The Ribbledale League was born on 13th October 1891 at a meeting in the Dog Inn at Whalley.
Initially eight clubs took to the field for the opening fixtures of the 1892 season. This number fluctuated during the fledgling years with clubs joining, leaving, and in some cases rejoining be-fore membership levelled out at around a dozen. A Junior League was introduced in 1912 consisting initially mainly of 2nd elevens.
Unfortunately the First World War brought an abrupt end to proceedings in 1914 and for the next five years the Championship Trophy remained in Yorkshire in the hands of Settle CC as the young men of the area had more pressing matters to attend to.
Following the resumption of rivalries in 1919 Settle duly retained the title and during the inter war years membership steadily grew, quite appropriately in the west of the county, along the lower stretches of the Ribble Valley.
The league soldiered on throughout the Second World War, albeit in a very rudimentary existence.
As the country emerged from War and life got back to normal there was a surge in membership and by 1951 had risen to 18. However the honeymoon was short lived, a quickie divorce en-sued in 1952, following disagreements over splitting the ever expanding membership into regional divisions. The western clubs broke away to form the Northern League, leaving just 10 clubs.
With the exception of the sadly missed Blackburn Northern the other nine clubs remain members to this day and have formed the backbone of the Senior League throughout a period of much more consistency lasting over 50 years.
Skipton & Rolls Royce had brief flirtations with the Senior League in the 50’s & 60s; however a solid core of 12 clubs remained throughout. A Cup Competition, The Ramsbottom Cup, was introduced in 1965 and a sister Cup for Junior League Clubs, The Lawrenson Cup, in 1972
In 1992 the League celebrated its Centenary the following year marked the occasion by adding Edenfield to their ranks, quickly realising that an odd number was not a good idea, Oswaldtwistle quickly followed to increase the numbers to 14, this was to be the norm for the next 20 years with Salesbury replacing Blackburn Northern along the way.
During this time the league has seen numerous amateur players, who have played in the league in their formative years, progress to the First Class game, some have even gone on to dine at the very top table with Graeme Fowler, Don Wilson and Gary Kirsten all gracing the league as amateurs on their way to the Test Arena.
Many thanks to the late Alan West for information gathered from his excellent book, 100 Years of The Ribblesdale Cricket League.
Recent Progressive Changes
In 2014 the RCL introduced a 2 tier League with 17 clubs involved. The A division with 9 clubs and the B division with 8 clubs. This format has proven to be a huge success for the League in the last 2 years, so much so that other Leagues are attempting to follow our lead.
Previously clubs were playing in a single league with 30 games a season, which was considered too many by most players. It also resulted in weakened sides being selected and too many non-competitive games throughout the last half of a season.
After various meetings by old, current and new players it was unanimously decided to create the 2 tier system of 9-8 sides per league. Each team played their own League twice and the other League teams once giving a more acceptable 24 games. Not only did standards im-prove, but competitive cricket was played right up to the last games of the season. With clubs not only fighting for the promotion and avoiding relegation, but also for League Titles and qualification to the Lancashire Knockout competition. It also helped clubs find their level and be competitive with equal ability teams.
Because of the reorganisation and formation of the Manchester Cricket League for 2016, unfortunately, 2 clubs felt they were better placed geographically to join this League. Despite losing 2 clubs the RCL has been able to maintain the 2 League structure of 8-8 teams for the 2016 season by helping Feniscowles CC promote themselves from the Junior Division. Despite all the potential changes discussed, the RCL will look to continue this system in 2017, and welcome applications from clubs interested in playing quality competitive cricket.