Town Street Memories. By Keith Taylor

My first game for Carlton was in the U13 away at Sandmoor CC at the age of 8, May 18th 1984, playing pairs cricket with Paul Bedford, Robert Brear, Paul Tasker, Michael Seller, Phil Townsley, Mark Fairburn, Phil Wilkinson and Myself made the team of 8. We made 209, Sandmoor 144.

I took my first wicket as a young leg spinner, and ended up with figures of 1-7 from my 2 overs. So the Carlton journey had begun, and I owe so much of that to Jack Field who ran our junior set up like clockwork, Monday nights was junior practice night, the field would be full, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday were junior game days. Tuesday and Thursday was senior practice and of course Saturday was senior game day, you could go any day of the week, the club would be open and there would more than likely be a game on. I also owe a lot of thanks to my family especially my dad who spent hours in the nets with me.

I started my cricketing career as a leg spinner and I wasn’t that bad, claiming the U13 bowling award, and it was only when I was about 12 where I took on the gloves as we had no keeper, the rest is history. I managed to play junior rep cricket for Leeds, again Jack Field was a major influence, his friend Frank Pickersgill was our umpire home or away. I remember one game near Doncaster, Jack was in a wheelchair after his stroke, we had a right side and we tossed for who would keep wicket between myself and one of the O’Neil brothers, we batted first and got about 220 which was a decent score. In the field I was at long on, and Gary Keedy was bowling, the batter smashed to towards me and I dived on the boundary and took a one handed catch, wow, didn’t think that would happen, when I looked up I got mobbed.

At Carlton I have played at every level and enjoyed the ups and downs along the way. I have been lucky to play in 3 senior finals winning all 3. Wood Cup at Rothwell when we comprehensively beat Kirkstall Education with Mark Oldroyd getting man of the match. The same day our 1st eleven were in Freuchie, they lost in a bowl out. We drank the club dry, and when leaving the clubhouse at around 2.30am on Monday morning, the first team coach rocked up. More recently I have been privileged to Captain the 2nd team, and we have won 2 Wheatley cups, one of the was won at Town Street so made it more meaningful.

My senior debut came at age of 13 keeping wicket away at the Old Mods, I can’t remember much about this game, just that it was cold and miserable and Paul Stanyard was captain. Although I would play 1st team cricket at some point, the 2nd team would be my team.

I can remember watching my dad bat, obviously I wasn’t allowed in the ground when he was batting, as I would be a distraction to his concentration. I would have to watch from my grandmas window, or from the scorebox, where I got to do the tins for 50p plus a fee tea, can you imagine that now! Keith Taylor Snr was the 2nd person in the Leeds league to score 1000 runs in a season (1979), he still has the gold carriage clock on the mantelpiece today.

I managed to watch some talented players as I grew up, all of which are legends in my eyes, My dad of course, David Cooper, Dave Warren – brilliant bowling combination. Dave Fairburn he could change a game at the drop of a hat. The Sampson trio Ian, Keith and Roy, more about Roy later.

One hot summers day Dave Cooper rocked up at Carlton in his new motor, a red Ford Cortina. We were playing away at Highbury, he was taking me, my dad and Mel Tasker to the game. It was stifling inside the car and the windows were wound down. Dave didn’t have any car mats for his new motor just some old newspapers instead. The car had a strong smell of petrol too. We had pulled up at some lights just near South Accommodation road, my dad and Taz were joking about the smell and generally taking the Mikey out of Dave, a car pulled alongside us with a guy smoking a cig which he then flicked towards us, Taz bellowed noooooo, and Dave tried his best to wind up his window, you could see the panic in the front with Taz and Dave, the cig bounced of the window on its way up. Funny when you look back, but a little scary when it was happening.

