FIDE SED CUI VIDE………’trust, but be careful of whom you trust’.
Article by Steve Knowles, April 2007
Formed in 1907, Bretton this year reaches its one hundredth anniversary and to celebrate this milestone it plans to push the boat out in fine style. A number of excellent events have been planned to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity – the highlight being a visit by ex-England star Jack Russell to the ground to paint a view of the pavilion. Situated a few miles south of Wakefield in West Yorkshire and just up the M1 from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, this pleasant village has played cricket host to many generations over the years.
Pre 1950 the local Allendale Estates helped develop the ground and over the years encouraged the playing of sports – in particular cricket – which became ever more popular with the masses immediately after the Second World War. Unfortunately, not too many player’s names can be remembered pre-war, nor indeed the circumstances surrounding the original formation of the Club in 1907. However, a (fairly) recent and fascinating interview given to then Club Chairman Ron George by an old warhorse of the Club, Billy Lund, gave us an idea of life in pre-war Bretton. Held in the nineties, Billy (b1914, d1998 – aged 84), reminisced in a very distinct way about his life and knowledge of West Bretton and its cricket club.
The Club had been formed in 1907 as part of the Allendale / Beaumont family Estates and they created a new cricket ground in Brick Row (1920). Billy’s dad Harry played in the noughties when the Club first started – then Billy and his elder brother first played in the twenties, when they were about 14 years of age. Billy worked for Allendale Estate as a youngster and then for Job Earnshaws as a forester. In later years he worked as a porter and handyman at the Bretton College. Apart from cricket Billy also enjoyed ferreting and shooting (when he wasn’t watching horse racing, point to point or racing greyhounds)! In 1923 the Club moved to its present site on Park Lane. Billy and his brother, however, went to play for Midgley CC (Billy getting a penny a run in payment). Bretton were appearing in the Denby Grange Cricket League at this time – playing the likes of Midgley, Netherton, Middlestown, Horbury and Kexbrough. Billy returned to play for WBCC in the thirties and he remembered a number of Bretton players – including the Oddie’s, the captain (who was a chap called Borthway from Haigh), Fred the Gatekeeper and an Alwen Mitchell. None of the Allendale family played the game – although all Estate employees did.
In 1933 a new Agent acting on behalf of the Allendale Estate was employed to run their affairs and so Bretton withdrew from the League and commenced playing friendly matches only. He also requested Billy become groundsman at the Cricket ground. A new 10 acre field close by also saw tennis and other sports being played during the thirties. A new Pavilion was built and a football team formed – who played on the ground during the winter months. A new Tea Room appeared – arriving via Rowley Hill CC. The Agent was sacked in 1937 and so the Club was handed back to ‘the Village’ to administer themselves – who then joined the Wakefield Cricket League with two teams. The grounds were ‘poor’ according to Billy and runs hard to get. He married Marion in 1939 (a union which was to last almost 60 years – until they both died within hours of each other in 1998). Billy then didn’t play for about ten years (including the war) but post war there was fresh interest in cricket shown by a number of Bretton villagers – culminating in the official ‘reformation’ of WBCC in 1946. Lord Allendale died in 1956 and the Club at this time in effect bought the ground from the Allendale Estate and so could shape it’s own destiny.
From the fifties onwards, we can glimpse a few further snapshots of the characters that made up West Bretton Village Cricket Club and the meetings and cricket matches they were involved in. The study of certain important historical documents – in particular scorebooks and club minute books – have unearthed a treasure trove of names, teams, matches, events, decisions, finances, fall outs, ground improvements, records and scores – all contributing to the fabric of village sporting life.
A meeting held at 7 pm on Friday the 22nd March 1946, in the Scout Room belonging Bretton Lodge, heralded the return of cricket to WBCC after the Second World War. Eighteen members were present and Chairman Mr FW Middleton presided. It was agreed that enough support existed to enable the club to be officially ‘reformed’. All existing equipment was to be checked for worthiness, the ‘Petroleum Board’ was to be approached regarding the requisite supply of petrol needed for the mower, Mr F Smith was authorised to mow the outfield (for a fee of 5 shillings) and Mr WT Lund was re-instated as Groundsman. Subscription was set at 5 shillings per player for the coming season and to help raise further income for the club it was agreed to hold a dance in the nearby Village Institute (if the Military Authorities would grant permission). An advert was also to be placed in the ‘Wakefield Express’ to attract fixtures for the coming 1946 season.
The following appointments were made (or made very shortly afterwards):
Club President…. Lord Allendale
Club Chairman…. Mr FW Middleton
Club General Secretary…. Mr J Smith Club
Treasurer…. Mr C Wilkinson
Club Committee…. Mr WT Lund.. Mr F Smith.. Mr L Lund.. Mr A Lee.. Mr J Rowe.. Mr J Bowes
Club Captain was Mr FW Middleton – whilst Vice Captain was Mr WT Lund.