'We’ll remember those brave lads of Saltaire Cricket Club'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Some of the crowd at Saltaire Cricket Club in 1914 with volunteers ready to join up Some of the crowd at Saltaire Cricket Club in 1914 with volunteers ready to join up

The names of men who dug in at the crease for Saltaire Cricket Club then happily marched to the First World War trenches are wanted for a commemorative plaque to be made in their honour.

Thousands flocked to Roberts Park, Saltaire to join up and fight, as shown by Telegraph & Argus photographs from October 3, 1914.

And the image of smiling young men standing on the pitch prompted Saltaire Cricket Club to begin a search for names and details of its players who died – or survived – on foreign fields.

Groundsman Billy Ricketts found the photo in the the club’s extensive archive and said that had started the idea to create a plaque to be unveiled at a special First World War anniversary cricket match this summer.

“It’s part of the club’s heritage and also of Saltaire’s history too.

“All the lads who worked in Salts Mill eagerly signed up – you can see it in their faces.

“It was a massive recruitment rally and there must have been 10,000 there – the park was completely packed,” said Mr Ricketts, groundsman for 28 years.

“The club decided we would like to trace all those players who went to fight, those who died and those who made it through.

“And we would like people to get in touch by e-mail or phone with any details of their grandfathers or great grandfathers.

“Even if they’re not sure about the cricket, we have all of our scorebooks from that era so we can cross-reference any names that come forward.

“We would also like any old photos of members, either in uniform or during their playing days.”

The mass rally was addressed by Chief Liberal Whip Percy Illingworth who told the cheering crowd that the cause and war were totally justified and he was glad the people of Shipley would pledge themselves to the cause.

The then Shipley MP Will Crook drew laughter as he twisted his moustache in a parody of Germany’s Kaiser and confidently predicted victorious British troops would be in Berlin by the next June.

l Anyone with information about relatives can contact Mr Ricketts at Saltaire Cricket Club on 01274 531792 or e-mail at billy-the-whizz10@hotmail.com

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