It’s been a funny old year; I think season 2015 was an extremely difficult year in many respects. Before the season started we lost Uncle Derek and I make no apologies for mentioning it again, because our league felt this loss.
His funeral was incredible, the number of cricketers past and present who turned out to give him a good send off, and we did. Trevor did a fantastic eulogy, I know I’m biased because I wrote it, but he delivered it with passion. It didn’t stop there the players from Foulridge suggested a bench and the other teams joined in, we have the money for a bench and next year it will be on show at his beloved Long Lee.
Next came the Manorlands Plate, Oakworth hosted the event and it was amazing, can I take the opportunity to thank Oakworth again. I popped up for the start and ended up staying all day. Food just kept appearing, Ingrow St John’s donation of Asian food didn’t last long, the cakes arrived in a steady flow and the barbecue just topped it off. It wasn’t just about the food, four clubs turned out to compete. Sutton, Ingrow St John’s, Oakworth and Long Lee all stars. The all stars were so funny, Shorty needed a runner in no time and he worked it out quickly why he had retired from cricket. There were donations from clubs and some sizable donations all in memory of Derek. His family were there all day and they appreciated all our efforts. You will have seen in the papers the cheque for £3026.50 has been handed over to the hospice, that’s a considerable amount for a small league like ours. An achievement we should all be proud of.
We didn’t just lose Derek; Thornton lost Cyril Ashworth on the eve of the start of the season, Haworth WE lost Chris Alvey and then Simon Howell from Oakworth, to name but a few. Throughout all this sorrow we still continued to play cricket, which is what they would have wanted.
Get the game on is the ECB’s initiative to keep us playing cricket. The concept is to get as much cricket played as is possible, providing it’s safe to do so. They don’t mean let’s play in any weather, they are asking leagues to look at the product they provide and see if it’s what their customers, the clubs and players, want. We joke in our league that we don’t like change, and it’s true we don’t appear to. However we have to change. I know I say this every year, one year I might just be listened to.
Your club is only as good as the opposition you play. You might be sitting comfortably with a well maintained ground, have two or three senior teams, a vibrant junior section and a good pavilion, but if you don’t have anybody to play of the same standard, what’s the point. That’s why I’m asking you to stop looking at your club and start viewing the league. We have several clubs with juniors sections in the league, but we need more. Some clubs have fantastic plans for survival, look at Sutton and their new pavilion, whilst others just want to exist. Clubs have smaller plans, tidy up or renew what they have, but they have plans. It’s the club who has a couple of people who care and players who just turn up to play, if they are lucky, that we need to focus on. It is not going to happen overnight, it could take seasons before a club sees the impact of their hard work. However they will see it because they will still be here.
Where does it all start? It’s with the players; if they are getting what they want they will turn up week in week out to play for you. Gone are the days when you have a squad of players who will be there for twenty two weeks. In the good old days the players booked their holidays Monday to Friday, it was a badge of honour, I’ve just driven all the way back from Cornwall to play today! In those ‘good old days’ we didn’t have many holidays abroad, not many people worked on a Saturday afternoon, wife’s appeared to understand that men went off to play cricket and put up with it, children often watched dad play and lads couldn’t wait to get in the team, family life wasn’t a concept for discussion, because cricket ruled. Is this bringing back memories, well, now we can forget that and get back to today! If we don’t give the cricketers what they want, they start doing other things – the worst of which I ever heard was, going ice skating.
Before us tonight we have several proposed rule alterations. The aim is to encourage players to want to play. If they can start earlier, the umpires and captains work together to keep the game flowing, then the match finishes earlier. The husbands and partners go back to their family unit and enjoy Saturdays night together, whilst the youngster go off and do what youngsters do. It’s been a while and I can’t remember what youngsters want to do, but I do know the majority don’t want to be stuck on a cricket field and miss their mates partying.
Loan players, I know some clubs will be suspicious of lending their players out, I’ve heard it already about clubs being tactical and lending good players out to beat the team who are at the top of the table and then they somehow get the championship. How ridiculous, why can’t clubs see that if a team has seven men and an opportunity to borrow a few players, then the match will go ahead! The players involved in that match will enjoy themselves and another game of cricket is played. Look at last season, how many games were cancelled due to lack of players, how many games only needed a couple more players, and how many willing players from the stronger clubs did we have sitting there watching a match or stupidly having to find something else to do on a Saturday. For goodness sake, if it works brilliantly, that’s fantastic. If it doesn’t vote it out next year. All I ask is that you consider giving it a go.
