DOMINOES, WHISKY AND TENNIS!
Meltham CC Minutes Part 1: 1890-1948
By Rob Hardie
Cricket in Yorkshire is steeped in history and tradition and Meltham CC is no exception. Over the years the club has kept alive years of history in the form of a series of minutes books from club meetings. Some of the information in these books gives an indication as to how the club was run during the early years of its existence. The earliest of the books is over 115 years old and although the club was founded in 1867 the earliest record of meetings is dated 16th February 1890.
The book itself is well worn and is showing the effects of its journey through time and the binding of the book appears to be held together only by some form of black tape. The writing detailing the meetings is intricate and neat but in places it is barely legible due to its old fashioned style. In its pages lie accounts of rules and regulation changes, social events and financial issues. All of which give the reader clues as to how Meltham CC went about its business in the early years.
A perfect example of this is apparent in the first few pages and much like today the club held fundraising events more than 100 years ago. On the 29th May 1890 a meeting of club members proposed holding a gala event at the ground; the members also agreed to approaching the Meltham Mills Band to perform at the event for a princely sum of £3. However, at a committee meeting a year later on 29th June 1891 the band have been booked to play for only £2.10 at that year’s event.
The finances of the club are a reoccurring theme throughout the book. During a meeting in early 1892, the club records details of ground maintenance work where MCC paid to board up a wall separating the cricket pitch from the rest of the ground at a cost of £10.1.0.. This is not the only work on the ground to be talked about. A Mr Brook spent £30 on repairing part of the ground; not only this but £5 was spent on acquiring a horse for the club. At the same meeting the minutes show that the club raised £4.6. after a match played against Linthwaite; this was following the 1892 gala event at which the Holme Brass Band was “engaged to play for the dancing”. Also recorded are details of a special concert that raised £9; the concert was performed by locals in the Oddfellows Hall.
The re-election of club officials are documented in the minute books. At the club’s Annual General Meeting in October 1896 the committee members proposed others for election and re-election. The list of officers for 1896 is confirmed and listed also. The club appears to make the AGM into a party-like event as the appearance of a shopping list with the minutes indicates. At the 1896 AGM there was cheese, tea and coffee, and also bottles of scotch and rum, 15 boxes of cigars and ½ lb of tobacco as well as 6 barrels of local beer. Even all those years ago, they still knew how to throw a party, despite the meeting being held in the local infants school!
The minute book takes the club up to October 1898 and lists over 150 more meetings that discussed elections, finances and club events. These meetings were held at the school and the Railway Hotel up until 1896; thereafter the clubhouse was used. At the end of the book the club plots which members have paid their membership fees on a ‘grid’ - not too dissimilar to the ones used today.
The next volume begins in January 1929 and is titled the ‘Meltham Cricket and Athletic Club Minutes Book’ and is signed by secretary Tom Hirst. Club finances are still high on the agenda during the meetings. At the first meeting of the season many financial topics are discussed with club bills needing to be paid. MCC owed £5.10.0. in income tax, £4.6.9. in special duty, £12.6. for attendance at a league dinner, and they also seem to owe a gentleman named Allan Dyson £10.0..
In a small typed note left between the pages, an indication is given as to the financial trouble the club found itself in in 1933. Although the amount is unclear, it appears a Mr R.F. Woodhead decided to waive the debt owed to him, for which the treasurer expresses his thanks.
As probably expected in historical documents, a few strange rules and regulations are sure to be found. Meltham CC is no exception either. In a proposal that was accepted by the members, it was decided in July 1929 that under no circumstances should tennis be allowed to be played on a Sunday.
As was seen in the first book, the club clearly knew how to enjoy themselves as the listings for the Christmas meetings shows. The club paid out for a large selection of beers, wines and spirits to be enjoyed by the members over the festive period. This included barrels of Bass and Guinness among other ales, one and a half bottles of whisky, rum and brandy, and several bottles of red and fortified wine.
This minute book goes up to December 1934 and lists numerous events through the years regarding equally important and mundane events. Near the back comes a good insight into the internal relationship between the tennis and cricket sections of the club. In another type-written note glued to the pages, the breakdown of a meeting of the two sections is documented. The sheet refers to money owed to banks and clubs regarding usage of the sports facilities. It shows that the club owes the bank an outstanding debt of £176.6.0. It also brings into question again the delicate finances of the club as a whole during this time.
