Happy memories, 1932

Fifty years of Yorkshire county

Lord Hawke

The Editor of Wisden's has kindly asked me to give an account of my own time with Yorkshire County Cricket but before I take the plunge, which I am very pleased to do in these columns, it may be of interest if I enter into a few details of the early days of our County Club.


There would seem to be little doubt that the origin of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club is to be found in the series of matches between Sheffield and Nottingham which began in 1771. Though there were only twenty-six of such games, the last one being played in 1860, the fact that leading players of both counties took part in them gave to Sheffield the sort of right that is due to custom of being regarded as the home of the game in Yorkshire.

They were, by the way, evidently keen enough on the game in my county in those days, as the first match, in 1771, began at 9 a.m.! And, in 1784, in the York rules I see that a fine of 3d, was levied on any member who was not within sight of the wickets each morning before the Minster strikes five o'clock. Report has it that one of the Notts players was in the habit of rising before daybreak and riding on horseback all the way to Sheffield to play!

Nearly all these matches, however, were played for money -- that of 1800, for example, for 200 guineas. In that year the second match took place on November 3rd, 4th and 5th! These early games were played at Sheffield on Darnall Ground, the Hyde Park Ground, and at the present ground at Bramall Lane, where the first county match was Yorkshire v. Sussex in 1855.

In the first Sheffield-Notts match at Bramall Lane there played for Sheffield (totals:--Nottingham 130 and 93 against Sheffield 146 and 78 for six, Sheffield winning by four wickets) M.J. Ellison whom I succeeded in 1902 as President. Ellison held a record which must be very bad to beat, viz., that he shot grouse on the first day of the grouse-shooting season for seventy successive years. He was the second President of our County Club, a post he occupied from 1863 to 1898. Mr. T.R. Barker was the first President in 1863, though I understand he never attended a meeting.


A meeting at the Adelphi Hotel, Sheffield, on March 7, 1861, was the real beginning of the County Club. How soon they got busy is shown by the fact that the Secretary at this meeting, Mr. W. Whittles, was instructed to write to the players selected to play Surrey at the Oval to ask them their terms. Our out and home first two Surrey matches, in 1861, resulted in Surrey winning at the Oval and we at Bramall Lane. That, and the next year's efforts, ended on the resolution being carried on January 8, 1863:--

That a County Club be formed.

Sheffield, however, did not have it all her own way, as in 1863 Bradford played Notts, and in 1864 Kent decided not to play Yorkshire owing to a Kentish doubt as to who were the proper parties to get up Yorkshire County matches.

Mr. George Padley was the first Secretary but he resigned in 1864, when appointed Borough Accountant, and was succeeded by Mr. J.B. Wostinholm, who served from 1864 to 1902. Mr. Wostinholm was followed by F.C. Toone, of whom more anon. Thus, from 1863 to date the Yorkshire C.C.C. in sixty-eight years has had only two Presidents and four Secretaries, including among the latter the present one, Mr. Nash, who was appointed after Sir F.C. Toone died in 1930.

There followed in 1865 the strike of five of our professionals. The strike was not due to any friction with the County Club, but was mainly on the ground of a supposed grievance against Surrey. The professionals suspected Surrey of having instructed John Lillywhite to no-ball Edgar Willsher, who was a member of the All England Eleven of which our George Anderson and others were members.

One result of this strike was that Yorkshire did not win a game in 1865 and arranged no matches in 1866. Another result was that all five professionals took the proper course in 1867, and ever since then, sixty-four years ago, complete harmony has existed between the Club and her players.


That, when captain, I had to act decisively and promptly in the case of two professionals who I desire shall remain nameless, is well known in the world of cricket. I had to act as I did in the best interests of the Club and, as I believed then and believe still, of the game everywhere.

I bore, and bear, them no malice. That they reciprocate this feeling I know. My action, I believe, worked for the good of the game and the sobriety of its players, and not only in my own county.

