OF everything that has happened over the course of the winter in the All Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League, it is fair to say that nothing has been as pleasing as the revival of Windhill, one of the league's most famous clubs.
The Busy Lane club, who won five successive Division One titles from 1937-41 – a record that wasn’t equalled until Pudsey Congs’ run in 2000-04 – quit on the eve of last season, with cricket secretary Ian Holdsworth pretty much a one-man band.
Already coping with the loss of Colin Gatenby, winner of the Sir Leonard Hutton Memorial Trophy for services to the league in 2014, Ian and groundsman Billy Evans were often left ploughing lone furrows in 2015.
Ian, whose health was unsurprisingly suffering, said: “I was doing the grounds, teas, team selection, and I used to start at 9am on a Saturday and finish at 9pm-9.30pm, and was down at the club four days a week.
“The players just wanted to play cricket and go.”
But although there was an appeal on Facebook to save Windhill Cricket Club, volunteers didn’t step up immediately to help the club that brought the great Sir Learie Constantine and Manny Martindale to the Bradford League – but the cavalry did come eventually.
Holdsworth added: “Cross Roads & Daisy Hill and VVS Laxman (both of the Bradford Mutual Sunday School League) got in touch last summer wanting to help on and off the field, and we have now have ten people on the committee and enough players for two teams.”
Bryan Greenwood, one of the players who switched clubs from Daisy Hill, added: “There will be one or two issues, but we just want to enjoy our cricket.”
Windhill, who will resume in the fourth tier Conference and have to travel some distance for away matches, are at home to Azaad on Saturday.
Only four points separated runners-up Hanging Heaton from champions Pudsey St Lawrence in the Premier Division last season, but those placings could well be reversed in 2017.
The Bennett Lane club have signed Callum Geldart from Pudsey Congs, who could tip the balance, while Saints are much the same, apart from wicket-keeper Charlie Best's arrival from Bradford & Bingley, with Matthew Duce going in the opposite direction.
Woodlands, who have signed Jamie Pickering from Otley, and Farsley are also top-four contenders, with the latter having recruited James Logan, a left-arm spinner who can also bat, from the Yorkshire Academy.
One of the most intriguing questions is how Pudsey Congs, who have a young side under the leadership of Babar Butt, will fare, while Championship A winners Batley could well find life in the top flight very hot.
Hanging Heaton have an enticing opener at home to Championship B victors Townville.