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Website ramblings from Antony Lee:

Antony Lee entitled his article accordingly but the truth is that Cleck’s Secretary is an invaluable committee member, player/coach and sponsor as well as being the father of one of the Club’s most promising young players for years.

Ethan Lee, Antony’s son has an excellent mentor in his Dad, who has both played in the Seconds’ side as well as coaching.

Unfortunately, last term was a little unusual to say the least but Ethan did well in his first season as a First Team member. As for Antony, he’s been extremely busy coping with everything that Covid restrictions has thrown at us as well as successfully overseeing the new nets.

And the following words are those written by Antony.

Around half a dozen of us gathered via Zoom recently for a Committee Meeting. We discussed a number of topics and despite the current restrictions we are pressing ahead regardless, in the hope that across all formats at Cleckheaton there will be some cricket to be played at some point.

It’s quite staggering to think that we are approaching a second cricket season that will more than likely be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. With the season scheduled to start 17th April the general feeling is that is unlikely to start on time. Although at the time of writing this, the Bradford League are saying that we wait & see how things improve (or otherwise) and decisions will be made nearer the time. But a May start for the season is a more realistic hope for all concerned.

As I say, behind the scenes we continue to work hard as a committee to plan, organise, update, renew and develop a multitude of things. My list of tasks to complete as Secretary grows by the day! To name but a few things we are working through at the moment: ‘Clubmark’ re-accreditation; crowdfunding; second team player recruitment; junior teams; All Stars & Dynamo’s; ‘Play Cricket’ website administration; Safe Hands Management System; Foundation Coaching Course; DBS checks and so on. As the season draws nearer we as a committee are as busy as ever.

The second phase of the new cricket net development is pencilled in for March. Weather permitting! This will be the exciting part - when we see the playing surface being laid and the surrounding cage and nets being erected. The first phase of the installation went really well and it was a pleasure working with Total Play and the installation team of Bob & Steve. They will be back in March to complete the project and I know they are hoping there will be a few more pubs & restaurants open nearby this time! As they will be on-site for a week, away from home.

The Coronavirus situation has unfortunately dented our social and fundraising activities. As you all know, being a voluntary organisation, the cricket section has to raise the vast majority of the it’s funds itself. However, that has not stopped us trying our very best to raise the much-needed funds to run our senior & junior teams throughout this forthcoming season. Donations, sponsorship and fundraisers are a necessity the whole year round.

Very shortly we will be releasing details of two new initiatives to help us raise such funds. In the absence of luncheons, sporting dinners, raffles and such like we have had to explore other opportunities.

Just now the function room remains closed but even empty this fabulous room can look superb and very inviting!

As always, we welcome the support from all of our friends, members, supporters and corporate and individual sponsors. A huge and sincere thank you to you all. Without whom we would struggle to continue to survive as a club.

So, a rallying call from me – please do your best to try and support us with our fundraising in any way that you can. During these challenging times for us all it will make a huge difference to many people. Cleckheaton prides itself on being a family club, a community club and a close-knit club. Let’s ensure that continues for many a year to come!

Antony flanked by two other Cleck' stalwarts Steve Midgley and Chris Dobson in the Long Room at Andrew Gale's Benefit Dinner on November 10th 2016

Fletch' open and honest as ever!

Craig Fletcher has proved to be an excellent acquisition for Cleck' both on and off the field and his influence cannot be underestimated since joining the Club several seasons ago.

And the following are Craig's thoughts in full:

"Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to all at Cleckheaton CC and I hope that everyone is staying as safe and well as possible throughout the winter and this rubbish pandemic!

I have been asked to put forward a few words - not sure if it’s because everyone’s bored or just wanting to give members and fans some entertainment rather than boring Skipper Mally Nicholson every week!

Similar to Andrew Deegan or Deegs as we know him - it’s been very much like Groundhog Day and to say I haven’t been up to much since Christmas would be an understatement!

The only time I tend to leave the house is to take my daughter Matilda to nursery or to go get some essentials (beer) from the local shop. My son Freddie is growing up quickly and Mrs Fletcher hasn’t killed me yet! I have however been doing quite a bit of running, 100 miles in January and hoping for the same in February!

Anyway, to the cricket. Who knows what the next couple of months holds for us I can’t really see us getting any team winter nets done to be honest but we can hope.

Craig Fletcher is a vital part of an experienced bowling attack

It’s good to hear that Toby Booth is playing a bit of cricket while working in Bermuda (he whacked Dwayne Leverock around the other Saturday!) and I believe one of our new signings Harvey the better twin Booth is hoping to get out there for a pre-season tour of his own.

I’m really glad we’ve managed to secure the signings of both Booth’s as I genuinely think they’re outstanding players and will be great for the Club both on and off the field. I’ve been doing a bit of running with Harvey as he lives up the road from me so we try get out for a run a couple of times a week and a chat (shame it’s not to our local though)

Toby Booth (pictured) and his brother Harvey are highly rated by Fletch'

Our other new signing Amir Hussain I remember from when we played against him in my first season at Cleck’. He bowled pretty well in both games (until I whacked him into the middle of Cleckheaton to win the game with a ball to spare that is) I think he’ll be a great addition to the best spinner in the league Deegy!

Also, a mention for Nick Lindley returning from the wilderness to open the batting with the king of Methley Kris Ward (another great signing by Mally) not sure how the batting in a mask is going to go but I’m sure he’ll get plenty of runs and tell plenty of stories throughout the season too! We might even get to see Iain Wardlaw (Wardy) hitting bombs at some point.

