Shipley League 1924 – 1928


The clubs first competitive league game in the Shipley League was played at home on the 26th April 1924 against Shipley St Peters, who for one season back in 1910 had been members of the Bradford League.

The club did not take long to adjust to their first season in the Shipley League, winning their second game after the first had been ruined by rain. The bowling of Ernest Shelton, and Jim Stead ably supported by Sydney Wilson pushed the team in to title contention at the half way point. A run of five straight wins, including an emphatic 208 run demolition of Windhill YM, which saw the club set a league record score of 231, lifted the team in to second place, a point behind the leaders Windhill Primitives as the teams prepared to meet each other at Windhill. The following match report on the game appeared in the Shipley Times and Express the following week;

After being at the head of the league table all season Windhill Parish Mission had to give way to Bolton Villas on Saturday last, Bolton Villas by virtue of their victory being now one point clear. Bolton had first use of the wicket and thanks to F Smith 31, J Emerson 19, J Stead 18 not out and F Hanson 15 scored 114. After losing the first four wickets for 7, Windhill Primitives could practically do nothing against the bowling of J Stead 7 – 14 and E Shelton 3 – 14 being all out for 20 T Hawley top scored with 9 not out.

With three games to go, the team were in no mood to give up their lead, and victories against Wrose Hill, Shipley Gas Works and Green Lane followed and the title was secured in the end by two points from Windhill Primitives. The Shipley Times carried a report of the Leagues presentation evening;

At the league Annual Whist Drive Dance Presentation at Victoria Hall, Saltaire, Councillor Vincent Hall President of the league presented the players with the league trophy and their medals. In front of 300 guests league Secretary Mr Teale congratulated Bolton Villas on winning the league, a particularly fine feat as it was their first season of league cricket. Further success was to follow with W Lunn winning a gold medal as winner of the league’s batting averages.


The 1925 season would be one of high achievement, with an odd hiccup. The Shipley & District League adopted a two league system with the top 8 sides from 1924 forming Division ‘A’, the remaining teams forming Division ‘B’. New teams Friends First Day SC and Idle WMC were added plus Villas and Windhill Parish Church adding second teams into the line up.

Despite both teams winning their opening game, the season got off to a slow start due to a combination of rain and bad results both teams fail to win another game in the month and so everyone at the club is happy to see the new month of June arrive.

The new month started with F Smith scoring 81 not out, a then club record in a 146 run cup victory over Windhill Parish Church was secured. Meanwhile the ‘B’ team would suffer at the hands of Idle Highfield. The ‘B’ team began well dismissing Idle Highfield for 90 but disaster struck with H Cooper claiming 6 – 2 and J Swift 4 – 3 the ‘B’ Team were shot out for just 8 runs, which still stands as the lowest ever score by a Bolton Villas team.
The cup win was the turning point of the season and for the ‘A’ team and for the next month the team remained unbeaten, as July approached the club found themselves in second place just behind Wrose Hill.

By the end of July the club had moved to the top of the division following the eight wicket defeat of Idle Highfield and was preparing itself for a cup semi final against opponents Saltaire Road Parish Mission at Cowling Road. In the other semi final Windhill Parish Mission played Idle Highfield at the Francis Willey Sports Ground.

In the semi final, Saltaire Road batted first, but were demolished by the bowling of Ernest Shelton (8 – 8), backed up by George A Wilson (2 – 5). Despite losing two early wickets C B Aked 13 not out and F Smith 10 not out saw the team to their 30 run target and a place in the final. The final began on Tuesday 11th August 1925 played at Windhill Cricket Club, with a 6.45pm start. At this time Windhill played their home games on Windhill Recreation Ground off Crag Road, giving rise to their early nickname of ‘Crag Enders’. This would be one of the last games staged on the ground, as by the following year 1926 they had moved to their present site on Busy Lane.

