Pudsey Congs

Secretary: Wendi Fletcher
League Representative: Derrick Reason
1st Team Captain: Matthew Doidge
2nd Team Captain: Michael Oldfield

Joined League: 1987
Division One Champions: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Second Teams Division One Champions: 1989 1993 1996 2000
Second Teams Division Two Champions: 1988 1991 1992
Priestley Cup winners: 1994 2002 2004 2005 2007 2008
Priestley Cup runners-up: 1998
Priestley Shield winners: 1987 1989 1993


AS their name implies, Pudsey Congs originated from the local Congregational Church and the members are fiercely proud and committed to retaining the club’s traditional identity. Congs played its early cricket at a ground known as Long Close, which is about a quarter of a mile from the church itself.Their present ground was the home of the former Pudsey Britannia club, who were members of the Bradford League between 1912 and 1923. Their most famous player was England and Yorkshire opening batsman Herbert Sutcliffe.

Congs were established in 1892 and the journey to the Bradford League started as the club embarked on the search for a new challenge following the decline of the teams that were attached to local churches and chapels.

This prompted a move to the Dales Council League where they achieved considerable success playing at the re-named ground known as Queens Park. The ambitious club then moved into the more senior Leeds League as the next stage of their development and a positive decision to obtain a permanent home was made with the purchase of the Britannia Ground in 1977.

There is a photograph in the smart Pudsey Congs clubhouse of the ground, then a disused football field, as it looked in 1978. Its transformation has been nothing short of amazing.

Congs were elected to the Bradford League for the start of the 1987 season and have made a massive impact in the last 15 years although it has not been without its ups and downs -literally.

The club were promoted to the First Division in 1988, the same season as the second team won the Division Two championship. The second team also won the Division One championship the following season, but the first team were relegated in 1991. The second team won the Division Two championship again in 1991 and 1992, the season the first team also gained promotion back to the First Division.

As new boys in the league, Congs needed some established Bradford League players in the side and they turned to the experienced former East Bierley and Manningham Mills captain Phil Taylor to lead the side. Unfortunately, they were relegated back to Division Two under his captaincy in 1991, but he led them back to the First Division the following year and Congs won their first major trophy in 1994 under their new captain Colin Chapman. The side which defeated Yeadon by eight wickets in the Priestley Cup final included a promising young 15-year-old fast bowler who was just making his mark. His name was Matthew Hoggard who has since gone on to star for Yorkshire and England.

Yeadon’s score of 190 for six was insufficent as Congs swept to victory with an unbeaten half century from Chris Simpson who was duly named Man of the Match. The cup win was the climax of Chapman’s spell at the club. The popular Yorkshire second team wicketkeeper/batsman gave ten years service before moving to Baildon.

The late, former Yorkshire captain Phil Carrick then became skipper and he exerted an enormous influence on and off the field as Congs benefited from his vast experience. It was during his captaincy that the club successfully applied to the National Lottery for a grant to build new changing rooms adjoining the scoreboard and this released space in the clubhouse area for a new tea and function room.

Then, at the end of the 1998 season, Congs announced that they had signed experienced Farsley skipper Matthew Doidge as captain for the 1999 season to take over from Carrick, a clear signal of their ambitions to win the First Division championship.

Doidge was entrusted with the job of building a side to realise the club’s ambition. He decided to recruit a line up with proven Bradford League players, men like opener Andy Bethel and wicketkeeper Gary Brook from Spen Victoria, former Yorkshire batsman Neil Nicholson and left arm pace bowler Neil Gill from Windhill as well as bringing the talented Babar Butt back to the league after a spell with Doncaster Town in the Yorkshire League. They topped this off by engaging Azhar Abbas as their overseas player.

The mixture proved to be just right. In 2000, they pipped main rivals Bradford & Bingley on the last day of the season when the match ended in a one point draw after it was abandoned due to bad light. Despite the success changes were made to strengthen the side further. Fast bowler Naveed Rana-ul-Hassan was signed as the overseas player after impressing in a brief spell for Lidget Green while former Derbyshire left arm spinner Glen Roberts was recruited.

Hassan made a huge impression taking 67 wickets as Congs retained the championship by a comfortable 14-point margin from nearest challengers Baildon and Pudsey St Lawrence in 2001 and he was even more deadly as the club completed their much cherished hat-trick in 2002 when they also defeated Pudsey St Lawrence in the Priestley Cup Final and won the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy as well. Hassan claimed 79 league wickets to take his haul in two seasons to an impressive 146

Hassan, now an established Pakistan Test player, helped Congs to two more titles in 2003 and 2004 although his elevation to the international squad meant he missed much of the latter campaign. The 2004 season was a great one for the Congs. They also won the Priestley Cup by defeating Woodlands in the first final to be staged at their beautifully appointed ground and regained the Black Sheep Champions Trophy.

Having equalled Windhill’s record of five successive championships, Congs were determined to set a new record in 2005, but despite defeating Woodlands again in the Priestley Cup final and retaining their Black Sheep crown, Congs saw the title wrested from their grasp on the final day of the season. A rare batting collapse saw Congs lose at Baildon to surrender the championship to Woodlands who secured a nervy one-wicket win over relegated Bankfoot.

Congs have an impressive list of international cricketers who have played for them in their brief time in the Bradford League. They are especially proud of England and Yorkshire fast bowler, local boy Hoggard, who grew up at the club, before developing into an international cricketer.
The 2005 Test series between England and Pakistan featured three Congs old boys. Batsman Yousuf Youhana – or Mohammad Yousuf as he is now known since becoming a Muslim – and Naveed Rana-ul-Hassan lined up for Pakistan against Hoggard of England.

Indian batsman VVS Laxman, Yorkshire and England all-rounder Gavin Hamilton, Essex and England one-day international Paul Grayson, Yorkshire and England paceman Chris Silverwood and Nottinghamshire and England batsman Derek Randall are five more international players to have played for Congs. Laxman created a big impression in his one season at the club. He made 1,253 in 1996, the best haul ever for a Congs’ batsman.

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