The third book begins during wartime in February 1943. Again it lists the comings and goings of the club - this one taking the club up to June 1948. The writing style in this book is much more legible than the previous ones.
There are more light-hearted details in this edition. The first comes in February 1946 when the club sought to purchase a pack of brand new dominoes – at this point Mr G. Bailey announces he will apply for a set. Unfortunately he was unable to acquire one! In May 1946 there is a request to find the owner of a heavy blue overcoat left in the pavilion.
A ‘major dilemma’ is noted on 12th June 1946. The club resolved that the bar should only be open for half an hour during cricket matches to stop there being a beer shortage! The committee took the decision following a problem period in which after cricket matches on Saturdays there was no beer left on Sunday mornings for club members!
Throughout the books there are snippets of information that are both entertaining and educational. The factual accounts of the club are extremely interesting and show the way things used to be. The books can be located at the Meltham CC clubhouse.
TESTIMONIALS AND TOBACCO
Meltham CC Minutes Part 2: 1949-68
By Rob Hardie
Unlike the older editions, the five minute books that document the period 1949-68 are in fairly good condition. There is the expected wear and tear that would be expected to accumulate over the years on books over 55 years old but like the previous books they are in a very well kept state. The writing style begins to be less cursive than before, with secretaries using print text rather than the more attractive or decorative styles of writing.
The first volume in this set begins in 1949 and carries on up to the final meeting of the year, on the 18th of September 1953. It carries a more formal feel to it than some of the earlier pre-war books as the meetings are presented in the same format for most of the book. The layout remains the same throughout with issues, payments and minutes of previous meetings clearly labelled and whether issues were resolved or not is clearly indicated in the margins on the left of the page. What is striking about this book is that it appears to be becoming more like a finance and accounts book for the club as a substantial amount of the text is devoted to issues concerning money, bills and payments.
However, there are a few notable events that again show differences between now and then. During a meeting on the 10th October a new groundsman is taken on, but is given a salary cap on his wages. An hourly rate of 2/9 is agreed for a Mr Hubert Sanderson, but his wage must not exceed £15. This is surely in an attempt to maximise the groundsman’s efforts and ensure the club would not be short-changed by the tradesman as the club’s finances were under strict control at this post-war juncture.
As would be expected at this time, the male members of the club were in sole charge of club matters. So it would be no surprise that at an annual dinner the ladies committee were charged with the task of catering for the all-male guests! Nowadays there would most certainly be an outcry if this were to happen.
Most of the book deals with normal weekly committee meetings but on February 29th 1952 we encounter minutes from a Meltham CC Annual General Meeting. Fully explained are the club elections, where the committee positions of: president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, league representatives and groundsman are all proposed, seconded and confirmed as the club prepares itself for the 1952 season.
In general business the club set out the building fund plans to upgrade Mean Lane and the youth team’s budgets are also set out for the year along with other monetary matters for the season. The meeting ends with a proposed round of applause for the elected chairman, a motion which is subsequently accepted and carried out.
The second book covers the period 1954-7, the third 1958-63, while the fourth carries on from there until 1966, and the fifth from then until 1968. There are plenty more notable events and proceedings recorded in these volumes.
The AGM meetings are noted in detail from 1952 onwards. During the 1954 meeting, special mention if given to a Mr H. Pogson after stepping down as treasurer after “16 years of faithful service.” It is later revealed that a testimonial fund of £5-6-6 is awarded to Mr Pogson for his service to Meltham Cricket Club. 1954 also sees the club rent out the Mean Lane ground to the local Silica Brick company cricket team for their evening league fixtures, thus earning the club an extra 4/6 a game, and if an opposition switches grounds to Mean Lane an extra £1-1-0 would be charged, to go directly into club funds.
Mentioned for the first time on April 22nd is a women’s team. A Mrs Moxon is to be written to and will be promised the ground for fixtures on alternate Wednesdays, to alternate with the junior team. The fee per match for Mrs Moxon is set at £1 although she has been denied the right to practice at the ground. It could be assumed that the meetings are still men-only as the ladies team captain was not in attendance, hence the proposed sending on of a letter to the lady in question.
