Shallilo and some older Almondbury Casuals watch uninspiring cricket – but enjoy the day

Almondbury Casuals is a social cricket club that is asleep. It may wake up one day, but the current membership was worried that it might not, leaving thousands of unused pounds in its bank account. At the mercy of the bank.

  So what was the money best used for? Enabling youth cricket in some way was probably the most thoughtful suggestion. Eating and drinking at a cricket match however was the most popular. So thanks to Marc Davies, we pitched up at Clifton in York to watch Yorkshire play Warwickshire. And coffee with biscuits, a four course lunch, afternoon tea alongside beer and wine or whatever.

  Lovely setting in unexpected bright sunshine. I didn’t feel the need for cream so I got burnt.

  When I said ‘we’, I meant senior surviving and interested Casuals of which originally there were 21. Less on the day accompanied by a few friends to make up two tables. The Casuals started playing in the early 1950s, the brainchild of four Friday Almondbury Woolpack happy hour pals. In no time it became part of Huddersfield textile and supporting businesses at play, alongside rugby, hockey, golf and amateur soccer. So popular they needed a set of rules to allow everyone a chance of selection. Not too successful to start with. Following some judicious recruitment, by the 1960s, they won more than they lost.

  There is no one left from those early days, but we did have Robert Haigh with us, son of one of those happy pals. That early culture ensured a steady influx of players. Family, friends and fellow sports nuts turned out every Sunday well into the noughties. Three or four are still playing and Bill is mostly an umpire. Ken has shed a stone or two and walks a lot. Greg enjoys his garden. Burge kindly takes a drink with our Andrew from time to time. Rupert was concerned at the demise of the glottal stop. Rod was unimpressed by the cricket – none of us were. We wanted something spectacular but we got a damp squib.

  The York team on the Casuals’ fixture list was the Retreat. We were about the same strength. There is one surviving match report.

  Michael Henderson of the Times (Sat 22nd June) wrote ‘York put on a show after 129-year wait’. In 1890, Yorkshire beat Kent, thanks to a nine wicket haul from Bobby Peel, a left-arm spinner. Lord Hawke was skipper. 1n 1897, he dismissed Peel from the field for being drunk. ‘And so began the celebrated cricket tradition of Yorkshire contrariness’. Mmm, really?

  Whilst we were eating, we were asked to be quiet because we were upsetting the cricketers. The previous day ‘the man in charge of entertainment’ had given a ‘blast’ of Walk on the Wild Side on the PA system. Whilst Michael appreciates his Lou Reed, the cricketers did not. Apparently Lord Hawke would not have done either. For me, the man on the mic in our marquee made the most noise.

  Warwickshire won despite the best efforts of ‘James Logan, Peel’s latest successor as a purveyor of slow left-arm spinners’ who took four wickets. I must have missed that, or was it the following day?

  So the cricket wasn’t uppermost in our minds. We were there to meet ‘old’ friends and celebrate the traditions of social cricket where the result doesn’t matter – much. 1890-1914 is the period said to be The Golden Age of Cricket – the days of the dashing amateur. Maybe not as dashing, but social cricket preserves the non-professional spirit of the game, fostered in public schools and Oxbridge colleges. The apparent gap was bridged by Len Hutton, Yorkshireman and the first professional England captain (1937-55). In 1990, his memorial service was held in York Minster, ‘a suitable place to honour the greatest servant to represent the White Rose’.

  Rupert, can I recommend Oliver Kamm’s Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage?Shallilo and some older Almondbury Casuals watch uninspiring cricket – but enjoy the day.

I suspect the Casuals are in for a long sleep. Sadly, since 2014/5 they have not played regularly. The decline began well before then when playing membership decreased precipitously. The various connections outlined above are now tenuous, apart from the rugby club. Today, youngsters have many other calls on their time. The Holme Valley league clubs may have an answer – why not cultivate a social third team to accommodate juniors who won’t make first and second teams?

 

Here we go again. Is it Honley Casuals?

Very preliminary discussions have taken place with Rob Moore, Chairman of Honley CC, to explore social cricket for the club’s younger end and some of those nearing the close of their league careers. It’s terrific that he’s keen not to lose the Casuals’ history and ethos. Certain individuals and oppositions were mentioned and we have arranged to meet again.

Let’s hope it gets off the ground.

Social cricket in the Holme Valley

There is no support for social cricket at Thongsbridge and Almondbury Casuals is moribund. There are still teams at Upperthong and Holmbridge.

