It was not all plain sailing after the move from Disney’s Field. Much hard work had to be done on levelling the new ground and local figures such as Harry White, Ben Wood and the redoubtable Matthew Lockwood gave a great deal of help. The last named figure was, until World War II, largely responsible for the maintenance of the ground and any lively young Thurstonlander found larking about on the ground would be sure to get such a reprimand that a repeat performance was extremely ill advised.
In addition, the Rev. Jerome, the local parson, was on several occasions able to give assistance with a wheelbarrow to move the large mounds of earth.
During the 1890’s, Charlie Mitchell, founder of a local motor engineering firm, began to play for the club. Many people felt that he, perhaps, began to influence the playing personnel to such an extent that it almost became ‘Mitchell’s team’ but undoubtedly at the turn of the century and up to the outbreak of war in 1914 several highly competent players turned out for the club. Brief details follow about several players from this period and the reader is referred to the photograph of the team of 1906. It was kindly loaned by Mr. D. Lodge of Wooldale and is taken on the current field.
Frank Lee was a good all rounder and often gave large sums of money, as much as 20 sovereigns in one case, to be looked after by a nervous scorer. Usually he was a lively fielder at point and batted stylishly.
Sam Fox was an ebullient wicketkeeper whose enthusiasm was such that loud appeals of ‘Howzat’ were often designed to intimidate both batsman and umpire. Often, it was alleged, the appeal came when there was little chance of a dismissal.
Beaumont (Beau) Charlesworth played for many years and was known for his fine fielding in the deep and for his big hitting.
William Henry Potter was for a time the licensee at ‘The Rock’ in Brockholes whilst Albert Gill did joinery work for Charlie Mitchell and, indeed, Frank Lee was employed by him.
Ted Pontefract, whose father invested £250 in the L.M.S. for the chapel, was brought from Huddersfield, Joe Haley came from Holmfirth whilst Harold Pontefract, a fast bowler, came from Honley.
From all this it can be gathered that the team had rather a cosmopolitan flavour about it, more in keeping with the composition of teams today. Charlie Mitcliell had a great deal to do with this and was quite a remarkable man.
At the turn of the century he had one of the few cars in the area and his business connections enabled him to invite players from quite far afield, even by today’s standards, to come to Thurstonland for cricket. The most remarkable was probably a cunning spin bowler called John Hall who travelled all the way from Goole. As a railway worker he had a pass to Wakefield where he was usually met by Charlie Mitchell who brought him the rest of the way in his car.
It is alleged that often John Hall’s cricket bag contained more than his tackle. Tobacco was smuggled from the docks at Goole and brought to Thurstonland where it was sold. His best feat on the field of play was to take all 10 wickets against Lascelles Hall.
There is the tale that one day as John Hall walked up Thurstonland Bank, he was joined by a man who had come specially to watch the team’s new star and he did not know that it was Hall himself to whom he was speaking. He went on to play league cricket for fifty years and lost his life at 72 in an accident.
Charlie Mitchell himself fielded in the slips and was a useful player in addition to his other business and social commitments. He once beat Malcolm Campbell in a hill climb up Holme Moss and a stir was once caused when Jack Johnson, the coloured world heavyweight boxing champion, had his car mended at Mitchell’s garage.
He gave Joe Haley a job if the latter played for Thurstonland. This he duly did and also acted as professional in 1910-11. Joe Haley’s claim to fame is that he won outright the Leonard Masters Cup for batting, being top of the averages for three successive seasons. Cyril Haley, Joe’s son, has kindly given back to the club this splendid rosebowl. The winners were:-
1908 J. E. Pontefract Avg. 24.53
1909 F. Lee Avg. 22.66
1910 E. C. Studart Avg. 32.70
1911 J. E. Haley Avg. 22.85
1912 J. E. Haley Avg. 22.80
1913 J. E. Haley Avg. 19.17
As well as acting as match professional, Joe Haley also did a great deal of valuable coaching.
District, Alliance, Combination Leagues
By this time the Huddersfield area had a well established league system, It was hierarchical with promotion within leagues as well as from one league to another with the District league forming the most elevated status. Interestingly, when the Central League was founded in 1914 it also felt that its best clubs should be promoted on merit.
The following list shows how the leagues were made up in 1900:-
Dalton, Kirkheaton, Paddock, Primrose Hill, Lascelles Hall, Golcar, Slaithwaite, Holmfirth, Honley, Lockwood, Marsden, Linthwaite Hall, Meltham Mills.
Broad Oak, Kirkburton, Almondbury, Hall Bower, Holmbridge, Thongsbridge, Bradley Mills, Skelmanthorpe, Linthwaite Hall, Meltham, Denby Dale, Lindley.
Combination (Sect. A)
Cartworth Moor, Thurstonland, Shepley, Netherthong, Shelley, Cumberworth, Hepworth, Scholes.
Combination (Sect. B)
St. Andrew’s, Lepton, Almondbury Parish Church, Oakes Baptists, Netherton, Helme, Farnley Tyas, Sheepridge and Deighton.
The order of names represents league positions in mid-season. Thurstonland missed being champions only because of a shock defeat in the season’s last game by lowly Hepworth.
This season of 1900 saw an appearance by the club in the semi-final of the Lumb Cup where defeat was met by the holders, Saint Andrew’s.
The scorecard of that game follows:-
E. Armitage c Hirst b Mitchell 30
W. Jessop c Pontefract b Mitchell 18
E. Pilling c Renshaw b Marsden 4
T. Holdsworth b Hirst 10
J. Holdsworth b Hirst 19
A. Rushworth c Mitchell b Hirst 9
A. Pontefract c Lee b Hirst 1
S. Sykes b Lee 24
E. Moorhouse c F. Walker b Lee 12
J. Winterbottom not out 15
H. Brook b Lee 5
B. Charlesworth b Brook 0
E. Mitchell run out 12
A. Marsden b Rushworth 0
G. Hirst c Rushworth b Brook 0
F. Lee b Brook 2
S. Walker c Moorehouse b Rushworth 11
L. Schofield c Armitage b Brook 5
A. Drury b Rushworth 12
W. Pontefract b Brook 0
T. Renshaw b Brook 4
F. Walker not out 0