Birmingham and District Premier League

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The Birmingham and District Cricket League is the oldest club cricket league in the world, formed in 1888.[1] Arguably the strongest club competition in the country, it was also the first ECB Premier League, being designated such in 1998.

Geography

The Birmingham League traditionally covered North Worcestershire, South Staffordshire and North Warwickshire, much of which is now the conurbation of the West Midlands. Since 1998, with the introduction of the ECB Premier Leagues, the pyramid system, and feeder leagues in the four counties (Shropshire Premier Cricket League, Staffordshire Club Cricket Championship, Warwickshire Cricket League and Worcestershire County Cricket League), the catchment of the league has spread to include the whole of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, as well as a large part of Staffordshire, although North Staffordshire clubs play in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire League. Herefordshire clubs, who play in the Worcestershire County Cricket League, can also be promoted into the league.

History

The Birmingham and District Cricket League is the oldest club competition in the world, beginning league matches in 1888. The Birmingham and District Cricket Association had actually formed eight years earlier in 1880, but only ran a successful, if not controversial, cup competition for those first few years. On Friday 30 November 1888, representatives from local cricket clubs gathered at the Queen's Arms Hotel, Easy Row, Birmingham and went about setting up the first ever Club Cricket League, being inspired by the success The Birmingham County Football Association had had in organising local football competition and fixtures. With some representatives needing to consult their own committees before pledging their commitment to the league, and one or two prominent local clubs not being present, it wasn't until a second meeting on Friday 14 December 1888 that the league was actually, officially formed. There were initially seven clubs who decided to trial the league format the following season. They were:

Those early days saw many changes in the league's club make-up:

Kings Heath moved to "The Reddings" Ground, joining with Moseley Cricket Club (and taking on that name). Another Kings Heath Club was formed later, but never became part of the Birmingham League set-up until the restructuring of Midlands Club cricket in 1998. Salters Cricket Club who played in Roebuck Lane, West Bromwich, and originated from the Spring Works of the same name, resigned from the league after just one season. In 1890, Wednesbury Cricket Club joined the league. In 1891, Smethwick Cricket Club, who had been involved in the Birmingham and District Cricket Association Cup competition in the 1880s, entered the league. Mitchells Cricket Club left the league between 1892 and 1896, due to some friction surrounding ineligible players, but shortly after they returned, they became Mitchells and Butlers Cricket Club when the two breweries amalgamated in 1898. In 1892, Small Heath Cricket Club joined the league and although their ground was amongst the best in the competition, the club was out of its depth in other aspects, and they resigned from the league 3 years later. In 1894, Warwickshire County Cricket Club entered the league after years of deliberation, but withdrew again in 1895 after being admitted to the County Championship. Over the next few years, the league's influence moved to the west, with Dudley Cricket Club joining the League in 1893, Stourbridge in 1894 and Kidderminster in 1895. Handsworth Wood who had performed creditably in the league until their Browne's Green ground was acquired by developers shortly after the First World War, spent one season playing at the County Ground, Edgbaston, but when no new ground could be found the following season either, they lost a narrow motion by the league (by one vote), and Old Hill Cricket Club replaced them in 1920. The Handsworth Wood Club folded shortly afterwards, handing their cash balance over to the league benevolent fund.

The second XI competition, which would arguably become the second best standard of cricket in the region until league restructuring in 1998, had been formed in 1893.

The league was suspended for the First World War between 1914 and 1918, but continued to play through the Second World War, and the League, now comprising 10 clubs (Aston Unity, Dudley, Kidderminster, Mitchells and Butlers, Moseley, Old Hill, Smethwick, Stourbridge, Walsall, West Bromwich Dartmouth), stayed the same until 1975. In 1975, the league expanding again as Warwickshire and Worcestershire decided the strength of the league could be utilised. Warwickshire entered a 1st and 2nd XI (basically a 1st/2nd team side and a 2nd/colts side), whilst Worcestershire only entered a 1st XI and Duport Cricket Club (A Dudley-based Furniture making company club) played their 2nd XI fixtures. Whilst Warwickshire established themselves in the competition and won it on a few occasions, Worcestershire struggled, and two years later, Duport took on their 1st XI fixtures too, as they were forced to pull out of the league. Duport also struggled with the on-field standards, and when less support from the Works Social Club hit them, they too were forced to pull out of the competition, and were replaced by another Worcester-based side in 1982, Worcester City. Many other changes took place in the league throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and they are summarised below:

