Cleckheaton skipper John Wood would like to win the Bradford League championship again next year, but not leave it to the final day.

Wood, who enjoyed a 14-year first-class career with Durham and Lancashire, took over as Cleckheaton captain from fellow Lancashire all-rounder player Ian Austin in 2005, the season after he was released by Lancashire.

On Saturday he gained his rewards by lifting the First Division championship trophy, the first time Cleckheaton have won the Division One title since they joined the league in 1976.

As he savoured the triumph, Wood said: “It has taken me nine years to get to this and I am absolutely delighted for the players, the club and myself. I feel very proud.

“This means everything to me. I have enjoyed playing in the Bradford League more than I enjoyed my time in first-class cricket.

“I love playing with this team and I am delighted for Cleckheaton because it is a great club.”

Cleckheaton, who missed out on the title on a dramatic final day last season, made sure this time by finishing 13 points clear of St Lawrence after a tense final day.

They also had the satisfaction of earning more batting and bowling points than any other club in the division.

Wood paid a special tribute to opener Tim Jackson, who passed 1,000 runs for the season during his innings of 67 at Woodlands on Saturday, saying: “Tim has had a magnificent season with the bat which has made a big difference.

"I am really pleased with how we have performed and really pleased for the club and I am looking forward to doing it again next year but not leaving it to the last game.”

Wood, who plays alongside his brother Ian, said: “We have good people at the club who put in a lot of time so it is nice to see them rewarded and see their work come to fruition.

“It isn’t easy raising money to put cricket on and we have people who work really hard.”

LIke all Bradford League clubs Cleckheaton are already planning for next season and are preparing to sign an opening batsman and are looking for a new spin bowler to replace overseas all-rounder Ammar Mahmood, who is not being re-engaged while Joe Robinson is leaving the club to have a year off cricket.

Cleckheaton enjoy close links with Yorkshire through their captain Andrew Gale, who is still registered with the club and scored a half century on his only appearance this season, and bowler Iain Wardlaw, who plays for Cleckheaton whenever his commitments with Yorkshire and Scotland allow.

Gale, who spoke in glowing terms of the club before Saturday’s match, watched the game at Woodlands with his Yorkshire team-mate, the England all-rounder Tim Bresnan, while Wardlaw, who was in Belfast for Scotland’s two matches against Ireland, kept in touch with the game through the Bradford League website and was on the phone to offer his congratulations.

Wood said: “Iain played for Scotland against the Australians at Edinburgh last week but delayed his journey so he could play for us. Not many players would do that, but he is a an absolute clubman through and through.”