150 not out at Grassy Bottom: It’s more than cricket – club is at heart of community

Double champions: Triangle Cricket Club's first and second elevens both  won their championships in 2011 ' a perfect start to the club's 150th anniversary year
Double champions: Triangle Cricket Club's first and second elevens both won their championships in 2011 ' a perfect start to the club's 150th anniversary year
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IF one of Britain’s great gifts to the world is sport then the most English of those sporting gifts must be cricket – the game at the heart of a thousand village communities.

Cricket, evoking the warmth of a summer’s day, the smell of newly-mown grass, immaculately pressed whites, the sound of willow on leather, cries of “Howzat!”, silly names for fielding positions, the smattering of applause on the day’s still air, sporting handshakes for winners and losers, the ladies’ committee and cucumber sandwiches in the pavilion... a jolly good show all round.

GRASSy bottom: Triangle Cricket Club's idyllic ground next to the River Ryburn was a gift to the club in 1927 and must remain  for all time an open space for the benefit of local people

GRASSy bottom: Triangle Cricket Club's idyllic ground next to the River Ryburn was a gift to the club in 1927 and must remain for all time an open space for the benefit of local people

Yes, cricket is the most Eng-lish of games, from Hambleton to Lords, from Trent Bridge to Old Trafford, from Headingley to Grassy Bottom...

Yes, especially at Grassy Bottom. This may sound like something that happens to once impeccably cleaned cricket trousers after a fielder’s despairing dive at the long-on boundary. But no, Grassy Bottom is the delightful little ground that for 150 years has been the home of Triangle Cricket Club in Calderdale’s picturesque Ryburn Valley.

In July Triangle will be celebrating a century and a half – very definitely not out – of a little village club that has had more than its share of cricketing success and is marking its anniversary in the best possible way, as both first XI and second XI champions in the Halifax League.

Today Triangle’s rural home beside the gentle River Ryburn must be one of the nicest little grounds anywhere, its relatively small field surrounded by trees and with its pavilion, scoreboard and a collection of other buildings.

Actually cricket in Triangle is much older than 150 years. It is believed that, early in the 19th century, men from the village used to climb up to Norland Moor to find a level piece of ground to play the game.

But it was on July 23 1862 that around 40 members and a few other local gents founded Triangle Cricket Club on the only bit of level ground in the area, at Grassy Bottom, off Stansfield Mill Lane.

The story of Grassy Bottom and Triangle Cricket Club is told in a new book to mark the club’s special anniversary by David Glanfield, local historian and member of the Greater Elland Historical Society.

The book unashamedly concentrates on the high points, the many championships and cup victories, not just because winning is more fun than losing but because many club records, especially early ones, are missing.

As David writes: “ The men of 1862 and the following years were not interested in history. They wanted to play cricket. No apologies are offered for for concentrating on the victories and the good times because they are the spur that carries the club through 150 years.” And quite right too.

One thing that is known from the early days is that, curiously, the club was attached to the Triangle Reading Room at White Bear pub.

In those days there were no leagues, only challenge matches, and Triangle’s first game was against a team that was to become a major rival – neighbours Sowerby. It was not a promising start, for Triangle lost, but the village lads got their revenge in a return match and the rivalry has remained to this day.

League cricket arrived in the 1890s and Triangle were in at the start, being a founder member of the Halifax and District Cricket League in 1894 and were winners only two years later.

Triangle retained the championship a year later but there then followed a long lean spell in which Triangle, with other clubs, founded the Halifax Parish League, later the Halifax League.

The men from Grassy Bottom had to wait until 1923 for the next championship triumph, the first of four wins in nine years. There followed further purple decades in the 1960s, when the club were champions four times, and the 90s, when supreme Triangle won the championship five times, before last year’s triumph which brought the total of championship victories to a hugely impressive 19.

Triangle lifted the Parish Cup for the first time in 1903 and has won it on a total of 11 occasions, including three times in the 1990s.

And the second XI has been just as successful, with 20 championships and eight Crossley Shield wins.

But David Glanfield’s book is much more than mere statistics. He puts meat on the bones with tales of club characters like Arthur Howarth, a famous “slogger”, who in 1928 scored 181 and was awarded a special prize of... a pair of blankets.

his fee had risen to £4 per match - and a free tea!

And David shows that a club like Triangle, like so many others the length and breadth of the land, is more than just cricket, but the heart and soul of the community. The Grassy Bottom ground has been used for everything from sports meetings to pop concerts, or even just a place where locals can relax in the summer sunshine.