Interestingly, a meeting in May 1954 reveals that a touring team of South Australians are to attend a special dance in their honour. It appears that all Huddersfield League teams are to attend and for this special occasion it is proposed that the members of the Meltham ladies committee be invited to accept an invitation to the event. The occasion, however, did not sell out as 6 tickets from Meltham were returned to the league secretary. Disappointingly, though, the event is not documented again in the minutes.
The pages of the third book conjure up a surprise in that they contain minutes of an AGM in February 1962 complete with two actual balance sheets from the meeting.
These are the first separate sheets, and document the finances of the club from the 1961 season – see images above and below. They contain information such as: wages, utilities, prize money, gate receipts and even an allowance for the club to buy its newspapers.
On the reverse of the sheet are the bar account details for the year. It shows that the club were never short of alcohol with over £3,000 being spent on beer, sprits and tobacco, a quite sizeable amount of money back in the 1960s.
Throughout the remainder of the books, the week-to-week dealings of the club continue to be documented. During 1966, however, the club details work to be carried out at the club: concreting and adding drainage around the tennis courts and adding tarmac to the approach to the club. Additionally, the club announced that work was to be done to add additional drainage to the pitch as the surface water that was building up after heavy rain in 1966 was running off onto the road leading to the club, affecting access to the ground. Other work to update and improve the club is noted and it seems apparent that the committee are intent on improving club facilities now they have more financial security.
The books can be located at the Meltham CC clubhouse.
GEORDIE DRINKS, GAMBLING, AND RIGHT HOOKS!
Meltham CC Minutes Part 3: 1968
By Rob Hardie
In this, the last of my series on documenting some of the lighter sides of the cricket club, I take a look back on the 16-year period that spans from the beginning of the1969 season up until the end of the 1984 campaign. The last four books from the club archives continue to document the run-of-the-mill occasions and events that make up a club such as Meltham. The books themselves still have a musky aroma - testament to their age and confinement to a box in a darkened room in the heart of the clubhouse.
The first of this set begins in January 1968 and straight away in its pages lies an interesting anecdote. The secretary of the club is requested to acquire a notice from the solicitors saying that the club is not responsible for damage to cars that are left in the club’s car park. As the car was becoming a highly prominent aspect of life around this time, and the motor industry taking off, it would have been right for the club to cover legal issues that could potentially land them in difficulty. As money at local clubs is notoriously tight, this will have been a great relief to get this matter solved and also put to rest any legal ramifications that might arise. At the next meeting the minutes show that the solicitors fully support the idea and plans for a sign to be screwed to the pavilion are put in place.
A dark day came on 22nd April 1969 with so few people declaring an interest in catering for the 2nd XI; and so the club decides against the idea and scraps it altogether. So for the entirety of the 1969 season, the second string are treated to the refreshments of a nearby confectioner, based in Meltham village centre!
In May 1969 the league heaped scorn on the club after the 2nd XI failed to return for a rearranged match with Elland. After the match had been called off, the squad failed to turn up and compete the game at the rearranged time - and the club were fined 7/6 for their troubles.
In a situation similar to that of recent times, the Paddock Shield was sent to be engraved after the second XI brought the shield back to Mean Lane for the sixth time in the competition’s history. However, the time taken to complete the engraving of the shield took longer than expected and team captain K.Walker was asked by the committee to look into why this was.
The next book takes the club forward into a new decade. The 1970-73 seasons are covered in the next chapter of the minutes. In the early pages of this book, the club’s darts and dominoes teams get special mention (these are now defunct), and as the club knockout tournament reaches its climax the finals date and prizes are set. The lucky winner of the competition is treated to prizes from the Butlins in Holmfirth, but unfortunately the names of the recipients of these prizes are undisclosed.
Mr Alfred Topp, the club’s record-breaking wicket-taker with over 1,000 wickets, was approached with a proposal for the 1971 season. Topp was asked by the committee to help with the search for overseas professionals who would be suitable for the following season. Not only an outstanding wicket-taker, but a scout also!
