Struggle for improvement
When the club was formed in 1884 the problem of where they should play never seems to have been discussed. They did in fact play in Pharaoh Lane.
On the 3rd March, 1884 - "It was resolved to accept Mr. Hooson’s estimate for the erection of a cricket tent at £15/10/ and Mr. Hughes was directed to give him the order under certain conditions.
Whatever the ‘certain conditions’ were attached to Mr. Hooson’s contract he accepted them because at the monthly meeting of 7th April, the Treasurer was ‘‘instructed to settle with him.’’
The struggle to improve the playing area and the wicket in particular began almost at once. It is a process which has continued ever since. 2nd February, 1885, it was resolved "that Mr. Joseph Mitchell be requested to finish laying the ground as quickly as possible, and that if and when it was finished, he found that his agreement was insufficient to pay him for his labour, compensation be made him." On 23rd March, 1885, he was paid £21/10/- on account and 13th April, 1885, he was paid £1 more than his estimate.
Despite this effort and expenditure and with a balance in hand of only £111416 this ground at Pharaoh Lane did not satisfy for long. The urge for improvement drove them on, and on 18th December, 1885, it was decided that the old ground be used for the season of 1886 but that the ground behind the Vicarage be used for the season of 1887 and afterwards. This is the ground still in use and variously called The Ainleys, Jammy Green, and sometimes Th’Alloe Field, hence the name of the Houses which overlook the ground, Alloe Field View. It is a name taken from an old transfer deed. In view of the sweat and toil which have been necessary to bring Jammy Green up to its present state of perfection, it must have been a brave decision to try and establish a cricket club there. Such was the enthusiasm of these early pioneers.
In September of 1886 a tender of £47/10/- was accepted from Mr. L. Kershaw of Brighouse for laying the new ground. The anticipation of being able to use the new ground in the season of 1887 was not fulfilled however, and this is explained in the Annual Report of a meeting on the 4th November, 1887. Apparently there were severe frosts and subsequently dry weather in the spring of that year and Mr. Lyster Kershaw was not able to make progress. The club was involved in considerable expense for it had to keep two homes going.
Some of the practical problems but certainly not the financial ones had been settled, for the new ground was officially opened on 12th May, 1888, by Mr. J.T. Ramsden. It was something of an occasion, all Vice-Presidents were invited, flag staffs were erected, thirty posters were printed and John Jowett was asked to provide a tea at 1/- per head ‘the remainder (if any) to be paid by the club.’ Jonathan Ingham was also rewarded for his bill posting and given his tea for gate keeping. The opening game was against Ovenden United with fifteen players a side.
One of the problems in going to the new ground appears to have been the need to pay compensation for disturbance to the former tenants. To offset this however, a small amount of cash was raised from grazing rights. On April 5th, 1904, it was decided that "H . . . should be asked if he could do with the grazing of the cricket field seeing that L. . . does not care about it". H... does not seem to have cared about it either, for it was let to Walter Smith for £31/10/- to be paid by the end of August.
The improvement of the ground was a continuous process and the following items of expenditure have been extracted from a statement of 1894: Relaying 400 yards of ground by Alfred Reed £4. Labour etc., connected with the relaying. W. Eastwood, 12 hours at Sd.; Sam Whittaker, 9 hours at 5d.; Allowance to drivers, 1/6. U. Hartley, 4 horses and 2 men 24% hours at 1/6 - £21/7/-
The club apparently had its eye on making use of the Vicarage Coach House for Dressing Rooms but the Vicar had refused his permission. A deputation composed of S. Hays, I. Priestley and E. Sutcliffe must have had persuasive tongues however for on 12th April, 1897, a tender was accepted from Ned Furness for alterations to ‘stables.’ For £6/10/- he undertook to provide :— one Batten Door and casing complete; one pair of steps, landing posts and hand rail; one window made to open outwards, casings and moulds complete; one ceiling in hay loft with 1 x 6 boards; two window holes and three holes in floor boarding up, one window hole and one door hole breaking out; all outside woodwork with one coat of paint.