Windhill Cricket Club came into existence in the 1880’s their ground was roughly between Carr Lane and Wrose Brow Road. They then moved to the Windhill Crag Road Recreation ground, adjoining a bowling green which was reputed to be the best in the district.
The most memorable match on the Recreation Ground was when the great Sydney Barnes visited in 1918 demolishing Windhill for only16, his contribution a worthy 8-4 with six of the wickets falling in seven deliveries including a hat trick.

In 1925, Windhill took over a hay field, backing on to Thackley Old Road (Busy Lane), and by 1930 they had dramatically improved the facilities. Amongst the players who would play for the club in their new surroundings would be Johnny Lawrence the Somerset leg spinner and the legendary Sir Learie Constantine.

The 1925 final was played over two nights, Tuesday and Friday and the Shipley Times & Express carried reports of the game over two issues.



The final for the Vincent Hall Charity Cup was begun on the Windhill Recreation ground on Tuesday evening the finalists being Windhill Primitive Methodists and Bolton Villas. The Villas batted throughout the evening scoring 206 runs and Windhill will play their innings this Friday evening on the same ground.

Bolton opened with E Shelton and H Hill to the bowling of A Lund and E Wilson. A sensation was caused early by Hill being clean bowled by Lund with the second ball of the match before a run had been bowled and in the next over Shelton was also dismissed before he had scored , Wilson being the successful bowler.

F Watmough partnered by F Smith then commenced to punish the Windhill bowling severely scoring 21 out of a total of 26, before Lund again met with success. The outgoing batsman scoring 4 fours and a two. Another productive partnership followed Smith and C Aked taking the total to 64 without further loss. Then Smith was stumped by Teale, Lund again being the successful bowler. G A Wilson who filled the vacancy, commenced to take heavy toll of the bowling and the century was sent up after about one hours play. Four runs later Wilson lost his partner clean bowled by E Wilson for 22, scored as a result of six hits, 5 fours and a two. F Jowett who then joined Wilson did not remain long being dismissed for 5 by Hodson, who had taken the ball from Lund at 105. E Williamson and Wilson took the total to 150 when the latter fell to a catch by Hull off E Wilson’s bowling. He had played a forceful innings of 67 but had been given a couple of ‘lives’ in the field. His chief hits included 14 fours and a couple of two’s.

Williamson and J Stead added 25 for the 8th wicket and the latter remained to take the total to 206 being not out 25. The Bolton total was the result of just over two hours play and was noticeable for the confident way in which practically all the batsman tackled the Windhill bowling.

On the Windhill side although their bowling was of good order the fielding was very poor and many chances were missed. Their slowness also gave the opponents many chances to add runs which they were quick to take advantage of. E Wilson was the most successful bowler his five wickets being obtained for 59 runs. A Lund secured 3 – 47 Hodson 1 –15 and Hull 1 – 37.

Bolton Villas

E Shelton b Wilson 0
H Hill b Lund 0
F M Watmough b Lund 21
F Smith st Teale b Lund 25
C B Aked b Wilson 22
G A Wilson c Hull b Wilson 67
F Jowett b Hodson 5
E Williamson c & b Hull 23
J Stead not out 25
A Berry b Wilson 5
S H Wilson b Wilson 0
Extras 13
Total 206




The second part of the final for the Vincent Hall Charity Cup which was played on Friday evening on the Windhill C C ground resulted in a decisive victory for Bolton Villas over Windhill Primitives.

Bolton had batted on the preceding Tuesday and had scored 206 G A Wilson being top scorer with 67.
On Friday disaster came very early to Windhill Primitives, Hopkinson losing his wicket to Shelton who clean bowled him with the very first ball of the evening.

