Former cricket stalwart and headteacher Leyland Smith dies, aged 77

Leyland Smith
Leyland Smith

Leyland Smith, former Halifax Cricket League secretary, umpire and Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club stalwart, has died aged 77 after suffering through illness for the past few months.

Leyland, always a keen sportsman, joined Sowerby Bridge CC in the early 1960s as a medium paced bowler. He went through the ranks to become a regular first team cricketer between the late 1960s through to the late 1980s - he then continued playing for the club through to 2000 in the second X1 and the Sunday X1.

He was a true gentleman but also a keen competitor - his appeal to an umpire for an LBW decision to go in his favour was legendary.

Leyland regarded his eight wickets playing for Bridge in the Central Yorkshire League against an extremely strong Heckmondwike team in the 1970s as one of his best achievements - although there were plenty to pick from.

The club also had Leyland to thank for his efforts off the field taking on the role of club secretary in the 1980s and was club President for many years. This led to him taking on the role of Secretary of the Halifax Cricket League; a post in which he excelled for many years. He always felt the need to be part of the on field action, as such when his playing days finished he became a League Umpire which he really enjoyed until illness took over after the 2018 season.

Cricket, however, was not Leyland’s only sporting involvement; he was a long standing member of Sowerby Tennis & Bowling Club, where again his skill and competitive streak in these sports, as well as table tennis, made him an opponent to be taken seriously. His mark will be remembered by all. He was also a member of Queens Sports club for many years, playing tennis in the Yorkshire League and organising their annual tournament, with players attending from around the world.

A true Christian, Leyland had a strong connection with All Saints Church for many years where again he was an active member and lay preacher. He loved singing and was a member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, as well as being a member of the Halifax Wine Circle and working with the charity, Bearders Trust.

In his professional life, he was deputy head at West Vale School and went on to be head of Siddal Junior School for over 20 years, after which he served as Head of Governors at All Saints School, Halifax, in close connection with All Saints Church.

A proud man of Halifax, he for many years followed Halifax Town along with his daughter Judith; indeed he will be remembered at Saturday’s forthcoming home match against Eastleigh.

Leyland was a true gentleman and sportsman, he loved life and was well respected by those who know him in all walks.

He leaves wife Joan and two daughters Judith and Susan and grandson Luke.