In January 1902, an estimate was accepted from Mr. Kershaw of Brighouse to relay the ground at each end of the wicket, and the practice wicket for £8 to £10, but Mr. Kershaw seems to have been too slow in starting the work and the job was given to John Waterfall, "as many yards as we require at 6d. per square yard." In September 1906, began the stupendous task of levelling the field — bringing the top part of the hill down to the bottom, and tipping to level it up. Mr. Hartley drew up the plans and promised to supervise the work. A dozen wheel barrows, picks and shovels were borrowed from the Halifax Corporation, Mr. Lord, the Borough Engineer stipulating that ‘these must be sent back if they are required.’ This decision was taken at a meeting on the 18th September, 1906, exactly twenty years to the very day since Mr. Kershaw signed the contract to lay out the original wicket on the ground. A month later it was decided that the work was not proceeding fast enough and we have this minute. "At a meeting held in October it was resolved that we get some paraffin oil and lamps from Wilson Stocks of Queensbury so as to enable us to work in the evenings." Match that for enthusiasm.
Apparently there had been a wage increase in the intervening years since 1894, because on the 7th January, 1907, "We ask Willie Sykes if he could work on the ground, and if so to be paid 6d. per hour, and also if possible to get a man to help him should he consider it necessary." Even in March of that year the work was still in progress.
No doubt this major operation on the ground had disturbed the wicket because at a Special General Meeting held in Spetember 1907, we have this report "The
One of the problems in going to the new ground appears to have been the need to pay compensation for disturbance to the former tenants. To offset this however, a small amount of cash was raised from grazing rights. On April 5th, 1904, it was decided that "H . . . should be asked if he could do with the grazing of the cricket field seeing that L. . . does not care about it". H... does not seem to have cared about it either, for it was let to Walter Smith for £31101-to be paid by the end of August.
Apparently there had been a wage increase in the intervening years since 1894, because on the 7th January, 1907, "We ask Willie Sykes if he could work on the ground, and if so to be paid 6d. per hour, and also if possible to get a man to help him should he consider it necessary." Even in March of that year the work was still in progress.
No doubt this major operation on the ground had disturbed the wicket because at a Special General Meeting held in Spetember 1907, we have this report "The turf is not what we should consider up to the mark, although the pitch plays very well." Therefore another project was put in hand dealing first with the two ends of the wicket, followed by a strip about five yards in width along bottom side.
Still striving for a level ground, further consideration was given to the in 1909 and 1910, Mr. Bland produced detailed estimates - if the slope were taken out at 1 in 30" instead of 1 in 20" the cost would be reduced to £90/14/9 from £140. There is no record that this project was ever carried out, a shortage of funds, followed by the Great War of 1914-18 being the barriers to progress.
In September 1919 permission was sought from the Vicar to make further alterations to the Coach House and Stables, part of which was already being used by the club. It would appear that up to this time, the visitors had used a wooden pavilion on the top of the ground. It was now proposed to have both visitors and the home teams in the Coach House but to divide the room with a partition and provide separate entrances.
With admittance to the Yorkshire Council imminent, another ground levelling scheme was launched and at a General Meeting in October 1919, an estimate from T. Bedford for £200 was accepted as satisfactory 'under the present conditions'.
In the year 1921, minor alterations were carried out to the boundary wall on the west side of the ground, and in February 1926, there is mention of a new 'Tea Tent' being under construction. This was to replace a tent which had been destroyed by fire, and which stood on the site selected for the new pavillion of 1961.
There was also another levelling programme when the Talbot Inn was being rebuilt in 1937. Much of the excavation from there was tipped on the low side of the ground, beyond the perimeter of the present boundary. In this particular project, the club struck the sort of bargain that pleased everybody. Not only was the ground levelled, but the builder paid a fee for each load tipped. The revenue was more than welcome.
From the point of view of the cricket club no major task was then put in hand until 1938, when at a cost of £125 a new refreshment tent was erected. This cost was exclusive of foundations and fittings which were carried out on a 'do it yourself' basis for the sake of economy. The building of this Refreshment Hut - or shall we stick to the colloquial ‘Tea Tent’ was the termination of a long period of wishful thinking. The opening was marked by a Ladies v. Gentlemen of the club cricket match, the male element being restricted to retired cricketers.
It had been a great struggle and it is doubtful whether any large scale operation would have been tackled for some time, but the problem did not arise. It was soon to be cricket in war time again, and down to a basis of 'make do and mend.' Even simple tasks of maintenance like painting, became a problem and the coveted 'Tea Tent' was in danger, for at one point, the possibility of selling it arose, as an economy measure. However somebody knew somebody who got some paint and the day was saved. Cabor gas was installed in 1940 and for the first time the Ladies' Committee could make their meals without struggling with an oil stove.
