Almondburians Cricket Club have folded.
Just six weeks before the start of the season, the former Huddersfield Central League club have pulled the plug due to lack of players.
Almondburians – based at the King James’s School field at Arkenley Lane in Almondbury – had been due to join the Drakes League this summer as one of six new Associate Members.
But John Headey, secretary for the best part of two decades, explained the club formed in 1976 faced being unable to fulfil fixtures.
“The bottom line is that we struggled a few times last season to field a second XI and now we have lost the nucleus of our first team, sadly,” he said.
“We have tried to recruit over the winter, but that has proved spectacularly unsuccessful.
“There are always people who say they are willing to play and fill in, but we felt we had to tell the Drakes League the situation we are in. It would have been unfair to carry on and then pull out at the last minute.”
Almondburians first team were due to play in the Jedi Sports Championship Two section of the Drakes, in the second XI league competition.
Their first match would have been at home to Rastrick Seconds on Saturday, April 15.
The second XI were to play in the Cedar Court Conference Two, and were due to to start at Edgerton & Dalton Seconds.
Drakes League clubs will now number 43 for the 2017 season.
A long-serving player himself, Headey said the £500,000 project to redevelop the ground at Arkenley Lane would be unaffected, as that was being carried out by King James’s School Foundation.
It’s planned to create a community facility and also for cricket to continue to be played there – maybe with a reformed Almondburians at some stage in the future.
The Foundation own the ground – Almondburians were tenants.
Famous Old Almondburians have included the likes of Steve Slack, Jack Taylor, the Tunnacliffes and Robbie Field, and Headey added: “We still had a handful of players who were loyal to the club and wanted to carry on but, unfortunately, not enough of them.
“We do harbour hopes that Almondburians might rise from the ashes at some point in the future.
“If the pavilion development had been a little further ahead we might have found ourselves in a different position. It’s been a little bit of a ‘cart before the horse’ scenario in that sense, but the shortage of players has been the real problem.
“The management committee looked at whether we could carry on and, having decided we couldn’t guarantee to put out two teams, we decided to inform the Drakes League at the earliest possible stage.
“The Drakes officials, Donald Earnshaw, Trevor Atkinson and Norman Clee have been very, very receptive to everything we’ve said and extremely helpful, so I can’t praise them enough.
“We won’t be taking part in the League, but hopefully this is not the final nail in the coffin for the club.
“We have talked about playing a bit of friendly cricket, maybe Sundays or evenings, but we didn’t have the people we needed to pull together proper, organised sides for this year.”
Originally members of the Association, when that folded the club moved to the Huddersfield Central League which, of course, wrapped up last year.
“The set-up we have always had at Almondburians is that the players themselves do most of the work,” explained the secretary.
“We have always asked quite a lot of the players, and particularly the skipper – and Sam Atkin has done a wonderful job in that regard over the last five or six years.
“Sam is one of those who has decided to move on and no-one blames him – he just wants the freedom to play cricket rather than be involved in all the fundraising and other commitments involved.
“In addition to him, though, we’ve also lost the nucleus of the first team and, while the Drakes operate a system where you can borrow Under 17s from other clubs to play in your second team – and we did approach a number of clubs – that didn’t help our first-team situation.”