In August 1885, Horsforth Hall Park hosted its only first-class cricket fixture. The match between Yorkshire and MB Hawke’s XI attracted crowds of up to 4,000 on each of its three days and was won by MB Hawke’s XI by three wickets with only eight minutes’ play remaining.
The highest individual score was made by Yorkshire’s George Ulyett, whose 73 in the first innings is consequently the highest first-class score at Hall Park. Eight years earlier, Ulyett played for England in the first ever Test match, against Australia at Melbourne in 1877.
Hall Park’s most famous player is undoubtedly Hedley Verity. The legendary Yorkshire and England spin bowler was brought up in Rawdon for whom he played as a youth before moving to Hall Park where he played for three seasons (1924-26). In his final year with the club, he won the prize for the best junior bowler in the league.
In 1932, whilst playing for Yorkshire, Verity took 10 for 10 against Nottinghamshire. This remains the best bowling performance in first-class cricket history. Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman, the greatest batsman in history, described Verity as one of the best bowlers he ever faced.
At the outbreak of World War Two, Verity joined the Green Howards whom he served with distinction until he was killed whilst leading an attack on a German position in Sicily. His name is on the war memorial in St Peter’s Church, Rawdon.
On 11 August 1977, Yorkshire’s Geoff Boycott scored his one hundredth first-class century at Headingley in a Test match against Australia. His batting partner at the time was Graham Roope of Surrey, who had to jump out of the way of the ball which Boycott hit straight past him for four to reach his milestone. Following his retirement, Roope played for Hall Park and was also the cricket coach at Woodhouse Grove School. He sadly died, aged just 60, in 2006.
More recently, West Indian international, Corey Collymore, played for the club. He was in the same West Indian side as Brian Lara in 2004 when the latter scored his world record Test score of 400 versus England.
George Ulyett, photographed by E Hawkins of Bristol.