Fletch' is a genuine enthusiast

Hopefully I’ve entertained you all for five minutes, the kids are in bed and the Mrs is shopping so this has passed a bit of time.

I’m really hoping we can get a proper season in especially as I’ve only really had the one full season and want to show what I’m capable of from a personal point of view as well as believing we have a strong side capable of competing with the big spenders. Maybe a start in May and finish a bit later in September? Either way I look forward to a few winning beers with the Cleck faithful in the near future!"

Deegs on ‘ace up the sleeve’

Cleck’s Vice-Captain and top-notch spin bowler Andrew Deegan (who is a much better batsman than batting lower down the order suggests) advocates his thoughts for the 2021 season:

Groundhog Day!

"It’s been a long winter but we are now seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully as the warmer weather arrives and the effects of the vaccine take hold, we will see a continued reduction in cases and a move back to normality. I am not sure that the season will start on time but I am sure we will play some cricket.

A big plus this year is the addition of the outdoor nets that the club has invested in. The nets will provide fantastic training facilities for all age groups in most weather conditions. This will ease the burden placed on the square (and groundsman Keith Johnstone) during the week. I know the lads are looking forward to using the new nets.

On the field our side is looking stronger. Nick Lindley is expected to be back opening the batting which will plug a hole at the top of our batting order. We have also managed to sign Amir Hussain after the loss of Azeem Rafiq. It is always good to have more than one spinner in a side but to have an off spinner can be an ace up the sleeve.

I wish Amir well and hope he has a great season.

I hope everyone at the club stays safe over the next few months. Here’s to enjoying some cricket and a drink in the sunshine together."

Andrew Deegan is a loyal Club servant and a superb cricket man who is a voice of reason also

Cleck’ delighted to capture quality spinner

Amir Hussain joins Cleck’ with everyone’s best wishes and the talented spin bowler completes the Moorenders squad for 2021.

Amir arrives at Moorend after a ‘Covid season’ at Bolton Villas having played for Methley the year before and the young man in his early 20s earns a glowing reference from Cleck’s Captain Mally Nicholson.

“Amir is a good signing for us,” commented Mally. “We were unsure about the availability of an overseas player because of Covid and it makes sense to have Amir on board. He’s a good off spinner and he has always performed well when playing against us.”

Mally is a Cleck’ man through and through and a Skipper who demands loyalty and he believes Amir will be at Moorend for some time to come. “We are hoping Amir will stay at the Club beyond the 2021 season along with the rest of the squad,” he added. “We want to build something as a team and to win silverware over the next few years and we’re not just looking towards the coming season.”

For many years the Club has sought to bring in the ‘right characters’ and players that join Cleck’ for correct reasons, which is emphasised by Mally who said: “I am sure we have brought the right people in to the Club, including Amir. And players who will become involved in what we are looking to bring to Cleck’. And not players who will use us as a stepping stone. We want the right calibre of person who knows what Cleck’ is about and buys in to our ideas.”

Amir is welcomed by everyone at Moorend and a player who we’re sure will make an impact on-the-field and be a part of things off-the-field.

Skipper Mally Nicholson has given a great deal of thought to team building and Amir Hussain is a player he rates highly

Tom set to play on for Cleck’

The search goes on for another newcomer but it should be acknowledged that Yorkshire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore will play for Cleck’ in 2021 whenever he is available.

The gifted hard-hitting batsman, who is also one of the most athletic fielders you’ll ever witness and with a safe pair of hands, has struck up a fantastic relationship with the Club and with Skipper Mally Nicholson in-particular.

Tom remains in constant touch with Mally, he’s a grounded guy but equally, as we must emphasise, ultra-professional.

Tom represents India's Twenty/20 outfit Pune Warriors in Abu Dhabi this month with a tournament that commences on January 28th until February 6th.

All games will be played at the fantastic Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium with Tom’s side known as Pune Devils.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore seen in action at Moorend

High hopes for 2021 - and news of friendly games!

Cleck’s First Team line up for the coming season witnesses several changes to the team that took the field in 2020 but nothing too dramatic.

As reported previously, opening bowlers Johnny Whiteoak and Josh Thurwell have returned to their former Clubs Lightcliffe and Carlton respectively whilst Azeem Rafiq has decided that he will not be playing cricket in the foreseeable future.

Never-the-less, the team looks solid with Toby Booth joined by his twin brother Harvey from the Huddersfield League and they look a formidable duo.

Kris Ward looked an accomplished batsman after arriving from Townville for last season’s shortened term and he was superb behind the stumps replacing Skipper Mally Nicholson who requires an ACL operation - with a date yet to be set - but Mally will play as a batsman, as he did successfully last season, until he receives an appointment to go under the surgeon’s knife.

Nick Lindley will return to the side after a season off and with another newcomer the team looks solid.

Kris Ward is a key figure for Cleck' in 2021

Cricket nets have been booked at Wakefield starting the first week in February for eight weeks between 8:30 and 9:30pm for both First and Second team players.

In addition, pre-season friendlies have been arranged at Moorend against Buttershaw St Pauls - on Saturday April 10th but prior to then away to Moorlands on Sunday April 4th.

Not only did Buttershaw give Cleck’ a good game in 2020, pre-season - but they brought lots of supporters to the Club! Assuming we’re allowed to open the Club House by then? It should be a great occasion as it was last term.

Great credit must go to Buttershaw St Paul’s - they’re a well-run Club and everyone at Cleck’ appreciates their support and commitment and the same sentiments to Moorlands, of course.

