For me, someone who lives in Huddersfield, there was a massive challenge in getting to know the cricketing history of North Kirklees as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-sponsored Calderdale & Kirklees Heritage Project, which began in 2004. North Kirklees incorporates Dewsbury, Batley and other smaller towns including Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Mirfield. And in many ways it sees itself as being closer to the Leeds area than Huddersfield. So it was a challenge – a big one. It was one I enjoyed. I loved getting the train to Batley or Dewsbury and then getting to know the history of places, and cricket clubs, I had only heard about before. Mirfield detained us quite a lot. Today there are three cricket clubs in the town – Mirfield, Moorlands and Mirfield Parish Cavaliers - and in yesteryear there would have been many more. As I travelled round, I started to meet cricket folk with particular historical interests. At Hanging Heaton I got to know David Peel – and we now know that he has a strong interest in the now defunct Mirfield & District Evening Cricket League. He has produced an interesting and informative booklet and it is good that cricket folk with special interests are coming forward and producing research of their own.
‘Cuckoos, moonrakers, leadboilers and lilies are the most unlikely inspirations behind the legends of the Colne Valley. The valley is just over six miles long yet it boasts an industrial history, which ranks among the most important in the world. It is difficult to believe the claim that at one time a squirrel could jump from tree to tree for the entire length of the valley. Even harder to believe is that you could stand at a certain vantage-point and see over one hundred mills.’
While we were researching the history of current cricket clubs as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-sponsored ‘Cricketing Heritage of Calderdale and Kirklees’ project at the University of Huddersfield, we naturally came across many clubs that once existed but have now folded. It is hard to quantify how many we have come across but it is definitely in the hundreds, perhaps in the thousands. The reality is that, in yesteryear, most villages had several cricket teams, whereas today most have one, perhaps two.
But during our project work we could not really devote time to studying these old, former clubs because we were so concerned with the clubs that still existed and which were thus the subject of our exhibitions and general research. Now, though, we can switch the focus slightly and explore the world of former or ex-clubs.
What points can we make?
First, I have tried to vary the historical evidence I have put forward in this booklet. Some clubs are proving elusive and I have not found any historical evidence to prove that they existed; but with the ones included in this booklet, I have been able to locate a historical source of some description to prove that the club did exist. It could be a team photo, a league handbook entry, a piece of club memorabilia or something else.
But each club has something.
Second, as I have already intimated, this is work in progress. Lots more research needs to be done on the former clubs of Calderdale and Kirklees and I intend to do this in the next couple of years. It is a fascinating and exciting area of study. This booklet is 48 pages long; expect a publication of 480 pages a few years hence! So, we are necessarily scratching the surface but I hope this publication gives you a flavour of the clubs that are now no more.
Third, this is a topical subject. When we began our research in 2004 there were 100 clubs in Calderdale and Kirklees. Now there are 92. Eight have fallen by the wayside since we began our research – Inter- Caribbean, King Cross, Mytholmroyd Methodists, Queen’s Road Muslims, Ruddlesdens, Salendine Nook Old Boys, Staincliffe and Thornhill. This is a very sad state of affairs but it is the reality too. Most of these now-defunct clubs were urban rather than rural ones – and this tells its own tale. It is now very difficult to sustain a club in urban areas with all the associated problems – crime, vandalism, anti-social behaviour and such like.
Fourth, this leads on to a big question: why do clubs become extinct? Is it issues at the club in question (such as lack of players, financial troubles, problems with the ground, or failure rather than success on the field) or is it external factors (such as social change, local decision making or the impact of world war)? Again, more research needs to be carried out.
Fifth, the question of ‘lost clubs’ raises the question of ‘lost grounds’. Every club that folds has, or had, a ground and it is now a major challenge to trace where all these lost clubs played their home games. Again, this will be a major part of forthcoming project research. Sixth, given the amount of clubs that are folding, and have folded, I suppose it emphasises more than ever the role that historians need to be playing in chronicling the history of local sport. Some recently departed clubs have been famous local institutions and I suppose it is important that local historians and cricket enthusiasts play a role in safeguarding archive material such as scorebooks, minute books and such like.
Finally, I have enjoyed putting this booklet together but it has also been a task that has been tinged with sadness. So many famous and not-so-famous clubs have gone to the wall and each and every time one goes this happens it is time for genuine regret. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that King Cross – possibly the most famous club in Halifax – had folded a few months ago and I was genuinely upset and shocked. So famous a club - and we had dug up so many fascinating photographs and documents relating to their illustrious history. So, genuinely, a very sad moment.
I hope you enjoy the booklet and, as I say, there will be more to come on ex-clubs in the future.
This page is dedicated to the band of cricket enthusiasts - or 'Professional Cricket Watchers' - who enjoy watching cricket at all levels and at all times.
With an ageing population there are an increasing number of retired men and women who try to watch cricket at all its many different levels on every day of the summer months. Test match and county cricket, of course, get by far the most publicity in the media, but at lower levels it is often difficult to find out what games are on and even where they are being played.
In addition, many people find out only after the event that certain games have been played. There are a vast amount of games all over the country being staged in front of the proverbial two men and a dog, which is how some people like it, but many more people would attend if only they knew about them. Here we list matches in the North of England that generally go 'under the radar' and are not publicly advertised. We are particularly interested in:
pre-season fixtures friendly fixtures schools and university cricket fixtures involving academy sides junior cricket seniors cricket midweek matches fixtures involving touring teams charity matches benefit games fixtures that take place at odd times in the year one-off games of any type women's cricket The motto of this page is: Share your information so that others can enjoy their cricket!
Cricket is a fundamental part of the local cultural tradition. Yet often, the heritage of grounds, and the societies that shape them, is neglected.
Clubs in Calderdale/Kirklees act as a focal-point for community life. It is not just that local men play for senior teams, but children turn out for junior sides, women often help on the social side, and many elderly people take on administrative roles. There is also high ethnic-minority involvement.
This project received a £43,400 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It aims to explore and celebrate the cricketing heritage of Kirklees and Calderdale, focusing in particular on the local league cricket clubs and grounds in the Kirklees-Calderdale area.
The project is a pioneering and exciting venture:
It will establish cricket archives in Halifax and Huddersfield town libraries.
It will employ 'community' photographers/artists to depict local cricketing landscapes.
Local libraries will host exhibitions on a cricket/community theme and 'Heritage Trail' leaflets will be available.
Informative features will appear in the local media.
Books will be written on the cricketing heritage of Calderdale/Kirklees.
The aims of this website are:
to explain the project.
to encourage participation in the project.
to facilitate communication between local cricket enthusiasts and project volunteers.