Dave Edmundson shares his memories of the Yorkshire cricket clubs in the Ribblesdale Cricket League.
The wooden door in the corner of the ground was flung open and our AWOL team member scurried across the top of the slope, half carrying and dragging his cricket bag past the bemused clutch of spectators sitting along the white wall in the shade of the majestic oak tree.
“ Geez… where are we?”, came the plaintive cry from Pete Wall, our middle-order batsman.
“I don’t cum this far fer mi ollidays” as he disappeared into the red-roofed pavilion that nestles in the corner of Marshfield, the home of Settle Cricket Club.
Captaining Great Harwood Cricket Club
It was the mid-70s. I was the skipper of Great Harwood CC, and this was a Ribblesdale Senior League match between the two clubs.
The Ribblesdale League, so aptly named, as it straddles the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire and before the Local Government Act of 1972, there were a number of Roses clashes to savour every season.
I’d lost the toss that day. Settle decided to bat and we took the field with 10 Lancastrians and one Yorkie who fielded as sub for us until the dramatic arrival of our thoroughly dishevelled and disoriented latecomer onto the middle, 45 minutes after the start.
Memories get cloudy after more than 40 years since that day, I cannot recall the outcome of the game but what remains clear and sharp still now is the quite magnificent aspect of Marshfield.
Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of the grounds of the cricket clubs in the Ribblesdale League on the basis of scenery and pictorial attraction.
The Red Rose membership might question this assumption, offering up the grounds of Clitheroe, Salesbury or even Whalley CC where the first-ever Roses match was held.
For me, the White Rose enjoys supremacy with Marshfield as the undisputed No 1. Not far behind though is surely the romantically named Applegarth, the home of Earby Cricket Club.
There are many still in Earby who dispute the boundary that now places them as part of Lancashire.
Glen Chapple’s dad
It’s another ground with the fells overlooking the playing area opposite the pavilion. This is where Glen Chapple learnt his cricket but I remember his father Mick who was a destructive hitter and could spin the scoreboard around very quickly indeed.
I used to be the scorer for Great Harwood, and my Earby colleague pointed out the chipped tiles on the roof of one of the buildings in the corner of the ground. ‘Mick Chapple’s responsible for all those.’
Not dissimilar to Settle, Applegarth had a slope, this one right behind the bowler’s arm. Knowledgeable Yorkshire cricket spectators formed a Kop-like presence on the benches that gave you almost a grandstand view straight down the pitch.
Pithy comments, both constructive and critical, would be a constant presence. Great Harwood had a very decent quick bowler as professional, David Halliwell, who found it difficult to run full-pelt down that slope, no-balling with regularity.
Before graduating to the scorebox, I’d been taken by my father to cricket. Dad had played in the Fifties when Skipton was briefly a member of the Ribblesdale League.
Don Wilson playing for Settle
I can remember going to their ground and also recall Don Wilson coming to Gt Harwood to turn out for Settle.
I wasn’t aware of his Yorkshire CCC prowess then, but I do have a vivid picture of him striding towards the very dowdy and ramshackle pavilion at Cliffe Park almost god-like, shimmering in his Yorkshire blazer.
I made my 1 st X1 debut in Yorkshire at Rolls Royce CC, one of the two Barnoldswick cricket clubs in the senior Ribblesdale League. Not very auspiciously I might add. Aged 14, and asked to open the batting, I was lbw to Dick Lemon, third ball for 0.
Rolls Royce, like Skipton, only had a brief sojourn in the Ribblesdale League whereas Barnoldswick was the ‘town’ club, with excellent playing facilities at Victory Park.
Family cricketing dynasties
On that day at Settle when we were one man short, I’d be almost certain that my opposition skipper was Andrew Davidson. Like me, his father Malcolm, was a stalwart of the Club.
I note there is a Ben Mitchell on the Committee, surely a relative of the renowned master batsman of the 50s, Eric?
There are family trees of players across those Yorkshire clubs who played in many Ribblesdale Roses fixtures. The Scotherns at Barnoldswick, Chapples and Wears at Earby and of course the Davidsons and Mitchells at Settle.
Yorkies, one and all, a white rose heart on their sleeve, despite where the boundary mandarins drew their lines, travelling every two or three weeks into Lancashire for their cricket.
And yes, probably these days with the proliferation of airbnbs and self-catering cottages, Settle would be an ideal spot for a holiday and a relaxing pint watching the cricket at Marshfield.
Many Thanks to Dave for his vivid look back at the Ribblesdale Cricket League. Do you know anyone who has played in it over the years? Leave a comment below…
A note about the artwork image of Great Harwood Cricket Club. It was specially commissioned by a club member, local artist Colin Livesey.
Big fan of artwork of clubs, it looks the part and is unique to your HQ. Maybe Colin will do your club too.