Woodlands Cricket Club
Address: Albert Terrace, Oakenshaw, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD12 7AX
Website: Click Here
Woodlands, who have progressed from humble beginnings to become one of the leading clubs in the JCT 600 Bradford League, are now reviving their junior cricket section following a long period of previous success in winning numerous trophies.
And secretary Brian Pearson is calling on Government, who have just launched a Consultation on the downward trend of sports participation since the 2012 Olympics, to do more to develop sport in State schools, including cricket. This season, Woodlands are running teams at under-9s and under-11s and one of the two under-11s sides is made up entirely of girls, who can play at two years above the age level for boys.
Several of the girls play for Yorkshire and West Yorkshire under-13s sides and Brian said: “We have up to 30 girls training on Saturday mornings and 30 boys on Friday evenings''. He asks: "Why is cricket suffering from reduced participation? I believe we need to start at the bottom – at the junior end. Then we would get a lot more interest in the schools. Having cricket in the curriculum is down to the teaching community. In many schools there is no organisation around cricket, no cricket field, no-one to organise cricket.
“I accept that part of the reason for not having cricket teams in schools is lack of opportunity for teachers to prepare and the need to give up time at weekends and after school during the week.” Brian is concerned about latest figures that suggest there has been a decline in participation in sport among young people. He believes that Government does not place enough emphasis on sport and is critical of the last Government’s decision to cut back on school sports co-coordinators.
“It is about money and one of the the first things they cut was sports co-coordinators,” he said. “Last year they gave schools £10,000 to spend on sport. It costs a primary school £100 to spend on Chance to Shine, but they say they say can’t afford it because they need to spend that money on books.”
Woodlands have played a full part in the Chance to Shine project aimed at reviving cricket in state schools, but added: “Chance to Shine has been re-organised, the YCB has taken it over from clubs. However, I understand that they may be reconsidering how they deliver the sessions.”
One of Woodlands’ biggest assets is their sports hall, which not only provides indoor cricket nets for a variety of clubs and other cricketing bodies, not least cricketers from the South Asian community, but acts as a sports hall for a large part of south Bradford and beyond.
The sports hall was opened in 1991 by the then president of Yorkshire, Sir Lawrence Byford, who is still an honorary member of the club. Their facilities will be further enhanced at the end of the season by the re-laying of their 14 strip square – a project costing £60,000, all grant aided.
Up to 150 years ago, there was an iron ore works nearby, which means a lot of clinker was tipped on what is now the cricket field, which helps with drainage and means there is always a good chance of playing in the wettest of weather. Brian, one of the driving forces behind the Woodlands success story, joined the club as a player 40 years ago when his old club Wyke Temperance folded and was chairman when the current pavilion and clubhouse was developed during the mid-1980s.
At that time, Woodlands were in the Bradford Central League, but the league decided to expand to three divisions and Brian believes that decision led to a weakening of the standard of the league.
“We could see the Central League going downhill and we had to make a decision about the way forward for the club and we decided the future lay in semi-professional cricket,” he said. “We realised that we would change from being a family club to something different. That would mean bringing in players from elsewhere''.
“So, we joined the Central Yorkshire League in 1994, with our own players, but we had plans in place to bring semi-professional players and so we signed Tim Orrell, as Captain, from Saltaire, in 1997, and appointed him captain and Brent Shackleton, Richard Spittlehouse and Nick Rushworth also joined us''.
“We said, at that time, we would be in the Bradford League within five years and we joined in 2001. Joining the Central Yorkshire League was progression from the Bradford Central League, but it was always our aim to get into the Bradford League''.
“When we joined the Bradford League we brought in further new players like our overseas fast bowler Sarfraz Ahmed, who has returned from Pakistan for 15 consecutive seasons (we're claiming a world record!), Murphy Walwyn and Russell Murray for our first season.Then, two years later, we signed Richard Pyrah, still with Yorkshire and Chris Brice quickly followed by Pieter Swanepoel, who is still captain, and Scott Richardson (both ex Yorkshire) ”
Brian is pleased that Woodlands have still maintained a family atmosphere combined with a winning mentality at first and second team levels in one of the leading leagues in the country. The first team won the Second Division championship in their first season in the Bradford League to gain promotion to the First Division and they have been a leading top flight team ever since. They have six league titles – four years in a row between 2005 and 2008 and then again in 2011 and 2012.
Woodlands have not been quite as successful in the Priestley Cup, winning the trophy only once - in 2006 -but have been beaten finalists four times in in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008. They have also won the Heavy Woollen Cup twice, including this season. A pinnacle was achieved in 2006 when they delivered the coveted treble of JCT 600 Bradford League Championship, the Sovereign Health Priestley Cup and were also Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions.
The second team have also experienced success, winning the Second Division title in 2001 and the First Division championship in 2002 and 2006, the Priestley Shield in their first two seasons in the league – 2001 and 2002 - and the Heavy Woollen Crowther Cup in 2012 and 2013. Brian and the players are the first to acknowledge that all this could not have been achieved without a hardworking team to manage all the work required to run the club.
While the committee numbers have diminished over the years Brian says: ''We are fortunate that the hard core of our Committee which include Gordon Rishman (President) 70 years, David Wharf (Chairman) 60 years and Stuart Tordoff (Treasurer) 45 years are still beavering away to maintain Woodlands' continuing successful contribution to the community''.