THE Spenser Wilson Halifax League annual meeting at Pellon Social Club began on a sombre note with news that former league secretary Leyland Smith - one of the most prominent sporting figures in the Halifax area - had died aged 77.

A league vice-president, Leyland, who had been ill for several months, was league secretary from 1989-2008 and was also an umpire in the league and a stalwart of Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.

Leyland joined them in the early 1960s as a medium-pace bowler and was a regular first-teamer from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, then playing for their second team and Sunday team until 2000.

His raucous appeals for leg before were legendary, despite him being a true gentleman, and he regarded his eight-wicket haul for Bridge against a strong Heckmondwike team in the Central Yorkshire League in the 1970s as one of his finest achievements.

Leyland became club secretary in the 1980s and he was also club president for many years and umpired in the Halifax League up to the end of the 2018 season.

Cricket was not his only sporting passion, however.

There was also table tennis and tennis.

A long-standing member of Sowerby Tennis & Bowling Club, Leyland was also a member of Halifax Queens Sports Club for many years, not only representing them in the Yorkshire League but also refereeing their annual tennis tournament, which attracted players from all over the world - including Ian Goolagong, brother of former Wimbledon champion Evonne.

A true Christian, Leyland also had a strong connection with All Saints Church, Halifax, for many years, where he was an active member and lay preacher.

He loved singing and was a member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, as well as being a member of the Halifax Wine Circle and working with the Bearders Trust charity.

In his professional life he was deputy head at West Vale School and went on to be head of Siddal Junior School for over 20 years, after which he served as head of governors at All Saints School, Halifax,

A proud man of Halifax, he followed Halifax Town for many years and leaves his wife Joan, daughters Judith and Susan and grandson Luke.

* Augustinians and Bradley & Colnebridge were both re-elected by 29 votes to one at the league's annual meeting.

There were no increases in subscriptions, the league officials were re-elected en bloc and the ball contract with Readers has been renewed.

Honley (Huddersfield League), Jer Lane (Bradford League) and Low Moor Holy Trinity (Halifax League) have all applied to put teams into the Halifax Sunday League.

Refresher courses for umpires, which is free of charge, will be held at Pellon Social Club on Thursdays March 12, 19 and 26.