Now what can you say about Roy Sampson, talented, passionate, aggressive. I can recall numerous events about Roy, but one stands/pulls out more than others. We were playing away at Esholt, and I was scoring with the league secretary David Young, who is now the chairman of the BCL. We had a decent side out, all the usual’s Dad, Rocky, Roy, Ian, Taz Jnr, Goddard to name a few. The Esholt scorer didn’t really like us that much and was slating young Taz in the field. Now Roy had been watching this for some time, and was biding his time, unlike Roy. Then the switch flicked and Roy was down to the scoreboard wagging his finger at David. I was sat there thinking what the heck is going on here. It seemed to calm down for a bit, then it all kicked off. Roy was down at the scoreboard having a right go at David their scorer. David was giving as good back, he did start it after all. Roy was saying "if you carry on I'll pull you out of that box", David was saying "no you won’t", typical school playground sort of stuff. Well Roy had clearly had enough by now, reaching into the scoreboard through the hatch and pulling David from the scoreboard, I was sat there not knowing what to think, David wasn’t a small chap, at least 6 foot plus, and Roy just pulled him fully out of the scorebox and on to the field.

Most of my years have been spent in the second team where I have made some great friendships and played with some great talents. Mark Oldroyd, Mark Ward, Peter “Gats” Hartley, Ian “throw your bat” Smith, Jack Fox Jnr, Mally Baddeley – Normally starts a fight then disappears, and ends up making a new bestie.

Everyone disliked playing away at the Caribbean, hostile atmosphere, rubbish teas, not the best ground or wicket. There are 2 memorable games at the Caribbean. One was when Steve Fox was on fire, bowling as fast as I can remember, the wicket was rock hard and the Caribbean players just couldn’t handle the pace. Steve hit one guy who had to retire hurt, it was that bad they called for an ambulance. I can remember the Ambulance turning up, and leaving, when Steve hit someone else, again they called for an ambulance. Great seam bowling with pace and aggression. My second memory was Mark Oldroyd, he was given out, clearly upset by the decision. Now for those that know the Scott Hall Oval it’s a huge playing surface, when you walk towards the club over the boundary there is about 5 yards between the boundary and the patio area. Well Mark was disschuffed about being given out had lost the plot, someone had left a chair in the no mans land between the Boundary and the patio, Mark saw revenge and booted the chair claiming someone had left it on the field of play.

I am lucky enough to have played with my dad, and brother Tom, one being Tom’s introduction to senior cricket due to Foxy, Flogger and Matty Fine our Overseas at the time stopping off at Brian’s chippy.

The first home game the seconds played every year, in the old changing rooms at Carlton, you would walk through the door, Mark Ward would be in the corner next to the window, Peter Hartley would be one more round, Simon Backhouse under the mirror, Johnny Andrews next to the shower door, they all had their own place, it still happens today, and if anyone new to the team comes in, their bag and clothes are moved. Tradition. Once everyone was in it would start Wardy, Olly, Gats would start singing the Boys are back in town I can hear it now.

There are of course the people off the field that made Carlton what it is today Ken Clayborough and Jack Walsh the groundsmen with Gerald Tolley more recently, and now the current ground staff, Roy, Martin and Ian. They have provided us with what is truly and amazing ground to play at, as recently confirmed by us winning the BCL ground of the year award in 2016.

It was about the club spirit on and off the field that made our club so great, 1st team cup games having a BBQ with Jack Fox Jnr, Maureen Taylor, Sue Simpson and Sue Fairburn getting blathered and shouting on the pitch. Late nighters at the club, Mark Fairburn singing Sunshine Mountain, Andy Court singing where ever we go, mainly on the bus coming back from a village game. Boat races after the traditional boxing day football match. Brain Ward and Mel Tasker drinking Stones bitter as if it was going out of fashion, every night. Winnie Fox, Bob and Peter Lord playing the bandit.

This is what has made our club so special. Our 150th season wouldn’t be the same without all the characters that have made Carlton such a special place. Let’s all pull together and have a great season on and off the pitch.