The Leeds & Wetherby Cricket League
The Leeds & Wetherby Cricket League is 100 years old having been established in 1920 and has recently rebranded with the aim of attracting interest from Leeds based clubs currently playing in other leagues, after formerly been known as the Wetherby Cricket League. The Leeds focus also brings Senior Cricket into alignment with the Leeds & Wetherby Junior League.
The Wetherby & District Cricket League came into being on the 17th December 1919, when representatives of the Clifford, Kirk Deighton, Spofforth, Stockheld Park, Thorp Arch & Boston Spa and Wetherby Cricket Clubs, at a meeting held in Wetherby, unanimously decided that a Cricket League would meet a long-felt need in the Wetherby District.
In 1931, the Hare Cup was given to the League. All proceeds from this competition are donated to any Yorkshire County Cricketer in receipt of a Benefit in that particular year; failing allocation of such benefit the revenue is distributed as the League think fit.
Until 1937 it was played as Saturday Knockout Competition for Senior XI’s (with no time limits) when due to fewer entries and an increasing Championship Calendar, the Competition was discontinued, and the Trophy kept in reserve.
After the War, it being felt that the cup should again be put to use and as there was a growing desire for evening cricket it was decided that as from 1948 it would provide the basis for a secondary evening cup competition open to the teams eliminated from the first two rounds of the Senior Evening Charity Cup. In 1971 its role gain changed when it became the trophy for Sunday knockout competition which was then introduced; whilst for the period 1979 to 1987 it reverted to the role it had played from 1948 to 1979. Yet again, its role changed in 1988 since when it became the trophy for the Sunday Knockout Competition for Reserve Teams.
By 1932 the League had grown to the extent that a Junior Division was formed, this being composed of some of the smaller clubs and the Second XI’s of the larger Clubs. During the war years 1941/1945 the League was compelled to suspend its activities but was revived in 1946 at an enthusiastic meeting.
In 1948 due to travelling problem (petrol rationing) the Senior Division was split into two – North and South Divisions. 1949 saw the Reserve Division becoming solely for Second XI’s. 1950 saw the North & South Division reconstituted as Divisions 1 and 2 with promotion and relegation between the two inaugurated. Division 3 was created in 1954 and there being insufficient Senior teams to make up this Division the four top Reserve Division teams of 1953 were brought in, leaving nine teams in the Reserve Division which was then renamed Division 4.
By 1969 the League had grown in membership and it was then that Division 5 was formed, at the present time (1991) there are 32 Clubs in membership of the League, all with Reserve teams forming four Divisions each of 12 teams and a fifth division of 16 teams.
The League now holds trophies which are awarded to the individual holders of the best averages for batting, bowling and for the best all-rounder – (a) in Division 1 and 2 and (b) Divisions 3, 4, 5 and 6 with another trophy for the wicket keeper with the most victims.
In 1928 an Evening Charity Cup Competition was instituted and played on the knockout principle. Twelve clubs participated and since that time the competition has become a popular feature of the area. A large amount of money has been raised for local charities since its inception. Since 1950 a Reserve Evening Cup competition has also been held. The competition operates on the same lines as the Evening Charity Cup Competition.
In 1952 the League activities were again extended by the formation of a Junior Section at Under 16 years of age, a trophy being presented by George Baxter. The Junior Section is normally divided into four divisions, Northern, Western, Southern and Central, the winners of each Division play off for the Championship. Over the years trophies have been presented for the winners of each Division, the Championship Trophy being the George Baxter Cup.
1962 sees the extension of Junior Cricket with the incorporation of the Wetherby & District Under 14 Friendly League which had operated in the area for a number of years with great potential benefit for both bodies. The year also sees an increase in Clubs participating at both Under 14 and Under 16 levels with The Western Division (Under 16’s) being revived after five years of abeyance.
