A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Stainland Cricket club - folding after 130 years of history.

This is a rather different blog post from my usual witty, insightful and knowledgeable musings on English cricket. Yes I know that some of you will be wondering whenever I may have managed to actually show any of those qualities in this blog - just remember that I know where many of you live.....

This week a good friend of mine,Trish Wood (yes I do have friends, be quiet), included me in a Facebook group that had recently been formed in response to the closure of a local Cricket from my hometown of Halifax in Yorkshire. Now for various reasons that my overworked legal team cannot go into, I'm not allowed to say why I left the area in order to move up here to Scotland some years ago. Suffice to say, the restraining orders etc are due to expire soon, which is a good thing as I was planning to sneak back across the border for a brief visit in July - but shhhh, don't mention that to anyone. 

Anyhoo, the redoubtable Mrs Wood suggested that I use my blog to help in whatever little way I can to publicise the anger of the demise of the cricket club and the plans by herself and others to reclaim something from the ashes of what is a genuinely sad situation. That, I can try to do. However the suggestion that " if you can share your cricket blog on here as a bit of light relief I'm sure you'll rack up a few new readers" may well be problematic; for one thing, any offer of me providing light relief could be another problem that could send my legal team into more overworked stress, and secondly, I'm not too sure if there are that many people out there that want to listen to me prattle on talk about god's own game. Oh, well, I'll try anything once (easy, legal team, easy).

The organisation in question is Stainland Cricket ClubStainland’s first team finished sixth in the bottom division last season and their seconds came seventh in the parallel division, however they have been unable to raise a second team for their first two matches of the season in Division Two. Consequently the Club secretary Kevin Hutchinson met members of the league’s executive and advised that having reviewed their playing resources, they the league that they were unlikely to be able to raise a second team at all this year. The Stainland committee then had a meeting of their own and a decision was made to dissolve the club, so ending over a century and a quarter of existence.

The club were prolific winners of the Parish Cup in the early 20th century, lifting the trophy in 1901, 1908, 1922, 1933 and 1935. As recently as 2002 they were Halifax league first XI second division 2 champions. However that only tells part of the story, because while success has been scarce in recent years, not only was the club in existence for going on 130 years, but were also founder members way back in 1914 of the Halifax Cricket League. Not only that, but Cricket clubs such as this, like hundreds of others across the land, all come with their collection of legends. Whether they were players, members, or those who came simply to watch the cricket, each and every club has them. Stainland's was Len Norcliffe, who sadly passed away relatively recently. If there ever was  a heartbeat of a club, from what I can gather, it was him.

Frankly it is heartbreaking that while at world level the T20 nonsense and the abomination that is the IPL goes from financial strength to strength, clubs like Stainland, which for generations have been the soul and heartbeat of an English community, are left to wither and drift into closure. 

I never frequented Stainland CC on a regular basis, but I did watch games there on a number of occasions years ago, before moving away from the area. But it's an area and a ground that holds memories not just for me, but also for many others throughout the years, as this excerpt from A cricket History of Calderdale confirms;

"In many ways it is the archetypal village cricket venue: a low, semi-whitewashed dry stone wall at one end, a herd of cows wandering aimlessly in a large adjacent field, and vast swathes of farmland for almost as far as the eye can see.
Almost all the benches round the ground's perimeter are dedicated to friends and followers of the team.
Stainland CC was established in 1884.

For the best part of 40 years, they played at Drury Lane - a venue famous for its bandstand. In 1922, the club received their current ground, on Stainland Road, as a post-war gift. The working men of the village had a new recreation area, and the folk at the British Legion were named as trustees. 

The Memorial Ground, a peaceful, semi-rural setting, now boasts a spanking new beige-and-green pavilion (which is also utilised by the hardworking bowls players when they are in action).

The Club secretary explains: 'Fire ripped down the old building in 1996. In the years that followed we had to decide what to do. The council provided us with some temporary changing facilities and a portakabin to use as a tea room, but we had to think long-term. We applied for Lottery funding with other sports organisations in the village, but all our applications failed.'

In the end, the cricket club decided to go it alone, and by May 2001 a permanent building had been erected and officially opened. "

The last part of that selection of cricketing history says everything about financial help from local authorities, therein lies the rub. Many local authorities seem happy just to let situations like this run their inevitable course whilst being happy to take the rent and other financial benefits of ownership, whilst doing little to further the financial interests of the institutions that have fed the community for generations. The ground is owned and controlled by Calderdale Council, cricket looks likely to continue there with Barkisland juniors, Huddersfield College and academy sides from the Cricket Asylum in Sowerby Bridge currently staging matches there. But Stainland have folded and that is a crime.

A facebook group has been set up in the hope that, whilst running a league team from Stainland may not be possible in the foreseeable future, at the very least a youth team could emerge from the ashes of the Stainland CC legacy in the next few years. There are also efforts to establish Stainland as a training ground for other youth teams which will contribute immensely whilst rejuvenating the recreation ground as a whole to make it into a training facility for all the sporting groups who currently use the site.

In addition, considerations for the provision of a gym, changing and shower facilities as well as practice facilities such as cricket nets (both indoor and outdoor) indoor football/rugby/netball/basketball/golf/badminton facilities have also been suggested. The refurbishment of the tennis court and mini football pitch have also been mentioned as a possibility.

What we are talking about here are the attempts of a local community to keep alive a hub that has provided a spirit and drive that has been in evidence for 130 years. We are all guilty of complaining that we are losing our community identity to all manner of influences, this is the chance to keep some of of it alive.

Stainland And District Community Association have very kindly offered their support and added the discussion of these proposals to the agenda for their next meeting on Tuesday 13th May at 7.30pm St Andrew's Church, Stainland. Trish Wood and the people involved in this venture of trying to raise a phoenix from the ashes would love you to contact or join them and hear your views. 

If anyone wants to contact the group online then you can do it via this blog or the group's Facebook page at

So lets not let community cricket die a death that is becoming an all too common feature of British culture. There is much more to cricket than the opening Test match of the summer at Lord's or the IPL, you know.


  1. Sad to read about the plight of community cricket in your part of the world. Even if it be a case of one. That is how neglect starts. I agree that love for the game is nurtured by the local community and letting such clubs die will eventually lead to the drying up of the pool from which next generation of cricketers emerge. Money generation has a purpose. Spending it on things you like. And playing and watching the game is one such delight. If the local govt, members of the community etc realise this flow, it should not be difficult to find a means to support clubs like Stainland. Using social networks like Facebook to get connected with those who had left the community and struck it rich may be one means of reviving the club.

    1. Indeed, Qurioux - wise words from you indeed.

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