Not since 1996 have Yorkshire played home first class matches anywhere other than Headingley and Scarborough but many other venues around the county have staged memorable encounters at various stages during the Club’s rich 150-year history.
Headingley, of course, is the only ground that Yorkshire have ever owned and it is fitting that their current headquarters should have staged more of the County’s first class matches than anywhere else.
But Bramall Lane, Sheffield, where Yorkshire CCC played their first home match in 1863, is still not far behind, despite it now being 40 years since cricket was last played on the ground before it was swallowed up entirely by football.
Then comes Bradford Park Avenue, a favourite venue for many a player and spectator alike, followed by Scarborough’s North Marine Road ground which still draws crowds like a magnate, particularly for its world famous Festival.
Let us turn the spotlight first of all on Headingley which by the start of the 2013 season had hosted Yorkshire on 424 occasions in first class fixtures, 158 (37.26%) of which had resulted in White Rose victories while 77 (18.16%) of the games had been lost and 189 (44.58%) drawn.
Headingley, of course, remains known throughout the world as the Test match venue where Don Bradman, the greatest batsman of all time, twice scored 300+ for Australia. And it was ‘The Don’s’ fellow Australian, Darren Lehmann, who plundered Yorkshire’s highest ever score on the ground of 339 – just two runs shy of George Hirst’s 341 against Leicestershire at Aylestone Road in 1905, the biggest individual knock in Yorkshire’s history.
Lehmann’s epic came against Durham in his last match for Yorkshire in 2006 and the fans who were there still recall with pleasure the quality and sheer audacity of his strokeplay. Five years earlier, Lehmann had been in the same scorching form when he toyed with Lancashire’s bowlers on the ground while amassing 252, Yorkshire’s highest Roses score.
It was during the 2006 thriller with Durham, when the draw allowed both teams to avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth, that Lehmann and Michael Lumb (98) clocked up 358 together, the record partnership for the fourth wicket and the highest for any wicket in Yorkshire matches at Headingley. It came out of a total of 677-7 declared which was also the highest for the ground.
Yorkshire’s most successful opening pair, Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe, hold the first wicket record at Headingley with their 290 together against Middlesex in 1928 and Sutcliffe also features with David Denton in the second wicket record for the ground of 237 in 1919, a figure equalled by Martyn Moxon, now Yorkshire’s Director of Professional Cricket, and Kevin Sharp against the Sri Lankans in 1988.
On the bowling front, Headingley can boast the greatest analysis of them all with left-arm spin wizard Hedley Verity’s 10-10 off Nottinghamshire’s attack in 1932. This was no flash in the pan because the previous summer Verity had taken 10-36 on the ground against Warwickshire. Another of Yorkshire’s legendary left-arm spin bowlers, Bobby Peel, can claim the best match figures of 15-50, achieved against Somerset in 1895.
Len Hutton walks out at Bramall Lane, Sheffield
There were 391 Yorkshire matches at Bramall Lane between 1863-1973 and the county’s highest total was 681-5 declared against Sussex in 1897 compared to their lowest of 30 when they were shunted out by Kent in 1864.
The ground staged 33 fewer matches than the current Headingley total, but the home side have managed five more victories at Bramall Lane than they have so far achieved in Leeds although the percentage of defeats is a shade higher at 78 compared to Headingley’s 77.
John Thomas Brown senior, who formed another famous opening partnership with John Tunnicliffe, hit Yorkshire’s highest individual score for Bramall Lane of 311 against Sussex in 1897, and in the same match the openers clocked the biggest partnership on the ground of 378. In 1932, Wilf Barber and Maurice Leyland piled up 346 against Middlesex at the venue and this remains Yorkshire’s best on any ground for the second wicket.
As already mentioned, Verity twice claimed all ten wickets at Headingley but Frank Smailes also sent every opposing batsman back at Bramall Lane in 1939 when he recorded figures of 10-47 against Derbyshire. Verity, however, holds the best match figures with his 15-38 against Kent in 1936.
After a brief revival of fixtures at Bradford Park Avenue, Yorkshire were forced to leave the decaying ground at the end of the 1996 season and unfortunately they ended on a losing note as Leicestershire hammered the highest score by any side of 681-7 declared, Vince Wells and current England selector, James Whitaker – a Yorkshireman himself – setting a record fourth wicket partnership for a visiting team of 218.
Nevertheless, Yorkshire defeats at Park Avenue were something of a rarity. There were only 41 reverses out of 306 games played while wins totalled 145.
Percy Holmes hit Park Avenue’s highest score of 275 against Warwickshire in 1928 but Yorkshire’s current president, Geoffrey Boycott, has a stake in both of the first wicket and tenth wicket record partnerships – 248 for the first with debutant Ashley Metcalfe v Nottinghamshire in 1983 and 108 for the tenth with Mike Bore, also against Nottinghamshire, in 1973.