In 1967 a new Competition was started for the Junior Section (at Under 16s) to be played on the knockout principle, C I Scarr presented the Nicolas Priestly trophy as a memorial to a young cricketer killed in a tragic air crash and which is awarded to the winning team. In 1973 W H H Sutcliffe established the annual award of a cricket bat to the Junior player considered by the Executive to have shown outstanding qualities during the season.
In 1982 the Junior Section were invited to join the Joe Lumb Competition (at Under 17) and many youngsters have benefitted from this higher level of Junior Cricket in the ensuing years. Similarly, since 1984 a team has been entered in the Lord’s Taverners Yorkshire Junior Cricket Festival, a competition designed specifically for youths under 15 years of age. 1989 saw the introduction of inter-county competition at Under 17 level when a team from Hampshire, Purbrook & Portsdown Colts, was entertained, whilst 1990 heralded the introduction of Annual Matches to be played between our Joe Lumb Xi and the Tyneside Senior League Under 17 squad.
1949 also saw the formation of the Wetherby & District Cricket League Umpires Association. Following the introduction of the National Cricket Association Coaching Award Courses by the League, all successful participants were encouraged to establish their own Branch of the Association of Cricket Coaches and the Wetherby & District Association of Cricket Coaches was established. They now number Coaches with the Senior Award qualification in their membership. Their work has been of immense value in the coaching and encouragement of our young cricketers and in the organisation and success of both Wetherby & District Joe Lumb XI and the League’s Lord’s Taverners Junior Cricket Festival Team.
1979 was marked by the presentation by Mr F L Fleetwood of Presidential and Chairman’s medals. Sunday cricket was established in 1971 with the Hare Cup knockout competition for Senior teams. This Competition became the Brown & white Trophy in 1979, the Tricentrol in 1980-1982 and Trimoco in 1983 & 1984. Since 1985 it has been the Fred Fleetwood Cup. 1988 saw the introduction of the Hare Cup for a Sunday knockout Competition for the Reserve Teams. In 1987 the league entered a representative side in the Duncan Fearnley Indoor League played at the Headingley Indoor School.
For many years the League has entered a team in the Leeds Area Cricket Council’s Inter-league Knock out Competition and since the early 1970’s has entered two teams. The league made history when in 1987 both its teams reached the final and again in 1989 winning the competition for the third consecutive year, both “firsts” in the Competition.
1990 saw the entry, for the first time, of a League Senior Representative XI into the Yorkshire Inter-league Cricket Competition. The League have participated in the National Cricket Association’s Indoor 6 a side competition since 1977, provided its own indoor qualifying competition to provide a representative to go forward to the Leeds Area Cricket Council’s Playoffs and thence to the Yorkshire Cricket Association Finals and hopefully to the national Finals at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
1990 brought a welcome first invitation for League Champions of the year, Bardsey, to participate in the Yorkshire Champions Trophy. In 1991 the League were accepted into membership of the League Cricket Conference. Also during 1991 the League became involved in the initiative to introduce “Kwik” Cricket to school children in the area.
A 6th Division was created in 1992 when the number of Clubs in membership increased to 34 clubs affording 4 Divisions of 12 and 2 of 10 teams whilst still maintaining the principle of promotion and relegation throughout all Divisions. The Billy Daniel trophy, for the 6th Division was presented by Scarcroft Cricket Club.
The following are clubs who have previously played in the league:
Aberford, Red Hall, Bank Street Methodist (Juniors), Clifford, Dunlopillo, Follifoot, Harewood, Hunsingore, Knaresborough (3rd XI), Ministry of Supply Thorp Arch (MOSTA), Old Brewery (Tadcaster), Old Modernians (Juniors), Royal Ordnance Factory Thorp Arch (ROFTA) Seacroft, Shadwell School for Boys, St Georges Civil Service, Stockheld Park, Swarcliffe (Juniors), Tadcaster, Thorp Arch & Boston Spa (Seniors), Tockwith, YEB (Wetherby) S&S Club.
The above content has been reproduced with the approval of Dave Spavin from the Leeds & Wetherby Cricket League Centenary Handbook. For further details about the League please visit the link below: