RIDDLESDEN secretary Mark Bailey has admitted that he did not expect his team to win Division One of the Mewies Solicitors Craven League this season.

Speaking at the league’s annual dinner at Bradford & Bingley Sports Club, he confessed: “We didn’t expect to win it. We expected to come third. We expected Gargrave to win it and Haworth to come second.”

But Riddlesden’s triumph, by an emphatic 47 points over runners-up Gargrave, sealed a remarkable treble as they have now won Divisions Three, Two and One in successive seasons.

The Grange Road club took Division Two by a colossal 87 points in 2022, with Eldwick & Gilstead as runners-up, while, under the old points system, Riddlesden lifted the Division Three crown by 12 points from Embsay II in 2021.

Bailey added: “We got the core of the team in the winter before we won Division Three, and since then we have tweaked it.

“We have a team that hits the ball very hard, we score a lot of runs and then bowl the opposition out before they reach that target.”

But winning Division One was not Riddlesden’s only silverware in 2023 as they also won the Manorlands Plate – the league’s Hundred competition that raises money for the hospice in Oxenhope.

Bailey said: “The lads leapt at the chance to play in the Manorlands Plate because it was a Hundred competition, and coming so close the previous year, reaching the final, just spurred them on for this year, so they went that extra mile.

“In the other competitions, apart from the league, the lads just went out and enjoyed themselves.”

However, in the Wynn Cup, where they lost to Long Lee and Hepworth & Idle, Riddlesden failed to get out of their group.

Bailey explained: “In the Wynn Cup, we just had bad days, but that is how we approach the game, reckoning that, with so many aggressive batters, someone will always come off.”

As for the winter and 2024, Bailey said: “The winter holds digging drains and all of the usual maintenance that goes on, and next season let us see if we can win back-to-back league titles.”

With Riddlesden having so many players who contribute, they did not win any of the league’s individual awards.

Among the winners was Matthew Sharp, who scooped one of the most sought-after awards at the annual dinner.

The Eldwick & Gilstead player was named all-rounder of the season in Division One, picking up the Frank Surgener Trophy.

Sharp scored 356 runs at an average of 29.67, with a highest score of 63, and took 42 wickets for 420 runs at an average of 10.00, with best figures of 5-19.

Hepworth & Idle’s Daniel Moore won the equivalent Division Four award.

He scored 190 runs at an average of 21.11, with a top score of 51, and 24 wickets for 256 runs, with a best of 6-11 to pick up the Treasurer’s Trophy.

Elsewhere, Jamie Rowell (Haworth) and Danish Hameed (Cowling), for Division One’s leading batter and bowler respectively, while Matthew Lloyd (Glusburn) took the Division Two batting award.

Andrew Starkey (Cononley) lifted the equivalent Division Three award, while Craig Thornton (Sutton II) and Hussnain Ali (Denholme II) were the leading batter and bowler respectively in Division Four.

Ingrow’s Ben Weatherall scored most runs (651) to take the Hargreaves Batting Trophy, while Irfan Khaliq (Glusburn) took the most wickets (69) to lift the Garbutt Bowling Trophy.

Tom Greenwood (Silsden) was the leading gloveman with 22 victims (21 caught, one stumped) to take the Fryers Wicket-Keeping Trophy, while Lloyd took the Mewies Fielding Trophy with 16 victims (14 catches and two run-outs).

Dan Jones (Silsden II) won the Mark Batty Trophy with 11 victims (10 catches and a run-out), while Bradley’s Toby Meynell was a double award-winner, receiving both the Norman Smith Merit Trophy and the FS Trueman Ball Trophy as the leading Under-21 player with bat and ball.

Haworth’s Thomas Rowell won the Harold Blackburn Trophy as the leading U18 player, while TJ Berry (Silsden II) took the Don Green Trophy as the runner-up.

Khaliq was named as the leading all-rounder in Division Two, taking the Derek Granger Memorial Trophy, while Tahir Mehmood (Keighley III) took the Secretary’s Trophy for the equivalent Division Three award.