Back in the 1890s rugby was played at Grassy Bottom and part of the ground was once flooded in winter and used for skating.

In the 1890s the club held sports meetings on Whit Monday with runners and cyclists - some of them riding penny farthings - from all over the North.

Today the club is involved with all manner of events that are part of the local calendar - a beer festival, bonfire night, the rushbearing festival, even a duck race.

In a sense the story of Triangle Cricket Club is also the story of Triangle the village. There was, for example, huge support for the fledgling club from the Morris family, of the nearby Stansfield Lane Mills, and in 1927 Col T H Morris bought the Grassy Bottom ground for £650 - £30,000 today - and presented it, lock, stock and barrel, to the club, with the proviso that the cricket field must continue top be used for cricket and that the land must remain for all time as an open space for the benefit of Triangle people. What a gift, to be sure.

In 1962, for the club’s centenary, 2,000 - pretty much the whole of the village - turned out to celebrate with a Whit gala which included children;s races, sideshows, competitions and a balloon race. So may people attended that the stalls ran out of prizes.

For the 150th anniversary the club is celebrating by holding the final of the Crossley Shield in August. There is also to be a ladies’ “fun match” in July, a car rally and a dinner in October, among other events.

With so much support and goodwill Triangle Cricket Club can already look forward to successfully completing its double century in 2016.

Triangle Cricket Club 150 Year Anniversary by David Glanfield is available from the club or at Fred Wade’s bookshop in Rawson Street, Halifax.

ches, and Triangle’s first game was against a team that was to become a major rival – neighbours Sowerby.

It was not a promising start, for Triangle lost, but the village lads got their revenge in a return match and the rivalry has remained to this day.

League cricket arrived in the 1890s and Triangle were in at the start, being a founder member of the Halifax and District Cricket League in 1894 and winners only two years later.

Triangle retained the championship a year later but there then followed a long lean spell during which Triangle, with other clubs, founded the Halifax Parish League, later the Halifax League.

The men from Grassy Bottom had to wait until 1923 for the next championship triumph, the first of four wins in nine years. There followed further purple decades in the 1960s, when the club were champions four times, and the 1990s, when supreme Triangle won the championship five times, before last year’s triumph which brought the total of championship victories to a hugely impressive 19.

Triangle lifted the Parish Cup for the first time in 1903 and has won it on a total of 11 occasions, including three times in the 1990s.

And the second XI has been just as successful, with 20 championships and eight Crossley Shield wins.

But David Glanfield’s book is much more than mere statistics. He puts meat on the bones with tales of club characters like Arthur Howarth, a famous “slogger”, who in 1928 scored 181 and was awarded a special prize of... a pair of blankets.

And there was the “net boy”, whose job it was to fish the ball out of the Ryburn as required. He earned 12 shillings (60p) for the season in 1951; by 1990 his fee had risen to £4 per match – and a free tea!

And David shows that a club like Triangle, like so many others the length and breadth of the land, is more than just cricket, but the heart and soul of the community. The Grassy Bottom ground has been used for every- thing from sports meetings to pop concerts, or even just a place where locals can relax in the summer sunshine.

Back in the 1890s rugby was played at Grassy Bottom and part of the ground was once flooded in winter and used for skating.

In the 1890s the club held sports meetings on Whit Monday with runners and cyclists – some of them riding penny farthings – from all over the North.

Today the club is involved with all manner of events that are part of the local calendar – a beer festival, bonfire night, the rushbearing festival, even a duck race.

In a sense the story of Triangle Cricket Club is also the story of Triangle the village. There was, for example, huge support for the fledgling club from the Morris family, of the nearby Stansfield Lane Mills, and in 1927 Col T H Morris bought the Grassy Bottom ground for £650 – £30,000 today – and presented it to the club, with the proviso that the cricket field must continue to be used for cricket and that the land must remain for all time as an open space for the benefit of Triangle people. What a gift, to be sure.

In 1962, for the club’s centenary, pretty much the whole of the village turned out to celebrate with a Whit gala which included children’s races, sideshows, competitions and a balloon race. So many people attended that the stalls ran out of prizes.

For the 150th anniversary the club is celebrating with a dinner in October, a car rally and a lad-ies’ “fun match” in July, among other events. The club is also to host the final of the Crossley Shield in August.

With so much support and goodwill Triangle Cricket Club can hopefully look forward to successfully completing its double century in 2062.

n Triangle Cricket Club 150 Year Anniversary (£5), by David Glanfield, is available from Triangle Cricket Club or at Fred Wade’s bookshop in Rawson Street, Halifax.