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hawke Posted on 13/01/2011 21:04
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.
Edited On: 13/01/2011 22:01
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I finally said farewell to Saddleworth and Mossley but only after concluding that Harry Pilling (and John Sullivan) were born in the old Lancashire parish and that Micklehurst’s lovely Pennine hillside ground is in proper Cheshire. Geoff Clayton too was born in the Cheshire quarter. Still having lost Barry Wood and Peter Lever to the Lancashire side of the late sixties and seventies perhaps it would have been too much have found out that Harry Pilling was also one of ours!

This was the hardest and bleakest part of the entire trek for there was barely a settlement in sight mile after endless mile on the top of the Pennines twixt Yorkshire and Derbyshire. I thought I saw Tintwistle in the distance but that was perhaps the only relief from the drudgery of walking. I was amazed at how much of Yorkshire, ancient or modern, is in the Peak District National Park, a large south-western tract from Saddleworth to Sheffield. I have never been so pleased to see Sheffield and was so relieved to be in civilisation.

Not everyone has been so happy to have arrived in the city. Gordon Home, writing in his book ‘Yorkshire’ about his travels in the county published in 1908, claimed that, “ Sheffield is perhaps the blackest and ugliest city in England “. He was however impressed by the sight of the furnaces at night talking of their “dazzling brilliance “. J.B. Baddeley, in his ’Guide to the West Riding’ published a year later was not quite so critical but did describe Sheffield as “unquestionably grimy”. He nevertheless added that, “ Bramall Lane Cricket Ground is one of the most famous cricket-grounds in the kingdom, and a big county or Australian match upon it is a sight to see”. However he cautioned that it was, “ very enjoyable except when – as is too frequently the case – it is to leeward of the smoke, and the neighbouring stokers “coal-up” at hourly intervals ”.

Sheffield folk of course have long looked to the Peak District and the more picturesque parts that are situated in Derbyshire for much of its leisure. The city’s links with Derbyshire are so intertwined that when Sheffield’s suburbs spread in the nineteen hundreds development went continuously over the county boundary into Derbyshire to Dore and Totley. In the nineteen thirties planners decided it was convenient to actually extend the West Riding County Council’s jurisidiction into the two Derbyshire villages, including the Abbeydale Park sports ground which was already home to Sheffield Collegiate CC!

It is well known that Sheffield was one of the first places in Yorkshire where cricket was widely played and the very first where it became a regular public attraction. Cricket spread from southern England and became popular in Leicester and Nottingham then Sheffield and inter-town matches between Sheffield and Nottingham were taking place as early as 1771! Such fixtures went on for almost a century before county fixtures became more important. Three grounds were developed in Sheffield and quickly superceded each other, Hyde Park, Darnall then Bramall Lane. The most important cricket matches attracted people in their thousands, the largest crowd reckoned to be as many as 16,000 when 22 of Sheffield took on the All England X1 at Hyde Park in 1846. It was predictable that Sheffield should organise the first unofficial Yorkshire county match, against Norfolk in 1833. The team comprised entirely of Sheffield players which probably had more to do with local talent than local favouritism.

Sheffield’s best players over the years included Tom Marsden, Harry Sampson and Jimmy Dearman,whose combined playing careers spanned the eighteen twenties, thirties and forties.. They not only represented Sheffield and unofficial Yorkshire sides but also such teams as the United All England X1, the Players against the Gentlemen and the North versus the South. They also participated in important single wicket matches, Marsden and Dearman taking on but losing to the best players of the day, Alfred Mynn of Kent and Fuller Pilch of Norfolk. Pilch lived in Sheffield for a time and his presence there was probably the reason why Yorkshire’s first opponents were Norfolk.

Sheffield was proudly Yorkshire but given its close proximity to Derbyshire and also Nottinghamshire its cricketing links and indeed teams were not confined to Yorkshiremen. The city grew rapidly in the early nineteenth century and people came from far and wide to work, first in its cutlery and then its steel manufacturing industries. Many people moved to Sheffield from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire whilst some wealthier people took advantage new railway system and lived in Derbyshire.