The war was scarcely over, and the repercussions of it still very much in the air, when the club appeared to be faced with its biggest problem yet. The open country on which the ground was situate was to become an area for re-housing, and the awful fear was, would the ground be taken? For more than half a century this ground had first been made with sweat and toil then nursed and tended like a baby. To preserve this I am quite sure the club would have gone to any length - even declared war again. It is doubtful of course, whether the criminal act of taking it for building was ever contemplated but of course, the club was merely a tenant, the land belonging to the Illingworth Church, and the rent being payable to the Vicar. Since the club did not therefore, control its own destiny there was a feeling of insecurity, and negotiations were put in hand with the Church Commissioners for the purchase of the ground. Eventually in 1950 a sum of £500 was agreed upon and as the club was now getting involved in big money, it was decided that it should become incorporated and turned into a limited company. Not a profit making company, but merely a method of safeguarding the assets under a system which was more satisfactory than the old method of appointing trustees. The purchase of the ground was a considerable foresight on the part of the officials and committee of this time and is particularly significant in the historical context in safeguarding the club's future.
In view of the development in the district and the fact that limits and boundaries were changing, it was decided to attempt another long cherished scheme. It had always been in mind that the ground should have a more symmetrical shape, and with this in view, an approach was made to purchase a section of land on the western side (i.e. the top side) of the ground, a piece large enough to add an eliptical portion to the playing area and at the same time provide a bit of distance between the spectators and the boundary edge. The Halifax Corporation agreed to the sale of 2,450 square yards but on a leasehold basis; after some legal sparring the will of the club prevailed and it was transferred freehold.
In extending the boundary along the western side there was no misapprehension; it was realised that a new walt would be necessary along this extremity. It was not anticipated however that the club would be faced with the same prospect along the northern extremity. Dry stone walls which had hitherto been quite adequate to divide the cricket ground from an adjacent pasture, soon proved to be quite inadequate when exposed to the outside world. Eventually the club was faced with enclosing almost the entire perimeter of the ground. Liability for the wall to the north was repudiated, legal exchanges with the Housing and Education Committees of the Halifax Corporation went on for some time. Illingworth became quite famous for its wall problem and it was frequently referred to as 'The Great Wall of China'.
Eventually the division of responsibility was resolved on these lines, that the Corporation would provide and deliver the material, if the club would erect it. This was by no means the end of the road however. The utmost difficulty was experienced in getting suitable labour for this kind of work. The employment of direct labour was tried but the work progressed too slowly; it was put out on contract and again it was protracted and long periods went by with no visible movement. From the first contemplation on 26th February, 1951, the eventual completion was about 8th August, 1957. Much of the stone provided f or this wall came from the Pellon Lane area and some from the Pellon Lane Baptist Chapel.
No sooner had this stage finished when the Club embarked on its biggest project yet. In a magnificent gesture by Mr. Frank Fox and his family the Club was promised £1,500 towards the cost of a new Pavilion if it could raise a similar sum. Raising it was no mean task and every form of fund-raising had once again to be utilised but it had its culmination with the opening of the new Pavilion in 1962 which was the envy of the district.
It was not surprising that a period of consolidation followed. The decade had seen a huge leap forward in terms of improvement of the ground facilities. One burning ambition still remained that of a modern Scorebox with facilities underneath for the storage of ground equipment. The old Scorebox and, prior to that, changing rooms, over the Vicar's garage had served the Club well but was to be displaced by the Club's ambition to provide first-class facilities. A large Grant from Calderdale Council finally swung the balance and the new Scorebox was opened in 1975 dedicated to the memory of Ernest Rothera who had been such a Club stalwart over so many years.
But, as had been the case over all the years, the Club did not sit still. The drive for improvement carried on. Lack of funds was a hindrance but never a restriction. Further Grant applications to Calderdale Council, the National Playing Fields Association and the Lords Taverners all bore fruit and in 1976 a new permanent practice wicket with matting and netting was completed along with the provision of a new hot water system in the Pavilion with showers in each of the dressing rooms.