Rafa leaves Cleck’ on good terms

Former Yorkshire all-rounder Azeem Rafiq will not play for Cleck’ in 2021 and indeed it will be his decision as to whether or not he continues his cricket career in the future.

The current complex off-the-field situation that involves Azeem is not a subject for discussion on this website - Cleckheaton Cricket Club can only advocate that Rafa has been a valued, respected and committed player during his two-year spell at Moorend.

Cleck’s First team Captain Mally Nicholson commented: “I can understand with what is happening at the minute it is not the easiest situation for Rafa. It would be difficult for him to focus 100% on his game, which is why he’s not playing.

Azeem is a good mate and he spoke to me at length about his reasons why he’s not playing next term. Personally, I wish him and his family all the best for the future and hopefully he will play cricket again at some point.”

Away from the spotlight and back to on-field matters, Azeem has been exemplary in his performances and attitude at Cleck’ and his encouragement of the younger players in-particular has been very impressive - and Ethan Lee is one young man who has benefited from Rafa’s knowledge, which he has passed on.

Everyone at Cleck’ issues sincere gratitude towards Azeem’s input at Moorend and remains totally unbiased in matters that do not involve our Club.

Azeem Rafiq has served Cleck' well during his time at the Club

Shack’ retires after a distinguished career

Cleck’s Cricket President Bob Shackleton has been a staunch follower and an involved member of the Club for many years but probably best known for his work with the Bradford League for almost four decades and the League’s website has paid a glowing tribute to Shack’.

The story can be read in full on the League’s official website but a few snippets includes the following:

The 83-year-old's contribution and longevity are unrivalled and unlikely ever to be beaten, His devotion and service to the league saw him win the Sir Leonard Hutton Trophy in 1997 and receive a special award after completing 30 years as an official in 2012.

The league management board have made Bob Shackleton the league's first and only Vice President as well as awarding life membership in recognition of his outstanding contribution, honours he confesses to being "surprised and delighted" to receive.

He held the posts of secretary (1982-2005), Chief Executive (2005-2010) and Admin Executive (2010-2020) and league chairman David Young led the praise for his achievements.

He said: "No one in the history of the league has made such a great contribution as Bob Shackleton has. Without his dedicated commitment to the league, I know that it would not be regarded as highly as it is today. Bob's tireless efforts over many years are very much appreciated."

League president Keith Moss has known Shackleton for almost 50 years and has seen at first hand his work as an official. "It is fair to say that we didn't always see eye to eye, but I always respected his views. At all times he had the best possible interests of the league at heart and when he made a decision, he stuck by it," he said.

"Second best wasn't good enough for Bob. He was jealous of the standing the league had achieved and did all he could to preserve it.

"He has been a powerful force in the Bradford League and deserves the very highest praise for all his hard work, dedication and determination he has displayed on our behalf."

As he takes a step back from the league's front line, Shack’ is clear about his abiding memory. "The best things has been making a lot of friends and striking up friendships with people not just in the Bradford League but other leagues too."

Cleck's former Chairman Dave Worrall commented: "During my time as Chairman at Cleck', Bob was a real font of knowledge and a great help. He has an asset of saying it: 'as it is' - and I can't wait to buy him a beer and put the world to right's."

Shack' pictured with former committee member Lloyd Campbell and the Club's one-time Chairman Dave Worrall - who cannot wait to buy Bob a beer!

Dobby’s career in doubt?

Former Seconds’ Skipper Chris Dobson and one-time mentor to Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale as well as many others is unsure whether or not he’ll be available to play in 2021, which would take him to over three decades at Moorend.

Dobby commented initially on the appointment of Sam Bailey as Second team Captain.

“I'm happy to see Sam taking over where Elliott Hallas has left off - both were 16 year olds in the side when I started as Captain a few years ago now,” commented Chris. “And it's great to see them still at the Club and both having a chance at the Captaincy.

It seems that Sam did a great job in difficult circumstances in the 2020 season when Elliott was unavailable and thoroughly deserves his chance now that Elliott has decided to call the Captaincy a day. He's very much a Cleckheaton lad and I have no doubt everyone will get behind him for the 2021 season.”

Finally, Dobby revealed his own plans adding: “From a personal point of view, it was disappointing that due to injury, isolation and holidays I ended up not playing a single game in what was going to be my last season. Whether 2019 or 2021 is my last remains to be seen - I'm hoping that I'll be able to make myself available for most of the games in whatever kind of season 2021 ends up being but there are a couple of things that could throw a spanner in the works and I won't be able to say for certain until into the New Year”

Chris Dobson has won many Trophies over the years and here's hoping he can add one more Cup for his cabinet in 2021

Sam the man:

Sam Bailey has been appointed Cleck’s Second team Captain for the 2021 season.

Elliott Hallas has stood down from the position, which was his decision and made in amicable fashion. Elliott has done a tremendous job succeeding Cleck’s stalwart Chris Dobson and now it’s Sam’s job.

The Club’s Cricket Chairman Ian Gatenby has applauded Sam’s appointment:

“Personally, I am pleased that Sam has accepted the offer of Second team Captain,” commented Gats. “He did a great job last year during a difficult season getting a team out every game when Elliott was unavailable, which was not easy during Covid.”

Ian added: “Sam has come through the juniors and he epitomises the spirit of the Seconds. He will receive everyone’s backing and as the Cricket Chairman I will be there to help Sam in anyway I can. And the cricket committee as one looks forward to the development of our young players under Sam’s leadership.”