It’s all very sad, but I’m not being involved from now on.

 

(This is a bit of a late post, written originally around August 2014)

Almondbury Casuals special meeting

Around 20 good men and true attended the Farnley Cock on the evening of the 12th March 2014. The intention was to review the future of the Almondbury Casuals and what was to be done about the standing orders that habitually enact at this time of year.

The decision was to arrange 2-3 fixtures this year, one against Old Aldmonburians, and keep the money coming. Both of these measures could help to keep the club alive until such time as there are enough players and the management has the energy and drive to make things happen.

Duncan Cleave, Nick Bone and Bill Crosland expressed interest in playing and helping out on the day of the fixtures.

Where are all those Holme Valley cricketers who would like to play social cricket?

Calling all those who want to play social cricket? (1) Those youngsters who, when they mature beyond the junior ranks, are lost to the game. (2) Older guys who have lapsed from the game and who would like to return to a less competitive cricket experience.

The Holme Valley Sunday social cricket association took another step toward reality at Upperthong CC this week. Rob Oakley, chair of Upperthong, hosted the latest meeting of interested clubs, including Upperthong, Thongsbridge, Honley and The Sleepers (Linthwaite). Holmfirth and Thurstonland remain uncertain.

Rob has produced a fixture list which will need some fine tuning before publication, hopefully after the next meeting in March, when we also hope to advertise in the press arrangements for the launch of the association. Club contact information for those who wish to join the new venture will then be made available.

The Almondbury Casuals survives on paper. Some of the older guys are still talking about what to do with the finances. It’s likely that cricket will remain dormant for the foreseeable future.

 

Further progress for the Casuals

Interested clubs have met under the guidance of Robert Oakley (Upperthong CC), intending to set up a Holme Valley social cricket association for summer 2014. Clubs include Upperthong, Honley, Thongsbridge, Holmebridge, Thurstonland, The Sleepers (Linthwaite) and maybe The Rock.

Discussions are at an early stage, seeking advice from the Yorkshire Cricket Board being a first step.

New recruits/new arrangements

The casuals are hoping to recruit two new players – Alan Brierley and Tony Booth.

More discussions are taking place between older Casuals and Thongsbridge CC. We hope to become full members of Thongsbridge and play under the name Thongsbridge Casuals. Greg Smith and Dave Walker are expecting take the role of contact/coordinator for the new section.

Almondbury Casuals can then think about winding up.

Successful day down at the bridge

Sunday 4th Aug. Two Casuals played and a total of seven pitched up to lend support for our match against the Sleepers.

A very creditable turn out which could bode well if the recruitment keeps going as well as it is. We had two new blokes who Greg has warned that they cannot now be dropped and Dave and Elliot Knight helped us out. I think Elliot is a natural Casual. So is Dave.

Sean Robertshaw, Vicar at New Mill, paid a visit and is in line for a phone call.

Most of this hard work has again been done by Greg Smith.

Note the match report.

Ken Jagger, Bill Crossland, Nick Bone and Sam Stier

2006-01-01 00.00.09

Still struggling to get a side July 2013

The  summer began with 4 proposed fixtures, one of which has been played, and a great day it was too. One fixture was cancelled because not enough Casuals were available. Another, albeit impromtu, fixture could not be fulfilled because, quite frankly, no one could be bothered. Greg wrote this

Dear Fellow Casual,
In March this year I produced a ‘Proposal for Cricket’ which was submitted to the Chairman and his Committee. The aim was to safeguard social cricket in the Holme Valley played in the Casuals spirit, by joining forces with Thongsbridge CC to guarantee a full complement of players on match days. At the time this idea was greeted with much enthusiasm. Sadly the reality has been very different. For each of this season’s three fixtures, Dave Walker and myself have organised opponents, grounds and teas. Of the fixtures, only one has been fulfilled due to a lack of Casuals wishing or able to play. To be let down late in the day by Casuals Members is not only disappointing but it is disrespectful to opponents and to Thongsbridge CC and deeply depressing for Dave and myself – this cannot continue or inevitably the reputation of the Casuals as a cricket club will be forever tarnished.

We still have three fixtures remaining this Season and Dave and I are committed to getting a team on the field and fulfilling them – without Casuals involvement if that is to be the case. Should any Casual Member wish to be play in the future please contact either me or Dave.