E Wilson who had gone in with Hopkinson, was joined by E Hull, J Stead sharing the bowling with Shelton. The batsmen took the score to 32 by careful batting and then a bowling change was made, F Smith taking the ball to enable Stead to change to the other end. Smith bowling at once proved dangerous and the desired effect of the change was secured when he clean bowled Wilson for 8 in his first over, the second wicket falling at 36. Stead was also successful at his new end Hulls wicket falling at the same total. He had scored 24 which included 5 fours. This brought J Naylor and H Hull together but the partnership was not very long in duration for the latter was caught by Jowett off Smith at 41, of which he had scored 5. Naylor remained to score 13 and was then clean bowled by Smith at 61. Shelton returned to the attack in place of Stead and proved unplayable, the last five wickets falling for 22 runs.

During his first turn with the ball, Shelton took 1 – 13 and his second spell he bowled three overs and took four wickets, this being obtained at a total cost of only 18 runs. Smith also met with considerable success, three wickets falling to him for 14 runs, G A Wilson who was given a trial with the ball secured 1 – 10 and Stead 1 – 30.

At the close of the match, the cup was presented to S Wilson the Bolton Villas captain by Mr C Smith the Chairman of the Windhill Cricket Club Committee. Mr Smith was introduced by Mr A Teale Chairman of the Shipley District League. A vote of thanks to Mr Smith was proposed by Mr Waddington, Vice President Shipley District League and seconded by Mr Turner President of Bolton Villas Cricket Club.

Windhill Primitives

E Hopkinson b Shelton 0
E Wilson b Smith 8
E Hull b Stead 24
J Naylor b Smith 13
H Hull ct Jowett b Smith 5
R Teale ct Smith b Shelton 8
A Teale b Shelton 3
A Lund b Shelton 9
B Hodson c Williamson b Shelton 2
J W Verity c & b G Wilson 0
T A Smith not out 0
Extras 4
Total 76

A ground collection made of behalf of Salts Hospital realised £3 10s 2d and G A Wilson who made 65 on the Tuesday evening also received £1 15s 6d which he donated to the hospital.

After the cup victory the team were full of confidence and it was reflected in the next game against close rivals Wrose Hill. F Smith dominated the Villas innings with 103 not out, the first recorded century in the club’s history. This enabled the team to post an all out total of 205. Wrose Hill never threatened this total and were dismissed for 41.

The team now clear at the top had only to claim victory’s in their last two games to clinch back to back league championships and to complete a league and cup double for the season. In the kind of form the team had shown from May they were in no mood to let their lead slip and the necessary two victories were achieved.

The first team had lost their only game of the season against Windhill Primitives on 16th May since that defeat they had won fifteen consecutive matches.

The photograph below appeared in the Yorkshire Observer Budget on Friday 4th September 1925. The First X1 are pictured with the Shipley & District League Championship Trophy and the Victor Hall Charity Cup.

First XI 1925

First XI 1925

The photograph was taken at the old ground, prior to the move to Willow Crescent. Looking at the photograph, it is possible to establish the location of the old ground, which was situated behind the houses on Livingstone Road and Kings Drive. The two houses in the picture still exist, just above them are the houses on Finsbury Drive, top left are the houses which were under construction on the new Swain House estate.

It has not been possible to identify all the players in the photo; we do know that the middle player on the back row is Fred Jowett, father of the long serving player and official, Donald Jowett. It is safe to assume that the player with the cup in his hands is the club captain Sydney H Wilson.
Among the other players featured in the photograph are, Ernest Shelton, H Hill, W Lunn, Fred Jowett, Jim Stead, C B Aked, George A Wilson, F Smith, Albert Berry, E Williamson and F M Watmough.

The Second X1 could not match the season of the first team, finishing sixth. One highlight was achieved by J Armitage who in the game against Green Lane claimed 4 – 3 including the first recorded league hat trick by a Villas player. The Shipley times carried a report from the annual league presentation evening:

At the leagues Third Annual Whist Drive and Dance Presentation held at the Victoria Hall, Saltaire on the 9th October, the Bolton Villas players were awarded silver sugar basins to mark the achievement of winning the league championship and silver cigarette cases for their cup victory.