In the days of which I now write the trouble was not the player but the hangers-on, who, mainly for the sake of being seen talking to a famous cricketer, pestered professionals with their attentions and, worse still, by their offers of wholly unnecessary drinks. I am glad to think, however, that this evil has grown so much less as to be almost stamped out, and am proud to think I may have done something to help in such a matter.

Here I must add something about the origin of the tea interval. Prior to its introduction onlookers were used to seeing odd players leave the field for a few minutes, the fielding side continuing one-short. Those absences were sometimes not beneficial only to the tea trade!

The authorities weighed up this matter, with the desirable result that there was introduced a regular tea interval at a fixed hour. It is very rare now for a player to leave the field under any pretext, and that is, I think, one point at least to the credit of the tea interval.

In regard to discipline generally, I am a strong believer in the right kind of friendship between the captain and the professional members of a county eleven. Between that and the kind of familiarity which only breeds contempt and therefore naturally weakens the playing power of an eleven by undermining the absolute authority -- and it must be absolute -- of the captain, there is a very wide margin.

I believe I am the only captain who held an annual party for the whole county eleven at his own residence. To myself and my family this was always one of the jolliest days of the year, and I only hope my boys enjoyed themselves at Wighill Park as much as we did.

An amusing incident occurred at our little family party in 1906, after the season when we had lost the Championship by one run, our last wicket falling l.b.w.. We were, of course, discussing the Championship when one of my sisters turned to Ringrose, who was next to her, and remarked, quite innocently:-- Who was it who was leg before, do tell me? Poor Ringrose! It can surely not be possible for anyone to blush a deeper pink than he did, as he had to own up that he was the culprit.

I must give now a few of the facts and figures concerning what I may call the behind the scenes management of the County Club in my time.

Our professionals are handed a small printed brochure which gives in full all the facts of our Regulations relating to Players. In these the position with regard to match fees and talent money is plainly set forth, showing that professionals who have got their county caps get £2 more per match, away or in Yorkshire, than is paid to players who have not yet won their cap.

The fee is at present £15 away and £11 at home for those with caps. For an Australian or South African match the professional receives £12, and in all cases £1 extra per won match. Twelfth man is paid the same, but no fee for a match won.

It is a hard and fast rule with us that a professional on gaining his cap joins the Cricketers Friendly Society. A similarly definite rule is that professionals are not permitted to write to the Press in any form whatsoever. We have made a solitary exception in the case of articles on hints how to play, etc., by Sutcliffe. But I think we are on sure ground in putting out of the way of our professionals the temptation to be paid for signing their names to articles which they do not always actually write.

In the matter of bonuses we have instituted in my time the system whereby players who have played regularly for five years get a bonus of £250 if their services are no longer required. If they have played for more than five but less than ten years, our Committee guarantees them not less than £50 for each subsequent year above five. We reserve the right to grant permission to our players to go on foreign tours and, if they go, they have to insure themselves against accident or illness.


It may not be generally known that the action the Yorkshire County C.C. Committee took about thirty years ago, on my strong recommendation, was the cause of the formation of the Board of Control, soon followed by that of the Australian Board of Control, which two bodies ever since, under the aegis of M.C.C., have managed the interchange of English and Australian tours so admirably.

Our action in refusing permission to Hirst and Rhodes to accompany the privately managed tour of a team which without them could not be possibly considered to be representative of England, thus bore good fruit.

I based my refusal, in which my Committee supported me unanimously, upon the sound grounds, as I and they thought, that it was not cricket that all the profits of these tours, to obtain which English representative professionals did their full share, should go to individuals and to the benefit of Australian cricket only.

It was and is, in my view, a wholly untenable proposition that the talent and labour of English professionals in Australia should be valueless so far as English County Cricket Clubs are concerned. So we refused Hirst and Rhodes permission to go on the tour of 1902-03, paid them £184 each as compensation, and had the great satisfaction of seeing the formation of the two great controlling bodies for international cricket.

I feel obliged to this matter here because I have heard it was rumoured that Hirst and Rhodes were financially losers by our refusal. I have yet to know of the professional cricketer who has served Yorkshire faithfully who has not been a financial gainer by the fact.