Three years later another large project saw the erection of a fire escape to the first floor of the Pavilion and the creation of a new kitchen at that level, so that the upper floor could be fully utilised. The ground was not forgotten either and, after much searching, a suitable second-hand motorised roller was purchased much to the pleasure of the players and groundsmen alike.
The demand for modern facilities continued apace and not for the first time, the Club went into debt in 1980 to create a modern Bar and Lounge in the Pavilion and a hard surfaced car parking area.
Much progress has been made over 100 years and many of these schemes would be beyond the imagination of those early members who struggled to level the ground under the light of their paraffin lamps. However, this is not the essential point. None of the subsequent improvements would have been possible without the continued efforts of those earlier generations. Slowly but surely, piece by piece, the story has developed. Successive improvements have been built upon to stand the Club in good stead well into the next hundred years.
Early Days and Tom Emmett - by Anthony Woodhouse
In the previous booklet on the Illingworth St. Mary’s Club, Harry Hustwick, undoubtedly the most prominent name to be connected with the Club, claimed that a Cricket Club existed at Illingworth in 1860. Further research proves that a Club of some standing did, indeed, exist if only for a few years. There is too, newspaper evidence that the St. Mary’s Club itself played friendly matches as early as 1879.
There is no doubt that cricket existed at Illingworth during the 1850’s as is proved by Tom Emmett in Old Ebor’s"Talks with Old Yorkshire Cricketers". In fact Tom Emmett can claim to be Illingworth’s one player to have reached County and England standards. At one time he was known to live in or close to Cousin Lane before moving to a cottage at the top of Moor Lane. He stated that his early cricket was played "close to my Uncle, John Dilworth of Illingworth, near Ovenden, who was fond of cricket. One of the great traders of this place was Mr. Henry Ambler who owned Holmfield Mills (now Smith, Bulmer & Co.) and he had a fine carriage drive leading up to his residence, Ovenden Grange. At the entrance to the drive were two stone posts and it was one of these that we used for our wickets. That is where I was first initiated into cricket and found that I could hit the post with a round-arm delivery One of the two gates of the entrance to the Grange with the stone posts still exists today in Keighley Road, almost next door to the Queens Head public house.
As Tom had been born in 1841 in Crib Lane, Halifax, this must have occurred in the early 1850’s at the very latest. He talks of becoming the "cock of Ambler’s Walk Top" and having dodged a fearsome police constable by the name of Nicholson. While’p laying here he once struck a ball through the window of an adjoining combing shed and hit a man called Harrowby, who was persuaded not to carry on with magistrates proceedings after Tom promised to pay for the broken glass.
Emmett relates that his first Club was called "Illingworth" with its headquarters at the White Lion Inn at the corner of Cousin Lane and Keighley Road, later to be converted to cottages known as North View and which are still there today. By this time he had removed to the top of Moor Lane but he was made a member of the Club and once played in an Illingworth Feast Match against Thornton. He also mentioned that he was with the Illingworth Club when a Mr. Priestley, a fellow member who had connections with the Todmorden Club, engaged him to play for the latter against George Farr’s XI. In this match Emmett related that he scored a century and took 6 or more wickets. No trace of this match appears to have been handed down but it was prior to 1864 and was almost certainly not against the All England Eleven with which Fan was connected. It was not long before he joined the Halifax Club as a professional and was paid 2s 6d a match. In 1863 Keighley acquired his services where he stayed until he joined the County Club three years later
When one examines the geography of the area, it is little short of astonishing that cricket should already have such deep-seated roots in this severely hilly district where suitable cricket fields were by no means easy to find.
From the start, the connection with the Church was a strong one; the President of the Club was always the Vicar, who was persuaded to take an active part at the more important meetings of the Club, a practice which was to continue until 1960 when Mr. Frank Fox became the first layman to hold office. The Club in its early days was little more than one of many Church and Sunday School sides which were formed at this time and some of which still survive today. In Ilingworth itself, and possibly founded earlier than St. Mary’s C.C., were Illingworth Wesleyans who played just off Keighley Road, close to the Wesleyan Chuch. The Club soon became an important part of the community. Most of its members had strong ties with the Church, but a glance at the early Minutes shows that the early ambitions of the Club were modest to a degree. At the inaugural General Meeting held in Illingworth Church Institute on Friday, 22nd February, 1884, there was drawn up a very comprehensive set of rules and the wisdom of these suggests some previous experience.
