It is not the committee’s intention to seek ambitious fixtures – 21 November,1951

A suggestion that an approach be made to Adel club was discussed, but it was felt the fixture was a little too ambitious. The plea of the proposer that Adel had a good ground, was ultimately dismissed with the remark, ‘so has Old Trafford,’ Discussion on this point then closed – 18 October, 1956

… a fixture offered by Bramhope … should not be accepted on the principle that Saturday fixtures, with the exception of the one against Almondbury Grammar School, are undesireable – 18 December, 1958

The committee wished it to be recorded that during the course of the last season the club, under the guidance of the Chairman, won the Ben Rhydding CC knockout competition – 22 October, 1970

He [Jack Wade] was to have words with Otley about the seriousness of the game, and we did not like the idea of facing a team of league players – 13 November, 1986

Only two fixture lists survive in the minutes from the 1968 and 1975. It’s not possible to mention all the opponents, but some are interesting. A member might have a connection with a particular side. Henry Wheatley and Sons was a mill at Hopton, near Mirfield, specialising in exotic fabric. The company sponsored a works team up to 1921, but withdrew when the bar facility became overused. The players reformed as a village team called Whitley Lower, playing at Woodbottom, Hopton Mills. They merged with Dewsbury and Savile CC in 1989 to form the current club, Hopton Mills. Wheatley’s works cricket must have continued in some form as the Casuals played them in 1968 and 1975 at Hopton Mills. Was there some connection with J Bell. Whitley Lower was suggested as a home ground in 1982 (contact David Bell) if more local venues were engaged in a fixture jam. In 1955, away games were arranged with RAF Lindholme and 7th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Presumably the contact here was with Casuals’ recently serving forces personnel. Lindholme is near Doncaster and was a bomber station. It became a prison in 1980. The Dukes’ barracks were sited at Highroad Well, Halifax until 1959.

The Casuals started with less than 10 games per season. In 1968 there were 18. The number gradually increased to 27 in the 1990’s. It is back to 15 or so in 2009. The roll call of teams played since 1952 is too long to be of interest. The loyal opposition has included Stainborough, Ben Rhydding, Huddersfield RUFC, Thoresby Park, Penguins, Jesters, Druids, Duncombe Park, Yapham, Tusmore, Retreat, The Police and Wealdstone Corinthians (to qualify I have chosen teams who have appeared on at least 3 fixture lists taken from 1968, 1975, 1988, 1992/3 and 2003). Other decent more recent games I recall include The Cryptics, Romany, Darton, Elvaston, Lower Bradshaw, Whitley Bridge and Hilton.Other games deserve a mention because of their longevity. For example, Stainborough goes back to 1968, Druids and Jesters to 1975. There are teams no longer on the Casuals fixture list, but had a long life: Ben Rhydding, Penguins, Duncombe Park, Follifoot and Thoresby Park.

Other teams had odd names: A Clarke’s XI, CF Taylor’s XI, Burnham (1954).Woodsome. Graines Bar, Wheelwrights’ OBs, Mount St Mary’s, 609 Sqd Church Fenton (1956). Ralph Sutcliffe, an original from the 1952 starting date, recalls playing a Mount St Mary’s school, Sheffield, a private Jesuit school. Skipper John Bell suggested to the sports master that the Casuals would bowl sensibly. The master said to bowl normally, whereupon the Casuals attack was savaged. He also remembers meeting Len Hutton at RAF Lindholme where entertainment in the officers mess was much appreciated, certainly by David Hinchliffe. 609 Sqd was part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, originally flying bombers from Yeadon and then, during WW2, fighters. It moved to Church Fenton in 1951 and was disbanded in 1957, along with all auxiliary squadrons. The following are mentioned in the minutes as being dropped. Old Batleyians, Dacre Bank, Liverpool Rambers (1959). Almondbury Winchesters, Huddersfield Banks (1960). Denby Dale Piemen, Pateley Bridge, Birkby CYC (1964). Old Rishworthians, Skelamanthorpe, Ripley (1966).

The 1968 fixture list includes Mirfield Occasionals at Thurstonland, run by Squire Radcliffe who was in the noil and shoddy business and the YEB and Ben Rhydding. Presumably this reflected a connection with the Chairman –  M Hallas.