I had also the further personal amused satisfaction of knowing that the next time I played at Sheffield after our refusal to release Hirst and Rhodes for that tour, a reward of one sovereign was offered by a member of the Lancashire County C.C. to their fast bowler:-- "if you bowl his lordship for a duck!" Unfortunately, the member did not have to fork out.


On the subject of our professionals and finance let me say that between 1870 and 1901 the sum of £13,298 was paid to fifteen professionals as Benefits money, and between 1903 and 1923 a further sum of £15,483 was paid under the same heading to twelve professionals.

Since George Hirst's £3,703 benefit in 1904, which was not a half-penny more than he deserved, for he was by far the greatest all-round county professional of all time, and Wilfred Rhodes' £2,202 in 1911, both records have been broken by the £4,016 benefit of the late Roy Kilner in 1925.

In 1911 we resolved that the Committee guarantees £1,000 benefit to players of not less than ten consecutive years. A player accepting a professional engagement elsewhere without first getting the Committee's sanction forfeits his right to a bonus. Another institution in my time was that on November 16, 1921, we raised the match fees by way of response to the general demand for a higher standard of living.

Speaking generally with regard to Benefits, it is the case that in the old days a player received very few subscriptions and the result of the gate after paying expenses left little profit.

Now Benefits are run on much more methodical lines. The gate is always insured; there is a secretary in each large town, and numerous collecting boxes are issued throughout our large county. Instead of paying twenty-five per cent, for the use of the ground the player is allowed a ten per cent, reduction. All of which is an advance on the older method.

I have already referred to the early history of the Club ere I became interested in it, and it is now fifty years last September since I played my first match for Yorkshire. It was in 1883 that I took over the captaincy from that genial old soul, Tom Emmett. Since 1886 I have been a Member of Committee, I was elected Vice-President in 1893, and I became President in 1902.

Regarding developments in management, and referring to our great success on the field, I say unhesitatingly that the latter could never have been obtained without the keen interest of the Committee and the esprit de corps of the team.

It will be noted how for years Sheffield dominated cricket in the County; indeed Sheffield was the Committee. Even when they did recognise that to do any good in serious competition with other rising counties they must admit to their councils, representative of places other than Sheffield, they retained a very large and dominating vote, viz. fourteen out of a Committee of nineteen.

I wish to be fair to Sheffield and state here that they always worked in no jealous spirit. They were always ready to play the best men, no matter what part of the county these lived in. It was an old friend of mine, Major Shepherd (I have happy memories of his presiding in 1908 at my second presentation), who was the moving spirit in stirring Sheffield up to have outside representatives on the Committee; also to have representative matches played in other large cities.

In those days the town to which a match was allotted ran the match, paid the expenses, and took what profit there might be. That method could never produce a sound financial position for the Club, so the ground was hired by the County Club who assumed all responsibility for the match, at the same time giving ten per cent, of the gross takings to the ground. This percentage has varied from ten to thirty-five per cent and now we can say it is practically fixed at twenty-five per cent.

At the end of the year we consider a further bonus to each ground, and in many cases it is earmarked to improve the accommodation, not only for our members, but also for the public. Having set ourselves to get a reserve fund of £20,000 we now allot to the grounds, bar a small balance, all the profits of the year.

I think we have proved ourselves to be very wise in the allocation of matches to different grounds; ours is the largest county, and by dividing out matches between the large towns we increase our membership. In the old days of Sheffield I do not suppose our membership was ever more than 150, but with the allotment of matches outside it reached the large total of 3,000 in 1902.

As showing the remarkable difference in our turnover in a period of forty years, while it was £909 in 1891, it was £34,826 in the Test match year of 1921, and £16,324 in 1931, which was almost a record for a bad-weather season.


It was in 1902 that our Secretary, Mr. J.B. Wostinholm, who served the county so well for thirty-five years, retired. Here, may I say, that by all other Secretaries he was considered a hard-headed old Yorkshireman, because he always fought hard for the best date. And I guess he succeeded!