From the outset there was an entrance fee of 1/- and an annual subscription of 5/-. There were various fines of 6d. for transgressions committed by members. The original rule on membership was quite emphatic "that no person be admitted as a member of this Club unless he be a teacher or scholar in St. Mary’s Sunday School or a member of the congregation of that Church". Discipline was also evident in Rule 8 — "that no member be allowed to smoke or lie down when he is engaged on the field".
On 3rd March, 1884 it was decided to erect a "Cricket Tent" at a cost of £15.10.0d. while on 7th April it was decided that the youths of the village be allowed to the ground on payment of 3d. after paying an entrance fee of 6d.. The following month two bats were to be bought in Halifax, along with two smaller bats for boys under 16. The youngsters in the village were thus being encouraged and the tent (a cricket pavillion of wood was known as a "tent") was insured.
It was 9th June before Harry Hustwick, the doyen of Illingworth St. Mary’s Cricket Club, joined them at a monthly meeting which the Club then held. It was decided at the meeting that "members should have 7 minutes play each unless they be twice out within the time" (later reduced to 5 minutes in the following year). The playing record of the Club in 1884 showed them winning 9 and losing the other 4 of their 13 matches. Among their opponents were Thornton Free Church, Beech Hill Rovers (who played at Savile Park) Moor End (Mixenden), Bradshaw St. Johns, Brighouse Zingari as well as the second elevens of Dean dough, Mountain United and Halifax St. Thomas’s.
Illingworth 2nd XI made an appearance too as they succeeded in dismissing an Ovenden Albion XI for just eight runs. In the following year, 1885, Illingworth lost only 3 out of 17 matches and the President’s batting prize was won by Mr. Ellis Hellawell with an average of 9.7. This is very informative with regard to the state of the square if indeed such a description was warranted. At that time an innings total of 100 was considered very high, and an individual score of 50 a comparative rarity comparedwith today, even though the opinions of many on the state of present-day pitches tend to be critical.
The first taste of league cricket
Wisden gives a list of the County Champions since 1864. From time to time during the next twenty years Championship Tables did appear in newspapers, but there was nothing official about the early list of champions and it was mid-way through the 1880’s before one knew exactly who had won the championship with any degree of certainty. In fact most cricket historians would probably agree that 1890 was the year when the County Championship really became "official".
Following it was a big upsurge in the Club cricket world with leagues being formed in Staffordshire, Birmingham, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Not everybody approved of points and league tables, and there was widespread opposition in some parts, particularly in the south. The Football League was formed in 1888 and in 1895 a split occurred in football’s handling code which was to revolutionise the game of Rugby.
These major upheavals in our three national games were to have an effect on the exploits of Illingworth St. Mary’s Cricket Club. It should not be thought that the friendly cricket played in Yorkshire was not played in a "hard" manner. It was and always has been played with vigour and keenness and in the mid-90’s there had been one or two incidents between Illingworth and some of its opponents. But at last in 1896 Illingworth elected for league cricket and joined the Ovenden and District League, which consisted of the following Clubs:~ Illingworth St. Mary’s, Mountain United, Bradshaw Mills, Lee Mount Baptists, Ovenden St. George’s and Ovenden Albion.
Their first season was one of outstanding success winning nine and losing one of their ten matches. They were easily champions and in the following year tied with J. & J. Baldwin’s who were defeated in a play-off. An invitation from the Halifax and District League was received in the wake of their success but the 1898 season saw Illingworth again playing friendly matches as they pondered their decision. They joined the Halifax League in 1899.
Their early seasons in the Halifax League were generally successful - they won the championship in 1903 and 1904 under Herbert Helliwell’s leadership, also in 1912 when Harry Hustwick was Captain and again in 1916. Helliwell was one of the Club’s best ever batsmen and he also shone in the field.
Victories were also secured in the Parish Cup in 1906, 1909 and 1914.
It was in 1900 that they asked James Sutcliffe to act as a professional for that season. So the Club was thinking in terms of success in their second season in the League but, so far as can be ascertained, Sutcliffe, perhaps the best bowler in the history of Ihingworth Cricket Club, never became a paid member of the Club.
