The 1990's


When Sir Lawrence Byford, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club president opened the impressive Sports Hall in 1991 the club was showing ambition way above their station. This development was followed by new dressing rooms and club facilities the envy of most in the area.

In 1992, feeling the need to improve their standard of cricket Woodlands applied to join the Bradford League along with Northowram but were rejected. However, they were accepted by the Central Yorkshire League in their centenary year of 1994.  

A satisfactory first season when they turned out a virtual Bradford Central side gave the club an appetite for further progress. The ten local lads who had mostly graduated from the junior ranks were supplemented by Woodlands' first overseas player Australian Len Blok. He would often bowl twenty five overs as well as bat high in the order. The mid-table position in the second division indicated healthy progress.

In 1995 former county bowler Stuart Fletcher was signed to lead the team. Fletcher played for Yorkshire from 1983 to 1991, before moving to Lancashire until 1994. A right arm medium pacer, Fletcher played in 114 first-class matches, 107 for Yorkshire and seven for Lancashire, taking 240 wickets at 34.89, with a best of 8 for 58 against Essex. In 132 one day games, he took 166 wickets at 29.06, with a best of 4-111 against Kent. He took 2 for 37 to help Yorkshire win the Benson and Hedges Cup final in 1987, against Nottinghamshire.

In Fletcher's second season promotion was achieved to the top division when they finished runners up behind Kings Cross. This represented significant progress for a club still using a hard core of Bradford Central League players. The fact that they consolidated comfortably in the top division in 1997 illustrated the influence Fletcher had on the team.

A notable cricketer in Woodlands' ranks in 1997 was opening bowler Naeem Khan who wasn't particularly quick but bowled straight. He figured fairly high in the League Bowling Averages taking 62 wickets at 14.23. Khan had three six wicket bowling performances with the 6-20 against Gildersome being the best. In June 1997 home product Jason Wharf scored 113 v New Farnley. 

For the start of the 1998 season Woodlands ambitions had grown once more and sights were set on further advancement, with the re-joining of the Bradford League the eventual goal. To this end Woodlands made their most significant signing when they recruited Tim Orrell from Saltaire to lead the campaign to achieve this aim. This would prove to be the best cricketing decision made in the history of Woodlands CC. He immediately brought discipline to the team and set the standards for further progress.

Orrell had many memorable innings in the Central Yorkshire League, and none better than his remarkable innings of 150 against Methley. He faced their South African fast bowler Mulligan George who was taking the League by storm, and he blasted him to every corner of Albert Terrace. It was always a case of the `faster they come' the faster they will go with Orrell, who's only Achilles heel with the bat was good class spin bowling. 

By 1999 Woodlands had engaged Indian opening batsman Nanda Kishore. In this first innings on English soil he had to bat on the greenest of wickets at New Farnley and hit a superb 57. The team was also strengthened by Richard Spittlehouse, Simon Wood and Nicky Rushworth from Saltaire.  

That season was the first indication that Woodlands were capable of going places when the club reached the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup, beating Hanging Heaton, Pudsey St Lawrence and Windhill on the way, only to be defeated in the final by Baildon. A further Saltaire capture was Brent Shackleton who provided some much needed aggression in the team with both bat and ball.

Woodlands last season in the Central Yorkshire League was complicated by the early return of Kishore to India for unexplained reasons. They struggled through the season with only Orrell and Rushworth's runs keeping them clear from the relegation positions.

The seven-year tenure in the Central Yorkshire League was an invaluable grounding for their future years in the Bradford League. The Heavy Woollen Cup run of 1999 had reassured the club that they could compete at the very top.

It's prudent to mention that it was the old Bradford Central League players who were responsible for the meteoric rise in stature for  Woodlands. Showing no sentiment for their old league they all contributed in committee to the club's cause namely, Gordon Rishman, David Wharf, Stuart Tordoff, Brian Pearson, Phil Godfrey and Wayne Richardson.

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