It appears that the Christmas party season struck one hearty club member too hard. A letter sent to the committee told its own story. At the second meeting after Christmas, the committee received a letter from a Mr C.Midgley apologising for his absence and for his ‘unfortunate conduct’ in the clubhouse at the Christmas Eve party. Could his absence be down to the events of that night and just another drunken misdemeanour? Probably.
On a lighter note, the club trialled bottles of ‘Newkie Broon’ after being contacted by Newcastle and Scottish breweries. All were in favour so I’m sure that club members enjoyed its arrival. Oh, and later on, Websters beer was replaced by Newcastle Exhibition…good times!
On 4th September 1973 the decision was unanimously made to appoint Dilip Doshi for the forthcoming season and terms were agreed. Now it was just a case of the mad dash to the airport to sign the player - and in a year’s time Doshi would have taken the league by storm and captured the league bowling prize.
The Meltham clubhouse is nowadays used for many kinds of sports, but perhaps for the first time in the lounge boxing was witnessed! No, not the competitive sport but the sparring of two gents who were arguing over a card game and the prize money on offer. Following a fight the previous week the meeting of November 9th 1976 saw the committee agree on new rules to prevent any further flare-ups over gambling. A sign notified any would-be card sharks that the maximum bet from this time on would be only 25p a stake. In addition, there was to be no playing 30 minutes after time had been called, with side betting strictly prohibited.
1984 sees the club struggle financially. The treasurer’s yearly report is badly misleading with the club in the black, but with unpaid bills looming the club would be plunged firmly into the red for the foreseeable future. The committee calls for fundraisers and a healthy revenue over the bar to be maintained. The plight of the club in the 1980s is in no small part down to the extensions, maintenance work and new building work during the 1960s and 1970s. The club were badly in debt because of this work and although there were brand new facilities to be had, the club suffered for its gain in the long term.
The minute books can be located at the Meltham CC clubhouse.
SAND, SHIELDS, AND SYKES CUPS!
15 Things You Didn’t Know About Meltham Cricket Club by Rob Hardie
With Meltham Cricket Club having been in existence for over 150 years, you would expect there to have been records broken and well documented exploits. So on that premise, here are 15 facts you may not (or possibly might) know about MCC:
1) Joseph Brook’s remarkable wicket-taking exploits of 10/8 against Bradley Mills in 1938 is a record that still stands today. This was confirmed by Drakes Huddersfield League chairman, Roger France.
2) Meltham Cricket Club received special civic recognition from Meltham town council in 1995. This honour was bestowed upon the club in recognition of the club’s magnificent season the previous year. 1994 saw the club claim the league championship and Sykes Cup ‘double’ for the first time in the club’s history.
3) The club was founded in 1867. The same year Queen Victoria and Napoleon III turned down plans for a channel tunnel!
4) Meltham Cricket Club is the only club in the league to have won the Sykes Cup four times in a row. This was from 1992-5.
5) Along with Broad Oak, Meltham’s 2nd XI has won the Paddock Shield a record 11 times.
6) Meltham’s Nirmal Nanan remains the only player to win three consecutive league batting prizes, from 1977-9.
7) Meltham also have the honour of boasting the only player to win three consecutive league bowling prizes - Paul Booth claiming the awards from 1997-9.
8) Paul Booth also holds the record for most Sykes Cup man-of-the-final awards, collecting his three awards in the victorious cup campaigns of 1992, 1993 and 1995.
9) Current England Test star Ryan Sidebottom received the Lodge Cup in 2001. AKA the Alec Lodge Memorial Cup, the trophy is awarded to any current or recent junior player who has made a significant contribution in any sport. Sidebottom played several games for Meltham in the 1990s.
10) Club vice-president Roy Kilner was made a Drakes League life vice-president in 2005 for his services to cricket. Formerly the club’s captain, Kilner has held many roles at the club and is a recipient of the league batting prize twice, in 1957 and 1963.
11) Another hat-trick of prizes was claimed by Paul Booth, winning the Jack Gledhill trophy (all rounder of the year award) for the third time in 1999, after winning it also in 1992 and 1997.
12) The entire 1972 campaign was played away from home after too much sand on the pitch at Mean Lane destroyed the surface of the wicket.
13) The club’s first Sykes Cup win in 1948 was drawn out over three days’ play, Meltham eventually beating Lascelles Hall by 101 runs. It is claimed that the 1948 final, played at Fartown, saw the largest Sykes Cup final crowd in history.
