Bolton Villas Cricket Club a brief history

Much of the clubs early history is shrouded in mystery; it is generally believed that the club was formed in 1902 and for the first three years it played only friendly cricket. Indeed club records back this up, showing that in 1952 the club held a Jubilee Dinner Dance to celebrate its 50th year.

However, no records can be found of a club called Bolton Villas playing league cricket before 1924 when the club joined the Shipley & District Cricket League. This is backed up in a report carried by the Shipley Times & Express of that year. At the league presentation evening, the Shipley & District Cricket League Secretary Mr Teale is quoted as “Congratulating Bolton Villas on winning the league, a particularly fine feat as it was their first season of league cricket.

First XI 1925

First XI 1925

The club joined the Shipley & District Cricket League in 1924. From the very beginning it made its presence felt, winning the league championship in its first season. By the following year the club introduced a 2nd X1, but this did not slow the success and the 1st X1 added another championship in 1925, along with the Vincent Hall Charity Cup, the winning side is pictured right.

The league and cup success was celebrated with a dinner and social evening at the Beanstalk Restaurant, Charles Street, Bradford, on Thursday October 15th at 7pm, tickets costing4/6d. The event must have been an outstanding success as it was reported in the local Shipley Times & Express:

There are few more enterprising cricket organisations than Bolton Villas C.C. and they do things in quite a good style as a rule. Having won the Shipley League Championship, however, it may be that they are a little over exhilarated by their triumphs, for the hoisting of the Union Jack in celebration of this feat was not a success. The beloved emblem was hung the wrong way. Can it be that the flag was hoisted after the celebration dinner?

The following year saw another cup final appearance, this time the team suffered defeat, beaten in a close finish by local rivals Wrose Hill, the margin of defeat being one wicket.

In November 1928, the Shipley Times & Express reported;

Bolton Villas CC who are prominent members of the Shipley Cricket League held their annual dinner and smoker at the Beanstalk Restaurant, Bradford on Wednesday night. During the evening prizes to G A Wilson (bowling) and E Hoyle, A Garner and H Hill (fielding). Mr Sydney Wilson, secretary announced that the club would play in the Bradford Central League next season. Musical items were rendered by Messrs J Lodge, P G H Wylie, E Mortimer, J Lambert and H Drake; Mr Harry Brooke was the accompanist.

The success achieved in the Shipley League, would not be repeated in the club’s new surroundings. The Bradford Central League would be the club’s home for the next seventy year’s, for the majority of that time, fifty year’s, it would be enthusiastic bystanders to the various powerhouse teams of each decade.

For 50 years, despite the odd flurry with a couple of cup semi finals and appearances in the 1965 Waddilove Trophy final and the 1948 Thrippleton Cup Final the club failed to claim any Bradford Central League silverware.

Things began to turn in the late 1970s when children form the local area began filtering into the club’s junior set up. Between, 1977 – 1980 the club won the Under 18 Junior League three times, along with a divisional title and two T Joy Cup wins.

This sparked the most successful period in the club’s history at senior level. 1980 saw the 1st X1 deliver its first trophy, winning the Waddilove Trophy against Harden in a tense final (pictured below). The cup final would become a regular event on the Villas calendar, with the team appearing in every final between 1980 and 1987 with the exception of 1982.

Waddilove Cup Winning Team 1980

Waddilove Cup Winning Team 1980

The club had now become one of the dominant forces in the Bradford Central League, winning its first league title in 1985, this was quickly followed by its second the following year. The club would have to wait a further seven years before it added its third and final 1st X1 title in 1993.

Over a period of fourteen years, the club had won, three 1st X1 Championships, a 2nd X1 Championship, the Waddilove Trophy three times, plus five other final appearances, the Thrippleton Cup twice, and the Worthington Cup.

After 1993, the club would lose many of the players that had made the club so dominate, but it would still have a few successes, notably in 1998 when there was a Waddilove Trophy victory and the 2nd X1 won the Championship for the second time.

In 1999, the club made an application to join the Airedale & Wharfedale Cricket League, a decision that had been muted some ten years earlier when the club was at the height of its success.

The new millennium saw the club begin a new chapter with its first match in its new surroundings of the Airedale & Wharfedale Cricket League. Its success to-date has been slow, but the first piece of silverware arrived in 2006 when the 2nd X1 won the Third Division Championship; hopefully this success will inspire the club to new heights.