So far as it is known no records survive of the earliest years of the club – believed to be around the turn of the century. We do know that in the 1920’s the square was laid – or re-laid – under the direction of the late Major E.R.F. Compton, Grandfather of the club’s current patron and owner of the Newby Hall estate. In the true tradition of country house cricket, proficiency at the game was a great help when applying for work on the estate. In the 1930’s the club made its mark of the local scene by twice winning the coveted Ripon Knock-out Competition.
After the war it would appear that the club drifted along fairly uneventfully – whist drives being the big event of the year – until playing fortunes reached a low ebb in the mid 1960’s. The club pulled out of Saturday league cricket and settled for playing Sunday friendlies and evening cup competitions. By 1969 something of a crisis was reached when the now tiny hardcore met in April to find that their secretary had ignored correspondence and not a single match had been arranged for the imminent season.
The club could easily have folded at this point but the determination of the late Wilf Virr, aided by the youthful energy of his son Richard and the late Peter, plus Steve Selby and Patrick McCreanor kept the club afloat.
In 1971 Chris Farrell first strode onto the Newby ground. Then an opening bowler with Otley in the Airedale and Wharfedale League (but living at Great Givendale, half a mile from the ground) Chris brought a determination to improve the club’s status, both on and off the field which rubbed off on the others to produce stronger sides being fielded, better fixtures and, by 1975 a new pavilion. This has since been extended, in two stages, to its current size. Now living in Huddersfield, Chris still keeps a close eye on the club’s fortunes.
The 1976 season saw Newby Hall in the Nidderdale League. League cricket in the 5th division did not immediately draw players from their previous league clubs; hence a somewhat patchy start to life in the Nidderdale was struggled through. This is best illustrated by performances on consecutive Saturday’s – all out for 12 against Burton Leonard 2nds followed by 312 for 5 against Glasshouses 2nds. Promotion was achieved however; as it was in the next three seasons so that by 1980 the 1st division was reached.
By now a bar had been installed, where success in several local competitions was enthusiastically celebrated. Not until 1985 was the champagne out toasting the league championship. After being together at the top of the division all season Newby and Knaresborough Forest came here for the last league game of the season level on points. Newby won a tense affair by 44 runs in a game in which fortunes swung dramatically their way in the last hour.
Outstanding in the championship winning side was Peter Moldrich, a young Australian from Perth, one of numerous players to come to the club from Australia since Tim Park, a former Newby Hall wicket-keeper batsman emigrated in 1980. The retention of the title in 1986 by a side led by Ervin Margis without an Aussie gave great satisfaction to the club and also went a long way to answering criticism within the league regarding the Australian connection.
In 1987 the club staged what is probably their biggest event, when Yorkshire C.C. visited us to play a benefit game against a Newby Hall select XI.
After the highs of the mid 80’s the late 80’s saw the club struggling at the foot of the 1st division and after a close escape in 1988 the club were relegated to division 2 in 1989. The club took this as an opportunity to re-group and bounced straight back in to division 1.
The period 1990 to 1992 under the captaincy of Richard Virr and Nick Kent was a successful time for the club, helped by the services of some extremely good overseas players, backed up by talented locals. Of particular note were the Senior Knock Out success of 2001, which was dominated by overseas players Tony Fitzgerald and Shane Smith, and the Division 1 Triumph in 2002 when overseas bowler Simon Hubbard took over 70 wickets. But nothing lasts forever as they say and when a number of these players “retired” the cub struggled and was relegated in 1995 to Division 2, where we were until 2001.
The New Millennium
The start to the 2001 season was slightly uncertain as to its format. Foot and Mouth disease was spreading across the country and it was unknown what the future held for local league cricket. Talk was rife about the cancellation of the league altogether, but this was decided to be too drastic a measure. Games would be played, but league positions would be determined on an average points basis. There was to be no promotion or relegation. A lifeline was thrown to Newby by the most unlikely of sources, Studley Royal CC. Studley had decided to leave the Nidderdale League at the end of the 2001 season, to try their hand in the York Senior League. This meant one position was available in Division 1 to maintain the numbers. So one promotion place was available. This was Newby’s chance. Under the captaincy of Stuart Rennison, the season was a triumph. Of the 22 league games played, Newby won 19 of them with one game being rained off.
Back in the top flight of the Nidderdale League, 2002 saw Newby finish a respectable 3rd behind Killinghall and Masham. Oliver Uffindall impressed all to win both the batting and bowling averages in division 1. 2004 saw a maturing Newby side triumph as Nidderdale League Division 1 Champions, finishing just 2 points ahead of Killinghall. Captain Olie Uffindall was once again the first team star player, with more than able support from Australian Mike Irvine, who took 45 wickets.
The 2005 season was another memorable year, although not for particular success results wise. 2005 saw the birth of Newby Hall’s Third XI, the first time in the clubs history that three teams would be representing the club each Saturday. A team primarily aimed at giving junior members experience of senior cricket was guided by a relatively new club member, James Blackburn. The 3rd team competed in a newly formed Division 8 of the Nidderdale League finishing a creditable mid table.
2006 saw another first, for both the club and the league when Newby Hall were crowned triple Champions. The First XI won the Nidderdale League 1st Division, the Second XI won the 5th Division and the Third XI won the 8th Division. This was the first time in League history that one club had won three separate divisions in the same season. We were especially proud that the effort was based on team work, as the captains had to juggle players about each week to ensure that no one team was going to be short. All three captains, Olie Uffindall, Ady Allen and Jim Blackburn did a fantastic job and all at the club were rightly proud of them.
The Third XI’s success in 2006 and swelling number encouraged the club to look to further invest, and 2007 saw the club approach the Newby Hall estate for permission (and land!) to build a new pitch for the Third XI to play their home fixtures on. Thankfully the estate was more than happy to assist, and works undertaken at the end of the 2007 season resulted in the Third XI having a new home ground upon which to play in 2008. Groundsman Trevor Rose and life member Mick Robinson can both be particularly proud of this achievement, which was fully funded and resourced from within the club.
2008 saw the return of the Second XI to the Third division, the Third XI playing their home games at home and the First XI again triumph as Nidderdale League Division 1 Champions. Captain Matt Uffindall was ably assisted with this by “Overseas” player Lennie McKittrick who took an outstanding 55 wickets, and when Chairman Steve Potter hit three consecutive sixes to win the last game of the season against Dacre Banks, the deed was done – and the bar which was first built in the early 1980’s and which celebrated it’s first League success in 1985 was once again rocking with the taste of victory!
(Thanks to Phil Jefferson for his help in putting this club history together)