Marc Davis then wrote this

With experience of around 20 years of Casuals match captaincy, organising a game required a considerable amount of hard graft, often having to make up to 30 phone calls contacting the opposition and drumming up a team. The club used to have 22 fixtures between the end of April and mid September and, being a nomadic team, 70% of these were away from home. Most of the fun and camaraderie was to be found in the travels off to N and E Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and even trailing off to London twice to stuff the weirdoes of Wealdstone. Matches were never cancelled due to the club being unable to raise a side. I found it somewhat odd that players no longer wanted to travel to interesting away venues but the reality of the situation would now seem to be that club is unable to raise 6-7 to fulfil a handful of fixtures.

 Tim Beaumont wrote this

It were different in my day! Not only raising eleven “players” and ensuring the opposition expected the fixture but, in April and May, often having to find a ground; bloody cup games.

Thank you and Dave for keeping me “in the loop”. DP keeps me informed of the trials and tribulations of our Casuals and, like him, I support your efforts; though it’s a bit difficult to turn out unless there is an away fixture in the West Midlands.

It seems you have been badly let down by our members; though if the members, contacts to whom your letter is addressed, are the ones expected to provide the team, elderly would be polite.

Not being privy to your March presentation, I do not know who the enthusiastic committee members were. The Committee, who include the Match Captains, have the responsibility of getting an eleven on the field. Using friends and other contacts 30 or so phone calls/visits to pubs generally produces eleven, if not the required result.

You, Dave and our esteemed Chairman lead by example; the committee must follow suit even with the truncated fixture list.

I have written a reply several times and, fortunately, binned them. The Casuals will have and be playing fixtures next season, even if under the title of Thongsbridge Casuals.

Jack Wade wrote this

Dear all, as a casuals member since 1973 it is sad to see our present situation. Casuals cricket and social life was brilliant.

There have been periods in the past when player support dropped off due to retirement but we manged to recruit new blood and managed to carry on.

Nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult to recruit due to the much wider availability of other entertainment.

The present situation however seems terminal and the clubs reputation is being seriously damaged by not fulfilling fixtures.

Would it not be better to wind up at the end of this season content in the knowledge that we have had a good long run and some fantastic times together.

We have now come to several conclusions

  • Captains can no longer take the responsibility for raising a side
  • The Casuals as we have known them since the 1950s are no longer 
  • Social cricket is still something worth fighting for in tandem with promoting youth cricket in that awkward period between juniors and the second eleven

London July 2013

Written 19.7.13

The Casuals featured in a new book on wandering cricket, proceeds to support the charity that promotes cricket in state schools – Chance to Shine.

The east coast express from Wakefield was fine.

We took taxis everywhere – unless you have an Oyster card, taxis are cheaper than the tube.

The cricket reception at a hotel near London Bridge went as expected. It was supposed to be at Lord’s, but that proved too expensive. A member of one of the gentlemen’s teams, could have been Romany, owned the hotel and offered the space. As much wine as you wanted to drink. The beer ran out – Brain’s best bitter, Mr. Brain a stalwart of a team from S Wales. Three very good speeches, extolling the virtues of gentlemen’s cricket clubs. A lot of blokes talking in posh accents, but they can’t help that – they were actually supporting state school cricket.

‘The Jersey Boys’ on Friday evening was a brilliant show. Took me right back to the Saturday night discos in the dancing studios (Frosts, Atack).

Saturday was a bit dead, mostly because it was so hot and we couldn’t find a pub showing the Lions’ Test against Australia. We tried everywhere in Covent Garden. There were no Lions’ jerseys and no gangs of guys verging on being worse for ale. Managed to walk through London, stop for a drink and still not see or hear the score.

3.00 train, home for 6.00 and still quiet in the Head of Steam. I was convinced we’d lost. And then we caught up at 11.30 the same night. What a game – fabulous.

Just returned from Friday afternoon boules. The host was actually in Australia for the Test. Not a happy bunny. Didn’t like the O’Driscoll episode and depressed that the Welsh were the dominant force in fashioning a win. For some, Wales is still a major rugby country to hate.

Gentlemen, Gypsies and Jesters – a copy of our chapter

 

GG&J leaflet A4 Spread

Phillip Haigh’s bat

Check this out!

Apparently made from one of Billy Bolt’s best coffins.

I recently visited with Robert Haigh of Helme and this bat appeared. The story behind it has yet to be told and we are all waiting.

Snowmen emerge