To celebrate the clubs success the club organised a dinner and social evening at the Beanstalk Restaurant, Charles Street, Bradford, on Thursday October 15th at 7pm. The tickets cost 4/6d. The event must have been a great and eventful evening as it was reported in the local paper:

There are few more enterprising cricket organisations than the 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 is not a success. The beloved emblem is hung the wrong way. Can it be that the flag was hoisted after the celebration dinner.


The Shipley & District League reverted back to one division for the 1926 season and the club was faced with an intriguing situation of the first and second teams coming head to head. The Shipley Times & Express carried a preview of the new season on the 16th April, they reported:

News from Bolton Villas is that they are going to make a bold bid for a hat trick of league wins and as they have the services of most of last year’s player’s they will certainly take some stopping.

The season began slowly, but by mid May had moved into second position in the league, but a string of defeats during June and July put paid to any hopes they had of completing a hat trick of league titles.

In June, the Championship Challenge game against Idle WMC, held over from the previous season took place at the Shipley UDC ground. Batting first Villas were bowled out for 50.

Bolton Villas

W Lunn b S Oddy 10
E Shelton b S Oddy 0
F M Watmough lbw T Johnson 0
F Smith lbw S Oddy 4
C B Aked b S Oddy 1
E Williamson c Thornton b T Johnson 0
H Hill c Hobson b S Oddy 2
G A Wilson b T Johnson 6
A Berry c Johnson b S Oddy 12
S H Wilson not out 6
J Lambert b T Johnson 2
Extras 3
Total 50

In reply Idle WMC were soon in trouble thanks to the bowling of Ernest Shelton who claimed the first eight wickets with less than 15 on the board. Idle never recovered and were finally all out for 25. Ernest Shelton claiming 9 – 9 which is still a club record.

T Goldsboro b E Shelton 1
F Conroy c G A Wilson b E Shelton 1
F Thornton lbw E Shelton 1
W Hobson c Williamson b E Shelton 2
T Johnson c Lunn b E Shelton 2
S Oddy Lbw b E Shelton 0
W Dracup b E Shelton 0
W Conroy b E Shelton 5
W Jones b G A Wilson 6
J Hargreaves b E Shelton 2
A Ogden not out 2
Extras 3
Total 25

The team then took on a League X1 on 29th June 1926 at Cowling Road. The Shipley Times and Express provided the following report on the game:

T Whipp 13, R Normington 12 and W Smith 10 helped the League X1 total 67, G A Wilson 3 –12 and J Stead 3 –14 being Villas most successful bowlers. However in reply Villas found runs hard to get and were all out for 45 C B Aked scoring 12 and E Williamson 10. S Oddy bowling splendidly, taking 8 wickets for 7 runs. The fielding was very good W Smith and R Normington each taking difficult one-handed catches in the slips.

With the number of league defeats mounting for each team the only bright spot of the season was that both teams moved into the cup semi final where they would play each other at Blythwick Sports Ground on Wednesday 14th July with a 6.45pm start. The second semi final would be played between Wrose Hill and Idle Highfield at Saltaire Park on the Wednesday 21st July. Victories for the First X1 and Wrose Hill set up the prospect of an exciting final at the new home of Windhill Cricket Club, on Busy Lane. On the 20th August 1926 the Shipley Time & Express carried a report on the game.



When the third evenings play began in the final of the Vincent Hall Charity Cup on Friday the game was in a very interesting position as in reply to the Bolton Villas score of 137 Wrose Hill had scored 99 – 5.

It was anticipated that there would be a keen fight for victory and these anticipations were borne out to the full as Wrose Hill had their last two men at the wicket before the winning runs were scored.

The Bolton Villas team, were fighting to hold the cup for the second year in succession and they quickly reported progress as with only four added to the total H Fawcett was caught at square leg by Speight. The challengers however suffered a more severe blow at 107, for at that total N Walton who on the previous Wednesday had scored an undefeated 53 was clean bowled by Shelton with the addition of only three runs to his score. This was a shock for the Wrose Hill supporters who attended, for it had been hoped that Walton would remain undefeated to the end.

