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11 Aug

Heritage Club of the Week - Cookridge CC

The Club was founded in 1933 as a new venture for the village as it expanded with new housing. It continued as a friendlies only club until joining the Dales Council Cricket League in 1988.

Matches were initially only on Saturday afternoons from April to the end of August and against teams in the immediate Leeds area but by 1936 there was more travelling, by West Yorkshire Road Car bus services to such Clubs as Ripley, north of Harrogate, and Ben Rhydding, a longer venture to Low Ackworth and on Whit Monday a day trip to Bridlington Holy Trinity. In 1937 the fixture card records regular evening matches from late May to mid August, principally against office teams though the Bridlington trip was not repeated. The fixture pattern was repeated each year until 1939. There was no cricket for the duration and the ground at Smithy Lane was used for military purposes until 1946. Older members recall hearing from veteran members from the time about Italian prisoners of war being employed in clearing the ground of the buildings and returning it to its former purpose.

Some of the fixtures were the same as before the war and some were with new Clubs. There was less long distance travel involved but more fixtures as there were now Sunday fixtures as well. The fixture card reminds members and patrons that their annual subscription will be 10/6d ( Juniors 5/0d)

The Club settled in to a regular pattern of fixtures for the next 40 years with some of the players from the late 1940’s still performing, and telling their tales, into the early 1970’s. Stalwarts of the Club at the time are commemorated by the Club trophies they inaugurated. In 1952 the name G R Winter first appears in the batting statistics. Geoff went on to captain the Club at various times until he eventually retired in 1993, latterly as captain of the Dales Council 2nd XI.

For many years the club rooms had been a relocatable wooden building acquired soon after the end of the war but this met an untimely end on mischief night in 1971. The Club AGM the next evening resolved to replace the building and carry on. The Clubhouse was replaced by two concrete garages, on a temporary basis, and DIY members , notably Barry Richardson, managed to have them fitted out internally as changing rooms and as a tea-room before the next season began. A couple of refurbishments and vandalism repairs have ensued in the interim but the ‘temporary’ buildings soldier on towards their 50th anniversary, in step with the oldest player!

From the beginning the Club had sub-rented the ground from a local farmer but in the late 1970’s the head landowners wished to sell the land for its development potential. The Club organised fund- raising efforts locally to buy out the freehold. Thanks to a local charity they were able to buy the ground for £6000 with a covenant that it should be used for sports purposes in perpetuity.

As the 1980’s progressed many of the regular Saturday opponents were moving on to play League cricket and the Club followed the same path in 1987, being accepted into the Dales Council for season 1988. The first League match was at home against fellow new recruits New Rover, a dropped catch in the last over depriving them of a victory over the visitors. After a couple of promotions the first team managed the ‘double’ in 1990.

Club membership was growing helped by a strong junior section and the next step was to join the Leeds League in 1991 whilst continuing to have a presence in the Dales Council. There was some recruitment of players to strengthen the side for the higher league with the older members consigned to the Second XI or to the Dales Council teams and there was a loss of some of the Club “ spirit” as a “them and us” attitude was felt for a while. Some club officials moved around at his stage and the continuity of statistical records was broken. The club stalwarts kept things going through a lean period and the ambition was to sustain a presence in the Leeds League without aiming for the heights and to keep the old core team going in the Dales Council. A number of Leeds League teams were lured away to the Airedale & Wharfedale League around this time but the Cub remained with the rump which later merged to become the Leeds West Riding League.

The First and Second teams stayed there as a regular mid table sides with minor successes until the League disbanded in 2009 . The Second Team were runners up in the Barnbow Cup Finals in 2004 and 2005 but redeemed themselves in triumphing over Fairburn a year later at Ferrybridge Power Station.

Meanwhile the Dales Council arm had plugged away, fielding two teams for a while. After a brief investigation of alternative homes the “senior” teams were accepted back into the Dales Council structure from 2010,after the Leeds West Riding folded, and there have been teams in each of the three divisions ever since. The first team perpetually threaten to deliver but have not quite succeeded whilst the second and third teams have had glimpses of glory. The C team lost in the Cawthorne Cup Final to Tong Park Esholt in 2012 though they soon reverted to being enthusiastic geriatrics near the foot of division 3. The B team went one better the following year to win the Cawthorne Cup final against Baildon at Hepworth & Idle, to add to their regular trophy as highest placed Second team.

For a time the Dales Council Third and Fourth teams had a nomadic existence until they settled at Bedquilts Playing Fields for many years, where there were three other pitches in regular use. Dwindling support for the other teams and the increasing cost of hiring the facilities led to a search for an alternative, especially once Summer junior rugby was given preference over cricket for use of an adjoining pitch on Saturday mornings. The Third team are now settled in at the refurbished Redrow ground at Horsforth and are waiting for a Club member to emulate Franklin Williams and his 186* against New Farnley at Bedquilts as an individual League record score for Division C.

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