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14 Jul

Club of the Week - Pudsey St. Lawrence Cricket Club

A brief history of Pudsey St. Lawrence Cricket Club

How it all began – bad behaviour, betting, and booze!

The Club was founded in 1845, probably by St. Lawrence Parish Church, to ‘improve’ behaviour and organise leisure activities of young men in the Parish. Still much needed today! In 1863-4 an All England Eleven defeated 22 Pudsey cricketers by seven runs. In the return match, the following year, Pudsey won by 105 runs. The All England team complained about the state of the pitch and didn’t return. Some things never change then! In 1875 ‘The St. Lawrence’ lost to Pudsey Britannia by seven wickets in a ‘purse’ match, watched by 3000 spectators. As well as their pride it cost them £100. But it began the tradition of local derby matches, ‘top enders’ against the ‘low enders’ or ‘bottom enders’, now Pudsey Congs. All these matches have, of course, been played and watched in the best spirit of cricket!

During the 1870’s the Club moved to Pudsey Park, having previously played on fields behind the Black Bull, the Fleece and what is now the Market Place. Their club house was the then New Inn, which became the Park Hotel. A close connection between cricket and ‘liquid refreshment’ continues today! In 1889 Pudsey moved to their present ground, Tofts Road. The ground was leased to them by William Dibb Scales from his Grove House Estate. The ‘Chapeltown End’ was raised to the height of the present square with tons of soil excavated from Greenside railway tunnel and a new pavilion was built. At the opening in May 1889, William Dibb Scales said he was ‘anxious that nothing of a degrading or immoral character should be seen there.’ Nothing like that happens at Pudsey St Lawrence, does it?

Name dropping – Pudsey, England and 364 Church Bells

Leonard Hutton joined Pudsey St. Lawrence in 1930. He became a regular in 1931, scoring his first century in 1933. In August 1938 he made the record Test score of 364 at the Oval, celebrated locally by ringing the bells of St. Lawrence Church. In the same year Pudsey won their first league title, Division 2 of the Bradford League. Leonard Hutton’s best season in England was in 1949 when he hit 3,429 runs, at an average of 68.58. He hit 2,000 runs in a season in England eight other times and in all hit at least 1,000 runs 12 times, plus five times overseas. Between 1953 and 1955 Leonard Hutton captained England and won back the Ashes. In 1956 it was ‘Sir’ Leonard Hutton – knighted for his outstanding services to cricket. On retirement he wrote, ‘Many of the most blissful hours of my life were spent with Pudsey St. Lawrence’. Future Yorkshire and England players, Herbert Sutcliffe – who holds the highest England career Test average of 60.73 – and Raymond Illingworth played for Pudsey St. Lawrence as juniors – Sutcliffe also playing first team cricket in 1916 – before moving on to Pudsey Britannia and Farsley respectively. We have always ‘brought on’ good juniors at Pudsey!

Bradford League – the early years

In 1912 Pudsey St. Lawrence joined the Bradford League having begun their competitive cricket in the Leeds and Holbeck League. The four Hutton brothers, Len, Edmund, George and Reg played in the 1933 team. In 1938 they won their first league title, becoming Division 2 champions. They won the Priestley Cup for the first time in 1943, gaining an 85 run victory over Brighouse. It looked very promising when in 1956 a first League and Cup double was achieved under the leadership of ‘our’ Roland Parker. But lean years were to follow. There was to be no First Division League or Priestley cup success between 1957 and 1974, even though there were some very good players – but there were wins in the Priestley Shield in 1961; 1962; 1967; and, 1971.

We are the champions’: 1975-1995

These 20 years were the most successful period in the Club’s history at all levels. This was as a result of outstanding home grown players, both young and experienced, gifted oversees players, including Rod McCurdy, Roy Pienaar, Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch, Chris Pringle, Dale Benkenstein, and Simon Doull. John Snow and Phil Carrick also featured. There was also strong captaincy and leadership on and off the field, and a very hard working committee, led by Keith Moss MBE – who this year is celebrating 70 years in cricket administration. In the Commemorative Brochure 1845 – 1995, James Dracup wrote: ‘They all share one thing in common, they care about Pudsey St. Lawrence Cricket Club.’

The first Eleven won six League Championship titles, in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1991. They also won four Yorkshire Champion’s titles, the Priestley Cup, and the National Indoor Cricket League at Lords, the latter achievement followed by ‘Long Room’ celebrations in the best Pudsey tradition. In 1984, the 1st Eleven, 2nd Eleven, under-17’s, under -15’s and under-12’s all won their respective leagues, an outstanding record for the Club. The year 1989 marked a century of cricket at Tofts Road. The then President, Richard Smith, wrote: ‘At Pudsey St. Lawrence we have the largest number of faithful supporters in the Bradford League. Their support is valued by players and officials alike.’ This still remains true today. In September 1991 the Sir Leonard Hutton Memorial Gates were opened. In 1995, the 150 years celebrations of Pudsey St. Lawrence were crowned by the outstanding achievement of the under 15’s in winning the National Club’s Cup Competition.

Progress and success on and off the field: 1996 – 2020

Pudsey won the Priestley Cup in 1997, 2011 and 2014, the Priestley Shield in 1999, and were crowned T 20 Champions in 2009 and 2010. But It was 2015 that proved to be a landmark year. The first team won their first title since 1991 and the second team won both the league and the Priestley Shield. In 2016 they retained their league title and reached the finals of the Priestley Cup and the Yorkshire Champion’s trophy, the latter final played in Abu Dhabi – and ‘streamed’ to the clubhouse. In 2017 they shared the Yorkshire Champions Trophy, becoming the most successful club in the competitions history with 5 wins. 2017 also saw the development of girl’s cricket. In 2018 they were crowned league champions again. Antony Moss (President) and Chris Gott (Chair) have led developments in expanding junior cricket, community and schools links, and improvements to club facilities.

2020 is our 175th year and we currently field four senior teams, including Over-50’s, 11 junior teams, boys and girls cricket, and have evolved as a club to serve the local community. You can read the full story in our 175th Anniversary Brochure (from the Club: 0113 2577626)

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