The end of the 1968 season saw two significant Yorkshire retirements, one debutant and one birth. Paul Dyson looks back at the quartet’s varied careers. The photo of John Woodford appears by courtesy of Brian Sanderson.
With Yorkshire having a very settled first-team squad in 1968, the nucleus having won the Championship six times in the previous nine seasons, there was little opportunity for newcomers to break into the senior team. However, one player managed to do so and went on to have a reasonable career.
John Woodford was born in 1943 in Little Horton, Bradford; he captained the first eleven at Colton Grammar School and also had the honour of leading English Schools. Also before his county career came experience in the Bradford League with Bradford and Bowling Old Lane. In 1968 he played in two County Championship matches and came to be used as an upper-order batsman, often opening, but never really established himself in the first-choice eleven. He scored only one century – 101 against Warwickshire at Middlesbrough in 1971.
Woodford was used more in List A cricket where his economical medium-paced bowling often came in useful. Twice he took four wickets in an innings and, unusually, his batting average was higher in this form of the game than in first-class cricket although both were in the low 20s. He was released after the 1973 season by which time he had scored only 1,204 runs in first-class cricket; in List A matches he scored 890 runs and took 77 wickets. From 1975 he had five seasons with Northumberland in the Minor Counties Championship. His later clubs included Guisborough as professional, Middlesbrough and Marske as well as Liversedge when he had returned to Yorkshire to work in the manufacturing of sports goods.
The only future Yorkshire cricketer to be born in 1968 was David Towse. He first saw the light of day in Bridlington and, such was his promise as a fast-medium bowler, that he made his debut at the age of 20. That first-class match, against Cambridge University, was also his last. He took three wickets but never appeared again in senior cricket. In the same season of 1988 he appeared for Middlesex but played only for the second eleven. After a gap of six seasons his next appearances in significant cricket were for Lincolnshire in the Minor Counties Championship. After two years he then played for Wales Minor Counties and remained with it until 2004. Meanwhile he began playing for Guisborough – in 2001 – but after four seasons moved to Driffield Town before leaving there in 2007.
The two retirements which took place after the end of the 1968 season, along with the move by Ray Illingworth to Leicestershire, signified the break-up of the hugely successful squad which had won seven County Championships in the ten seasons from 1959. The two concerned were Ken Taylor and Fred Trueman, both of whom have been profiled previously in these columns. With Barrie Leadbeater ready to replace Taylor, Chris Old and Peter Stringer for Trueman as well as off-spinner Geoff Cope, who had topped Yorkshire’s Championship averages, in for Illingworth, it was assumed the mantle of being part of a successful side would be passed on.
Taylor, as well as Yorkshire’s opening batsman, had also been an outstanding half-back for Huddersfield Town but it was his third talent which persuaded him to leave sport behind. Having trained at Slade School of Fine Arts he decided that his future lay in that direction. He gained a teaching post at Rastrick County Secondary School, Huddersfield and later became Head of Art at Gresham’s School, Norfolk. Many of his portraits of former playing colleagues are on display at Emerald Headingley.
Taylor had had 16 seasons in Yorkshire’s first team but Trueman had 20! One of the greatest fast bowlers of all-time, he took more wickets than any other bowler in Yorkshire’s seven title-winning seasons of the era. His crowning achievement, however, came at The Oval in 1964 when he became the first bowler in the world to take 300 Test wickets.
Yes, 1968 was the end of an era and, as it was 50 years ago, a good time to remember the four players that started and ended their journeys in that year’s summer.