Thurstonland Cricket Club

‘Men from the Hill’

The ‘men from the hill’ as the ‘Chronicle’ called them certainly had little joy from this game but a week later they played out a draw with top of table rivals Shelley. In Thurstonland’s score of 109 for 4, Beau Charlesworth was not out 60 and shared in a good stand with Alf Marsden (28*). Shelley’s reply was 88 for 4-a stern encounter indeed.

In 1902, however, the team was playing in the Alliance and, in addition, Beau Charlesworth won a league medal for averaging 29.15 in 13 innings, that same season.

Further success during the period in the Alliance came to the club when, in 1908, the 2nd XI won a knock out trophy in a high scoring game at Broad Oak C. C. against Kirkheaton. The game was remarkable for the number of times the ball was hit into the adjoining churchyard. Ernest Rhodes and Harold Dearnley were the chief run getters.

In 1910 Thurstonland played the first of its only four seasons in the District League. Promotion had been achieved after a play off with keen local rivals, Kirkburton, but it can scarcely be said that the team covered itself in glory during its brief stay in the higher sphere.

Even before joining there had been several objections from Colne Valley Sides because of the inconvenience of getting to Thurstonland and also doubts were raised about the suitability of the field and changing accommodation. Probably the club was unfortunate in that several long established players were reaching the end of their careers at this time and the following summary of their seasons from 1910-1913 reveals their lack of success:

1910 Finished in 8th position
1911 Finished 12th out of 14
1912 Finished bottom after having six points deducted for playing an ineligible player.
1913 Finished bottom again and were replaced by Meltham Mills who returned after an eight year absence.

Also in 1913 the old Alliance league had broken up and so 1914 saw Thurstonland in the Dearne Valley League and fixtures towards Barnsley, Wakefield and Penistone replaced several in the Huddersfield district. At this time Cawthorne appeared on the fixture lists for the first time.

Obviously the onset of World War 1 had a disruptive effect on local cricket and made the newly emergent Central League have a most difficult baptism as its first season was 1914.

Thurstonland and the Central League crisis

At the A.G.M. of the Central League on February 25th 1919 it was resolved that Skelmanthorpe, Thurstonland and Broad Oak be admitted into the league on the payment of ten shillings. An interesting rule of the league was that all players had to be resident within five miles of the village for which they played. This contrasts vividly with today’s traditions and, indeed, many of Charlie Mitchell’s proteges some fifteen to twenty years earlier.

By the end of the 1919 season the league secretary was moved to comment that he felt the league had to be strengthened by the addition of the new clubs to whom Thongsbridge had been added since the start of the season. Paradoxically, however, the league almost went out of existence this same year.

Broad Oak, seconded by Thurstonland, had proposed that ‘a letter be sent to the Huddersfield and District League asking if they would convene a meeting of the two leagues with the idea of forming two divisions from both leagues.’ But later in the minutes a note of bitterness arises. The secretary writes, ‘As six clubs out of the twelve who played in Central League cricket have secured admission to the sacred circle, it would seem as if we were here tonight to perform the funeral rites of the Central League.’ A long and largely happy association with the league was almost stillborn.

The clubs who left were Almondbury, Armitage Bridge, Bradley Mills, Broad Oak, Meltham and Primrose Hill leaving only Thurstonland, Scholes, Thongsbridge, Skelmanthorpe, Leymoor and Hall Bower. An offer was made from the Association to take in these clubs but all was resolved when on December 16th the secretary announced that a ‘new’ Central League would carry on after an amalgamation with the Holme and Dearne Valley League.

Since the league has been the club’s home from 1919 it is worth recording those teams who really established it on a firm footing for the 1920 season and ensured its existence today although participating teams have changed during the years. They were:-
Cartworth Moor, Clayton West, Cumberworth United, Denby Dale, (replaced by Lepton before the start of the season), Hall Bower, Hepworth, Holmbridge, Karrier Works, Leymoor, Moldgreen WMC, Nortonthorpe, Scholes, Shelley, Shepley, Skelmanthorpe, Thongsbridge and Thurstonland. In addition Upper Cumberworth took the fixtures of Hepworth 2nd XI who could only raise one team.

Central League 1919-1973

On the 11th September, 1920 the club was defeated in Semi-final of the Tinker Cup, then the only knock out trophy, by Thongsbridge. Additionally the 2nd XI final was played at Thurstonland, a charge of 10/- being made for the use of the ground but a loss of 7/8 was made on the game.

In its 100 year history few trophies have been won by the club, although it is none the worse for that, and 1921 saw defeat by a new team, Rowley Hill, in a play off for the championship. The winners of the two sections entered the play off final at that time and, as so often, Thurstonland just missed out.

There was still a looking up to the District League but in 1922 all clubs in the Central League were urged to improve their own standards rather than be constantly looking for promotion to a supposed higher class of play.

Fire at Gill’s Joinery Shop

Club finances are always a problem, particularly for those clubs which did not have a bar to boost takings. So in 1923 a fire at the local joinery works of Albert Gill was indeed a blow because inside was parked the waggonette which used to convey the team and its tackle to many of its matches. The fire occurred on the Monday morning, before the kit had been removed from the previous Saturday’s match.

