) recalls the time he was introduced to cricket.

Bradford born and bred, a man who enjoys a few pints and is no stranger to visiting his family that live on the Holmewood Estate, Steve is equally proud of his acting career that saw him appear on Emmerdale as well as being on The Bill appearing as Sg’t Lamont for twelve consecutive years, puts aside the so-called ‘glory’ to recall his cricket debut at Windhill’s Busy Lane – plus a bit more besides.

Steve said: “In the early 1980s I was an aspiring young actor who was doing rather well for himself. I had knocked around with Carrie Fisher (she of Star Wars) in London and New York, met a whole load of very famous people and had been invited out to Hollywood where I was ushered around lots of parties in Beverley Hills. I found this way of life rather difficult to take in and I knew it was not for me and so I returned back home where I was offered the role of Martin Butler, the vet in Emmerdale Farm. This was something I really looked forward to as it meant I could live at my mum’s in Bradford, get the bus into work and muck around with lots of old mates.

It was one of these old mates who introduced me to cricket by asking me to take part in a benefit match at Windhill CC, my work on Emmerdale apparently giving me some kind of celebrity status. My only experience of playing the game up to then was a disastrous innings for my school (batting at two, out second ball, dropped forever). I was also a keen follower of the national game on the BBC (remember those days when you could see England on the BBC?) and as such was an avid fan, but play it..? It had just never happened. Anyway, against my better judgement, I agreed.

I turned up feeling totally out of place. Here I was as a ‘celebrity’ guest having only just started work on Emmerdale without an episode being shown and nobody knew me from Adam. I certainly would have much rather have been taking a drink than taking the field. Nevertheless, someone had provided a pair of whites (far too big, held up with string), the wardrobe at YTV had loaned a shirt and jumper and I found an ancient pair of my dad’s old plimsols (last used for whitewashing the privy) in a cardboard box under the stairs. I worried that if did manage to get in to bat I wouldn’t have a box so I fashioned something out of the cardboard box under the stairs which, had I worn it at the parties in Hollywood, might well have made me a superstar.

Just before the game someone threw a cricket ball for me to catch. It is a measure of something, I like to think of it as my naivety of the game rather than sheer cowardice, that I let out a very girly ‘Ouch’ as I recalled with shock at the unexpected hardness of the ball. I think I expected a tennis ball-like-bouncy-thingy. That said, it prompted me to grovel and beg that whoever was the captain should put me as far away from that nasty red rock thing as possible and I begged to bat at eleven and field at deep fine leg, preferably deep and fine with my leg firmly ensconced in whatever passed for a bar.

Steve Morley has 'lived life' but never forgets his introduction to cricket

We fielded first. I was placed on the boundary somewhere so far away from the batsmen that I was almost happy. The game began. Now I imagined, this being a benefit match, that the nature of the game would be somewhat gentle, if not friendly, full of bonhomie and gentlemanly conduct with two lots of people dressed in white, like virgins at a christening, enjoying themselves while smiling beatific smiles. But most of these guys played in the Bradford League. How very wrong can a would-be Emmerdale vet be? To say that this was a somewhat different experience to kneeling in front of a camera with my arm up a stuffed cow’s orifice pretending to deliver veal at its freshest would be a rather monumental understatement. These guys were very serious! As the ball was delivered I thought I saw a streak of flame follow it. Then it was smacked away so viciously it sounded like a grenade exploding. Nobody out there was thinking any thoughts that might be misconstrued as charitable. Everyone was out to kill!

Now, barely a few overs in, as I stood on the boundary counting my blessings that the batsmen were hitting it anywhere but towards me (and my goodness were they demolishing the local greenhouses), something extraordinary happened. To be honest, it was rather like I was watching a film. All this was happening in front of me but I had no part in it. It was as if I was watching the game on the BBC without the commentary. So I was observing everything in a kind of existential vacuum. Until, that is, people started yelling my name. I looked up. Fielders were pointing. They were aiming at that red mini cannonball thing that was high in the air and heading in my direction. Now, to give me my due, I quickly summed up the situation. It was obvious that this missile was going to fly directly over my head for a rather impressive six runs, but remember, I am an actor, it was necessary to make an effort, or at least a show. So I stuck my hand up in the air and jumped. And I landed straight back down again, feet firmly on the ground, hand still in the air, and a cricket ball wedged firmly between the two middle fingers. My gob was smacked. And suddenly lots of other bits were smacked as my new-found teammates ran up and pummelled my back by way of congratulation. I did glance over and see the batsman growling at me and questioning my parenthood, which made me want to apologise and make it all right by telling him I didn’t mean it, but I never got the chance. Then the game went on.