Rawson Barker, who captained Yorkshire in their first match against Lancashire 1849, became Mayor of Sheffield and then Yorkshire CCC’s first President – albeit for one year – was born in Bakewell. Another Derbyshire man, Thomas Hunt born in Chesterfield, played for Yorkshire and Lancashire at that time (cricketers were freelance in those days and took every opportunity to play and earn a living). The Sugg brothers, Frank and Walter, who made occasional appearances for Yorkshire in the eighties and nineties, were born in Ilkeston. Their father was a solicitor in Sheffield. Neither made best use of their opportunites and both then played for the newly formed Derbyshire CCC. Frank went on to make a fine career for himself with Lancashire and England, keeping himself busy in the winter playing football for a number of clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Burnley and Bolton Wanderers!

Some fascinating research has been done by an enthusiast called Chris Hobbs and he has posted information on the internet about George ‘Happy Jack’ Ulyett, one of Sheffield’s last nineteenth century cricketers. George was born and raised in Sheffield but his father was from Nottinghamshire and his mother from Derbyshire whilst his eldest brother, John who became groundsman at Bramall Lane, was born in Derbyshire.

Moreover, Michael Ellison, a principle mover in the formation of the Yorkshire CCC, its treasurer and president for over thirty years and the clubs first major benefactor, was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire (as stated in Tony Woodhouse's 'Whose Who of Yorkshire CCC)! It was true that he lived most of his life in Sheffield and devoted himself to Yorkshire CCC and Bramall Lane but consider the supreme irony that he and Lord Hawke, famously born in Lincolnshire, lead the drive for Yorkshire to play only Yorkshire-born cricketers.

When Sheffield cricketers formed the Yorkshire CCC in 1863 their first rules included statements of county wide intent that all districts should nominate cricketers for the county side and that any that any club that had the necessary facilities and financial backing could make an offer to stage matches. In other words it was to be a county club playing matches throughout the county and not a solely a Sheffield based organisation. This was also a recognition of reality for cricket was becoming widely played throughout the county and the first Yorkshire official side of 1863 included only three Sheffielders.

In fact Sheffield’s greatest cricket days, and its playing supremacy in Yorkshire, were gone by the time the city lead the move to form a county club. When Yorkshire won their first official county championship in 1893, there were two Sheffield cricketers, George Ulyett and Ted Wainwright, in the side. However, on their retirement the city’s representation in the county side became intermittent for much of the following century.

However, towards the end of the twentieth century an international cricketer to compare with George Ulyett’s fame, and arguably, surpass his achievements, developed his skills in Sheffield. Exactly one hundred years after George Ulyett retired, in 1893, a young man emerged from the city to make his debut and his out of county background - once familiar in Sheffield’s earlier days - helped radically change and modernise Yorkshire’s identity and future.




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hawke Posted on 16/01/2011 11:44
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.
Edited On: 16/01/2011 11:57
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Whilst temporarily enjoying the comforts of city life Sheffield I have been able to undertake further research on the internet, a rare luxury! Fortunately, there are still some more interesting bits and pieces of information to unearth.

Two give some hope for the border lands. Firstly Earby CC have junior teams in the Upper Airedale League (let's hope Barnoldswick follow suit) and last year received awards from Andrew Gale! Secondly, Austerlands of Saddleworth are sponsored by Taylor's Yorkshire Tea!

Talking literally of borderlands apparently Saddleworth CC'S ground is situated precisely adjacent to the proper Yorkshire-Lancashire border. Calf Lane, which runs by the ground, is the traditional boundary. The ground, I am assured, is entirely within Yorkshire.

One of the consequences of this hike are the interesting people you meet. I am actually in touch with two people have already completed the Yorkshire Ridings boundary walk! I am following in the footsteps of Roger and Chris Sewell of the Yorkshire Ridings Society who completed the 600 mile walk in 2005! More about this contact and their advice soon.
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dpressed Posted on 16/01/2011 12:12
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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As no one has replied I'd better say please keep walking & keep posting in here Hawke
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hawke Posted on 16/01/2011 12:45
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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Thanks Dpressed. The Sheffield posting started as just that but ended up as an essay. I may have to change my username to Old Ebor.
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ForwardDefensive Posted on 17/01/2011 11:00
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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More brilliant research and excellent writing. These notes really deserve to be put together into a book.