Herbert Helliwell did eventually leave the Club to become a professional at Queensbury in 1907 but, like so many of their players, his heart always appeared to be with Illingworth. A long serving member of the Club, he had given stalwart service for some twenty years. Sutcliffe, too, was a loyal servant winning the bowling prize as early as 1897 and again repeating that honour in 1923.
In 1907 the annual dinner saw 59 sitting down for a meal which included a barrel of beer and aerated drinks. Charlie Crapper’s gramophone was in evidence during the meal and, after the Toast to the King, Queen and Royal family had been given and responded to, a song was rendered by Herbert Eastwood. Then came a Toast to the Army, Navy and Auxiliary Forces, before a report by the Secretary and the presentation of Prizes, in between which was a song by Mr. Crossley. It all seems generations away from the present, yet in many respects very similar to the Annual Dinner of today.
This Edwardian decade, followed by the Great War, is today recognised as cricket’s golden age. It is difficult to say whether it was in the Halifax Parish League. Two extracts from the Minutes make interesting reading:
26th June, 1908. "That we give the 1st XI 2/6d. each member and the reserve man who are selected to play in the postponed semi-final Cup-Tie Match on Monday the 29th at King Cross ground on account of broken time in connection with game".
8th July, 1910. "That something will have to be done to arouse interest in the practicing as almost any night there are not sufficient for any decent practice."
One can presume that the latter extract could have been written at any time during the last twenty years. If one listens to the "grumbling Committee" at any league ground in Yorkshire, then that extract would be considered to be the norm in decrying the attitude of the present-day League player. But to think that such a statement could have been made about the players of 70 years ago is a bit surprising. As the scriptures say, "there is nothing new under the sun
The difficulty of sustaining cricket in war time is brought out clearly in the minutes of 10th February 1917 Committee Meeting - just three present - C.P., J.AJ., H.H. and then later 26th January 1918 "that the abnormal conditions which exist at the present time do not warrant us to provide refreshments but we may get biscuits and Bovril".
Illingworth’s last season in the Halifax Parish League brought them another championship success in 1919 under the leadership of Jimmy Sutcliffe.
The Club had been hankering after a change of scenery for some time and had made overtures to join the Yorkshire Council, along with some of their neighbours just before the Great War. The Council had difficulties in carrying on a full Fixture List during the War period and it was after their final success that Illingworth actually applied for and were accepted into the Yorkshire Section. It was the prelude to a long period of continuing evolution that brought many honours to the Club and saw fresh faces appear in the years that followed.
The Airedale & Wharfedale League
Illingworth’s entry into the Airedale and Wharfedale League brings us up to the present day. Travel has never been easier with cars a common feature that would never have been considered likely thirty or forty years ago. Then, an outing to Knaresborough was a major undertaking by charabanc rather than the pleasant 50 minute car drive of today.
Illingworth, whilst surrounded by the gaunter, steeper hills peculiar to the Halifax district, none the less has much in common with the environment of the League. When in 1962 the Airedale and Wharfedale League decided to widen its membership, Illingworth was delighted to be accepted into its midst with its unique mixture of highly competitive cricket, good grounds and picturesque environments.
Furthermore, Illingworth are at home in these surroundings and the rest of the League are happy to play them. If the League President, a former Illingworth player and Secretary, has helped to foster this, then due credit should go to both Mr. Nelson and the League. No person could be more faithful to the standards that have been set down over the years than Eddie. No League could have a more worthy standard-bearer. It should be remembered too that many members of the League were old friends. Even as early as 1930 Tong Park, Steeton, Burley, Thackley, Addingham, Horsforth and Menston were regular fixtures and occasional matches included Otley and Knaresborough. Ways parted when the Airedale and Wharfedale League formed itself out of the Airedale Wharfedale section of the Yorkshire Council but fixtures continued in the Bradford Section against Steeton, Tong Park, Thackley and later Knaresborough right up to the 1950’s. It was perhaps not so surprising that their ways were to cross again. Illingworth could have been one of the founder members of the Airedale and Wharfedale League in 1935. As an existing member of the Airedale and Wharfedale Section of the Yorkshire Council, the club was invited to become one of its members when a majority decided to resign en bloc and form the new league. Illingworth was within its geographical limit of 14 miles from White Cross, Guiseley. However, this excluded Sowerby Bridge and the club’s wish to maintain its traditional fixtures with this old friend was a principal reason for the decision to join the Bradford Section with them instead.
