Thornton Cricket have had an extraordinary year in the Halifax Cricket League by anyone’s standards.
They have now won the Premier Division for First XIs at a canter, claimed the Parish Cup at Copley against Illingworth St Mary’s and lifted the T20 Cup by defeating Oxenhope by eight wickets.
It’s an irresistible march to a clean sweep of trophies by their first eleven and incredibly, they went undefeated this season.
No-one has ever achieved the ‘Halifax League Treble’ after T20 was first contested in 2005.
Paul Whiteley, The League’s PR & Media Officer, told me: “Since the commencement of the League, in 1914, there have been 20 doubles of League and Parish Cup – Thornton’s will be the 21st. Mytholmroyd has 4 with Barkisland, Booth and Copley 3 each.”
By my reckoning, it’s a run of form that stretches back to when Copley beat Thornton at home by one run in the league on 20 August 2022.
PARISH CUP: Two quality sides in @IllingworthCC and @ThorntonCC and a fitting showpiece at @CopleyCC. Below, Thornton’s Grant Soames walks off after his 105. Gary Fellows was to offer his own batting masterclass later.— Cricket Yorkshire (@cricketyorks) August 17, 2023
Thoughts and match photos here: https://t.co/XoO1FI81bT pic.twitter.com/Vjz6tlYKmw
Their batting has been led by the muscular strokeplay of Josh Hutchinson who has dismantled many a bowling attack with 1,300+ runs across all formats in 2023. Grant Soames (784 runs, see tweet above) and Nikki Hutchinson (417 runs) have added further ballast.
With the ball, Ross Parr led from the front with his 66 wickets across all competitions, while Bradley Weatherhead (58) and Josh Hutchinson (44) provided additional support.
According to his captain Ross Soames (above), Hutchinson “has brought the fear factor…he can take a game away from you in a few overs.”
That’s certainly what happened against Mytholmroyd where Thornton recorded victory by 150 runs to win the league. They were teetering on 87-6 but 109 off 68 balls from Josh Hutchinson took the visitors to 231-9.
Mytholmroyd were then shot out for 81 with Ross Parr (3-26), Bradley Weatherhead (3-37), Greg Soames (2-6) and Dominic Anderson (2-4) getting it done.
Ross talked to me about a phenomenal season and a family-led motivation as his dad Keith passed away in March. With a Soames hat-trick in Thornton’s first team of Ross, Greg and Grant, there was extra fire in the belly to perform for family and club.
“This is the first year that me, Greg and Grant have played together…with my Dad passing away, it made it extra special.
We made it our mission (to win the league) really to do it for the club but also for us as well.”
Ross admitted he was surprised with how well the team has performed, although they’ve “been knocking on the door for a few years and we thought we’d be there or thereabouts.”
A piece of the puzzle has been the return of his brother Grant who was a successful all-rounder for New Farnley in the Bradford League: A key cog in lifting the Heavy Woollen Cup twice while he was at Lawns Lane.
Ross reckoned: “As a player, he’s been fantastic but it’s everything else he’s brought, his professionalism with training and warm-ups which we’ve lacked in the past.”
The majority of the Thornton squad have been playing together from juniors right the way through the club so they know each other very well.
As mates, it’s kept them as a unit where a few players must have been offered money to move to other clubs in the last few years, not least Josh Hutchinson, who would do well in the Bradford League.
That interest in their players will only intensify after the treble but that’s for another day.
League history has been made and it caps an unforgettable year for the village club that sits on high to the West of Bradford with three adult sides and five junior squads.
The fact that their 1st XI went undefeated in all forms of cricket in 2023 was quite something.
It was confirmed after a crushing 10-wicket win at Bradshaw who were bowled out for 94, courtesy of 6-34 from Ross Parr and 3-29 from Dominic Anderson. Grants Soames’ 61 not off 50 balls led the rout, alongside Jordan Croft (30 not out).
Thanks to research by David Normanton, ENCO Halifax Cricket League President, we know Thornton have joined Copley as the only other club to go unbeaten since 1970. Copley did it twice: in 2003, captained by Richard Thorpe, and in 2004 when Chris Goulding was skipper.
After winning the Halifax League title, Ross told me: “I don’t want to count any chickens but it would be massive to win every game. It would be a great achievement if we can do it. I don’t think it’ll be happening again any time soon! It would be unbelievable.”
Congratulations to Thornton first eleven on ending the 2023 season as undefeated treble winners.
That really is quite something…
📷 Thanks to Mike Britland for his photos.