UPPER AIREDALE JUNIOR CRICKET ASSOCIATION HISTORY SINCE 1947

A brief history of the development of junior cricket across the Skipton, Craven, Keighley and East Lancashire conurbation.
In the pre-Second World War era most cricket for young people was organised by schools. But there was to be a steady decline in the focus given to cricket by schools and soon community cricket clubs began to band together to set up a stream of youngsters to provide continuity for themselves.
President Mr H Merrall and Chairman Mr J Earnshaw of The West Bradford Cricket League and their colleagues constituted a first ever Junior Cricket League in 1947 aimed specifically at attracting to clubs junior players under the age of seventeen. That historic first season of junior cricket embraced seven clubs: Crossflatts, Cullingworth, Denholme, Haworth Methodists, Haworth Baptists, Morton Banks and Oxenhope. Records show that the first League Champions were Cullingworth under the Captaincy of E Cobb. That season  for the Champions W Derrick took 8 for 7 to dismiss Crossflatts whilst F S Holmes of Oxenhope scored 80 not out against Denholme for his Oxenhope team, going on to record the first century in 1949 also against Denholme. The picture above is of the 1949 West Bradford Junior League Champions Oakworth, who markedly reversed their fortunes after not winning a match in their inaugural league season of 1948.
The Upper Airedale Junior Cricket League was the brainchild of a number of far-sighted cricket people from the Skipton and Craven areas in 1954. Four clubs formed the league with matches instituted on Monday evenings, remaining so to this day. Those original members are believed to have been Steeton, Silsden , Sutton and Glusburn. The Championship Trophy was originally named the Junior Challenge Cup and was won by the Sutton-in-Craven club, who went on to also take the Championship in 1956 and 1958. The most successful period was enjoyed by Steeton CC who captured the title four times in a row between 1962 and 1965.
Throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies the two junior leagues provided cricket for the youth of the area and in many years inter-League representative matches were held.

A further innovation took place when the West Bradford Junior League opted to introduce Cup cricket in 1958. The first Cup Final was held on Thursday July 10th 1958 at the Wide Lane ground of the Oakworth club. Batting first Oakworth made a modest 62 for 8 but which nevertheless proved too many for opponents Cullingworth who mustered just 46. Oaks Captain (pictured with Cup) was their current President Mr Wilfrid Scarborough. UAJCL Vice Chairman Jeff Hobson is pictured second from the left in the back row. In fact the following year the same two clubs again contested the Final at Oakworth with a repeat of the win for Oakworth.

 

In 1967 an Under 15s section was created by the Upper Airedale Junior League , playing on Wednesday evenings.  This time Glusburn CC were the first winners. The first nine years produced different Champions each year until Glusburn completed the first hat trick of titles in 1976-78, a record which was equalled and then surpassed by Oxenhope in 2005.  A knock-out Cup competition was later instituted in 1982 and the trophy was named after Mr Raleigh Hargreaves from the Embsay club, a founder member of the League & past President of the Craven & District League. Airedale were the first winners. So successful was the Cup competition that after 30 years of Upper Airedale u-17 League fixtures, The William Spencer Cup for under-17s first saw the light of day in 1984. It was often referred to as Under 18s but only in the context of the current year. It's first winners were Skipton CI. Mr William Spencer was the original Secretary of the UAJCL.

By 1979 it was clear that the younger players in the Keighley Area were also clamouring to play and the under-17 age-group had no further 'vacancies', so the West Bradford Junior Cricket League instituted an under 14s age-group, ironically the year after the collapse of it's parent, the senior West Bradford League and in the same season as the resultant enlargement of the Craven and District League.

The picture (left) is of an early Earby junior team. Recognise anyone?

