|Secretary: Ian Fearnley|
|League Representative: Robert Speight|
|1st Team Captain: John Wood|
|2nd Team Captain: Russell Noble|
Joined League: 1976
Division Two Champions: 1983 1994 1998
Second Teams Division Two Champions: 2007
Priestley Cup Runners Up: 2007
Priestley Shiled Runners up: 2008
Since their formation in 1864 as Hunsworth Mills, the club has had little success apart from Heavy Woollen Cup wins in 1939, 1959 and 1960. They share their Moorend ground with rugby union and bowls sections and in 1972 all three merged to form one club.
The success of staging two Heavy Woollen Cup finals in 1972 and 1973, the introduction of a junior section and the desire to play at a higher standard inspired the club’s application in 1975 to join the Bradford League.
The first game was against Windhill on April 24,1976 and they got off to a flying start. Windhill were dismissed for 37 as Seb Grose wreaked havoc with six for 16. From that point it was downhill and the club spent the season vying for bottom spot.
There were individual highlights though. Keith Stanley had the distinction of scoring their first century when he made 121 not out against Hartshead Moor while Grose captured 69 wickets at an average of just over 15 runs each.
The ignominy of the first season in the league brought home to the club that the team was in urgent need of strengthening and the decision was made to introduce an overseas player. The start of the 1977 saw Indian batsman Rahul Mankad recruited. He stayed for four seasons. In those years he scored over 3,000 runs which included an aggregate of 1,251 in 1978 – a Bradford League record that was to last for 15 years before being beaten in 1993 by Farsley’s Russell Evans.
In 1979 Rahul helped the club achieve promotion to the First Division. In common with most sides Cleckheaton only managed to stay for two years in the top flight. Mankad was followed at Cleckheaton by Yajuvindra Singh and Suru Nayak, who were to later become Indian Test players. Mohan Raj was another player recruit who helped boost the club’s fortunes.
One of the players who did much to ensure that Cleckheaton overcame their early problems after joining the league was Russell Hutchinson. He was small in stature but very big in heart. He captained the side in the 1970s and took Cleckheaton into the First Division in 1979. When he eventually handed over the reins he was replaced by former England opener Brian Bolus who was recruited from Brighouse. The new man had a tough time and his side were relegated in 1981.
The task of guiding the side back into the top flight was entrusted with Bob Clark and the goal was duly achieved in 1983 with a side which included a promising young batsman called Chris Pickles. He led Cleckheaton to the Second Division Championship in 1983 and Pickles, who after returning to the club in 1998 as captain took them once more into the First Division as champions, made his mark.
Between these two successes, Chris Fisk had regained top division status in 1994 with a side boosted by the pace bowling of Indian Test player Aby Kurruvilla. The 1998 Division Two championship season will long be remembered. All the side performed magnificently with skipper Pickles scoring 1,423 runs Carl Sharp (915) and Paul Winrow (748). In addition four bowlers, Adam Swallow, James Stansfield, Winrow and Andy Yates finished in the top half of the league averages. In the same season the second team were beaten in the cup final and also broke the league record for the most runs in an innings by scoring 427 against Ben Rhydding.
The 1999 season was a struggle from the off and the highlight was undoubtedly Pickles’s achievement in scoring 1,000 runs for the fifth time in his career. His performance and the bowling of Kanwaljeet Singh were the main reasons why the club maintained First Division status.
Cleckheaton made a number of significant signings for the 2000 campaign, their 25th in the league. Wicketkeeper/batsman Mark Gill was recruited from Windhill while former Yorkshire and Warwickshire spinner Paul Booth was signed from Huddersfield League side Meltham. The signings certainly paid off as the team finished third, their highest ever finish in Division One.
Increased work commitments saw Pickles give up the captaincy in 2001 with Booth taking over. The team slipped back to tenth place and with Booth returning to Meltham, former Lancashire and Derbyshire batsman Steve Titchard was the captain when the team took the field for the 2002 season.
Injury problems resulted in the team slumping to the bottom in the early stages of the season but they recovered well to finish tenth again with openers Richard Pyrah and Mark Gill both topping 700 runs and young spinner Chris Brice performing well. Gill also performed well behind the stumps and is the latest stumper to serve the club well. David Legood was first choice until 1979 before handing over to Dave Hallett who achieved a Bradford League record five stumpings in a match in 1980. Greg Hutchinson joined in 1988 and stayed until 1991 during which time he twice collected the league’s wicket-keeping trophy. In 1993 Jake Jeffrey won the David Bairstow Golden Gloves trophy and topped the Division Two keeping charts the following year.
During the 80’s and early 90’s the club were short of top class batsmen but the likes of Trevor Gill, John Tiffany, Simon Horkin, Ian Gatenby and Martyn and Richard Evans made significant contributions. Nobody had a more successful start than Martin South who scored three successive centuries during the 1993 season – his first with the club.
On the bowling front, Ian Leng, Ralph Emsley, Andy Baxter, Allan Stansfield and David Lee saw the club through the early 1980’s and finally to promotion in 1983. Kevin Tighe joined in 1984 in the First Division and stayed until 1989. He rejoined in 1992 for a taste of the same medicine and in this spell he formed a formidable new ball attack with Jamie Robinson in Division Two.
Adam Swallow is another bowler to give good service although a back injury has seriously restricted his appearances in the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Cleckheaton showed great character in pulling themselves off the bottom of the table following their troubled start in 2002 and avoided relegation.
In 2003 they made an inspirational signing when they secured the services of former Lancashire and England one-day all-rounder Ian Austin as captain. It was an inspired decision and under his leadership youngsters such as Andrew Gale and Adam Patel blossomed.
Austin proved to be an outstanding leader. He won the the Bradford League all rounders trophy in both 2003 and 2004 and topped 1,000 runs in his second season. His performances attracted considerable attention and resulted in him being recruited by Lancashire league side St Anne’s as their cricket manager for 2005.
Once again Cleckheaton went for a former Lancashire player as their new captain. This time they turned to pace bowler John Wood who had been released by the Red Rose county in 2004. Wood had extensive Bradford League experience having played for Spen Victoria for many seasons and in his first year at the helm he guided them to fifth place.