Cast your mind back to 1888 when this cricket club was formed, according to the honours board. Having said that, although there seems to be no documentary proof available today, it has been suggested that Collingham played 20 years earlier in the 1860′s.
Whatever the truth, the first captain in the 1888 season was a J. Wardman. AS he led the team out, Queen Victoria had been on the throne just over 50 years, the British Empire and the Royal Navy ruled the world, Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister, W.G. Grace, the game’s first great celebrity and Victorian England’s most famous sportsman, skippered England, and other distinguished personality who had so much influence in these parts, Lord Hawke, captained Yorkshire.
Since then, Collingham’s status has developed and grown into what it is today; a successful club which won the Airedale & Wharfedale League and Waddilove cup double in 2012 and is particularly proud of encouraging dozens of young cricketers, weekly using its excellent facilities.
Competitively, Collingham played for more than 60 years in the Wetherby League between 1926 and 1993. Village rivalry and battles on the field were intense; the club established a solid reputation as the First XI won 11 league championships, runners up eight times and 20 cup finals. The major decision to leave, after so long, the Wetherby league in the early 1990’s was not without internal controversy. Those members who won the argument were convinced that Collingham should be stretching themselves and playing at a higher standard; hence the successful application to join the Airedale & Wharfedale League.
So, since the summer of 1994, fewer trips on the A58, instead treks to Silsden and Illingworth and importantly, having to adjust to a brand new more challenging cricketing world.
Unfortunately, throughout its history Collingham can’t claim to have produced a cricketer who became talented enough to play for England. The nearest we’ve got is slow left arm spinner Stephen Booth, a former club captain and still playing for us at 49. He appeared for Somerset in the 1980’s with three of the best ever cricketers of that generation or any other, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Vivian Richards and Joel Garner.
Learning his cricket at TABS (Thorp Arch and Boston Spa), Stephen joined the Lord’s ground staff in 1980 as a 17 year old and played alongside Dermot Reeve, Martin Crowe and former England coach, Peter Moores. ‘I was then taken by Somerset and made my debut in 1983 and went to play in 33 County Championship matches, finishing with 87 wickets in first class cricket.”
“I lived the dream for four years. My best performance was at Lord’s against Middlesex (match figures of 3-21 and 4-26). I remember getting out John Emburey, Phil Edmonds and Paul Downton, all Test cricketers. The highlight was playing with three of the greatest cricketers of all time. Botham was the worlds best all rounder, Viv the world’s outstanding batsman and Joel was then ranked in the top three or four when it came to fast bowlers.
“I remember batting with Viv and I went in as nightwatchman and had to protect him. He said: “Why do I need looking after?” Viv looked after friends and made people feel welcome. Botham played the game hard and lived life on and off the field to the full. Ian, who came to my wedding, was good with the young lads and put time aside for young cricketers. Some stories are repeatable, some not.”
“I had four years at Somerset, and when Vic Marks was around they would play only one spinner. Taunton wasn’t the easiest place to bowl spin. I decided it was time to move on. There were possible opportunities to go to Worcestershire, but I got the offer of a job up here, and at that time it was employment from April to September, so you had to find a job for the other six months.”
“But it was all a great experience.” 123 years on, Collingham can be proud of its achievements and the contribution it has made and is making to the community.