After a finishing bottom of the County Championship for the first time in the Club’s history, it was not all doom and gloom at Headingley back in 1983. Against all odds, with a mixture of youth and experience, Yorkshire won their first trophy since 1969 by clinching the John Player League title under the stewardship of 51-year-old captain and team manager Raymond Illingworth.
“The trophy meant a great deal as the club hadn’t won any silverware for a number of years." - Ray Illingworth
When Yorkshire clinched the John Player title the day itself was an anti-climax.
“We were supposed to be playing Essex at Chelmsford but it rained all day and we never got on the field,” recalled Illingworth.
“Lots of Yorkshire fans had come down and they were obviously disappointed we never played. The point gained from the no-result was enough to secure the title and we collected the trophy on the players’ balcony.
“The trophy meant a great deal as the Club hadn’t won any silverware for a number of years. It was also a massive effort as every other county had two to three overseas players but we were all Yorkshire-born. It was an interesting season but despite the disappointment of the County Championship, it was satisfying that we still had guts and character to pick up some silverware.”
Yorkshire 1983 John Player Sunday League Champions. Back row (Left to Right): Bill Athey, Martyn Moxon, Simon Dennis, Arnie Sidebottom, Jim Love, Neil Hartley, Kevin Sharp. Front row: Graham Stevenson, Geoffrey Boycott, Raymond Illingworth (captain), David Bairstow, Phil Carrick.
1987 and Yorkshire win a Lord’s final for the first time 18 years
Yorkshire reached their first Lord’s final in 18 years when they defeated Northamptonshire to win the 1987 Benson and Hedges Cup and become only the fourth county after Essex, Kent and Lancashire to complete the full set of domestic trophies – the County Championship, the NatWest Trophy (formerly the Gillette Cup), the Sunday League and the B&H.
Opening batsman at the time and now Director of Cricket at Yorkshire, Martyn Moxon believes one of the key ingredients to Yorkshire’s success in 1987 was the fact they prepared properly for the first time in pre-season.
“It was the first time Yorkshire had ever gone to Barbados on a pre-season tour. We got our preparations right and created a great camaraderie within the side." - Martyn Moxon
Yorkshire put the gloomy winter and autumn of Leeds to one side by travelling to the Caribbean, where the seeds were sewn for a big year in domestic cricket.
“It was the first time Yorkshire had ever gone to Barbados on a pre-season tour,” said Moxon. “We got our preparations right and created a great camaraderie within the side. That got the campaign off to a flyer and we gained a lot of early confidence. We did well in the B& H, but also in the Championship and it proved the value of a pre-season tour.”
Moxon, the club’s second highest run-scorer in the B&H that summer, played several key innings – notably a knock of 97 in the semi-final against Surrey at Leeds. It helped Yorkshire to 238-7 and a 76-run victory and earned him the gold award.
Yorkshire team before the 1987 Benson & Hedges Trophy semi-final against Surrey at Headingley, June 10 1987. Back row (Left to right): Richard Blakey, Stuart Fletcher, Peter Hartley, Martyn Moxon, Paul Booth, Paul Jarvis, Kevin Sharp, Ashley Metclafe, Wayne Morton (Physiotherapist). Front row: Jim Love, Arnie Sidebottom, Phil Carrick (captain), David Bairstow, Neil Hartley.
“That semi-final seemed to last forever,” remembered Moxon. “It was dogged by the weather and played over three days. It was a bit like pulling teeth to be honest.
“The ball was nipping around and it was quite tough for batting. It was a bit of challenge to face West Indian fast bowler Sylvester Clarke, who was rapid. I managed to get through the new ball and build a good innings. I was disappointed not to get a hundred, but it the important aspect was reaching a major Lord’s final.
“We bowled and fielded well and won the game comfortably.”
David Bairstow and Phil Carrick celebrate victory in the Lord’s final.
Moxon has fond memories of the final against against Northants, which Yorkshire won by virtue of losing fewer wickets.
“The weather was fantastic, it was a beautiful day, and it was a day to remember for Yorkshire fans the players.”