The red brick frontage of Albion Mills on Church Street in Morley, with its bright blue doors, felt like Dr Who’s TARDIS with the chance to step into another world.
Greeted by Jennifer, part of the Varley family hat-trick along with husband John and son David, M-Jay Electronics Ltd have been at Albion Mills over 40 years.
That electronics expertise came into sharp focus when their local cricket club where John played, Drighlington, needed a scoreboard and the idea formed to offer a cost-effective, weather-proof solution.
Bespoke Scoreboards was born in 2009 and they have sold custom designs, as well as spare parts, upgrades and repairs to 425+ cricket clubs since, providing hundreds of scoreboards across the country.
Inside is a living, breathing example of a company who makes stuff.
It is packed with scoreboards, wireless controllers and circuit boards. A guy is soldering with a look of concentration etched across his face while a large solar-powered scoreboard used for testing is wall-mounted behind him.
Bespoke Scoreboards do something pretty remarkable. For 15 years, they have combined their know-how of cricket with all things electrical.
It is very rare to find a supplier that does both the electronics and the scoreboard integration or build. The advantage of this for clubs is huge. You know that it’ll work and if for any reason you need help, this Yorkshire company made it from scratch.
I sit down with David Varley who talks me through the options that scorers and cricket clubs have for scoreboards, why they can go the extra mile and how the ECB’s scoring technology connects to their products.
I have seen many of their control panels designed and made by the West Yorkshire firm for schools and clubs. They look like a silver and black suitcase Tom Cruise might carry in a Mission Impossible film.
(If he had just seconds to calculate the number of extras in a game before the end of the world.)
The beauty of these is their utter reliability based on the fact that David (or a colleague) has made both the control panel as well as the scoreboard it works with.
Scorers seem to like the chunky buttons and the illuminated clarity at a glance of the scores to compare with their paper scorebook, laptop or phone.
They have been a popular choice for years and work by sending out a radio signal to the scoreboard so no reliance on broadband.
That said, many scorers (particularly in Premier Leagues) like to score a game electronically on a laptop using the ECB’s Play Cricket Scorer Pro software.
For this, there is a Play Cricket Scorer Pro Interface (a clever box of tricks with an aerial that acts as the bridge between the scoreboard and laptop).
For those who like to score on their phone (increasingly popular with younger scorers, juniors roped in or parents), David shows me how that works. You sign into the free Play–Cricket Scorer app and connect via Bluetooth (very surprised only one manufacturer is listed FSL, and not Bespoke Scoreboards).
The word ‘bespoke’ comes across loud and clear over several hours as we discuss how they work and think. After all, no two clubs are entirely the same with what they need. Variables might include the size and position of the scoreboard, distance from the scorer to the scoreboard, position of the sun or size of digits, to name a few.
If your club is thinking about an upgrade, Contact David and the team for a site visit (where possible) to chat with committee members and scorers about what works best.
Bespoke Scoreboards do the whole job from start to finish and that includes working out how to integrate a scoreboard into an existing structure, whether it’s a shed, concrete building or anything else.
Assessing prices: Think long-term
It is easy to look at price as the defining reason to choose a cricket scoreboard and obviously, your club wants a good deal. That’s human nature.
All I say is that I’ve learnt how a scoreboard is more complex than you might think, both in terms of the quality of the electronics and the fact that it is fitted on-site.
We spent time reviewing photos and discussing club installs in Yorkshire and each came with its unique challenges, happily overcome by Bespoke Scoreboards.
They place a real emphasis on knowing clubs over the years and the importance of customer service.
Clubs like New Farnley, Addingham, Tong Park Esholt, Darley, Bingley Congs, Morley, Goldsborough, Ilkley, Ouseburn, Bowling Old Lane and Bradford & Bingley are examples of adapting scoreboards for DLS, replacing digits, the whole fascia being upgraded or moving and building a new scoreboard in a new location.
Speaking of DLS, many clubs are moving towards showing this on their scoreboards and this can be adapted.
In 2020, New Farnley moved their scoreboard to become part of the new changing rooms and it got a major redesign with larger digits and a lot more information, including DLS revised target and DLS par.
From small wireless scoreboards to repeater scoreboards and wireless control panels to scoreboard trolleys, they do it all. No job is too big or small.
Equally, if a club is keen on doing the work themselves, they can buy the parts.
Trusted by lots and lots of clubs nationwide, why not email [email protected] for a chat, site visit and a quote?
As for longevity, David told me: “We pride ourselves on building scoreboards that are made to last. I’d be disappointed if our products aren’t going strong after a decade or longer.”
Some scoreboards will work fine for many more years than that and just need an occasional service to repair natural wear and tear.
As I left, Jennifer showed me a mini scoreboard that doubled as a desk tidy (the very same I had shared in a gift guide one Christmas).
John is planning on installing lights in it as a pet project which made me smile. I had just photographed his desk, a shrine to electronics with a circuit board positioned under a magnifying glass and parts everywhere like a mountain of Lego.
I left hoping that more clubs visit Morley or get in touch to see for themselves the family who know their LED lights, transmitters, radio frequencies and club cricket inside out.
They know their amps and their umps, you might say.
Contact Bespoke Scoreboards
Whatever the budget and however complicated the build, it’s worth getting in touch with David Varley to have a conversation.
You can call them on 0113 252 5582 or email [email protected] to explore what’s possible.
Want to do your own research online?
⚡A-Z of Clubs who chose a Bespoke Scoreboard
This is a sponsored article on behalf of Bespoke Scoreboards – if the mood takes you, click to read Cricket Yorkshire’s policy on sponsored content.
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