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18 May

Menston Cricket Club - Club of the Week

May 2020 – compiled by Paul Smith

Although cricket was played in Menston well over 100 years ago, the club was not formally established until 1880. At the outset, several fields (as opposed to grounds) were used, one where High Royds hospital stood, others at Menston Hall and at Lane Ends behind the Malt Shovel Inn.

In 1887 the club moved to its present ground to the rear of The Fox and Hounds hotel (now The Fox Pub & Restaurant). In these early days, the club had a certain notoriety for pitch battles at the end of some of its matches, particularly against local neighbours Burley-in-Wharfedale, with spectators and players joining in!

In 1908 the club relinquished its position in the local league and returned to friendly cricket, being “more sportsmanlike and less expensive”. However, in 1920 there was a return to league cricket and the teams competed in various sections of the Yorkshire Council until the club was admitted to the reformed Airedale and Wharfedale Senior Cricket League in 1939.

Possibly the club’s most exciting season was 1945 when, at the end of the hostilities of World War 2, the famous England & Yorkshire cricketer, Bill Bowes, a Menston resident, returned from a POW camp and joined the club. An article has recently been published on the club’s website to remember the return of Bill Bowes, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of VE Day:

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Also playing for Menston at this time were Stanley Raper, a former Yorkshire 2nd XI captain, and JC “Jimmy” Rigg, who also subsequently played for Yorkshire 2nd XI.

The 1950s were the most successful in terms of winning League and Cup honours when, led by the Thornton brothers, Eric and Jack, Menston won the coveted Division 1 league title (in 1950), and both the Waddilove Cup (in 1951) and Birtwhistle Cup (in 1953 and 1955). Further success came in the 1960s with the Division 2 title (in 1962 and 1965). More recent cup wins came in 1983 for the 1st XI (Waddilove) and in 1993 for the 2nd XI (Birtwhistle). The 1st XI also claimed the Division 2 title in the millennium year, and the Division 3 title in 2010. An article about the millennium winning team was recently published on the club’s website:

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1985 was a season to remember when Menston Cricket Club was delighted to welcome New Zealand Test players Martin Crowe and Derek Stirling to the club. This caused some consternation within the league and, indeed, led to rules regarding overseas players that exist to this day.

Since 1938, the club has always been heavily involved in junior cricket and Menston was a founder member of the Airedale Junior League. In 1946, the junior team (only an under 18s team existed at the time) won its first title, as described in the following recently published article:

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In 1978, the under 18s were joint winners of the Denison Cup and the under 15s were outright winners of the league in the same year. The under 15s also won the league in 2009. Recent junior success has arrived like buses, with all of the under 9s, under 11s and under 13s teams winning their leagues in very recent times – this is a testament to the current healthy junior membership of over 100 boys and girls between the age of 5 and 18, led by a group of enthusiastic parents.

Regarding the club’s facilities, the pavilion was originally a farmhouse and extensive alterations were made in 1958: toilets were added and the tearoom facilities modernised. Further improvements to the pavilion were made in 1977: these included dressing room showers and were opened by Fred Truman in a Celebrity cricket match to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Further work was done in 2015, with the addition of a bar and improved clubhouse facilities:

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Menston Cricket Club has taken its share in league administration over the years. Edward Hanson, John Ellicott and Jack Sullivan were Presidents of the Senior League and Howard Mountain was League Secretary during the 2nd World War. David Thackeray was captain of the Senior League representative side in 1978-79. More recently, Paul Smith has sat on the league management committee and Jane Pratt is currently joint secretary of the Umpires Association.


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