Great as was his work, we were to find in his successor, Mr. F.C. Toone, even, I venture to think, a greater Secretary -- the very best that any county could ever have. Toone raised the number of subscriptions from 3,000 in 1903 to over 7,000 in ten years. What is more, he was a very true friend of all the players and one to whom they could always turn for advice.

Toone's capacity for organisation of Players' Benefits was wonderful, a thing which had to be seen to be believed. It was a sad day for Yorkshire when, fairly early in life, he passed away. I cannot help thinking that the great Imperial work (and hard work it was) as manager of three Australian tours hastened his end.

He was honoured by his King with a Knighthood for his wonderful management of these tours, and we in Yorkshire felt pleased indeed that we were able to lend him to M.C.C. for the purpose. We were so proud of his honour and success.

I have said that Sir Frederick Toone raised our subscriptions up to over 7,000, but I am sure he would have been the first to admit that he only did so by the success of the Eleven on the field.


It is not possible to name even a quarter of those who have made Yorkshire history and those whom I do not mention must not think they are forgotten.

Hirst, surely, must come first. What a hero! Two thousand runs and two hundred wickets in a season is surely a county record -- not that I like records -- I hate'em! Yet the public always knows when a batsman has scored his one, two or even three thousand runs and applauds accordingly, forgetting all the time that a man may be playing for his own record and not for his side.

Never in my long career would I give marks when I could see a man was playing for records which were detrimental to his side winning the match. I shall never forget when we had all agreed to get out in order to force a win -- it was before the declaration rule came in -- one batsman was determined to bat on. We were truly annoyed until old David Hunter said to me, "Let me go in; I'll run him out!"

I have wandered away a bit from Georgie. Was ever anyone such a trier? Slack fielding he abhorred. Woe betide Scofie if he missed a catch, and wasn't Haigh himself frightened. However, with all his keenness Hirst was loved by the team and always had a good word for a youngster.

Ted Peate and Bobbie Peel, our great left-hand bowlers, had all too short careers before they made way for Wilfred. Peate's eight wickets for five runs against Surrey in 1883 at Holbeck, where we dressed in a tent in those days, is a county cricket record, and was about the greatest bowling feat I ever saw.

Rhodes' numerous fine performances are too many to mention, but the manner in which he made himself from a last-wicket batsman to a No. 1 with Hobbs will never be beaten. Georgie at Eton and now Wilfred at Harrow -- lucky schools -- ere long may they both produce some England players, is my heartiest wish.

What a bowler, too, was our Scofie Haigh. No one could spin the ball or nip in a real fast Yorker better than he. Alas! I think he was a bit lazy about the latter, and many a time I had to remind him of it! Sure enough he produced it, and bang went the wicket.

I had always a warm corner in my heart for John Tunnicliffe. He had not a great benefit and never got his deserts, but, as my right-hand man, he was charming to work with. His high moral character had a great deal to do with the success of the side. He was a good and ready speaker, and we always enjoyed listening to him at the annual Wighill outing.


Sutcliffe and Holmes, the heroes of our first-wicket stands, and the former for years one of the mainstays of our England Eleven. Nobody I know trained, and trains, harder or more conscientiously than Sutcliffe. I ascribe much of his great success to that fact. Rhodes also deserves mention in the same category. It was told of him that once on the way back from India he took a glass of stout, but said he, "It gave me rheumatism so I didn't have a second."

In the case of Holmes, we in Yorkshire shall always consider we had a few seasons back a little bone to pick with the Selectors for passing over such a brilliant field and resourceful batsman on any wicket. It was, perhaps, his misfortune to be generally regarded only as one of a first pair.

Macaulay, who has taken nearly 1,500 wickets in only eleven seasons, must not be forgotten. Verity, too, stepping into Rhodes' place, has already taken over 200 wickets in less than two seasons. There is also decided promise in the fast right-handed bowling of young Bowes.