However it was chiefly through his strong defiance that Wrose Hill eventually won the cup and he was greeted with vociferous applause on his retirement. N Ellse and P Holmes were then the partners and the former raised the crowd to enthusiasm by brilliant driving and hitting. He used the ‘long handle’ with good effect, and when he was dismissed by a brilliant on handed catch at short mid off he had scored 20 out of 21runs put on for the 8th wicket.

Another thrill came when T Irving was out LBW at 130, J Irving and P Holmes however proved equal to scoring the remaining eight runs and when the winning hit was made they were carried off the field shoulder high.

After the match the donor Mr Vincent Hall presented the cup to the winning Wrose Hill captain, Mr H Fawcett. After the Captain of Wrose Hill had spoken Mr S Wilson captain of Bolton Villas complimented Wrose Hill on their victory. In a way he was pleased to see another team win the cup. His team had only been in the league two years, the first year they won the league, last year both league and cup and he was pleased to see the other teams striving so hard to make the honours go round.

Bolton Villas

E Aked b Whipp 18
E Shelton c Whipp b Fawcett 18
W Lunn c Vickerman b Whipp 17
J Stead c Holmes b Walton 13
C B Aked c Hanson b Thorpe 5
G Wilson c Ellse b Walton 32
F Smith b Fawcett 7
F Speight Not out 12
F Jowett b Fawcett 0
A Berry b Fawcett 0
S H Wilson c Holmes b Thorpe 0
Extras 0
Total 15

Wrose Hill

N Walton b Shelton 55
W Skirrow run out 0
T Whipp b Shelton 0
C Thorpe c Jowett b Stead 5
F Hanson b Stead 5
A Vickerman b Smith 29
H Fawcett c Speight b Stead 1
N Ellse c Wilson b Shelton 21
P Holmes not out 3
T Irving lbw Shelton 1
J Irving not out 5
Extras 13
Total 138-9


The league again split into two sections for 1927, and again the club ran two teams this time as Bolton and Bolton Villas playing in Sections A & B respectively. Villas by this time had lost the services of their main strike force of Ernest Shelton and Jim Stead, leaving all-rounders George A Wilson and Sydney H Wilson to carry the main thrust of the attack.

By early July the team stood 4th in the league 4 points behind leaders Idle WMC, but defeat by them on the 16th July ended any hope of catching the leaders. The team finished the season on a high with only one defeat in the last five games.

In the Victor Hall Charity Cup of that year the final was played between the holders Wrose Hill, and Shipley Urban District Council (SUDC). The game started on Tuesday evening, Wrose batting first found themselves dismissed for 77 and in reply SUDC had reached 23 – 3 when play finished for the evening.

The following night they had taken their score to 66 – 7 when bad light stopped play, stumps were drawn but later the light improved and the umpires asked the batsmen to continue, they refused and the game was abandoned. The League Executive decided that the game would have to be replayed.

In the replay, Wrose Hill were shot out for 24, but in reply SUDC never got going and were bowled out for 19, inflicting the first defeat of the season on SUDC.


At the beginning of the 1928 season not many would have guessed that this would be the last in the Shipley & District League. The league would operate with 18 clubs, each club playing each other once. The big game of the season would be on 11th August when the team would play local rivals Bolton. The Shipley Times reported the game, which would go down in the club’s history, but for all the wrong reasons

Bolton Villas received a shock when a collapse failed to right itself and the whole team was bowled out, for only 10 runs. Bolton their opponents, who share the same ground, batted first and compiled a total of 104. The Villas who are considered the strongest batting side in the league then opened their innings thinking the match was already theirs, for a hundred runs was quite a moderate score for them. Unfortunately the team must have struck one of their off days and the eleven batsmen only contributed six runs between them and together with four extras made a total of tens runs. Carter and J R Smith were the successful bowlers taking six wickets for four runs and four for two runs respectively.

This score remains as the record lowest score.

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.