Sam’s parents Liz and Mark are real stalwarts at Cleck’ and Sam's sister Alex has been involved with the Club both on and off-the-field since she was a youngster.

Sam is a credit to the Club as well as his family and he is an excellent appointment.

Grass is greener – or is it?

Recruitment is never easy but Cleck’s Skipper Mally Nicholson and the cricket committee have signed some excellent players for 2021 but keeping hold of ambitious but as yet unproven youngsters appears to be a little harder.

Joe Pyrah was released by Lightcliffe and given a chance at Cleck’ and in the several First Team games he played during the 2020 shortened season he did very well, even though the 14-year-old didn’t score many runs, he’s promising and an apparent prospect.

However, Joe with the blessing of his family, has decided to join New Farnley following his short tenure at Moorend. The pull of Mark Lawson’s coaching ability there has probably turned Joe’s head.

At this juncture it has to be said that everyone at Cleck’ wishes Joe well – as we do any young player and the Captain Mally is philosophical. “We would have liked to have kept Joe,” admitted Mally. “We’d probably have ‘given him a go’ in the First Team in the next couple of seasons. I think with continued hard work and improvement he had a fair chance at Cleck’ but I can see the pull of Mark and we’ve no axe to grind there. The lads enjoyed Joe’s company and we only wish him well.”

Whilst it is very disappointing to lose a young prospect - Cleck’ is realistic as a Club - and respects an individual’s decision. But as a thought-provoking sentiment – Cleck’ has many experienced players in their ranks willing to assist and advise and none more so than Azeem Rafiq, who took Ethan Lee under his wing. And like any promising young player Ethan has proved the old adage – ‘if you’re good enough you’ll be noticed.’ Ethan’s ability is matched with a very grounded attitude.

Iain Wardlaw resisted many tempting offers as a young and up and coming player and embraced John Wood as a mentor at Moorend and Wardy went on to play for Yorkshire and Scotland.

It is perfectly understandable, especially in modern times where patience is at a minimum in life in general that ambition from the heart rules the head. Never-the-less as with any responsible outfit or decent individuals you want young players to succeed of course – and Cleck’s no different.

Joe Pyrah departs Cleck' after a brief spell at Moorend with everyone's best wishes

Dave Worrall reflects:

Dave Worrall was a player at Cleck’ as well as the Club’s long-term and successful Chairman for well over two decades until handing over the reins to Ian Gatenby, who has continued the good work of his predecessor.

Dave remains an active Cricket Committee member and involved with recruitment and he looks back at two overseas players who made a fantastic impression at Cleck’ – and the duo stay in touch with Dave and there is mutual respect.

Dave commented: “Tayyab Tahir played one season with us in 2018 and quickly established himself as a popular and successful player. He was an aggressive right hand batsman. Tayyab plays first class cricket for Lahore and came with glowing references. His stats at Cleck’ speak for themselves: 762 runs from 17 innings with three centuries and the best being 126 and with four fifties and he had the best strike rate in the Bradford Cricket Premier League of 100.53.

While he was with us he passed his level two ECB coaching course. He then moved onto Billingham Synthonia in the North Yorkshire South Durham Premier league where he had a spectacular season scoring 1195 runs averaging 45.

Tayyab is currently playing for Southern Punjab with limited cricket due to the Corona virus.”

Tayyab told Dave: “I had a great time at Cleck’ and still keep in touch with a lot of the guys back there it was a great experience and education for me and the players and staff at the Club were superb with me”

Tayyab is actively looking to develop his coaching now and we wish him continued success

Tayyab was a real success at Cleck'

Dave remembers the all-round talents of Tanzeel Altaf and Dave added: “A lot of the players and committee men do tend to keep in touch with our overseas players and we have received some words from Tanzeel.  Tanz was a quality leg spinner and when he came in to bat everyone stopped to see what was going to happen because Tanz didn’t understand or care about defending and every ball was there to be hit as far as possible so it was either over quickly or spectacular!!

He once hit a six at Cleck’ that went over the dressing room and smashed into the doors of the factory behind. My favourite was at Yeadon when he hit a six over the scoreboard and a Yeadon supporter said “blimey that’s in Murgatroyds” Tanz and Mally Nicholson behind the wicket were a terrific combination and Tanz gave us an outstanding and successful couple of seasons.”

Tanz commented: “Hello everyone hope my Cleckheaton family are all keeping well and I now live in Canada having just got married and playing cricket over here. Our season was restricted due to the virus, my two seasons with you were special and were a great experience for me. John Wood, Mally and the rest of the team were great personalities and I really enjoyed my times with you all, everyone was very kind and it was an honour to be part of Cleckheaton thank you all.”

Two fabulous cricketers and two great guys who fitted in well with the players, cricket committee, members and supporters.

Tanzeel pictured front row in 2014 with his Title winning team mates

Special times ahead for Booth twins

Toby Booth signed for Cleck’ from Huddersfield League outfit Kirkheaton at the beginning of the shortened 2020 season and he made a real impact – now his twin brother Harvey has signed for the Club from Broad Oak and he’s thrilled to be playing alongside Toby for the first time in a long while.

“There’s no doubt that playing with my brother Toby, was a huge draw for playing at Cleckheaton next year,” admitted Harvey. “We haven’t played together for about five or six years apart from the odd representative match so to be stood 22 yards away from him is something I can’t wait for. He only has great things to say about the Club and the lads on and off the pitch."