Year Outgoing Club Reason Incoming Club
1977 Worcestershire Struggled to field sides due to small County staff Duport
1982 Duport Works Social Club decreased funding and club struggled with the standard of cricket Worcester City
1985 Dudley Ground caved in and club was forced to fold Coventry and North Warwicks
1990 Warwickshire Struggled to commit to League cricket with increased County 2nd XI programme Wolverhampton
1992 Worcester City Club folded Stratford
1995 Mitchells and Butlers Brewery decided to sell off ground so club folded Barnt Green

ECB Premier League

Since being designated an ECB Premier League in 1998 (the first Premier Cricket League in the Country), several changes have occurred in the league's structure. Initially, the 12 clubs in the old Birmingham League made up the Premier Division, and a First Division, Second Division East and Second Division West were made up from clubs in the old Midlands Combined Counties League, the Worcestershire League, the Warwickshire League and the Staffs League. The Second Division East and Second Division West have since been replaced by a Second Division and a Third Division. Only one side was promoted in the first year of the structure, and that honour went to Cannock Cricket Club. Aston Unity Cricket Club, a founder member of the league, were the first ever side to be relegated. Promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the First Division was increased to two teams in the second year (1999). Movements of clubs since 1998 are shown below:

Year Relegated Clubs Promoted Clubs
1998 Aston Unity Cannock
1999 Stourbridge Harborne
" Moseley Halesowen
2000 Smethwick Knowle and Dorridge
" Harborne Aston Unity
2001 West Bromwich Dartmouth Himley
" Kidderminster Moseley
2002 Aston Unity Shrewsbury
" Stratford Wellington
2003 Shrewsbury Water Orton
" Wolverhampton West Bromwich Dartmouth
2004 Water Orton Leamington
" Cannock Kenilworth Wardens
2005 Leamington Shrewsbury
" Halesowen Kidderminster Victoria
2006 Old Hill Shifnal
" Shrewsbury Walmley
2007 Coventry And North Warwickshire Leamington
" Wellington Wolverhampton
2008 West Bromwich Dartmouth Shrewsbury
" Shifnal Bromsgrove
2009 Leamington Smethwick
" Bromsgrove Wellington
2010 Kenilworth Wardens West Bromwich Dartmouth
" Walmley Leamington
2011 Moseley Berkswell
" Smethwick Brockhampton
2012 Leamington Wombourne
" Wellington Walmley
2013 Wolverhampton Kenilworth Wardens
" Wombourne Dorridge
2014 Walsall Ombersley
" Himley Wolverhampton

Clubs

For the 2017 season, the clubs in the Premier Division are Barnt Green, Berkswell, Brockhampton, Dorridge, Kenilworth Wardens, Kidderminster, Knowle and Dorridge, Ombersley, Shrewsbury, Walsall, West Bromwich Dartmouth, and Wolverhampton.

Across the four divisions, the league is made up of:

  • 15 Staffordshire clubs (Brewood, C & R Hawks, Fordhouses, Himley, Lichfield, Milford Hall, Old Hill, Penkridge, Smethwick, Streetly, Tamworth, Walsall, West Bromwich Dartmouth, Wolverhampton, Wombourne)
  • 14 Warwickshire clubs (Attock, Berkswell, Coventry and North Warwickshire, Dorridge, Handsworth, Harborne, Kenilworth Wardens, Knowle and Dorridge, Leamington Spa, Moseley, Nuneaton, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sutton Coldfield, Walmley)
  • 11 Worcestershire clubs (Astwood Bank, Barnards Green, Barnt Green, Bromsgrove, Halesowen, Kidderminster, Old Elizabethans, Ombersley, Pershore, Stourbridge, Worcester Nomads)
  • 7 Shropshire clubs (Bridgnorth, Newport, Oswestry, Sentinel, Shifnal, Shrewsbury, Wellington)
  • 1 Herefordshire club (Brockhampton)

