A book entitled 100 Years of Hilltop and Valley-Bottom Cricket: The Centenary History of the Halifax Cricket League 1914-2014, written and compiled by Peter Davies and David Normanton, is a vivid pictorial and historical guide which will delight not just enthusiasts from Halifax, but those who take pride in the fact that grass-roots cricket across Yorkshire has a vibrant heart.
The book was launched at a centenary dinner celebration at FC Halifax Town’s Shay Stadium in late May where former Yorkshire and England pace bowler Matthew Hoggard was guest speaker.
It was a meeting at the Upper George Hotel in Halifax on July 29, 1913 that was the precursor to the start of a new cricket league organised for the betterment of the game in the town with the original league comprising 10 clubs.
Six of them remarkably remain in existence today with Triangle, Greetland, Sowerby Bridge and Stainland still playing in the Halifax League and Lightcliffe being in the top flight of the Bradford League and Illingworth represented in the Aire-Wharfe League.
Other original members were Siddal, Clifton Britannia, Norwood Green, Elland Edge and Illingworth St Mary’s.
Over the past century, many teams who entered the league have come and gone, but the competition has stayed strong, expanding to 14 clubs in 1939, with the outbreak of World War Two not stopping the league being competed for during its duration with the era a time when Mytholmroyd were comfortably the league’s outstanding side.
The club were champions on eight occasions and in 1948, their 1st XI and second and third teams completed a league treble.
A sense of the strength of the competition was that its membership consistently stood at 22 clubs from 1959 to 1974, then raising to 24, which led to the formation of two divisions of 12.
Now the number is a healthy 30, with Upper Hopton about to become the 59th team to play in the league when they join next season.
Cullingworth were the last club to be admitted for the current campaign.
Pictorial images of days gone by will turn back the clock for more seasoned cricket lovers with those with a meticulous eye for detail offered potted club histories of all clubs in the league, those in Halifax, across the Calder Valley and M62 corridor and those in the vicinity of Bradford.
Former clubs are also accounted for along with pictures of past and present grounds with memories of teams such as Mackintosh’s, Mytholmroyd Methodists and Augustians offering a nostalgic rewind, if with a tinge of sadness at their ultimate demise.
Stunning grounds remain, from the idyllic Grassy Bottom home of Triangle, to Copley Lane, home of Copley CC with the famous vista of the railway viaduct dominating the background – a more picturesque cricket ground across the Broad Acres you will struggle to find.
Here’s to 100 more years...
100 Years of Hilltop and Valley-Bottom Cricket can be obtained from David Normanton for £10 plus postage. Telephone (01422) 346371 or email [email protected]