In addition to joining his sibling at Moorend, Harvey admitted also the challenge of playing in the Bradford League is something he’s excited about. Harvey added: “Another huge pull was playing in the Bradford League, which is widely regarded as one of the best Leagues in the Country. Only being 23 years-old means hopefully I can have many-a-season left in me to bat and bowl to the best of my ability in the best League around, playing against top players week-in-week-out."

The camaraderie between the players and members that’s so important to Cleck’ has been witnessed already by Harvey. “Skipper Mally Nicholson and the lads have been top drawer and we’ve even managed two or three rounds of golf over the last few Sundays, so I feel like I’m getting to know the lads before I’ve even played my first match which is reassuring,” he commented.

Harvey is from a close knit family and understandably the approval and encouragement from his parents is important and in conclusion, Harvey revealed: “Both my old man, John, and my Mum, Michelle, have been really encouraging about the move. I played at Broad Oak for six seasons, Captaining in the final season and when I said I wanted to push myself again in a new League they were only supportive. Both my parents have watched some of Toby’s fixtures this season and they have also been really impressed with the set up and organisation at Cleck’ – and I can’t wait to get on the field in April!”

Cleck’ has high hopes of both brothers and again the constant message we send out as a Club is they’re good characters and backed by their family.

Signing Harvey Booth is a real coup for Cleck'!

Cleck’s members and players will all know the Walmsley twins, Marcus and Eddie who like Harvey and Toby Booth are almost impossible to separate when it comes to who’s who.

Already former Chairman Dave Worrall has slipped up innocently – when Harvey came to Cleck’ to watch Toby play, the Broad Oak Captain, which was half an hour before the game began, had a pint in his hand that led Dave to very politely saying: “Not sure that’s a good idea before you play Toby?!!”

In fairness to Dave, when the Walmsley twins played at Cleck’ many members, especially ‘us older end’ would have to say “alright mate” – not knowing who was who.

Never-the-less, one brother being left handed and the other right handed helps whilst they’re playing  but in the bar, that could be embarrassing for some!

Toby pictured after signing for Cleck' that could witness mistaken identity in 2021!

Nick looks ahead to next season

Nick Lindley made an important and personal decision to take a break from cricket in 2020 and the Cleck’ opening batsman and slow bowler admits it’s not been an easy time.

“It’s been a very different six or seven months that I don’t think anyone of us would believe could ever have happened,” admitted Nick. “But it was great to see that cricket was able to make a start and how different it would be with all of the changes. Obviously, it was my decision to not play as I thought it wasn’t worth the risk bringing anything home to my family.”

Despite being on the sidelines, Nick admitted he was with Cleck’ in spirit if not in person.

“I speak to Skipper Mally Nicholson nearly every week and would always keep a close eye every Saturday on how we were doing,” he added. “There looked to be a lot of tight games and to say we were missing maybe three or four first team players every game I don’t think we did bad at all.”

Cleck’ introduced several newcomers last term that impressed the Club’s former Vice-Captain. “It was great also to see the new lads get runs straight away and from what Mally said they had a good crack as well,” commented Nick.  “I’m looking forward to getting back to it next year. I suppose we don’t know what rules will be in place as things are changing all the time.”

Cleck’s highly-rated batsman, who is more than a useful bowler and a very decent fielder commented: “As a player, you definitely miss the game, there is no better feeling than winning a tight game of cricket and have a beer with the lads after. You miss the little things you probable never thought about. It’s good that we pretty much have our team sorted for next years as well.”

Cleck’ is proud that so many parents are involved and supportive that includes Nick’s Dad Ian and Nick concluded by saying: “I know my Dad and me are very much looking forward to spending our Saturdays at Cleck’ and hopefully the country is in a much better place with the virus.”

Nick Lindley is a stylish batsman who is ready and raring to go next year

Cleck’ capture Toby's twin!

Cleck’ has signed genuine all-rounder Harvey Booth from Broad Oak.

The twin brother of Toby, who has been brilliant in his first term at Cleck’ after signing from Kirkburton, now sees his sibling put pen to paper at Moorend.

Harvey was Captain at Broad Oak last season and his performances with both bat and ball have been consistent and he captured the attention of Cleck’s Skipper Mally Nicholson who commented: “Harvey is a great signing for us and he will be a tremendous asset for Cleckheaton Cricket Club. He’s at Moorend for the long haul, he’s at the right age and with the lads already at the Club he will add strength to our team.”

In addition, Cleck’s Craig Fletcher, who knows the Huddersfield League well and has been instrumental in persuading the Booth twins to come to Cleck’ added: “Harvey is a brilliant signing. I tried to sign him when I was Captain at Kirkburton. He’ll fit in well in to our dressing room and the Club is a perfect fit as it is for Toby. Harvey is a genuine all-rounder who has opened the bowling and batting and he’s an intelligent player with a good head on his shoulders. Both he and Toby can become top Bradford League players for many years to come.”

Hopefully, the Booth twins will wear different coloured helmets? Otherwise recognising Toby (who is pictured above) from his twin brother Harvey will not be easy! That said to the observant Toby is left handed and Harvey right handed, which gives a clue!!

What is impressive about both brothers is their willingness to join us for their enjoyment of the game and determination to progress and not for the monetary benefits, which speaks volumes for the twins’ character.

Two great lads and Cleck’ as a Club is delighted to have the talented guys in our ranks.

Craig Fletcher believes Cleck' have 'real winners' in the Booth twins

Independent and unbiased view of Booth boys!

Steve Bartholamew is a respected umpire in the Huddersfield League and he's been involved for many years and he gave Cleck’ a glowing reference concerning the Club’s capture of Harvey Booth following on from the signing of Toby at the beginning of 2020.

Steve said: “Harvey is a great signing and a more than decent bowler plus he can bat! I’ve witnessed him bowl very quickly and his twin brother Toby is a good cricketer too. Their Dad John was a classy left lander and he’s involved with the MCC.

John scored a lot of runs in the Huddersfield League and both lads will have learned a lot from their Dad. I rate both Harvey and Toby highly and they are good characters too.”

Cleck’ figureheads lead the way

First Team Captain Mally Nicholson and Vice Captain Andrew Deegan did themselves proud in the Bradford League and Cup averages.

Deegs finished third after capturing 15 wickets from 50.5 overs bowled with an average of 12.22 with best figures of 4/26.

Mally was placed eleventh in the batting averages, which is amazing considering he requires a knee operation and at one point the Club Skipper had seemingly no chance of playing.

But - despite having to come to the boundary edge in virtually every match of the six games that he played in to ask someone for a paracetamol – he notched an impressive 165 runs with an average of 41.25 that included a ton.

Deegs was definitely Cleck’s most consistent and impressive bowler in the shortened 2020 season although his temperament, ability and sheer dogged determination has never waned.

Newcomers Toby Booth and Kris Ward were not too far behind Mally in the batting averages.

Toby scored 222 runs in his eight games played whilst Kris notched 182 runs in the same numbers of matches played.

In addition, Kris kept wicket magnificently as a replacement for Mally, who was brave enough to overcome the pain barrier by batting.

Skipper Mally and his number two Deegs are an absolute credit to the Club – not just in terms of talent but their attitude.

Andrew Deegan was outstanding for Cleck' in 2020

However, it must be emphasised that the side is full of good lads who want to play for the Club and give their all and that’s all that any cricket committee, members and supporters can ask.

Another new signing Ian Carradice settled in to the side well and the return of Iain Wardlaw was a massive bonus.

With Nick Lindley returning to the side next season and a newcomer to be announced soon the team looks solid for 2021.

Kris Ward showed truly quality both with the bat and behind the stumps in 2020

Toby’s refreshing positivity

Toby Booth has made a big impression on Cleck’s members and supporters’ since joining the Moorenders from Kirkburton.

He’s struck a magnificent 70 runs at Bradford & Bingley as well as a more than useful 35 runs against Pudsey St Lawrence and overall, Toby has looked in fine form and importantly very much a part of a strong ‘team ethic’.

In his own words Toby advocated the following:

“I’ve been very good friends with Craig Fletcher for a number of years now and he always got the best out of me as a player in the past when he was captain at Kirkburton so when he asked me about the possibility of signing on at Cleck’ I jumped at the chance.

Coming from the Huddersfield League it’s been incredibly refreshing playing at new grounds and against new players who perhaps don’t know me or have only seen my name on a piece of paper, in addition to making new friends and teammates who have been amazing and has let me settle in quickly.

Skipper Mally Nicholson has been great in so many ways and his enthusiasm for Cleckheaton is obvious to see. Everyone knows he’s only probably half fit but he leads the side impeccably, not to forget the high standards set by experienced plays like Andrew Deegan, Azeem Rafiq and Iain Wardlaw.

Having played five games, with one win, one rained off and three losses it would be easy to say we’ve got off to a sluggish start but I disagree with that entirely. We’ve probably only been well beaten once and considering we’re missing at least perhaps three players; the other sides have been probably only missing an overseas so we’re not far away from a very strong side.

I don’t like the term “friendly” or “friendlies” because when you’re on the park no one is taking it easy. Everyone wants to score runs and take wickets, I’ve been lucky I’ve hit the ground running and considering I hadn’t picked a bat up in ten months I’ve been chuffed with my efforts so far but also probably annoyed I didn’t win us the game v PSL when Ethan Lee and myself really put us in the driving seat only to both not see it though.

All in all, I’ve absolutely loved the first half of this mini season and I really hope we can learn from our weaker areas and in 2021 challenge in all comps.”

Toby has agreed already to commit for next term and as he’s not only a talented cricketer but a genuine ‘team player’ - his capture is a real coup for Cleck’.

Toby Booth has made a real impact at Cleck' in a short space of time

A bit about young Joe!

The 2020 season has been both strange but equally positive and not least for giving up and coming young players their opportunity.

Joe Pyrah has played more games than anticipated this term and opened the batting alongside Kris Ward, Hudson Rowan has played and Hudson’s a fantastic prospect too, waiting in the wings as a 12-year-old.

As for Joe, he was born on September 12th 2005 the day that England retained the Ashes, as his mum Rebecca informs us, he has a very supportive family and his Dad Nick has not missed a match involving his son and his mum has been to Moorend also.

Joe has taken his chances well in the First Team and especially considering he won’t be aged fifteen until next month.

When Joe arrived at Cleck’ at the beginning of the season quite a few members were asking: “Who’s this lad?” Well his parents have informed us that Joe is Halifax born and began playing cricket for Lightcliffe Under 9s when he was aged just six. He’s represented Yorkshire CAG since 2017.

Joe’s a useful footballer and he's played for Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town academies as a goalkeeper although nowadays he plays in defence for Northowram.

And he has been a Bradford City fan since the tender age of four! Apparently, Joe likes a curry and from Akbars in-particular.

No-one is carried away at Cleck’ as everyone realises the ECB Bradford Premier Cricket League is an unforgiving league and it’s extremely difficult to nail down a regular First Team place.