On the playing side Illingworth’s early success in their new League in which they gained the B Division title in only their third season and then finished equal top in the A Division the following season led their followers into supposing that such a standard would be maintained. Unfortunately that has not been the case. Relegation followed in 1967, 1971 and again in 1977 and this showed the lack of consistency in the side. From time to time Illingworth seemed to be just a bowler and perhaps a batsman short as well. Yet criticism of this type should be weighed against the fact that in their last twelve seasons only once have they lost more matches than they succeeded winning. Again, they will enter the coming 1984 season in the A Division after worthily gaining promotion.
Putting playing success aside, Illingworth has also enjoyed perhaps the most stable and settled period in its history in the 22 years it has been a part of the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior Cricket League. The reasons are not hard to find. The League’s high standards of administration, organisation and playing facilities are much respected and admired by all who come into contact with it and Illingworth can be proud to be one of its members.
On the playing front, just as Norman Smith dominated the batting of three preceding decades, so Keith Smith dominated the batting of the 1970's and 1980’s. Other batsmen such as Ian Riley, John Cliff and David Palmer were also to the fore. Equally, with the ball, much rested on the shoulders medium-pacers Colin Balme and Maurice Lawton. Perhaps this last era tended to rely on too few good players, although it has to be said that Illingworth has been fortunate to have numbered in their ranks Club cricketers of this calibre.
Certainly, if the whole idea of playing cricket was to win willy-nilly, at any price, then Illingworth have been no more than a respected side over the years. If, on the other hand, its followers recognise success as a steady battle against adversity, an unrelenting devotion to Club duty, and loyalty to the game of cricket, then Illingworth St. Mary’s Cricket Club may raise its head amongst the ranks of Cricket Clubs in this vast County of ours.
The first hundred years are over. I am confident that the ghosts of Hustwick and company will be resurrected in future generations of officials and players.
In writing this history I must acknowledge the tremendous help I have received from from Kenneth Pearce’s historical booklet published in 1962 in conjunction with the building of the present pavilion. This, together with the Club’s Minutes and newspaper records, has formed the basis of my writing. As an outsider I am sure many others are better qualified than I to comment on the 100 years but the result is not so much a rags to riches story but an on-going saga of a band of dedicated enthusiasts who have spent most of their leisure time in trying to improve the Club’s status. As Kenneth Pearce so aptly put it "The real tale is that of a few men who so loved this summer game that they were determined to establish it on a windy hilltop overlooking Halifax. A piece of flat land was at a premium, it didn’t matter, they dug it out. Always they were short of money, it didn’t matter, for in winter they sang, danced and whistled to raise funds. It’s a story of singleness of purpose, not the sort that hits the headlines, but it is the very soul of cricket."
The Club’s success has been due at least in part to the family tradition which prevails at Illingworth, a tradition which will be maintained in the future because the younger generation are showing the same dedication.
Finally, whilst apologising to the many who have received scant or no mention in this brief history, I should like to thank especially Andrew Smith, more than anyone, for he has done most of the hard work in dealing with the photographs, advertisements, copy and printers as well as a lot of writing and research. He is surely a worthy successor to those hardworking administrators of the past who have been the backbone of Illingworth St. Mary’s Cricket Club.
Within the keeping and precedents of previous eras the Club was led into the new Milliennium by President Andrew's Smith's drive to improve facilities.
Through fund raising and grants from a number of agencies, two alweather practice nets were erected at a cost of £16,000.
In 2005, the next phase of development, an extension to the Pavillion was completed at a cost of @£86,000. A large proportion of this came from the ECB's Community Club Development Fund which Illingworth had been able to access as an identified ECB Focus Club.
This status reflected the high quality provision of cricket, especially at junior level. The Club achieved ECB / Sport England ClubMark status in 2004 and was presented with the Certicate by the legendary Umpire, Dickie Bird.
The Club undertook a Pilot Initiative on behalf of the ECB, Sport England, Department for Culture, Media & Sport and the Department for Education and Skills which promoted luinks between the Club and local Schools. The success led to another year's funded work beforte being invited to take part in the ECB & Cricket Foundation's Chance to Shine Scheme.
The Club's future is dependent upon producing its own palyers and has begun the new Millennium in a strong position.