Championships and achievements

Year 1st XI 2nd XI
1889 Aston Unity No Competition
1890 Moseley and West Bromwich Dartmouth* No Competition
1891 Moseley No Competition
1892 Handsworth Wood No Competition
1893 Walsall
1894 Aston Unity
1895 Moseley Walsall
1896 Walsall and Aston Unity*
1897 Handsworth Wood
1898 Dudley
1899 Kidderminster
1900 Aston Unity
1901 Kidderminster
1902 Handsworth Wood
1903 Handsworth Wood
1904 Moseley
1905 Dudley and Handsworth Wood*
1906 Dudley
1907 Moseley
1908 Moseley
1909 Moseley and Mitchells and Butlers*
1910 Aston Unity and Dudley*
1911 Mitchells and Butlers
1912 Walsall
1913 Dudley
1914 Mitchells and Butlers
1915–1918 First World War First World War
1919 Stourbridge
1920 Moseley
1921 Old Hill
1922 Walsall Old Hill
1923 Moseley Old Hill
1924 Kidderminster
1925 Mitchells and Butlers Old Hill and *
1926 Mitchells and Butlers
1927 Aston Unity
1928 Mitchells and Butlers
1929 Kidderminster
1930 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1931 Mitchells and Butlers Old Hill
1932 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1933 West Bromwich Dartmouth and Walsall*
1934 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1935 Walsall Walsall
1936 Walsall
1937 Walsall
1938 Moseley
1939 Aston Unity and Mitchells and Butlers
1940 Old Hill
1941 West Bromwich Dartmouth Competition suspended for Second World War
1942 West Bromwich Dartmouth Competition suspended for Second World War
1943 West Bromwich Dartmouth Competition suspended for Second World War
1944 West Bromwich Dartmouth Competition suspended for Second World War
1945 West Bromwich Dartmouth Competition suspended for Second World War
1946 Kidderminster
1947 Mitchells and Butlers
1948 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1949 Aston Unity
1950 Kidderminster
1951 Smethwick
1952 Dudley
1953 West Bromwich Dartmouth Old Hill and *
1954 Mitchells and Butlers
1955 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1956 Moseley
1957 Dudley
1958 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1959 Moseley Walsall
1960 Old Hill Walsall
1961 Moseley
1962 Kidderminster
1963 Moseley
1964 Moseley
1965 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1966 Kidderminster and Walsall*
1967 Moseley Walsall
1968 Smethwick Walsall
1969 Moseley
1970 Moseley
1971 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1972 Walsall
1973 Kidderminster and Moseley
1974 West Bromwich Dartmouth
1975 Kidderminster Walsall
1976 Walsall
1977 Aston Unity
1978 Warwickshire
1979 Warwickshire Walsall
1980 Walsall Walsall and *
1981 Dudley Walsall and *
1982 Walsall
1983 Old Hill
1984 Moseley Old Hill
1985 Moseley
1986 Walsall
1987 Stourbridge
1988 Warwickshire Old Hill
1989 Stourbridge Walsall
1990 Wolverhampton
1991 Coventry and North Warwicks Walsall and Old Hill*
1992 Walsall Walsall
1993 West Bromwich Dartmouth Walsall
1994 Walsall Old Hill
1995 Barnt Green
1996 Walsall Wolverhampton
1997 Barnt Green Moseley
1998 Wolverhampton West Bromwich Dartmouth
1999 Walsall Moseley
2000 Cannock Walsall
2001 Stratford Cannock
2002 Halesowen Moseley
2003 Wellington Harborne
2004 Wellington Kidderminster Victoria
2005 Barnt Green Harborne
2006 Walsall Leamington Spa
2007 Walsall Moseley
2008 Walsall Knowle and Dorridge
2009 Knowle and Dorridge Walsall
2010 Shrewsbury Moseley
2011 Barnt Green Wolverhampton
2012 Walsall Wolverhampton
2013 Shrewsbury Knowle and Dorridge
2014 West Bromwich Dartmouth Knowle and Dorridge
  • * – denotes a shared title

