The Origins of Farsley
By Mr. Ken Lawson
The club arose out of a team associated with the Mechanics Institute in the early 1860's. A club with the imposing title of "Farsley United Cricket Club" was formed and secured a pitch on the recreation ground on Calverley Lane. Afterwards a field was rented on land on Priesthorpe Lane owned by Mr. John Woodhouse and known as Woodlands Farm. In 1864 this was the home of a tenant Mr. Richard Akers, his wife and three sons. The last sod of the new pitch was laid by Mr. Emmanuel Wade on Good Friday 1864.
From the very start the club was a financial success and gate receipts of £22.00 and £18.00 were recorded for Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday. Gates of 4000/5000 are said to have attended on these days and with the average wages in the local mills at that time being fifteen shillings to one pound ten shillings per week it seems likely that the entrance fee was one (old) penny. The financial success prompted the landlord to seek an increase in the rent and he proposed an annual rent of £20.00 but by this time the club had sufficient funds to purchase their own ground and they bought the land at Red lane, adjacent to Mr. Overend's home at 25 Red Lane, where they play to this day.
Mr. Overend played for the club for many years following its formation and achieved considerable prowess as a batsman. His sons, Randolph, Harper and Joe followed him. The club turned out many professional players including two players that represented the Yorkshire County Cricket Club Irwin Grimshaw (1880/1888) and Saul Wade (1886/1890).
In the 1870's "Parish" matches were arranged between "Airedale" and "Wharfedale" with Farsley, Calverley and Pudsey St. Lawrence providing players for the "Airedale" team. Mr. Overend was the last surviving member of the first team that played in 1872.
Mr. Overend was prominent in politics and was a founder member of the Farsley Liberal Club. He recalled that at the time of his birth Farsley was a "small" place and that when he now stood at the door of the cricket club pavilion he could remember every building in sight being built.
Mr. Overend died at the age of ninety-two on January 6th 1933. He left a family of nine daughters and three sons.
Farsley Cricket Club was formed in 1864 and named Farsley Britannia Cricket Club after the Britannia Fields where they first played. This has now been developed and forms a business park owned by a local firm, Hainsworths, who manufacture cloth for snooker tables, and were, at the time, supporters of Farsley Britannia CC.
At the turn of the century Farsley Britannia joined forces with a group of local businessmen, to form the Farsley Cricket Club Company and bought a plot of land at the top of Red Lane, where they remain to this day.
The Farsley Cricket Club Company is still a registered company, Farsley Cricket Club taking a 99-year lease on the ground at a peppercorn rent. A condition of the lease is that cricket shall be played on the ground each season. Farsley CC are responsible for the upkeep of the ground, its buildings and perimeter dry stone wall.
Initially, the ground was used for cricket, but in the ensuing years a bowling green was laid and a new clubhouse replaced the wooden pavilion which had stood at the top of the ground for some 65 years. The new building was constructed in conjunction with Horsforth Hockey Club, who joined forces with the cricket club. The new clubhouse included up-to-date changing facilities and showers, along with a bar lounge, now known as the Raymond Illingworth lounge, and tea room. The bowling section has grown over the years and now boasts floodlights and a bespoke viewing veranda.
In 1912 Farsley applied for membership to the Bradford League and elected to play in the league. Over the years Farsley have produced a host of talented cricketers, the most famous being Raymond Illingworth CBE, who came up through Farsley's junior ranks. Raymond captained Yorkshire, Leicestershire and England and while he was captain of the national team he brought the Ashes back home to England in 1971. He led England to victory 25 times in 31 games, and subsequently went on to become the England team manager. He has also been a TV pundit, broadcaster and newspaper columnist.
Illingworth announced his arrival as a genuine star of the future in the 1949 Priestley Cup. In those days the ties were played on midweek evenings. He started his epic innings of 148 not out against Pudsey St Lawrence as a 16-year-old and had celebrated his 17th birthday by the time he completed it. Another 28 years were to elapse before the competition saw a higher individual score.
Farsley went on to reach the final that season but suffered a five-wicket defeat against Yeadon. Other notable Farsley juniors who have established themselves in first class cricket over the years are Gordon Barker, who progressed through Farsley juniors and went on to join Essex, Mike and Duncan Fearnley. Mike, who tragically died on the field of play during a first team match at East Bierley, played for Yorkshire and coached the county's second team. Duncan played for Worcestershire and ended his playing career with the county, before taking up the cricket chairman's position, as well as owning and running a very lucrative cricket equipment and bat manufacturing business in the county.
Another Worcestershire player who started his long career at Farsley and also went on to play for England, was wicketkeeper Stephen Rhodes. Phil Carrick played for Farsley as a junior, along with Ashley Metcalfe and both of whom played for Yorkshire, Phil captaining the county to the their Benson and Hedges Cup triumph in 1987.
David Ripley went from Farsley to Northampton where he played for 20 years while Tim Boon, who is the ECB under-19s manager, started his career at Red Lane as did Ian Sutcliffe and both went on to play for Leicestershire. Current Yorkshire captain and England all-rounder, Craig White, joined Farsley for one season when he left Australia to come back to his native England. Current New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle played one season for Farsley in 1991, topping the Second Division batting averages and scoring 1,005 runs. Astle formed a prolific opening partnership with Russell Evans who made 1,024 that summer. Evans was to go on and better that tally in 1993 when he set a new league record of 1,376.
Despite an abundance of talented players, Farsley have surprisingly only won the league championship once and the Priestley Cup three times. The only league title triumph came in 1962 when they pipped Bowling Old Lane by one point. Brian Claughton was their top batsman with 499 runs while John White, later to star with Undercliffe, was Farsley's top bowler
Farsley followed that success by lifting their first Priestley Cup 12 months later. They surprised favourites Bradford by dismissing them for 118 and then cruising to a seven-wicket triumph. Farsley reached the final again in 1981 where they met East Bierley who had lost their seven previous finals. A win for the Red lane side looked on the cards when openers Billy Holmes and Mark Brearley put on 111 but a dramatic collapse saw them tumble to 158 all out to lose by 37 runs.
Farsley had a talented young side when they reached the final again in 1983. Metcalfe, Boon, Gott and Ripley were all in a line-up which also included former England opener Brian Bolus. The final was a triumph for Metcalfe who followed up his match-winning 134 not out against Keighley in the semi-final with another fine innings of 122 as Farsley overhauled Yorkshire Bank's score of 223 for five to win by five wickets with two balls to spare.
Farsley's third Priestley Cup success came in 1995 when they avenged their 1981 defeat by securing a 112 run win. The hero of their triumph was Joss Overend, a left arm bowler enjoying a successful first season in the league.
Off the field, Farsley have been well served by a number of loyal servants. Ken Storr held every office at the club during an association, which spanned more than 50 years. He was also a Bradford League umpire for 29 years.
Raymond Illingworth, who started his distinguished playing carer at Farsley as a junior, returned after his first class career ended to play for the club. He then served as grounds man for many a year, bringing in sponsorship as well as working tirelessly to keep the club afloat. In recent years he occupied the office of president, a post he relinquished at the end of the 2009 season - a campaign which saw Farsley return to the top flight after winning Division Two in 2008 and reaching the Sovereign HealthCare Priestley Cup final where they were beaten by East Bierley.
Division One Champions
Division Two Champions
1969, 1977, 2008
Second Teams Division One Champions
1926, 1967, 1980, 1983, 2001, 2011, 2012
Second Teams Division Two Champions
Priestley Cup winners
1963, 1983, 1995
Priestley Cup runners-up
1949, 1981, 2009, 2010
Priestley Shield winners
Priestley Shield runners-up