Last, but not least, I cannot forget our David Hunter. It was hard luck he never played for England, for he was one of the greatest keepers of the day. On one occasion at Leyton I had to leave early to catch a train and I told Georgie to take command. Poor old David, how hurt he was! I forgot he was senior player and never thought he wished to be troubled with the captaincy. Later, however, he had his chance and captained jolly well. His successor, Dolphin, was also a fine wicket-keeper.


The above are some of our great Players, and I am the last to forget the help we received from Ernest Smith, Arthur Sellars, F.S. Jackson, F.W. Milligan, T.L. Taylor, Frank Mitchell and Rockley Wilson. We have often been accused of not playing Amateurs and that we are practically a Players side. My answer is that whenever we have an Amateur good enough he was always been asked to play. Did we not always welcome with open arms Smith and Rockley Wilson during August when, owing to scholastic duties, they could not play earlier?

Our greatest amateur was undoubtedly Stanley Jackson, who was Jacker to everyone from his Harrow days. He was a great batsman, great bowler, fine fielder -- a great cricketer to the core. He took 506 wickets for 19.18 runs for us and made 10,405 runs with an average of 33.78 during the seventeen years he played for Yorkshire.

Few who remember him as a batsman know that he was once No. 10 in the batting order for Yorkshire! This is how it happened. Though he had just taken seven for 42 against Middlesex somebody had run him out for a song and he did not seem keen to play in the next match at Chesterfield.

"Why," I argued with him, "you've just got seven of'em out at six apiece! You must come." So he came all right. Next day as I was writing out the order I asked him where he'd like to go in, so he said "Oh! don't know. Treat me as a bowler." So I wrote him down No. 10.

Brown and Tunnicliffe then proceeded to make 554 for the first wicket. I was No. 3 that day in Jackson's place. As they walked out to bat I put on my pads. I took them off for the lunch interval; I put them on again and took them off again for the tea interval. Again I put them on, and sat another couple of hours. Such is cricket!

I have never seen Jacker's equal at bowling for his field. I remember on one occasion when we were in the cart at Bradford against Surrey how precisely he bowled for his field, and how he apologised to me for having bowled a ball not intended. Though his grand batting for England is probably best remembered, he was a bowler of the very highest class, with a graceful, flowing delivery of a kind but rarely seen nowadays.

Since those happy days Jacker has passed through more serious times in Bengal. There, a couple of years ago, he and I were the guests of honour at the dinner to us of the Calcutta Cricket Club given at the Bengal Club. We both made speeches, and when he got up to speak first he said across the table to me, "I've got first innings today, old man. You bossed me often enough in the past, but I'm boss here!" One of our greatest cricketers; what a pity Australia never saw him out there in his heyday.

Ernest Smith, really fast in his time, took 284 wickets for 23 runs each, and made 4,781 runs for 20.81 per innings often when badly wanted. One of his greatest innings was that at Leyton when, in saving the match, he batted an hour for 0. That was the innings in which our Georgie was in for five hours for 96 and then said he got out by accident!

Rockley Wilson, of the perfect length, took 196 wickets for Yorkshire for 15.70 runs each, playing only in August, and the claims of business prevented T.L. Taylor playing for more than seven years, during which he made 3,951 runs for an average of 35.27.

In conclusion I must not omit to mention, as an instance of the roughing that we old cricketers had to put up with, the reply given to me by the man responsible for the arrangements of the first county match ever played at Dewsbury, about the year 1882. On my hinting to him that the arrangements were somewhat primitive and that I saw no such thing as a bath, he appeared to have received the shock of his life as he replied, "We old cricketers never had baths!"

An interesting fact concerning our eleven is that since I retired from the captaincy in 1910 we have had eight captains, all but two of whom have been captain of the winning side in the Championship in their first year. I am aware that it is not good for a side to be always changing its captain, so I hope that now that we have a really good cricketer as captain in Greenwood he will lead us to victory on many more occasions as decisively as we won last year.

© John Wisden & Co