The Pavilion at Bradford Park Avenue
While other Yorkshire satellite grounds have, alas, fallen by the wayside, Scarborough has remained the marvellous seaside venue it has always been with scores of fans making the annual pilgrimage to the Festival.
Former Yorkshire captain, Vic Wilson, who set many records for the North Marine Road Club, also excellent for the county on his home ground and he has a share in the record partnerships for both the first and second wickets – 228 against Scotland with Harry Halliday in 1951 and 302 against Derbyshire with Willie Watson in 1948. In the Scotland fixture, Wilson also recorded the ground’s highest individual innings of 223 not out, while another former Yorkshire captain attached to the club, David Byas, shares with Phil Robinson the record fourth wicket stand of 258 against Kent in 1989. And, of course, Byas led Yorkshire to their last Championship win there in 2001 after a wait of 33 years.
One has to go back to 1888 to find Yorkshire’s best bowling performance at Scarborough, Joseph Preston destroying MCC with 9-28 and his match figures of 13-63 remain the best.
Yorkshire’s jewel in the crown – North Marine Road, Scarborough
Yorkshire’s more picturesque Sheffield ground was Abbeydale Park where they played 41 matches first class matches between 1974-1996, winning eight but losing 11.
Geoffrey Boycott’s 159 against Worcestershire in 1982 is Yorkshire’s best knock there and the best bowling effort is paceman Stuart Fletcher’s 8-58 v Essex in 1988. The best match figures were recorded by left-arm spinner Phil Carrick in 1983 when he bagged 12-89, but in the same game Derbyshire’s Ole Mortensen was almost as successful with 11-89.
Acklam Park at Middlesbrough hosted Yorkshire from 1956-1996 and the White Rose lost only eight of their 45 matches there but they suffered a humiliation in 1965 when they were routed by Hampshire for their lowest score in first class cricket of 23, David ‘Butch’ White spearheading the assault with 6-10. They enjoyed a much better day in the field in 1986 when Arnie Sidebottom, father of Ryan, recorded the best Acklam Park figures of 8-72. It was left to Middlesex’s Fred Titmus, however, to notch the best match figures of 14-114 in 1974.
Geoffrey Boycott holds Yorkshire’s highest score at Acklam Park of 180 not out against Warwickshire in 1968 and the club’s best partnership is the 203 put on for the first wicket by current Director of Professional Cricket Martyn Moxon and Simon Kellett off Somerset’s attack in 1992.
Acklam Park, Middlesbrough
Yorkshire played in 88 first class matches at The Circle, Hull, between 1899-1974, and it was there that Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton opened up with 315 against Leicestershire in 1937 – the only partnership on the ground to top 300. There were several fine performances with both bat and ball over the years, Maurice Leyland striking 263 against Essex in 1936 and Johnny Wardle in 1954 collecting 9-48 and match figures of 16-112 against Sussex, Yorkshire’s fourth best match figures of all time.
St. George’s Road at Harrogate served Yorkshire for 102 years from 1894-1996 and the compact ground had a cosy feel about it with its marquees down one side of the ground and its covered stand running the length of the opposite side.
It was another of the venues where Yorkshire excelled, winning 50 of their 91 games and losing only eight and it was a ground on which spinners invariably came into their own later on which is probably why Raymond Illingworth enjoys the best match bowling figures of 14-64 against Gloucestershire in 1967 to help Yorkshire retain the Championship title. His first innings figures of 7-58 were good enough but not as good as his astonishing 7-6 in the second innings as the visitors were shot out for 99. Percy Holmes is credited with the highest score at the venue, part of his unbeaten 277 against Northamptonshire in 1921 coming during his record stand of 299 with Roy Kilner.
The first of Yorkshire’s two tied matches – the other was against Middlesex at Bradford in 1973 – was played out amidst great excitement at Huddersfield’s Fartown ground in 1954, Leicestershire’s last wicket falling with the scores level when Tommy Spencer was run out by Johnny Wardle. Percy Holmes, on his home ground, made Yorkshire’s highest score there of 220 not out against Warwickshire in 1922 while the best match figures (14-77) were shared equally by Ted Peate v Surrey in 1881 and Wilfred Rhodes, another Huddersfield ‘giant’, v Somerset in 1926.
Yorkshire played 49 first class matches, winning 31 of them, at Savile Town, Dewsbury, between 1867-1933, and the other grounds on which the White Rose have enjoyed action during their 150 years are: Bradford – Great Horton Road (8 matches), Halifax – Thrum Hall (4), Holbeck – Recreation Ground (3), Horsforth – Hall Park (1), Hull – Argyll Street (1), Hunslet – Woodhouse Hill (1), Middlesbrough – Linthorpe Road (1), Middlesbrough – Swatter’s Carr (2), Wakefield – College Grove (1) and York – Wiggington Road (1).
The Circle, Hull (left) and St George’s Road, Harrogate