|Secretary: Ian Holdsworth|
|League Representative: Ian Holdsworth|
|1st Team Captain: Arsalan Ijaz|
|2nd Team Captain: Jack Holland|
Division One Champions: 1911 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1948
Division Two Champions: 1956 1973 1992
Second Teams Division One Champions: 1913 1915 1934 1937 1963
Second Teams Division Two Champions: 1956 1975
Priestley Cup winners: 1907 1925
Priestley Cup runners-up: 1911 1914 1915 1938 1942
Priestley Shield winners: 1913 1939 1995
The present Windhill Cricket Club came into being in 1863, but competitive cricket was played in the area six years before. The first club was formed in 1857 and the first recorded match was between teams representing Dumb Mills and Perrys on Baildon Green. Windhill United CC was formed after this match. Some years later another club, Windhill Educational was established and used the field, later known as Denby’s field. There was great rivalry between the two teams until they amalgamated to form Windhill Cricket Club.
There were no league matches or competitions in the early days and most games were played for the possession of the ball, each team paying equal shares and the winner taking the prize.
At this time, subscriptions were twelve and a half pence a year, payable over five weeks and membership totalled 35. Despite a financially successful year in 1862, the club disbanded with 12 of the members taking 30p.
Windhill was not long without a club for, the following year a special meeting was held at the house of Mr Denby, Bull Inn, Shipley and it was decided to form a new club. In 1878 it was decided to lay 1,600 yards of ground, Windhill Recreation Ground. The work was entrusted to John Grundy, a subscription was started and raised £11.
The start of the club’s successes came in 1894 when they went to the top of the Airedale and Wharfedale League, but support was not good and they decided to apply to join the Bradford League in 1904 and made their first appearance in the league’s third season – 1905. An improvement followed and they averaged between £7 and £10 in takings.
Windhill made an immediate impact on the league, winning the Priestley Cup in 1907, beating Bankfoot in the final at Idle by 100 runs. After making 127, Windhill bowled out Bankfoot for a paltry 27 with F Halliday taking six for 14 and Cliff Keighley, four for 11. Keighley later formed a lethal bowling partnership with Cliff Elton.
The club also won the First Division championship in 1911, beating Idle in a play-off at Eccleshill by one wicket after the clubs had tied on points. Two years later, however, they missed out on the title in another play-off. Windhill went into the final match against Laisterdyke three points ahead of their opponents, but Laisterdyke won the championship, after winning the play-off. Bradford also beat Windhill in a Priestley Cup semi-final that season.
Keighley and Elton achieved some remarkable bowling figures. In 1913 the two bowlers finished first and second in the league bowling averages with Elton taking 72 wickets at 8.26 and Keighley captured 76 wickets, average 8.69. The 1913 season was also memorable for a superb feat by Keighley, who took six wickets for seven runs to help to dismiss Farsley for 16.
Elton performed the hat-trick four times in two seasons while Keighley became the first bowler to take all wickets in an innings he took ten for 36 in a Priestley Cup semi-final against Bingley in 1915. The match ended in a tie and, when Windhill reached 130 for six, rain caused the match to be abandoned. Windhill were declared the winners and so went into the final without actually winning the semi-final. However, their luck ran out in the final when Bowling Old Lane beat them by ten wickets after bowling them out for a mere 107.
The bowling exploits of Keighley and Elton continued in 1916. Elton took six for 12 when Tong Park were bowled out for 35 and Keighley took six for 14 when Saltaire were dismissed for 26 and he captured another six wickets when Windhill bowled out Pudsey Britannia for 30.
Elton left Windhill after the 1916 season, only to return in 1922, but the club signed one of the all-time great left arm slow bowlers, Charlie Parker or Chorley Porker, as he was affectionately known for the following campaign. Parker, who played at Windhill for one season only began his first class career with Gloucestershire in 1903 and when he retired in 1935 he had played in more than 600 first class matches and one Test. He took 61 wickets in league matches at an average of 9.96 and eight for 35 for a Bradford League side against a strong Yorkshire team. Windhill also boasted a notable opening batting partnership between Arthur Hyde and Jack Hardcastle at this time.
Windhill lost against Bradford by 35 runs in the 1924 semi-final despite a five for 41 haul by their new signing, the South African right arm leg break and googly bowler Bert Vogler, but they won the cup again the following year, beating Lidget Green by 41 runs thanks to eight for 70 by new signing Alf Morris, who had twice achieved eight wicket hauls in previous rounds. The following year Windhill moved to their present ground at Busy Lane, which they bought in 1923 after a bazaar raised £459.
Arthur Hyde’s nephew A S Hyde gave great service to the club as secretary for many years and he was the driving force behind the move to Busy Lane and received support from treasurer Fred Illingworth. Leading players of the 1930s included all-rounder Fred Berry, who later played county cricket with Surrey before Windhill embarked on their most successful era by winning five successive league championships, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941, a run of successes without precedent in the history of the league.
Leading figures of those early championship years included bowlers Squire Render and Johnnie Lawrence. Render, whose league career spanned 21 years, was a model of consistency while Leeds born Johnny Lawrence often bamboozled batsmen with his leg breaks and googlies. Lawrence, who was 23 when he joined Windhill in 1937, was trying to establish himself in the game at that time and he played in three consecutive championship seasons before joining Spen Victoria. After the war he played in 281 first class matches for Somerset and then became a highly acclaimed coach.
