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30 Jul

Heritage Club of the Week - Otley CC

Although Otley Cricket Club cannot claim to be the oldest club in Yorkshire, it must surely be one of the oldest. 1820 is regarded as the year in which Otley Cricket Club was founded though there are records indicating that some cricket was played in Otley before this date. In 1820 the club played on the ground now occupied by the cemetery and did not move to the present ground of Cross Green until 1862.

For the first 73 years of the Club’s existence they played matches of a friendly nature only and it was not until 1893 that Otley joined the Wharfedale and Airedale League. The matches played appear to have been of two innings duration, bowling was all underarm and there were no boundaries. On 14th June 1841, Wetherby scored 40 and 76 of which no less than 33 we extras (13 and 20), Otley scoring 26 and 24 in reply with a wide as the only extra. There is also a reference to a match against Leeds Coburg which Otley won by 10 wickets, a second match against them is also recorded. Leeds scored 68 (16 extras) and Otley replied with 251 for 9 including 50 extras.

The following extract is taken from the scorebook; “The game terminated in a most disgraceful manner, in consequence of a shower of rain, which lasted half an hour, when the Leeds party refused to resume play.”

On looking through the scorebook you notice the great number of wides bowled. In one match alone there were 37 and rarely were than less than 10.

Otley’s first professional was a gentleman names Luke Reaney from Sheffield. His contracted stated that he had to be on duty every day, except Sunday, from 2pm to dusk, except when the team was playing away from home. For this he was given £2 2shillings per week and a benefit every season.

There were many outstanding feats performed by Otley players in the years prior to the First World War. As it is no possible to record them all I have chosen some that I feel are worthy of a special mention.

In the 1870s Ted Wilkinson took 5 wickets in 5 balls against Rotherham and W.H.Barker topped the bowling averages in his first season in 1875, with an average of under 5.

On one occasion in a match against Yeadon the opposition declared on 221, Otley making 224 in reply with D.C.Mason scoring 148 not out. However, the honour of being the first man to score a century on the Otley ground went to Joe Mason who made his century in 1882 against Skipton.

In 1881 an England XI playing against an Otley and District representative team. The home team scored 163 with the England XI replying with 172. To finish off the day, the Otley and District side batted again and scored 96, with Flaxington of Yeadon scoring 70 of them!

In 1889 Otley and Colne tied a match with 68 runs each. J.Webster taking 5 Colne wickets for 25 runs in 18 overs.

Knaresborough proved difficult opponents in 1892, when Otley dismissed them for 36. However, Otley only managed a measly 30 runs, J.Hanson making 19 of them.

From this low scoring game in 1892 Otley scored 277-2 against Bowling Old Lane in 1897. E.Russell and J.Yeadon both making 108 not out.

There was an exciting match at Yeadon between Farsley and Otley, in which Otley made 86 and Farsley were 83-9 when F.Swainston came on to bowl, at the time he was known as the ‘Wharfedale Catapult’. His first ball missed the wickets by millimetres, but his second spread eagled the stumps and Otley won. Swainston’s best performance was in 1906 against Ilkley when he took 8 wickets for 6 runs.

There have been numerous notable performances in 200 years, non-more so than A.Laycock in 1937 when he took 100 wickets at an average of 6.66. In the same year he also achieved the remarkable feat of all 10 wickets in an innings, this coming against Ilkley with his final figures being 10 wickets for 33 runs. Over 75 years later, J.C.Davies achieved the same feat, this time against Bilton. Davis finished with figures of 10 wickets for 15 runs. After bowling Bilton out for 72 runs, Otley limped over the line with one wicket to spare, finishing on 74 for 9.

Current Chairman and former Club Captain C.P.Smith achieved a double century against Adel in the Waddilove Cup, this is thought to have been the first double century to have been scored in any Yorkshire Cricket League competition. To go along with his 201 not out, he scored over 950 throughout the season and took 43 wickets at an average of 9.88. These stats add to what was an incredible career for smith, who dominated the league averages throughout his playing career. All these added together ensure that Smith will is the most successful all-rounder the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior Cricket League has seen. Some say Smith could still do a job for First XI!

During the same year as Davies’ incredible achievement (2013), G.Wolfenden scored 1,105 runs at an average of 65.

As history become more recent, memories click into place. After something of a lull, the League Championship was won in 1937, 1939, 1942, 1943 and jointly with Guiseley in 1966. 1974 cam next then five time in the next decade, 4 in a row from 1985 to 1988, with 1982 the other championship won in the decade. Two more wins in 1992 and 1993 were followed by relegation, a sad time attributed to simultaneous retirements of key players. Meanwhile, the Second XI triumphed in 1988 and 1993.

There was something of a quite patch during the late nineties and early noughties. The next triumph not coming until 2013 when the Second XI won the championship. This started what would be an incredible next seven years for Otley Cricket Club. The First XI winning the League no less than 4 times (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019), the Second XI claiming division wins in 2014 and 2015 and the Third XI securing the league championship in 2013 and 2014.

Waddilove cup wins were scarce after the famous victory in 1960. There was a 12 year wait for the next, which came in 1972. 1976 followed with 1981, 1987 and 1988 victories. Another long wait of 26 years had to be endured until victory in 2014 which were backed up with wins in 2016 and 2018. Birtwhistle Cup victories came in 1986, 1994 and 2019 for the Second XI.

Fundraising has always played an integral part of the club, ensuring the day to running of the club during the long winter months waiting for the spring to come in April. Afternoon teas, the famous C.P.Smith Barbeques, subscriptions, monthly draws, the all-important bar takings and finally our advertising board and playing kit sponsors.

Otley Cricket Club has survived a scorebox fire, several burglaries and vandalism throughout the years. The club remains in good spirits and has a very bright future ahead with dozens of youngsters playing cricket in our every growing Junior Section. The future may look different from what we see now but Otley Cricket Club will be found at its Cross Green home until at least 2058.

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