A host of young players over the years have become frustrated and left for pastures new, perhaps the most successful are Marcus and Eddie Walmsley, whilst many have departed with mixed success.

A recent and classic example of patience and hard work is the emergence of Ethan Lee, who not only deserves his First Team spot but he’s looking a good player in the making – but still with a great deal to do yet!

Joe Robinson won two Championship medals having been with Cleck’ since a nine-year-old, apart from a brief spell at Scholes. Joe didn’t always have the opportunity to bat as much as he’d have liked nor did he bowl but he fielded as good as anyone in the top-flight and if any young player requires a mentor in terms of being a dedicated, worthy and a popular team mate, Joe was that man.

He doesn’t play nowadays – but his medals were deserved and no-one can take those away from Robbo’.

Perhaps the best example of all is Yorkshire's Coach and former Captain Andrew Gale. 'Galey' was virtually unnoticed at Gomersal, he came to Cleck' as a 14-year-old - he scored 50s and 100s in the Seconds consistently - and he was given his chance and he never looked back.

Joe Pyrah has begun his career at Cleck’ in fine fashion but it’s now that the hard work starts. The message is: “If you’re good enough, you’ll get your chance but patience and loyalty are key.”

It’s perfectly understandable that a young player has aspirations to play First Team cricket but it’s one step at a time. It was interesting to witness Joe and his Dad at the Cleck’ versus Methley game even though Joe wasn’t playing, he was disappointed not to play but didn’t sulk and came along to the ground and that alone says a great deal about him and his family’s influence.

Joe has all the makings of a superb batsman but it won’t happen overnight – on that score, we’ll wait and see – but for now his outstanding presence is noted and in 2021 he has to show that he’s too good to play Second team cricket and that will only happen  ‘by showing it on the field and scoring runs.’

Cleck’ is fortunate to have a fabulous bank of youngsters but they too will be looked after and given their opportunity but only by deeds.

Joe Pyrah has shown already that he's plenty of potential

Outdoor nets given go-ahead

The top-notch two-lane nets with dark green protection tunnel netting, green carpet with blue borders is a superb project that’s finally come to fruition.

Secretary Antony Lee has worked tirelessly for many months planning, discussing and cajoling and eventually seeing the fruits of his labours become reality.

Without divulging financial details but to say with the assistance of a grant and help from the Sports Club the relevant documentation will be signed, sealed and delivered by the end of the week and work can commence as soon as the contractors are able.

Sports Club Chairman Matthew Stephenson kindly confirmed that the fabulous enterprise will be supported by the Management Committee – Sports Club Treasurer Steve Midgley graphically explained the financial aspects and implications – and the committee in unison were delighted to rubber stamp the construction of nets that will not only assist the Club’s players at every level but may be also a form of income from outsiders, which is a subject for a later date.

Antony must take enormous credit for his patience and dogged determination to see this occasionally laborious but ultimately worthy project at long last become a realization.

Fabulous outdoor nets at Cleck' will be of enormous benefit

Rafa oozes enthusiasm!

Azeem Rafiq brings real professionalism to Cleck’ since joining the Moorenders at the beginning of the 2019 season and his opinions carry a lot of weight.

The former Yorkshire all-rounder - as with the rest of the players - is playing for the enjoyment of the game in the briefest of season’s and despite no wins to date, Azeem is genuinely positive and takes many pluses from what he’s seen to so far.

“It’s seemed a strange season having started in August but as a Club we can take a lot of positives, which may seem an odd thing to say as we’ve not won a game yet,” commented Azeem.

“But quite a few of the guys have ‘given it a go’ – and after Saturday’s defeat against Pudsey St Lawrence the lads got together afterwards and had a good honest chat and I believe it was the most encouraging review of a game I’ve witnessed since joining Cleck’. You could tell that everyone is on the same page.”

There has been the opportunity to give a number of youngsters their First Team opportunity and Rafa has nothing but praise for 14-year-old opening batsman Joe Pyrah. “The experience is going to help Joe enormously and I think he’s done really well,” added Azeem. “You shouldn’t look at his scores because in the grand scheme of things that’s irrelevant – he’s not looked out of place against some experienced quick Premier League bowlers and he’s been unlucky in many ways not to have scored more runs – and the experience is good for him.”

Of course, Cleck’ has blooded Ethan Lee as well as signing Kris Ward and Toby Booth, who have all impressed the former County man who has also Captained Yorkshire. Azeem said: “Ethan is getting better and better and he’s a great kid! A real honest lad and a talent. Toby, well what an addition!! – he’s an absolute gem and so refreshing and likewise Kris who again is simply an honest bloke and a quality signing.”

Azeem does acknowledge that there’s a lot of work to be done for next term and admits the Club’s recruiting has to be spot on. He commented: “We have to have a little more structure about things especially when we sit down discussing recruitment. Building a team is about a group of people who are going to work well with each other.”

Cleck’s defeats this term left Rafa concluding his appraisal in the belief that when the team isn’t dominating the game they have to find a way of staying in the contest and being second for a spell rather than, as Azeem described: “Being tenth!!”

Azeem is a real plus to Cleck’ – not just as a talented performer but he’s a wise head on experienced shoulders and a brilliant mentor to many.

Azeem Rafiq is focused whilst playing and a respected voice of reason off the field

Congratulations continue for Craig and Anna Fletcher on the birth of their son named: Freddie, Harrison Fletcher, who came in to this world on August 9th @ 4:12am and weighing 9lbs 2 and a half ounces.

Mum and baby are doing well.