14) Meltham Cricket Club did not appear in the local press until the 1880s; there was, however, mention of a side under the title of Meltham Mechanics Institute Cricket Club. This is possibly the original name of the club.
15) In a rule that was amended in 1896, it is a club regulation that nobody be allowed onto the playing surface with clogs on!
The Changing Face of Mean Lane by Rob Hardie
1867: The club as it exists now is formed. While the club has undergone various facelifts over the years, the gate marking 100 years of Meltham Cricket Club remains. The formation and centenary is commemorated on the iron gate that is located in the south-west corner of the ground. Unusually for local cricket, the club has played at Mean Lane since its inception. This is in contrast to many clubs in their early days who would spend a number of years changing grounds and switching venues before eventually finding a permanent home.
In the early years of Mean Lane the only buildings that existed were a small changing hut and another that was solely for the purchase and consumption of alcohol! This is no surprise as something that the club archives and minutes reveal, time and time again, is that no matter what the money troubles or other happenings they never run dry for their thirsty members!
1921: In place of the two inadequate buildings that were at the ground, a new pavilion was erected. At the princely sum of £350, the pavilion was constructed out of an old army barracks hut. Local councillor J.H.Preston and a Mr D.R.Gellantly officially opened the new building at a ceremony on 18 May. As for the new building itself, the club were unable to fund the actual erection of the pavilion and a generous donation of £150 from a Mr R.F. Woodhead allowed it to happen.
1922: Up until now, the club did not own the clubhouse which they resided in. The ground at this time was in the hands of the Glebe Trust and more than 50 years after initially forming, the club had a ground to call its own.
1923: The club at long last finalised the deal which handed over the deeds to the land on which the playing area and facilities were located. Below is the deed of conveyance and a plan of the land which was handed over.
1963: The old army hut and its well known green façade became affectionately know to all as ‘The Green Dragon’ – an ever-present theme as the current club logo is also a green dragon. But after 42 years, the pavilion was in desperate need of an upgrade. In keeping with the military theme, the old facilities were replaced by a former RAF Yeadon hut. The overall cost of the building set the club back nearly £800 and it was officially opened by another local councillor, this time Clr. H.B.Dearnley.
1969: The new pavilion lasted a mere six years before the club committee decided further improvements were necessary. But this time it was only an extension that was required which allowed for more seating and people inside the building itself.
1971: This year saw an incident that would have far reaching repercussions for the following season and cricket at Mean Lane. While preparing the pitch, the groundsman would unknowingly use too much sand on the playing surface…
1972: …and with that, completely ruin the wicket! As the groundsman used too much sand, it turned the playing area a nasty shade of dark brown. As the pitch was horribly disfigured, play was completely written off for the whole of the 1972 season while the whole playing surface was re-seeded. Surely something that current Mean Lane groundsman Chris Berry would not approve of!
1975: The improvements that were made on the new pavilion in 1969 would not be the last, as again, six years after the extension on the building was completed, work began on upgrading Mean Lane further. This time it was not only an extension that would be added to the ground to bring the club up to speed facilities wise. Now it would be the installation of new changing rooms, shower amenities and a brand new tea room. Not only this, but a new scorebox would be built in the north-west corner of the playing surface.
1990: The old pavilion was updated once again (before its demise 13 years later). This time, keeping in line again with tradition, the bar in the clubhouse was completely refurbished. The picture below, taken from the Huddersfield Examiner, shows the opening of the new bar and its first drinks being served. Seen in the image is current club president Charles Robson.
Opening of the new bar in 1990
2003: So with more than 80 years of loyal service to Meltham Cricket Club, the Green Dragon’s fire would inevitably and eventually be put out. With the signing of a lease document, Meltham Sports and Community Group Limited was formed. A new year and a new partnership would signal the dawn of a new era at Mean Lane and would see the construction of a new clubhouse completed.
The ‘Green Dragon’
2004: The 2004 season saw the first cricket campaign to be played without the shadow of an old green friend lurking in the background. The new state-of-the-art facilities, provided by government-funding and Sport England, gave a new home to the cricket club, football team and other sports clubs in the area.
The clubhouse in its current guise