Tony Hirst has bags of memories. Lots of runs, wickets and new friends  at Tusmore. He scored a 50, dislocated a finger and had a great BBQ at Effingham, followed by a fixture with a W Indian team on the Sunday. Duncombe Park were too strong. Tony opened the batting once, facing the doctor’s teenage son who was seriously quick and 6’7″ tall (delivery well above the sight screen). Injured the year after so Tony got a 50. Bransdale farmers was real rural cricket, but what teas – David Hinchliffe remembers 7 left handers one year. Skipper and good result against Bishop Thornton one year who expected to win comfortably. Sam Gledhill and Tony Verity, who was also outstanding in the field, bowled them out. Whitkirk always had one or two from their First XI who made centuries, though he had a good partnership with Alan Priestley one year. The Casuals played one year there in torrential rain. Wealdstone was a good fixture with Ken Jagger’s astute captaincy. Bolton Abbey Casuals batted first and got 200  – Tony tried to lose the game by giving everyone a bowl, fortunately saved by long on who caught two enormous skiers (Gary Smith and Nigel Stephenson). Tony ran Rupert out once at Thongsbridge. Very proud of the Casuals performance against Italy – good and tidy. Sad to see Thoresby Hall deteriorate. Chatsworth – is there a finer setting? Ben Rhydding were tough. He got their star opener with an inswinging yorker one year (scattering the stumps) and then had the other opener dropped in the slips. always Harry Ramsden’s on the way home. Great achievement to win their limited mid-week overs competition, evening, two weeks running.

The fixtures have varied considerably. There are plenty of friendly teams out there, some very good and some weak. Some are strong one year and weak the next. I suspect it depends on how many league players are turning out for a social game. Not that league players are always a recipe for success. The Casuals have plenty of decent league players who can disappoint. Is it to do with playing on a Sunday? Is it the maturity of the players? Is it to do with there being nothing at stake on the result? Ultimately, cricket it is about individual attitude. Some people will not let go whatever the standard. League teams who put out a Sunday side often have one or two who do not give their wicket away, or who bowl full tilt. However, the teams that pick these characters do not play to win at all costs, though they beat The Casuals more often than not. Some years they struggle to fulfil the fixture if their first eleven is having a good cup run. Other years they give three or four colts an outing. Their standard is usually good to high, enough for some of The Casuals’ skippers to draft in the occasional ringer. Tough opposition can be stimulating and result in an above average performance. They can also be depressing.

For example, dreams of beating Caythorpe are embedded in the Casuals’ psyche. Those that played against them anyway. Rupert, who else, arranged it through the Derbyshire pool, a dating agency for cricket teams. It was my first game for The Casuals and I think it was also the first game of the 2001 season. I travelled down to Nottinghamshire with two strangers, Marc and Jim, in Jim’s motor. They talked about golf a lot and some dinner or other and I stopped listening. Caythorpe had two massive pitches, lots of wicket covers and a spanking new clubhouse. As we arrived, their Sunday team, total age no more than 220 years, was playing touch rugby on the outfield in front of the pavilion, which was not the same as the clubhouse. They won the toss and batted. We may have got two out, or even three, all catches. It didn’t matter, some other international or county player or first teamer would have come in next. The stock shot was a waltz to the pitch of the ball, followed by a timed bottom hand straight drive that scudded into the boundary hedgerows. Once or twice it bounced first. Their first team captain enjoyed playing the reverse sweep. We’d never seen it before. Their innings went on and on forever and out of sight.

I opened our innings with a ginger-haired lad who ran me out in the fourth over. Not a good thing to happen on debut and not much sympathy in the pavilion. Maybe they’d been expecting too much. Against tight medium pace, I’d been preoccupied getting my defensive shape as good as I could. ‘Get on with it Walker,’ a helpful remark from a bloke I found out later was called Rupert. Then a nice square drive for four and the run out. The ginger-haired lad got a fifty and I’ve not seen him since. Their quicks were replaced by Eddie Hemmings’ two sons and it was all over. Hemmings was an off-spinner for England, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Sussex. He retired playing in 1995 and coaching in 1998. Just our luck, he and his two spinning sons topped the Caythorpe bowling averages in 2001.

I went to the bar and had a few beers alone watching cricket on TV from Headingley and Bill finally brought me home. Who had organised such a mismatch, such a crushing defeat? I was told it was Rupert, and sure enough there he is in “The Book”, 2001 fixture secretary. Those who remember Caythorpe won’t want to be humiliated again. Perhaps more correctly, they want to give the opposition a good game.

The question of team numbers recurred in 2000. To retain the services of younger playing members, it was suggested to the committee that stronger sides be dropped and fixtures near home be preferred. A very huffy email from Rupert replied to this, ‘I have to say I found your note disappointing and regret the direction The Casuals now appear to be taking . . . If we are to become a club run for the benefit of the younger ones first and foremost, then I believe it represents a completely new philosophy, with which I cannot agree’. How prescient is that?




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