By Neil Fissler
Raymond Illingworth had a long history in the game of winning trophies, but nobody had expected that the run would continue into his 50s.
Illingworth had been brought back to save the county and give them a “kick up the backside” during one of the darkest periods in their history.
He had been a stalwart of the Yorkshire side that had dominated the game in the late Fifties and Sixties, winning the County Championship seven times in nine seasons.
But by the time they won the Gillette Cup in 1969, following a contract dispute, he had departed for Leicestershire whom he would lead to the Championship twice.
The Lord’s victory over Derbyshire would be the last trophy seen at Headingley until Illingworth guided them to their first ever Sunday League success,
It was a major triumph for the county who, for the first time in their history, had finished bottom of the County Championship they had dominated during his first spell .
It needs to be remembered that it was the last trophy that Yorkshire would win sticking to their policy of only selecting players who were born with the county boundaries.
“The trophy meant a great deal as the club hadn’t won any silverware for a number of years. It was also a massive effort as every other county had two to three overseas players, but we were all Yorkshire-born.
Illingworth said: “It was an interesting season, but despite the disappointment of the Couty Championship, it was satisfying that we still had guts and character to pick up some silverware.
He was 51 at the time and had a team that was a blend of youth and experience and they managed to pull off the unexpected.
Going into the last match of the season, away to Essex in Chelmsford, they held a two-point advantage over nearest rivals Somerset.
Anything other than defeat would mean that the John Player League trophy would be heading back up the A1 to Leeds.
Somerset chased down 175 to beat Warwickshire by seven wickets at Taunton while in Essex Yorkshire, backed by a huge army of fans, watched the rain come down.
Eventually the match was abandoned giving both teams two points, keeping Yorkshire level with Somerset on the 46-point mark.
But, despite having a worst run rate than the West Country side, Yorkshire would win the title because they had won more away games.
Illingworth, however, admits that the whole day was a huge anti climax.
“We were supposed to be playing Essex at Chelmsford but it rained all day and we never got on the field.
“Lots of Yorkshire fans had come down and they were obviously disappointed that we never played.
“The point gained from the no-result was enough to secure the title and we were pleased to collect the trophy on the players’ balcony.”
BACK ROW (left-to-right):
Bill Athey: The England batsman was once on the books of Brentford FC and is now teaching at Dulwich College in South-east London.
Martyn Moxon: England batsman became director of coaching at Yorkshire, before coaching Durham then returning to Headingley as director of cricket.
Simon Dennis: A seamer who was the nephew of Sir Len Hutton now lives in Rotherham and works in the IT industry.
Arnie Sidebottom: An England pace bowler, the father of Ryan, played in the Football League for Manchester United. He coached Yorkshire and now coaches cricket and football at Woodhouse Grove School, in West Yorkshire.
Jim Love: An England one-day batsman became Scotland’s director of cricket prior to running a pub. For the last nine years as been a regional manager for the Cricket Foundation.
Neil Hartley: A middle order batsman who went into insurance and is currently branch director for Bluefin Insurance Group. Has also been chairman of the Yorkshire CCC Players’ Association.
Kevin Sharp: Left-handed batsman who was Yorkshire’s batting coach and has coached Shropshire. He also runs a coaching and training business Inspire and Excel.
Graham Stevenson: England fast bowler died of complications of a stroke on 21 January 2014, at 58, having worked as scaffolder, milkman and bailiff.
Geoffrey Boycott: England opening batsman who since his career ended has been an outspoken media commentator and is a former Yorkshire president.
Raymond Illingworth: England all-rounder went on to work in the media after hanging up his whites in 1984 and then became England coach and chairman of selectors.
David Bairstow: England wicketkeeper/batsman who played football for Bradford City. and is the father of Jonny. He became a successful businessman and radio commentator. He committed suicide in Marton-cum-Grafton, North Yorkshire, in January 1998, aged 46.
Phil Carrick: An all-rounder captained the 1987 Benson & Hedges Cup winning side. He became an ECB umpire but died of leukaemia in January 2000 aged just 47.
Paul Jarvis: England paceman, the youngest to take a Sunday League hat-trick, worked in sports management and then became director of cricket at Framlingham College and is now in property maintenance.
Alan Ramage: A seamer who played football for Middlesbrough and Derby County ran an energy inspection business in the Teesside area.
Nick Taylor: The seamer son of Yorkshire and England’s Ken is a former bat maker who is now working in the bloodstock industry.
Ian Swallow: An all-rounder is now living and working in his native Barnsley.
Stuart Fletcher: A medium pacer who has worked in the paper-making industry but for the last ten years has been an HGV driver.
Richard Lumb: A batsman who is the father of Nottinghamshire’s Michael. Has run his own coaching business.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday October 2, 2015