Cleckheaton clinch Bradford League title on day of twists and turns (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Cleckheaton clinch JCT600 Bradford League title on day of twists and turns
At long last . . . Cleckheaton with the JCT600 Bradford League Division One championship trophy. Picture: JCT600 Bradford League
Captain John Wood glowed with pride yesterday as Cleckheaton celebrated their first Division One championship triumph since joining the JCT600 Bradford League 37 years ago on a nervous final day full of twists and turns.
Winning the title is the culmination of almost a decade of hard work as captain of Cleckheaton for the former Lancashire and Durham player, who said: “I am absolutely delighted for the players, the club and myself. It has taken me nine years to get to this and I feel proud.”
Ironically, Cleckheaton won the championship despite losing in their final match at Woodlands - a club that had won the title six times in their previous eight seasons and were themselves challenging for a hat-trick of championships until they fell away in the second half of the campaign.
Cleckheaton’s task seemed to be simple with only four points needed, irrespective of what happened at Pudsey, but it didn’t work out like that as Woodlands made 202-4, with Simon Mason hitting six sixes and five fours in his 68 while Sam Frankland (34) and Grant Soames (33) also made useful contributions.
There was anxiety in the Cleckheaton camp when news came through that St Lawrence had recovered from 154-6 to earn maximum batting points, but they knew that if they could reach 150 they would earn the additional two points needed to claim the title.
However, even that modest target seemed some way off as they slipped to 55-3 before second-team captain Chris Dobson and opener Tim Jackson came to the rescue with a fourth-wicket stand of 67.
Dobson, who had reached the 1,000-run mark the previous weekend, made 37 while Jackson reached his own 1,000-run landmark during his innings of 67.
There was renewed anxiety as news emerged that Lightcliffe had slipped to 173-8 as Cleckheaton’s innings crawled along, and they were still ten runs short of their second batting point when it was confirmed that Lightcliffe had beaten St Lawrence by one wicket with two balls to spare.
That meant Cleckheaton had won the title and, with the pressure off, Richard Whitehurst hit 49 not out to take them to 185-5 and, although they lost by 17 runs, the celebrations could begin.
Wood said: “We were disappointed we only took four wickets in the Woodlands innings because we bowled really well. We needed 150 to get the extra two points, but as it happened Lightcliffe beat St Lawrence so it didn’t matter – we did what we wanted to do.”
St Lawrence, who needed a 20-point win to have a chance of winning the title, had an opening stand of 112 between skipper Mark Robertshaw (59) and Adam Waite (46). Then, after a middle-order collapse, James Smith (61no) and Steve Watts (27) guided them to 232-8.
Lightcliffe also made a good start with a stand of 86 between Charlie Roebuck (59) and Chris Taylor (42) before wicket-keeper Mark Horne (30no) and Mahmood Rasool (29) guided them home after they also collapsed in the middle of their innings.
Spinners Glenn Roberts (4-14) and Ed Walmsley (3-32) did the damage as Pudsey Congs won by ten wickets at Hanging Heaton after bowling them out for 103.
The Gill brothers, Mark 94 and Neil 63, were the mainstays of East Bierley’s 274-6 as they defeated beat Morley by 141 runs.
Bradford & Bingley edged home by two wickets against Manningham Mills in a low-scoring match at Wagon Lane, pacemen Jack Hartley (4-35) and Matthew Simpson (3-77) and spinner Harry Smallwood (3-5) dismissing the visitors for 140.
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