See also KS's posting about Joe Root - another Sheffield lad. The county really should play there.
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C350 Posted on 17/01/2011 17:09
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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Another excellent article by Hawke; many thanks.
I doubt, though, that its realistic to hope that YCCC will return to Sheffield, given the massive investment in Headingley. But couldn't Weetwood be sacrificed for Sheffield or the north east of the county?
I still await a reply from James Buttler, despite a reminder, re Todmorden. I'll sne another reminder.
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hawke Posted on 17/01/2011 20:57
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.
Edited On: 17/01/2011 21:34
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Many thanks for your kind encouragement. As I am enjoying the comforts of Sheffield I need all the motivation I can get to head off for the last trek, through the flatlands of south Yorkshire to the Humber estuary.

However, as I relax here in the steel city I have recalled reading something during the Christmas break, in one of my many Yorkshire CCC Yearbooks, that I forgot to mention. You may recall a reference to Captain W.E.Blackburn, a fast bowler who claimed to hail from Sawley just inside the Yorkshire border near Clitheroe. He played for two seasons just after the Great War but then disappeared from first-clas cricket and I wondered if the Yorkshire commitee had found out the truth of his birthplace, Clitheroe itself.

Actually Richard Hutton refers to him in an article the 1992 yearbook just after Yorkshire had announced they would abandon the Yorkshire born only tradition and also employee cricketers not born in the county. Hutton says Blackburn had sworn his friends to secrecy and the dark truth about his birthplace only came out after his premature death in 1941! Hutton states that his lack of stamina rather than a revelation about his lack of a Yorkshire birthright was the reason he stopped being selected.



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dpressed Posted on 17/01/2011 21:15
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.
Edited On: 17/01/2011 21:19
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Thanks .. I'm surprised there's been no mention of Abbeydale .... a 'Yorkshire' ground that Derbyshire played home games on in the 1940's

20th July 1946 County Championship 1946 Derbyshire v Sussex

5th July 1947 County Championship 1947 Derbyshire v Kent


Link: Abbeydale matches
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hawke Posted on 17/01/2011 21:45
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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Yes Abbeydale is in the original Derbyshire along with Dore and Totley and a few other parts which have long been considered to be Sheffield. {I made a passing reference to it in the fourth paragraph.} You are quite right about Derbyshire using it twice after the war. But crowds were so poor they abandoned the idea. I was saving that for Part 2 but as you raise the matter its worth mentioning separately as its such a curious thing.
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dpressed Posted on 17/01/2011 22:32
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.

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Sorry for pre-empting you .. it sounded as though you were going to move on.
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hawke Posted on 27/02/2011 11:01
Sheffield. Part One, Its history.
Edited On: 27/02/2011 11:47
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More information about Sheffield's Michael Ellison, YCCC's first treasurer (for 30 years) and president for 33 years. Not only was he born in Worksop (in 1817) but, according to Ashley-Cooper's 'Notts Cricket and Cricketers' he played for the county of his birth on one occasion, in 1852 against Surrey at The Oval. Notts won by an innings but Ellison, then in his mid-thirties, only made 6. As a resident of Sheffield he played for unofficial Yorkshire sides in 1849 and 1853. I have not ascertained when he moved from Worksop to Sheffield.

It is if course reckoned that he and Lord Hawke (born in Lincs) between them ran the club during the period when the practice of playing only Yorkshire born players becoming an accepted tradition. Notts CCC incidentally was formed in 1841.

Ellison was the most important figure in Sheffield sport in his time as besdises his work with Yorkshire CCC he was the mover behind the creation of the Bramall Lane cricket ground and became chairman of the Sheffield United Football and Cricket Club. He also played cricket for Sheffield Wednesday!
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