1st XI Division 1/Premier Division winners

Of those clubs still in membership of the league, Moseley and Walsall have both won the 1st XI Division 1/Premier Division title outright 18 times and have had 3 shared titles, West Bromwich Dartmouth 17 outright & 2 shared, Kidderminster 8 & 2 shared, Barnt Green 4, Old Hill 4, Stourbridge 3, Shrewsbury 2, Smethwick 2, Wellington 2, Wolverhampton 2, Coventry and North Warwickshire 1, Halesowen 1, Knowle and Dorridge 1, Stratford-upon-Avon 1.

Of those clubs that are no longer in membership of the league, Mitchells & Butlers won the title outright 8 times and had 2 shared titles, Aston Unity 6 times & 3 shared, Dudley 6 times & 2 shared, Handsworth Wood 4 & 1 shared, Warwickshire 3, and Cannock 1.

1000 runs in a season

Although there have been many notable feats throughout the league's history, one of the most difficult achievements for a batsman is to score over 1000 runs in a club league season. Only 11 players have ever managed it in the top division of the Birmingham League:

Player Club Year Runs
Alan Townsend Mitchells and Butlers 1961 1106
Alan Townsend Mitchells and Butlers 1970 1008
Colin Price Aston Unity 1975 1093
Graham Yallop Walsall 1975 1152
Doug Slade West Bromwich Dartmouth 1978 1407
Graeme Hick Kidderminster 1984 1234
Ian Stokes Moseley 1984 1236
Steven Dean Walsall 1993 1166
Jonathan Wright Old Hill 1993 1006
Andy Flower West Bromwich Dartmouth 1995 1018
Grant Flower Barnt Green 1995 1024
Deon Jordaan Wolverhampton 1996 1072

National Knockout

The Birmingham and District Cricket League's strength as a competition has been proven throughout the years, by the presence of its clubs in the latter stages of the ECB National Club Cricket Championship (a cup Competition for all Clubs in the UK). Here are a list of clubs in the league structure who have won or been runners-up in the competition:

Club Year Opponents Winners/Runners-up
Wolverhampton 1973 The Mote (Kent) Winners
Moseley 1980 Gosport Borough (Hampshire) Winners
Shrewsbury 1983 Reigate and St.Leonard's Priory (Sussex) Winners
Old Hill 1984 Bishop's Stortford (Hertfordshire) Winners
Old Hill 1985 Reading (Berkshire) Winners
Stourbridge 1986 Weston-super-Mare (Somerset) Winners
Old Hill 1987 Teddington (Middlesex) Winners
Wolverhampton 1988 Enfield (Middlesex) Runners-up
Old Hill 1989 Teddington (Middlesex) Runners-up(replay)
Walsall 1991 Teddington (Middlesex) Runners-up
Old Hill 1993 West Bromwich Dartmouth (Staffordshire) Winners
West Bromwich Dartmouth 1993 Old Hill (Staffordshire) Runners-up
Walsall 1996 Chorley (Lancashire) Winners
Wolverhampton 1999 Teddington (Middlesex) Winners
Barnt Green 2002 Saffron Walden (Essex) Runners-up
Barnt Green 2005 Horsham (Sussex) Runners-up
Shrewsbury 2011 Cambridge Granta (Cambridgeshire) Winners

Famous players, and B&DPCL Club(s) represented

Many well known international players have played in the Birmingham League over the years:

England Players

Overseas players

ICC Full Member Nations

Australia

South Africa

West Indies

New Zealand

India

Pakistan

Sri Lanka

Zimbabwe

Bangladesh

ICC Associate Nations

Namibia

Netherlands

Scotland

External links

  • Official League Website
  • Official Halesowen Cricket Club Website

References

  1. ^ Davis, Alex E (1988). First in the field: the history of the world's first cricket league: the Birmingham and District Cricket League, formed 1888. Brewin Books. ISBN 0-947731-34-2. 
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