Huddersfield and its surrounding villages have always been one of the most productive in Yorkshire cricket and one of the town’s grounds was used for county cricket very early in the life of Yorkshire CCC. Paul Dyson tells the story of a somewhat-forgotten ground.
In the early part of the 19th century Huddersfield was not far behind Sheffield in its importance as a cricketing centre in Yorkshire. Several village clubs, mostly being formed on a casual basis, existed by the 1820s and these tended to become dominated by Dalton, Kirkheaton and Lascelles Hall as the middle of the century was being approached.
The town’s first enclosed ground was in the suburb of Highfield and known as the Rifle Corps Ground. It was on Trinity Street and the first significant matches which took place there involved various England XIs playing against 20 or 22 of Huddersfield or Huddersfiled and Dalton from 1850 to 1865. In 1866 was formed Hillhouse St John’s CC and two years later it moved to Fartown, becoming Huddersfield St John’s CC. The new organisation erected fences round the ground, added seating and its enterprising approach saw it being rewarded with a first-class match in 1873 in the form of Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire. From the point of view of the result it was a very satisfactory occasion as Yorkshire won by an innings with Kirkheaton’s Allen Hill having match figures of eight for 63.
Two years later ambition was further fuelled by the formation of Huddersfield Cricket, Athletic and Football Club, ‘St John’s’ thus being dropped from the original title. The football was not soccer, the cricket organisation having joined forces with a local rugby club. Additional land was acquired, but both playing areas overlapped to a certain extent, and a pavilion and grandstand were both erected. Rugby was first played in 1878 but soccer made its first appearance four years later with an FA Cup semi-final between Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday. In 1890 even more land became available and so the rugby ground moved to a new position with a new stand being built between the two playing areas in 1909.