The players want to play on the best fields they can and have the best facilities available. Well did we need a survey to tell us that, the answer has to be no. So why then are clubs not attending development group meetings? At the Craven one a couple of weeks ago we had four Craven League Clubs and two stronger clubs from other leagues in attendance. I have been informed the last Bradford West meeting had a similar number of attendees and they were all Craven League Clubs. So when we come to the vote on that rule, again I ask you to give it a try. However if that rule is voted in and it proves to be pointless attending the meetings, change it next year. You might have noticed a theme here, I’m asking you to give change a try and the safety net is there, because no rule has ever been set in stone.
I know this is a big ask, but consider your opposition. Share best practice, talk to each other about seed, loam, how clubs have managed to get grants, how clubs encourage tea ladies, how funds are raised, the list is endless. I have these really daft ideas about clubs communicating, getting on with each other and striving to become stronger and better. You will need to forgive me; it’s probably because I’m a woman.
Umpires, we need them. The Umpires Association books and runs a course every year for us. This year it was a level one course and I’m delighted to advise that all candidates passed. At our last meeting I suggested we hold a two hour course for players and umpires to learn about the laws of our wonderful game. Only two clubs responded on this point and one of those was Embsay. Anyway I have asked Peter Roberts to arrange an event and it’s booked in for the 21 March next year. More details to follow soon.
Child Welfare, we try so hard and still it’s not perfect. The County CWO is using two examples when he does his talks this year. One of an outstanding club who had everything in place when an incident happened and how that made his job so much easier. Then he refers to another club who had nothing in place and how the league should encourage compliance. Brilliant isn’t it, both clubs are in our league. The message here, is don’t ever think it won’t happen at your club.
On the field of play, Oakworth nearly won all four trophies. You can’t take the achievements away from the club and congratulations for winning division one, division two and the Cowling Cup. Bingley Congs won the Wynn Cup and for those of us who were at Ingrow and saw the match, Bingley Congs made it obvious they were there to win.
I know we always thank the host clubs for looking after our finals, but it never really seems enough to me just to say thank you. These clubs really do pull out all the stops and make the events worth attending. It is hard work planning everything, cleaning everything up, preparing the ground and making sure there is enough food and drink. This year Oakworth looked after us at the Manorlands Plate, Haworth and Ingrow hosted the Wynn Cup and finally Denholme looked after the Cowling Cup. These clubs need to know their efforts are appreciated.
Back to cricket in season 2015, Oakworth are clearly our champions in Division one. In Division Two Oakworth seconds won, they can’t go up, but Denholme and Cowling can. Division Three is always difficult with a mixture of first and second teams. Haworth Road seconds were champions and Ingrow St John’s seconds join them in Division Two. Division Four saw Crossflatts win and Bingley Congs were close on their tails, both teams are promoted. In Division Five it was clearly a miserable year with only eight teams playing each other and they were understandably fed up. Sutton took the championship with Sandy Lane in second.
Next year the league had decided to merge Divisions Four and Five. That will be twenty teams in the league. Two divisions of ten teams, all these ten teams will play each other home and away, then there will be four games, completely at random against the other half. There is some concern about a team from the lower section getting promotion to Division Three. My thoughts are that a win for the top ten teams against another top ten teams, that team should get a bonus point and a win against a top ten team by a bottom ten team should also get a bonus point. Whilst a win for a top ten team against a lower ten team, won’t get that bonus point. I’m hoping to talk about this further at the December meeting.
It’s always sad to see a club leave us and this year Haworth WE have folded. However their field will remain as a cricket field and will be available to hire. The aim is that the club will come back to us in a couple of years, when I’m sure we will happily welcome them.
The Nidderdale Show was again a success. Not only did we win convincingly, which is always good, but our players adapted to the weather conditions and participated in the right sprit. Thank you as always to those players who got involved.
Finally tonight we are saying goodbye to our Chairman Mr Hirst. He has been in charge some 21 years and has decided he has done his time. I wish him well and thank him on behalf of the league for all the years he has put up with us. Likewise we have to say farewell to Trevor Halstead who is standing down from the Executive Committee.
Every year I thank my fellow colleagues on the Executive Committee, as I do again tonight. This year these people need extra thanks, they have been outstanding and nobody knows how much they have done to keep our league going. When I say that our Executive leave their clubs opinions at the door before a committee meeting, this is true. They only want was is best for our league and for you the clubs and this is something two new members who will be voted in tonight, have to take onboard. I for one truly appreciate all the Executive members’ hard work and help.
My hope for next year is season 2016 will see every game of cricket played, all clubs will consider having a junior section, the clubs will all develop and our league will get stronger.