Poor administration and growing apathy came to a head in 1994 and sadly the by now Keighley-centred West Bradford Junior Cricket League collapsed.  Club junior teams dispersed to either the Upper Airedale Junior Cricket League, The Bradford Junior Cricket League or the Bradford Central Junior Cricket League. The influx of new clubs to the Upper Airedale Junior Cricket League brought the number of clubs to 15 with entries from Haworth, Long Lee, Ingrow St Johns and Airedale following 1992 membership for Oakworth.
  • 2000 By the Millennium many leagues were considering taking junior cricket opportunity still further down the age-range and an Under 12s friendly-matches only programme was created by UAJCL, playing under the 'Gordon Bower' rules. No Championships or trophies were calculated or awarded.
  • 2001 The League changed approach the following year and re-constituted the Under 12s to an Under 13s properly defined League competition. 5 teams took part in matches on Sunday mornings and the competition was won by the Upper Wharfedale club. The Cup competition was renamed as The John Hindle Cup, in memory of one of UAJCL former Presidents and a well-known Cowling stalwart.
  • 2002 Only one further year on UAJCL took the yet bolder step of introducing Under 11s cricket. Oakworth swept all before them to win the first 'tiny tots' league whilst Settle overcame the new Champions in a cracking Cup Final at Wide Lane.
  • 2003 A preliminary form of Registration was introduced and an innovation with "double header" Cup Finals. The u-11s and u-15s shared the picturesque Cracoe ground for their respective Cup Finals whilst the u-13s and u-17s combined at Gargrave. Both days proved successful and the league has adopted the format for future years.
  • 2004 UAJCL celebrated its 50th anniversary, sadly a milestone not reached by the West Bradford Junior Cricket League (1947-1993). A commemorative match was played at Bradley CC between the President's and Chairman's XIs, both selected from the finest under-17 players in the district. For match report CLICK HERE UAJCL executive produced a document entitled 'Creating Cricketers for Life' as a vehicle for future development of UAJCL. This was unanimously approved by the membership.
  • 2005 full registration was implemented and the under-11s Cup was re-named the Barritt-Stephenson Cup after two long serving current life members of UAJCL, Mr Tom Barritt and Mr Hugh Stephenson, both past Chairmen of UAJCL.
  • 2006 was the year UAJCL embarked on under-9s cricket with an August mini-tournament for 6 clubs. An under-12s 'Test' team was introduced and they played two matches against neighbours, the Airedale Junior Cricket League. Community relations were further enhanced with the creation of the Malsis Cup for under 13s, a six-a-side competition at the School. The Annual Presentation Night was for the first time held jointly with the Craven & District Junior Cricket Association.
  • 2008 sees for the first time 2 Divisions at all the four principal age groups. The Malsis Cup was extended to full Festival status for u9s u11s and u13s. The Presentation Night was switched to the Malham Suite at Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton; to accommodate increased attendance.
  • 2009 was the year UAJCL adopted the ECB Play-Cricket system for Registration and Results collection putting the League amongst the foremost in the country.
  • 2010 had new members in Bradford & Bingley and a return after just one year, Bolton Abbey. For the first time a player, Andrew Wear (Denholme) claimed two Player of the Year awards in the same year, the under-17 and under-15 awards.
  • 2011 Converted to an Association embracing Representative cricket. UAJCA had a new entry from Sandy Lane and a return entry from Crossflatts, both at under-15. The u-17 Joe Lumb team narrowly miss qualification for the Finals, winning matches against East Yorkshire & Leeds. A new girls team was founded as the Aire Valley Angels playing at Steeton. A 10-week Road-show coaching event was undertaken with support from the Charitable Youth Trust and the Schools Sports Partnership.
  • 2012 Application from Great Horton Church CC to join UAJCA. Aire Valley Angels take part in u-11 League. UAJCA introduced u-10 Test Team to compete in the K3 Dental Yorkshire-wide competition
  • 2013 UAJCA agrees partnership with YCB & Pro Coach Academy to deliver a Winter Pathways Development Centre [Jan-March]
  • 2014 Support from new over-arching Sponsor in Healthcare.co.uk Coaching strategy approved at AGM. Commitment to Play-Cricket data requirements confirmed. J Holderness appointed as Coaching support Officer.
  • 2015 2nd Elite Academy Course. Pre-season selection indoor trials at South Craven Centre. Expansion of under-9s competition to 13 teams. Yorkshire CCC Chief Exec Mark Arthur attends Presentation Night.
  • 2016 League start and finish dates amended. Age-group fixture dates revised. Restructured into Conferences with Merit League 2nd phase. Introduction of Under-9s Pairs Cup. Introduction of fixed dates for Cup rounds on Mondays. UAJCA 6-aside Festival features team from Lincolnshire. UAJCA u11s play Cumbria and reach first ever Taverners Final.
  • 2017 Structure amended to free up more Sundays for representatve cricket. Festival includes 3 guests teams; First Cricket [Louth], Bilton [Aire-Wharfe] and Lowerhouse [Ribblesdale].

Current membership is, Bradford & Bingley, Bradley, Cononley, Crossflatts, Cullingworth, Denholme, Earby, Embsay, Gt Horton Church, Oakworth, Oxenhope, Riddlesden, Settle, Silsden, Skipton, Steeton, Sutton, Upper Wharfedale & Wilsden.