What better way to celebrate your Centenary year than by playing a club of the same name. For a certain Halifax League club late last month, it was very much a case of Bradshaw squared as they did their bit to keep the Roses rivalry alive.
On August Bank Holiday Sunday – August 27 – the club where Alex Lees first picked up a bat opted to invite Greater Manchester Cricket League club Bradshaw across the Pennines as part of their 100th anniversary year celebrations.
The two clubs played out a T20 friendly, which the Bolton club won by eight runs. They included current Lancashire second-team cricketer, and former Scarborough College student, Cian Dickinson in their eleven.
Part of the day included opening the Simon Lees Memorial Terrace, recognising the significant contribution Alex’s late father had made to the West Yorkshire club on and off the field.
“Simon played almost all his career with us,” said club chair Mark Davison. “So Alex was a junior here before moving on.
“Around 30 years ago when the new pavilion was built, Simon was playing for us, he (and his sons Alex and Tom) laid the original patio in front of the club.
“Nothing to do with the centenary but, just as it happened, we needed to relay the patio this year.
“We got support from various sources, including the ECB County grants fund, Community Foundation for Calderdale, Ogden Wind Farm distributed by Community Foundation for Calderdale and materials from Marshalls plc.
“Marshalls recycled a few things they had around from a show at Chelsea Flower Show, happily including a steel wall panel 100 which tied in lovely with our Centenary.
“It all got relaid in the winter, just in time for the season. We decided to name it the Simon Lees Memorial Terrace in memory of what he had done for the club. He was a hugely popular guy and very much loved and taken too soon.
“Unfortunately Alex couldn’t make it, but his mum and brother came when we played against the lads from Bolton, said a few words and unveiled the plaque.
“We were hoping Alex would have been able to open the batting, but it wasn’t to be.”
Davison thinks current Durham opener Alex – the two-time County Championship winner with Yorkshire – is Bradshaw’s only England Test cricketer.
“I guess we could have had links to one since 1923, but Alex is the only one that we’re aware of,” he said.
“There are still plenty of people around at the club who played with Simon and saw Alex grow up. A couple went out to the Caribbean when he made his Test debut (March 2022). The entire club’s delighted to be associated with him and incredibly proud of what he’s gone onto achieve.”
Bradshaw currently sit fifth in the Premier Division and have won the Premier League title three times (1992, 1997 and 2006). They’ve had a new Centenary club crest produced for this year to reflect those successes.
Incidentally, they end their summer this weekend at home to champions Thornton.
Bradshaw’s clash with the other Bradshaw was nowhere near as competitive as a league game but will play an important role in the development of the club.
“It was a massive success,” reflected Davison. “We had over 150 people there at the peak, which is incredible for a village club like ours.
“We started with a 25-overs per side game, which was brought down to 20 because of rain, and it was played in a brilliant spirit.
“We followed on with live music in the afternoon, a kids versus parents game, a Caribbean food van, an Ice Cream tricycle, a few drinks and so on.
“Lots of their lads stayed and made a proper day of it, some even heading down into Halifax for the night life. We had a great day over the bar and did a bit more through fundraising to support our ladies and junior cricket.”
The two clubs are planning to continue the Bradshaw v Bradshaw tradition, playing the next one at the Rigbys – one of the most picturesque venues in Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
“We’re just trying to work out dates,” continued Davison. “But it’s likely to be the same August Bank Holiday Sunday next year. That would be great for both clubs.”
The event was one of 12 organised as part of their Centenary celebrations.
“We usually have five or six in a normal year,” continued the chair.
“We had our Centenary Dinner in May, up at Halifax Golf Club, which was fantastic. At that stage, both teams were top of the league. That was nice. But we’ve dropped away a bit since.”
Senior performances are very much just the tip of the iceberg for Bradshaw.
“We’ve run a women’s softball side for the first time this year,” said Davison. “So we’ve had 100 years of men’s cricket and a first for the women. That’s something which is incredibly important to us, and it’s been brilliant.
“We run All Stars and Dynamos, Under 9s and Under 11s as well. We’ll also run Under 13s for the first time in a long time next year.”
Chair Davison still plays in the club’s second team, and they aim to bring more juniors into that team in the coming years.
“We’re trying to get funding together for some nets, which will take us to the next level,” he added.
“We can then run the juniors and not be on the square all the time. At the moment, we don’t have a practice facility and a fairly small square.
“The facilities are good, the stuff on the field is good as well. The lad we’ve got who does the ground, Martyn Crowther, is fantastic. He’s helped by a few others, including president Steve Beck, first team captain Si Collins and others.
“There’s loads of names I could mention. We have some wonderful people at the club, on and off the field.”
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Bradshaw Cricket Club.