Several years of financial hardship followed and really it was only in the Diamond Jubilee year of 1934 that many debts were clear and the club was solvent once more. A debt of £50 was cleared then after the celebrations had come to a climax with a grand carnival on the cricket field with numerous sideshows. A profit of £33 accrued so, after a decade when the financial situation was rather precarious, relative affluence came to Thurstonland C. C. once more.

At this time the club owed a great deal to the generosity of John Henry Heywood, the club president, who also helped with financial contributions.

The club’s ground was used in 1925 and 1926 for the Tinker Cup semi-finals between Thongsbridge and Cumberworth and Scholes and Shelley respectively. At this period the club also had its umpire chosen to officiate in the Tinker Cup Final. The honour went to Mr. Lockwood in 1926-7 and to Mr. Littlewood in 1928-9.

Noteworthy Players who appeared in the 1920’s included Lewis Booth who won the club bowling proze in 1923. He played much of his cricket as a professional with, successively, Friarmere, Denby Dale, Shelley and Holmbridge. A professional in those days was paid 30/- to £2, quite a sizeable sum then, plus any collection for outstanding feats. Money collected was then pooled for the end of season festivities.

Luther Denney who, in addition, served the league variously as auditor, secretary and treasurer from 1920-1935, captained the side for a time in the 1920’s. With him in the team were Lewis Booth’s younger brothers, Ernest and Arnold. These were both bowlers and Ernest also had quite a reputation for drinking. Recollection is made of Ernest having to be fetched from a pub in Shelley after the game had started following a delay for rain. He then went on to bowl with fearsome devastation.

Bert Thewlis also played from the start of the club’s association with the Central League and recalls a famous occasion in the late twenties when Thurstonland were dismissed, much to the delight of their opponents from Scholes, for twenty-six runs. This did not daunt the visitors who, inspired by some fierce bowling from Ernest Booth, shot out an astonished Scholes side for just seven, probably the lowest total ever recorded against the club. Bert Thewlis’s career virtually spanned the entire inter-war period as he was a playing member of the club from 1918 to 1937.

Others who appeared frequently at this time included A. Denney, E.Lodge, A. Gill, C. Pontefract, F. Clough, E. Booth, A. Lockwood and N. Lockwood.

It became the tradition in the Central League for the champions to finish the season in a game against The Rest, chosen from amongst the best players in the other teams. Thurstonland contributed regularly to such teams in the early 1930’s. Luther Denney captained The Rest team against Skelmanthorpe in 1930 and the following short list gives the names of others from the club who appeared in this period against the champions:-

1933 C. Pontefract
1934 A. Lodge
1935 T. Calvert
1936 L. Heaton
1937 C. Pontefract
1940 L. White

Another personal honour to come the way of a Thurstonland player came in 1934 when Clifford Pontefract was elected president of the league after having been Vice-president for the previous two years. Unfortunately the year 1935 saw the retirement from league office of Luther Denney because of ill health and pressure of work. Tributes were paid to the work he had done for the Central League.

On the field of play the keenest fought games were always the Whit games with Hall Bower and the local derbies against Kirkburton. Generally, however, the 1930’s were not years of great success for the club. Points were forfeited for failing to raise a team on September 5th, 1936 and the 2nd XI game a week later against Holmbridge was also called off. At the end of a sad season both the 1st and 2nd XI’s were bottom of their respective leagues. Out of twenty matches the 1st XI won only one whilst the 2nd XI went one better in winning two of their twenty fixtures.

The 1937 season provided little respite for the 2nds who again finished bottom but the senior side improved to such an extent that fifth place out of fourteen clubs was achieved. This year also saw two protests from the club about dismissals under the new L.B.W. law which were referred to the league committee for further discussion. All this, however, was a prelude to what was one of the best seasons the club has enjoyed.

The Holden Cup, by now the first team’s knock out trophy, was won in 1938 against Scholes on Skelmanthorpe’s ground. This followed wins over Emley Clarence, newcomers to the league, and Denby Dale in the semi-final. Since 1895 when a trophy we are unable to identify was won, appearing in the team photo of that year, this was the club’s first major success in a competition. The winning team and officials are pictured below:

Indeed 1938 almost brought the double but the club in a play off against another team new to the league, Penistone Y.S., were defeated. This is the nearest so far to being league champions and 1938 must have come as a welcome change after several lean years.

War then intervened and the club was given permission to play a game against Lepton Highlanders on September 9th, after the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. because it had a direct bearing on the championships won that year by Penistone Netherfield. In its defence of the cup the club sadly fell at the first hurdle away to Cumberworth.

During the war only one section of the league operated and there were no 2nd XI’s. David Brown’s C.C. had to resign temporarily because of ‘work of national importance’ as did the 1939 champions, Penistone Netherfield, because of travelling difficulties. In addition Hall Bower joined the District League in 1940. Nortonthorpe lost their field in 1944 as it was ‘ploughed up for the war effort’ so Thurstonland and the Central League had to struggle to keap meaningful competition going. The war years saw one cup semi-final appearance in 1943 against old rivals, Scholes. Unfortunately the tie was lost.