Render, whose cricket travels took him to Low Moor, Idle, Brighouse, Farsley, Spen Victoria, Pudsey St Lawrence and Bankfoot joined Windhill in 1934 and took 259 league wickets in five consecutive seasons at the club.
Then, in 1940, Windhill signed one of the all-time great all-rounders, the West Indian Learie Constantine. In his book, Cricket in the Sun, Constantine said his contract with Windhill was the best he had ever had and he did not disappoint the large crowds, who came to watch him play.
The following season, when Windhill won their fifth successive championship by one point from Idle, Constantine became only the second player in the league’s history to take four wickets in four balls- against Lidget Green.
Windhill did not have Constantine’s services again until 1945, but they startled more people in the league by signing the Derbyshire bowlers, Alf Pope and Bill Copson for the 1942 season. Their run of championship triumphs came to an end as they dropped to second place, but they reached the Priestley Cup final where they lost to Saltaire. The new signings did not disappoint. For, Pope, a hard-hitting batsman and fast medium or off break bowler had a batting average of 29.90 along with 52 wickets at 10.30 while Copson took 66 wickets at 8.42. Windhill also had a third Derbyshire player that season, batsman Dennis Smith and a Yorkshire man, who played for Worcestershire, Syd Buller, who became a respected umpire.
Windhill also finished second in 1943, when they signed yet another top class player, England and Kent batsman wicketkeeper Les Ames, who scored two 50s that season and four in 1944, but it was in 1945 that Ames produced his most memorable performance. He scored 102 not out from the Spen Victoria attack, equalling a league record set in 1942 by George Senior of Queensbury when he scored 100 in 45 minutes. Ames received good support from stalwarts, Ben Hipkin (85) and Albert Audsley (52) as Windhill reached 250 for two.
Constantine came back to the club in 1945, when Windhill also included George Dawkes, who played for Leicestershire before the war and 392 first class matches for Derbyshire after the war as well as being included on the 1949-50 tour of Pakistan.
Manny Martindale was the star of the 1946 season. He won the league bowling averages with 56 wickets at 9.80. Constantine took 50 and Audsley, 51 wickets in 1947 and both played a leading part as Windhill won back the championship in 1948 by two points from Great Horton. Both won the league averages, Audsley the batting with 52.66 while Constantine, the bowling with 45 wickets at 10.48. The memorable individual performance that season came in the Priestley Cup against Queensbury when Windhill scored 316, including 101 from Connie – eight sixes and ten fours and 28 in one over.
That proved to be Constantine’s last season at Busy Lane and his departure and of other star names from the 1940s heralded a long spell of lean seasons at Windhill. Constantine, who captained Windhill in his later years, played his last match for the club on September 11 against Keighley at Busy Lane, taking four wickets, including the last Keighley wicket in the final over of their innings. He also took one slip catch and scored 69 not out, hitting a four to win the match which gave Windhill the championship.
Windhill were relegated in 1951 and it took them five years to get back into the First Division thanks to the consistency of 25-year-old West Indian Calbert Minott, who took 65 wickets at 12.67. Promotion enabled the club to celebrate their centenary in Division One, but the season ended with relegation.
Personalities at this time included the Firth brothers, wicketkeeper Albert and batsman Gordon, whose elder brother Jack was Leicestershire wicketkeeper for many years, former Derbyshire batsman Arnold Hamer and bowler Eric Rollinson.
These were barren years, however, and Windhill were forced to apply for re-election in 1960. They made two more re-election applications in the 1960s and hit rock bottom in 1970 when the club were without a win in league and cup.
There was a brief revival in 1973 when new signing, all-rounder Tony Stilgoe led them to the Second Division championship. Stilgoe took 96 wickets at 9.81 and scored 495 runs at 32.50 while wicketkeeper Geoff Wilkinson captured 34 victims and won the league’s wicketkeeping trophy.
Once again the First Division proved to be too strong for Windhill and they were relegated in 1974 with only three wins. One of the few highlights of the 1980s was an outstanding season by Tony Clarkson, now a first class umpire. The former Yorkshire and Somerset batsman became the first Windhill player to top the 1,000 runs mark – he made 1,233 runs in 26 innings, including one century and 11 half-centuries, but he received little support and Windhill finished in mid-table.
Opening bowler Paul Wiseman was another stalwart at this time and Indian all-rounder Vijay Hariharan, who joined the club in 1986 also turned in some outstanding performances, including taking 61 wickets in his first season as well as averaging 31.79 with the bat.
Windhill’s fortunes took a turn for the better when they sold a corner of their ground for house building and invested the proceeds in team building and ground improvements. The strengthened team won the Second Division championship in 1992 and for the rest of the decade they were one of the best teams in the league.
Mark Paynter, grandson of Eddie, was captain and their leading players included the Gill brothers, Mark and Neil, Mark Bradford, Neil Nicholson and outstanding openers John Proud and Russell Evans. Proud scored 1,175 runs in 1995 when he also won the First Division averages.
Another outstanding overseas player was opening Indian batsman Amol Muzumder, who won the averages in 1998 and 2000, opening bowler Tony Martin from the West Indies and current New Zealand international batsman Lou Vincent also had a short spell at the club.
As they hit financial problems, the leading players gradually left and they were relegated at the end of the 2000 season and had to seek re-election the following season after operating with a predominantly young side. They were again forced to apply for re-election in 2005, but are hoping bright times are beckoning.