The last few years


After 2008 there was a definite decline in playing standards at Woodlands. From title winners in 2008 to sixth position in 2009, and fifth in 2010 was not received well by the club;s hierarchy.

They had become too reliant on a potent bowling force and their batting was fragile and liable to sudden collapse.. During 2009 Swanepoel led by example taking 45 wickets to add to his 436 runs with the bat. He also created history by taking two hat-tricks in the same match at Saltaire to  save the day for his side who were in danger of being beaten. Openers Richardson and Frankland both topped 500 runs in 2009/2010, while Ahmed's wicket-hauls were just pushing past 40.

Woodlands were constantly seeking that elusive player to make a difference, and for 2011 he came up with the league's marquee signing in York's prolific batsman Simon Mason. For years he had dominated Yorkshire League attacks and he was considered one of the prized captures of the era.  

The other signing of note was Yeadon's all-rounder Grant Soames who would bring balance to the team. However, things went slightly awry with the latter obtaining a long-term injury through recreational football, and Dan Shuffe suffering  perennial back pains. 

The start of the season didn't exactly inspire confidence. It took Mason a while to find his feet but once he did he made 768 runs. With  Richardson  enjoying his best season at Woodlands scoring 1,010 runs, the batting took care of itself. The bowling was as deadly as ever with the formidable trio of  Ahmed (43), Swanepoel (60) and Brice (54) all making hay. This trio occupied three of the top four places in the league's bowling averages with Ahmed leading the way at the top.  Ahmed's 431 runs included many entertaining knocks during the season including the league's fastest fifty off just 16 balls. Rookie Usman Salim won the league wicketkeeping Trophy for 2011 to establish himself as Rushworth's natural replacement. To illustrate his progress he replicated this feat in 2013.  

Young Scott Richardson (junior) proved that Woodlands are able to afford opportunities to their own juniors. Played as back-up medium pacer in the first team he impressed Cumberland enough to be given a run in their Minor Counties Championship campaign in 2012.

Entering the 2012 season there was good reason to back Woodlands to retain their title. None of their rivals had recruited impressively but Woodlands had Soames fully recovered to embark on his first injury-free season, while all-rounder Steve Piercey was added to the squad from Easingwold.

They started like a train and gave an early impression that the title race would be effectively over by August. After a further ten matches Woodlands had stretched their lead to 45 points and nobody could predict what was about to happen. Woodlands lost to Lightcliffe by 51 runs, before recovering to beat Manningham Mills by the narrow margin of two wickets. They had previously proved to be mortal by escaping defeat by the skin of their teeth in the Saltaire and Farsley fixtures, and avoided seemingly certain defeat when the weather intervened against Cleckheaton.

When Ahmed had to return to Pakistan due to the death of his father their fortunes dipped alarmingly. Three successive defeats reduced their lead to a mere four-points entering the final day's fixtures when Woodlands, Lightcliffe, East Bierley and Cleckheaton all had a chance of winning the title. 

After being bowled out for 153 by a depleted Bradford & Bingley side they were facing certain defeat with their opponents poised for victory on 149-6 with half-centurian Matthew Duce on strike, and a very watchful Harry Smallwood supporting.  Somehow the Bingley batters conspired to get themselves out and didn't manage another run to hand Woodlands the title. Woodlands had again pulled it out of the fire on Orrell's final appearance for the club.

The consistent batting came from Soames who scored 418 runs at 34.83, Richardson with 528 runs at 33.00 and Mason who contributed 606 runs at 31.89. Brice again excelled  at both skills scoring 408 runs at 25.50, and also taking 37 wickets at 17.03. Skipper Swanepoel was the outstanding bowler taking 54 wickets at 15.09.

Favourites to win the title in 2013 Woodlands were overtaken by a Cleckheaton side who in previous seasons had flattered to deceive even though they had the talent. On this occasion they prevailed during a season when Woodlands lost their talisman cricketer Brice with half a season to go. He had incurred an injury in an impressive Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy defeat of the holders Whitley Hall. Disappointingly they lost to Woodhouse Grange in the semi-final after a lacklustre performance. In the league it wasn't until mid- August that they looked like surrendering their title in a race that saw Pudsey St Lawrence pip them for second place. The best performers with the bat were Frankland (699), Mason (642), Richardson (571) and Soames (510), while Ahmed was the most penetrative bowler with 50 wickets.


Changes for 2014 have seen Farakh Hussain departing to Undercliffe, and opener Richardson to New Farnley, being replaced by prolific left hander Duncan Snell from York and  Cumberland batsman Logan Weston who performed impressively for Southport & Birkdale in 2013. Snell was one of those outstanding signings that the Bradford League, and in particular Woodlands can attract from time to time. In 2013 Snell scored 1,411 runs at an average of 56.44, including a top score of 187. His Yorkshire League career record stands at 10,560 runs amassing 57 fifties and 24 hundreds.

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