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History

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Esholt Cricket Club

The club was formed in 1895 and the present square was used the following season. Prior to this, the village played friendlies on the site where the Memorial Institute now stands. Since the club's formation, there has been continuous cricket except during the First World War.

In the early years, Esholt were members of the Airedale and Wharfedale Second Class League winning it in 1903. After a period in the Bradford & District League, a move was made into the newly formed Second Division of the Bradford League in 1909. Esholt took their place alongside such clubs as Birkenshaw, Bradford City Lamp Lighters, Crossley Hall, Laisterdyke, Mountain Mills, Sandy Lane, Shipley St Pauls, Tong Park and Woodlands.

Unfortunately, this lower section was dissolved after only two seasons when the league reverted to a single tier structure of 12 clubs. During this period, the club was able to field two elevens composed entirely of players who lived in the village.

In 1915, Esholt were readmitted to the Bradford League to take over the second team fixtures of Bowling Old Lane, who had replaced the Bradford club at short notice, as Park Avenue was no longer available. After the war, Esholt spent unremarkable years in the Bradford Central before moving to the Wharfedale league in 1929.

The period 1946 to 1953 was the most successful in the club's history. They recruited players from Baildon Methodists, Tong Park, Guiseley and Yeadon. The club was able to field two first teams of equal strength known as Esholt A and Esholt B. The former won the League Championship in 1947, while the latter secured the Mathieson Cup, an exceptional achievement which indicates the strength in depth the club had available at the time.

The A Team topped the table again in 1948 and three years later it was the turn of Esholt B. The players won many individual trophies with Harold Dean, Ernest Jagger, Willie Jeffery (twice) and Ralph Shuttleworth collecting the league batting prizes, Denis Milner headed the bowling averages in 1950.

Esholt transferred in 1956 to the new and enlarged Dales Council, where the club remained for a further 29 years. The first team won the league title on five occasions. The second team was equally successful, winning the championship in 1982 and the knock-out cup 1976, 1980 and 1984. It was during the 1980 final that the present scoreboard, built in memory of Ralph Shuttleworth, was first used.

In 1970, Esholt agreed with Airebronians RUFC and Bradford City Council to take over the use of three derelict cottages at the side of the ground and convert them into a clubhouse. Aided by grants and donations and much hard work, the premises were officially opened in 1979 by Brian Close CBE.

The club joined the Leeds and District Cricket League in 1985 and much was achieved in a relatively short time. The second team were promoted in 1986 and the senior team headed Division Two in 1987 and 1990. Esholt employed its first overseas professional, Wahid Niazi, in 1991 and this in no small measure resulted in the club winning the Hepworth Cup that season and securing First Division status.

The 1994 season was probably the finest in the club's history. The first X1, spearheaded by Pakistani professional, Tahir Mahmood, completed the League and cup double with the cup final being one of the greatest ever. Woodhouse amassed 286 for 8. West Indian opener Stuart Williams scored a magnificent 127. Remarkably, Esholt ran off the runs with 2 overs to spare with Tahir hitting a man of the match 127. In 1995, the second team won the Division Two title and two years later the first team won the league title again in a nail biting finish which went to the last game of the season.

In 1999, the club rejoined the Bradford League. The start was inauspicious by finishing bottom of Division Two despite the services of a first class South African cricketer Pierre de Bruyn who contributed 1138 runs and 33 wickets.

The year 2000 was a happy season with the club just missing promotion and four of the team were in the league's White Rose side which went on to win the final at Esholt.

In 2007, eight years after rejoining the league the club finally achieved promotion to the First Division.

Other successful overseas players include Sri Lankan Ajantha Weerappuli, New Zealander Aaron Fuller and former New Zealand International Lou Vincent.

Tong Park Cricket Club

Tong Park lies about two miles north of Baildon. The village can be traced back to 1469 and named after William Tong who used the land as a deer park. Today, its chief feature is Wm. Denby's mill. This was built in 1778 and used later for dyeing, spinning and manufacturing textiles.

At the latter part of the 19th century, outdoor sports were becoming popular and teams were formed from churches or chapels and places of work. The Denby's were keen on cricket and offered the club a small field they could play on.

The first match took place 3rd April 1880. No leagues existed in those days. The earliest recorded match took place on 19th July 1890 when Tong Park played Bradford Church Hill but the result is not known. Public transport was virtually non-existent and therefore the games had to be local.

All games were friendlies and some of the teams were Addingham, Dudley Mill Old, Otley, Laisterdyke, Thackley, Charlestown, Esholt, Baildon Green, Windhill and Birklands. The first record in the Telegraph & Argus was against Laisterdyke but alas the game was never finished due to rain.

In 1898, the Bradford & District League was formed with Tong Park being a founder member along with Bankfoot, Birkenshaw, Dudley Hill, East Bierley, Greengates, Laisterdyke, Shelf and Thackley. After the first season in the league, it was decided to move to a new ground between Buck Lane and Esholt Lane.

From the end of the season 1897 to the beginning of the 1898 season, the wicket was laid and pavilion built. Their first opponents were Thackley who batted first and scored 133. Tong Park were 71-7 when time was called.

In 1908, Tong Park decided they would need a better ground so they could play a better standard of cricket in the Bradford League. Above Denby's was a mill dam but the rest of the area was like a swamp. Denby's agreed to foot the bill and work started immediately.

The swamp was drained, the ground levelled, tons of hardcore was laid, topped with ash, then soil and finally turf. The pavilion, the scorebox and refreshment room were built of brick topped with corrugated iron. In 1910, Tong Park joined the new 2nd division of the Bradford League.

Tong Park Esholt Cricket Club

Tong Park Cricket Club and Esholt Cricket Club amalgamated to become one organisation on the 1st January 2009. The motive for the move was to bring together two well established and successful clubs in order to provide a bigger, stronger club to move forward with the best of both establishments into the modern era.

The plan was for Esholt to resign from the Bradford League and the two senior sides i.e. the 1st and 2nd elevens would take over the Tong Park fixtures in the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior Cricket League and play their fixtures at Esholt. The 3rd eleven would remain in the Dales Council Cricket League and play their fixtures at Tong Park.

It was decided that the successful junior section at Tong Park would amalgamate with the less established junior section at Esholt giving the new club a strong means of succession and fixtures would be played at Esholt. It was hoped that the additional player numbers would provide a better playing strength in both junior and senior sides.

The club is very fortunate and proud to have two of the most picturesque and well maintained grounds in the area. The facilities at both grounds receive praise from all who use them.