Everyone at Cleckheaton Cricket Club sends their best wishes to all of the Fletcher family

Tiny Freddie Fletch' pictured with proud Dad Craig

‘Proud of his roots’ Robbo’ reminisces

For well over two decades Mark Robinson has followed his son Joe’s fortunes at Cleck’ as well as supporting the Club off-the-field.

Mark preferred to remain independent of the Club’s cricket committee but his input has been enormous from assisting at the gate, working on the ground at Moorend at tea intervals and with fund-raising - and much more besides.

He is the proud brother-in-law of Cleck’s former player and Cricket Chairman Dave Worrall and anyone that knows Robbo’ appreciates his decency in helping others but soon realises also his sometimes ‘off-the-wall humour’ that is a big part of his makeup that can leave those on the boundary edge in stitches!

Mark paints a graphic picture of his time at Cleck’ and of how his memories of the Club as well as his birthplace come flooding back:

“Ever since I can remember I had a bat in my hand that’s not because I was mad crazy about cricket, but I was born on Holmewood and you needed a bat just to get to the shops and back!

My love for cricket started when I got introduced to my future Brother in law by my sister Sandra, Dave Whizzer Worrall also known as Tony Sideburns, apparently back in the 1970’s they were fashionable.

He used to take me to watch him play football and cricket and quickly became my hero, and still is.

Robbo' has the utmost respect for his brother-in-law Dave Worrall

I started watching him play at Laisterdyke and then went on to Windhill, where I spent three years scoring and got £15 a game big money in them days, when we had a double weekend, I needed a Securicor van going round Holmewood with that kind of money!!

It’s at Windhill where I made my Bradford League debut against a very useful Salts team.

It was half way through the first innings when some wimp decided to fall ill and Dave asked if I would come on and field for the rest of the innings

So there I was in borrowed whites which had belonged to Big Jeff, 23 stone and 5ft 3”, looked well on me 6ft and 10.5 stone remember I was 15 year old, finished off with a pair of black pumps, I looked a treat, but there began the legend of Billy black pumps!!!

Anyone that knows Mark will tell you the 'trainers' seen above may well be in better condition than those he normally wears!!

So, I thought Dave would give me an easy shout fielding down at square extra midwicket long off, I swear to this day I haven’t got a clue what positions are what, disgraceful I know.

Any way he puts me in what I found out to be later the Covers no problems apart from the bloke who’s batting is the future England cricketer Richard Illingworth who likes nothing else but a good old cover drive.

Have you ever tried to stop a cricket ball travelling at 95 mph with your feet in a pair of Black pumps??

I have loved watching cricket at Cleckheaton and things only got better when my son Joe decided he fancied donning his whites at the age of nine and go and play down at Moorend and since then Joe’s been a one club man apart from a brief spell at Scholes.

It was one of those freak things when suddenly a group of youngsters who can all play a bit and have a similar attitude, bond and come together

Mark and his son Joe pictured in the foreground at Lord's in 2016

Joe played alongside some exceptional youngsters who have gone on to play a good standard of cricket at adult level, the likes of Marcus and Eddie Walmsley, Fahid and Shahid Rehman, Matty West, Lukey Patel, Nick Lindley and Chris Stott. The twins were exceptional both in talent and attitude, but there was a really good squad with the likes of Trappo, Adam Fearnley, Joe Bray, Sean Howe all playing their part at some stage.

Marcus Senior ran the team and I think it’s fair to say Marcus had a proper approach to the game , it wasn’t about participating, it was about winning and they did plenty of that, they were the most competitive bunch of lads I’d come across, which was great, if they were on top don’t ease up, just press that advantage home.

Many a time we would have eight slips and sledging the number 11, some might say it wasn’t in the spirit of the game at under 12/13’s but that’s just how competitive they were.

Marcus was superb with all the kids and ensured they enjoyed it, but as we say, you enjoy it a lot more when you’re winning.

They won most things in front of them often playing two finals in a day, Marcus was the master of squad rotation, especially when the end of season always clashed with the start of the Football season.

Joe progressed with the rest of the lads up until open age and then he went off to Cricket college at 16, playing at Scholes gave him a lot of confidence and a lot of  credit must go down to Matty Baxter who put a lot of faith in Joe, which was a big thing to do as a young captain.

When Joe returned to Cleck he was playing second team until Craig Thornton decided to leave part way through the season and then he was drafted in to play for the firsts.

He kept his place for the rest of the season and deservedly so taking some great catches and occupying an end when he needed to. He started the following year in the firsts and that was the year Cleckheaton won the league and Joe earned his place and as you can imagine how proud I was of him to be winning a Bradford League Championship medal, indeed it was a double celebration for me with my Whizzer achieving his ultimate aim with the club as cricket chairman and all the more sweeter because it was at our local rivals Woodlands .

Mark's son Joe seen on the back row second from left of the players in the Championship side of 2014

The next year Cleck set their stall out to repeat the previous year achievements and that’s exactly what they did, another outstanding year, another Championship

Joe’s now played at Cleckheaton for 20 years on and off and I can’t believe where that time has gone, but great times and met some great people, with the news that local Cricket can start again soon I look forward to getting to the odd game once I can come out of shielding.”

Over the years Mark and Joe have embraced some fabulous sporting moments that has included a few trips to Wembley witnessing many high-profile occasions. In addition Mark has invited others to join him - but even though he's enjoyed top-notch facilities around the country his roots are set firmly in Holmewood and Cleck'!

The two Robbo's at Wembley alongside a senior excecutive from Sky and a 'hanger on'!!

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 E

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