8th July 2021
Yorkshire County Boundary Cricket Coaching
In 2013 I started an initiative to encourage links between 'Yorkshire cricket' and parts of traditional, proper,'Historic' Yorkshire,which were lost to Yorkshire council administration in 1974. I began this 'project' after researching the consequences of the Local Government Act which abolished the county councils of the West, North and East Ridings and realised that so many Yorkshire districts were either cut off from Yorkshire cricket bodies, that is the Yorkshire CCC and the Yorkshire Cricket Board, or under threat, and wanted to try and do something about it.
I learned much that concerned me, especially about some outlying districts of the West Riding, and this prompted me to act. For instance Saddleworth (since 1974 within the Oldham council authority of Greater Manchester) and West Craven (under the administration of the Lancashire council) are in the Lancashire cricket system whilst Sedbergh and Dent (in the South Lakeland district of the Cumbrian administrative county) are in the Cumbrian equivalent. Consequently, the best Saddleworth and West Craven boys and girls play for Lancashire county junior sides whilst Sedbergh, Dentdale and Garsdale youngsters are eligible solely for Cumbrian age-group teams.
One notable loss to Yorkshire because of the administrative changes is the former Lancashire CCC captain and current coach, Glen Chapple, born in Skipton and raised in Earby in West Craven, who went to Lancashire CCC because his school in Barnoldswick was by then in the Lancashire system. His maternal grandparents are from Yorkshire and actually took him to matches at Scarborough as a boy.
This has all been allowed to happen despite the fact that the 'Objects of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club' still properly state:-
"The objects of the Club shall be:
4.1 the promotion and furtherance of cricket in Yorkshire (which term shall in these Rules mean the City of York and the Counties of the North, East and West Ridings of Yorkshire as legally constituted prior to the coming into effect of the Teesside Order 1967);"
I approached both the Yorkshire Ridings Society and the Saddleworth White Rose Society for financial help to coach schools from all the areas affected and, as a result, this has taken place over the ensuing years, though the Covid Pandemic has of course prevented it from taking place in 2020 and 2021. The coaching is predominantly at Headingleyand has been delivered by Pro-Coach Yorkshire, involvingsuch secondary schools/academies as Saddleworth, West Craven (Barnoldswick), Todmorden, Settlebeck (Sedbergh), Hillsview (Middlesbrough), Huntcliff (Saltburn), Thornaby, King's (Middlesbrough), Redcar and Nunthorpe.Individuals also donate generous amounts and took spending one year to a high of over £1 500.
As Saddleworth and West Craven are in the Lancashire system, the coaching for their schools is to both encourage cricket and show locals that they can still consider themselves part of what might be termed the Yorkshire cricket 'family', or at least they can support Yorkshire! The same for Sedbergh and Dent where the initiative has also involved Pro-Coach Yorkshire going out to coach Sedbergh CC Juniors at Sedbergh School and also Dent Primary School.
Cumberland CCC, sadly re-named as Cumbria CCC last year, play some 'home' matches at the wonderful setting of Sedbergh School. Alarmingly, Lancashire CCC - never an organisation to respect county boundaries - have started to play first team fixtures there as well!! In 2020 they staged a County Championship match against Durham at that otherwise splendid venue, and in 2021 are both meeting Cumbria at Sedbergh in a 'friendly' match and also 'hosting' a 50 over game there against Sussex. County lines are certainly being crossed. I have approached the Yorkshire CCC asking them to at least stage a 2nd team game at Sedbergh School, and offering financial support, but the current YCCC administration are not interested.
The Teesside unitary authorities, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton (the latter which spans the Tees and includes the Yorkshire townships of Yarm and Thornaby)are under neither Durham nor North YorkshireCounty Council administration (though for ceremonial purposes the Tees is still seen as the county boundary). Happily and properly, for cricket purposes anywhere south if the Tees is, under the Yorkshire Cricket Board.
However, I believe Durham CCC 'covets' this area as they have played 'home' 2nd team games at Middlesbrough, Marton, Richmond and Stokesley (the latter two settlements actually being within the North Yorkshire council authority). Yorkshire CCC seems aware of this threat and plays 2nd team matches at Marske and has arranged T20 practice matches in the Middlesbrough district. However other problems here are that Durham's headquarters at Chester-le-Street are much nearer than Headingley whilst traditional county boundaries are blurred because of the presence of the unitary authorities. Hence the invitations to schools from Thornaby to Saltburn, to help re-affirm their Yorkshire connection.
Todmorden is in a different situation, as it within the Calderdale authority, so is under the jurisdiction of the Yorkshire County Board but of course its cricket club, and that of neighbouring Walsden, have always played within Lancashire leagues for ease of travel. I am wary that Lancashire haveannually played 2nd team games at Todmorden(though not this season) and am concerned that Yorkshire, who also once did that, have stopped. I have also noticed that some youngsters from this area have appeared in Lancashire youth teams presumably because of club connections.
The coaching exists to encourage cricket and promote links between all those districts and their traditional county to counter the influence of administration changes which came into being nearly half a century ago. Sadly, Yorkshire CCC and the Yorkshire Cricket Board have no authority in Saddleworth, West Craven or Sedbergh/Dentdale but campaign groups, such as the Yorkshire Ridings Society and the Saddleworth White Rose Society, can have a continued influence.
The schools themselves are always delighted with the experience which includes visiting the Yorkshire CCC Museum and also the Headingley cricket and rugby grounds. They always want to return. Hopefully, many of them will, provided Covid is under control, in 2022.