Legend Nichols says goodbye
ONE of the best sportsmen to have graced the Brighouse area over the past 30 years is leaving the district.
Richard Nichols, 41, has left Lightcliffe Cricket Club after three seasons as captain and will open the batting for Barnoldswick in the Ribblesdale League this season.
The main reason for heading north west is that he and his wife Diane, a policewoman based in the West Yorkshire Police force in Halifax, want to live in the Skipton area with their two young daughters.
"We have had our house at Oxenhope up for sale since August and hopefully we can sell and then move," said Nichols, who has spent the past six years as a partnership development manager for primary and secondary schools based at Thornton Grammar School Sports College in Bradford.
"My wife will then seek a transfer and Olivia, aged nine, and seven-year-old Amelia will be able to continue their passion for horse riding. They are quite active on the sports front, like their father, being members of the school's athletics club, swimming and in summer enjoying playing tennis with me."
Nichols revealed he was approached by Barnoldswick CC about a week after the Lightcliffe CC annual dinner in October, where it had been announced that he was standing down as captain but was likely to continue as a player when available.
"It came completely out of the blue but ironically enough I had been thinking in terms of their league as the Airedale and Wharfedale League would have meant a lot of travelling. The Ribblesdale League is more compact with its clubs down the M65 corridor. The likes of Clitheroe, Baxenden, where ex-Lancashire player Ian Austin plays, Edenfield, Earby, where long serving Lancashire CCC player Glen Chappell originates from, Whalley, who had at one time Australian leg spinner Peter Sleep, and nearer Skipton, both Settle and Barnoldswick.
"They wanted me as an opening batsman and didn't know I could turn my arm over as well and if the old knee stands up to it, then that part of my game is a bonus to them.
"I am looking forward to playing some new grounds, meeting new people and will be teaming up with Jaffer Nazir from East Bierley CC, so we should have a strong side.
"In many ways it is a shame to be leaving the Bradford League after all these years, where I have met so many nice people. I will really miss some familiar faces on the playing side and also umpires after 20 years playing for Brighouse, Lightcliffe and Bradford and Bingley."
Nichols began his cricketing career with Brighouse before leaving for university in Newcastle where he played for the mining village side Esh Winning CC. After a break of four years while studying and living out of the district he joined Lightcliffe as he knew long serving all rounder Roger Stead from their rugby careers at the Old Brodleians.
After three seasons at Wakefield Road he was off to join the Brighouse CC revival under David Jay's stewardship at the old Clifton Road ground and stayed for six campaigns, enjoying challenging Division One fixtures in the Bradford League.
Another move saw him arrive at Wagon Lane, home of Bradford & Bingley CC, where he had five very enjoyable years with both with bat and ball before ending his Bradford League career with Lightcliffe.
His senior rugby union career as a fullback or flyhalf with Brods was spanned some 13 seasons from the age of 22 to 35. He had gone to Woodhead as a six-year-old until the age of 10 before school rugby took him away.
"I started rugby union again at the age of 22 and again I enjoyed it at the Brods where they are a great set of lads, just as the present bunch are at Lightcliffe," he said.
"I shall be looking out for the results at Lightcliffe, Brighouse and Bradford & Bingley and no doubt the lads will be looking to see how I fare and no doubt many of us will keep in touch."
Lightcliffe's club chairman John Brooke paid tribute to his former captain's leadership, service and comradeship and wished him the very best with his new club and the family's new location.
"A nicer lad you couldn't wish to meet and all of us wish them well," Brooke added.
l Lightcliffe's Headingley cricket nets, which finish next Wednesday, have gone well and the club will be starting local nets on Monday, February 1 at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe HS Sports Centre.
Outgoing long serving player-cricket chairman, Bruce Lunn, said: "We have booked four lanes from 8-10pm for the 13-17-year-olds and the seniors, while the 9 to 11-year olds will have their own nets in a gymnasium on a Monday from that date between 6 and 7pm.
"It's open to all and anyone wanting to join in can turn up on their own – or in the case of juniors with a parent or guardian – and then we will let loose our coaching staff on them."