Four new clubs begin Drakes League life in the Cedar Court Conference – and Cartworth Moor are aiming to make a big impact.
The Holme Valley club - perched a mile above Holmfirth – celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2012 and have seen many ups and downs over the years.
They finished second-bottom of the arrowselfdrive Central League Premier last season and after gaining admission to the Drakes – in addition to spending thousands on upgrading facilities – they could well be serious Conference title contenders this summer.
Brad Dawe, a left-hand opening batsman who plays for Meadows in the Hills Cricket Association in Adelaide, averaged 53 in the Australian summer just finished and has been signed to lead Cartworth’s batting order.
Skipper Scott Bissett will also have three former Linthwaite players in his line-up – Mohammad Siddique, Abdul Quyyom and Amaan Ullah.
Siddique lives in Rochdale and played for Oldham in the Central Lancashire League last season alongside Quyyom. Siddique averaged 37.5 batting at No3 last season while Quyyom will open the bowling with his left-arm swing.
Cartworth also expect off-break bowler Ahmad Hussain to make an impact at third-tier level after moving from Green Lane in the Aire/Wharfe League, while all-rounder Brad Caulfield has joined from Broad Oak and Steve Spooner has returned to Gill Lane from Dacre Bank in the Nidderdale League.
Cartworth Moor secretary Alan Hollingworth said: “This is a new era for our club and we really want to take things forward as strongly as we can.
“We have got superb fund-raisers and have been able to invest further in our facilities since gaining admission to the Drakes, and we are quietly confident with our new signings that we are set up to press forward on the pitch as well.”
The other three newcomers – Thurstonland, Birkby Rose Hill and Upperthong – are going in with basically the squads they had in place in the Central ranks.
Thurstonland make the switch as double winners, having taken the Premier title last summer in addition to the Allsop Cup.
“We are expecting it to be tougher, but we’ve got a good solid side who have had success and they are looking forward to the fight,” said chairman Trevor Peace.
“The earlier start times and the amount of fixtures are going to be something new, but we have registered a couple of lads from Cumberworth to add to our own juniors and, when necessary, they will be able to fill in.”
Birkby Rose Hill have signed Kamar Khan from Denby but otherwise have the personnel who finished fourth in the Central Premier last season and reached the Allsop final.
Secretary Mushtaq Hussain said: “The season will be about finding our feet and laying foundations for the future.
“We made the decision not to divert funds to the playing side in favour of continuing to invest in our facilities, and we will see where we go from there.
“The last few seasons have been really good for us and, as the Conference is half made up of clubs we know well from the Central, we are quite comfortable about being able to compete.”
The biggest step up is being made by Upperthong, who finished second in Section A last summer – the Central’s second division – but they have every faith in a youth policy which is the strongest around.
Chairman Robert Oakley explained: “We may find it difficult to start with, but we have some great players at 16, 17 and 18 years of age and they will get a go without any question.
“We have built the club up on the back of a really strong junior set-up – we run more junior teams than any other club in Huddersfield – and 70% of them can walk to our ground, so this is local talent and we are ready for an exciting challenge.
“We are pretty realistic about this season and the ones to follow, but as our good young players get older they will mature and get stronger and stronger.
“The problem then will be to hang onto them, but we will retain our amateur status and continue to be a community-based club giving youngsters from our area an opportunity.”
Andy Morris will skipper the first team, with Steve Greenwood in charge of the Seconds, and three club youngsters to watch out for who are likely to figure in the Conference side are Greg Cooke, Tom Charlesworth and George Oakley, all of whom have played Taverners cricket for Huddersfield.
Upperthong have other younger players on the Taverners radar, in addition to Ella Harris in the Yorkshire Girls U13 squad.
Tomorrow– preview of the Championship.
Saturday’s Cedar Court Conference fixtures: Cartworth Moor v Denby, Denby Dale v Upperthong, Kirkheaton v Cumberworth United, Lepton v Birkby Rose Hill, Paddock v Rastrick, Thurstonland v Almondbury.