Windhill CC was responsible for so much!

Of course, I was flush with success. This game wasn’t all that scary after all. Piece of cake in fact. Anyone can do it. Even me. Two overs later, another ball was knocked high into the air in my direction, only this time it was dropping short. By now the vet from Emmerdale had been transformed into Cricketman – the superhero athlete. And, pausing only (as good actors do) to ensure the crowd (my audience) could witness what was about to happen, I sprinted and then launched myself in the direction of the missile. As gravity took its toll and the ball neared the earth, so Cricketman flew through the air to intercept it, arm outstretched. Unfortunately, the dive was somewhat over enthusiastic. I sailed through the air rather too high, with far too much curve, and as the ball landed with a thud behind me, I landed, with an audible crack, on my shoulder. Even now, some forty years later, I remember the sound of that crack and occasionally, when it’s damp, I still feel the pain of that broken collar bone. And now, after all these years, I can solemnly attest that acting at servicing piglets on a film set is a sight less hazardous than playing cricket in Yorkshire. But then I guess most of you can work that out for yourselves.

After I had been dropped off at the Royal Infirmary by my mate (who then abandoned me to get back before the bar closed) I realised that I had filming to do with my arm in both a sling and in agony. The next scene I had was a snogging scene with Sandy Merrick in a car outside the cow shed. But the broken bone was so painful I could hardly move. How we filmed it I’ll never know. It took twenty minutes just to get the arm out of the sling and another twenty to place it round her shoulders. Some weeks later, the morning after it had been shown on TV, I found myself in a post office queue when an old neighbour of ours tapped me on the shoulder and looked at me with a deep intensity as if recognising that it was really me. ‘I saw you on Emmerdale last night,’ she said, tightly gripping my arm, ‘and I want you to know,’ she went on, ‘that the look in your eye when you were snogging Sandy was the most romantic thing I’ve seen since Rudolph Valentino.’ So, If I ever I do go back to Hollywood, I have the key to Rudy’s success – pain.

Steve has 'fond' memories of 'Sandie' Merrick!

But the story does not end there, in fact, it is only the beginning. After I finished with Emmerdale I returned to my home in London where the local pub had started a cricket team and, thanks to, if not despite, my experiences at Windhill, I was hooked. I borrowed a book by Dennis Lilley from the local library on the art of fast bowling. I studied it – it had lots of pictures – and taught myself the theory of bowling. Then I went to the nets and learned how to do it for real. I was taken into the team and was found good enough to open the bowling (they weren’t exactly spoiled for choice) and just loved fielding (we won’t talk about the batting, I’m blind in one eye).

I had always dabbled in writing and was approached by the editor of a monthly magazine called The Club Cricketer to write articles on pub cricket. I produced a series of humorous stories about a pub cricket team consisting of eleven drunken reprobates with nicknames like Cronin the Librarian. Each character was, of course, based loosely on the guys in the pub, characters such as Fingers Ashton, the wicket keeper which was a thinly disguised portrait of the musician Tony Ashton who played for us (remember The Resurrection Shuffle?  - that was Tony). These articles were turned into a book which Methuen published called Tales From The Tap Room with a forward by the (literally) great Colin Milburn who became a good friend.

The late England batsman Colin Milburn was a man Steve knew well and respected

Through Colin I met the England players of that time (Botham et al) and went on to publish several more novels and plays (one of my favourites being a drama about the planned assassination of an entire cricket team!). I have developed an intense love of cricket and, though my playing days are done, I will stop to watch a game wherever I see one whether It be in a park or, indeed, on an England tour, as I have done and plan to do again. Indeed, last year I found myself in the bar of your very own cricket club where I was introduced, or rather, re-introduced, to Paul Wiseman who played in that very benefit game all those years ago. After a few libations in his delightful company, when I was summarily assessed and summed-up, I was left with the insurmountable feeling that if I had ever played against him in a proper Bradford League cricket match, a broken collar bone might well have been the least of my problems. I can’t wait to repeat the experience.

Good luck to you all when your season resumes. Hopefully, when I am next around your neck of the woods, I will get to meet some more of you and enjoy your stories



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