The Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League was created by the merger of the Yorkshire South Premier League and the South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League for the 2021 season
The Yorkshire South Premier League
The origins of the Yorkshire South Premier League (YSPL) lie in the former ECB Yorkshire County Premier League, which was accorded Premier League status in 1999 and as such was the top league in the county and boasted most of its best grounds.
This came into existence in 1936 as 'the Yorkshire League', when the bigger clubs in the old Yorkshire Council, which in those days operated with over 100 clubs that organised their own fixture lists, broke away to form a separate league with a traditional 'home and away' fixture format.
The membership of the Yorkshire League changed over the years, with well-known clubs like Halifax, Leeds and Wakefield falling by the waysuide, but most of the founder menbers remained to the end in 2015.
Hull dominated the Yorkshire League in its early years; Scarborough won 13 titles between 1957 and 1983; and York were champions in all but two of the League’s last 12 years. At various stages, Sheffield United, Harrogate, and Sheffield Collegiate also had periods of dominance.
In the Yorkshire League’s final season, the member clubs were Appleby Frodingham, Barnsley, Castleford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Town, Driffield Town, Harrogate, Hull, Rotherham Town, Sheffield Collegiate, Sheffield United, York and Yorkshire Academy. The two Lincolnshire clubs were admitted during the period when Yorkshire & Humberside was the administrative county for the area.
The seven most southerly of these clubs formed the new Yorkshire South Premier League along with the top four clubs in the South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League (SYSCL) in 2015, and Wakefield Thornes from the former Central Yorkshire League.
The inaugural members of the YSPL in 2016, therefore, were Appleby Frodingham, Aston Hall, Barnsley, Cleethorpes, Doncaster Town, Rotherham, Sheffield Collegiate, Sheffield United, Treeton, Wakefield Thornes, Whitley Hall and Wickersley Old Village.
The YSPL and the SYSCL worked closely together under a Memorandum of Understanding to align playing conditions in the two leagues and there was promotion and relegation between the two leagues on a ‘two up/two down’ basis. The first two clubs to be promoted to the YSPL, in 2017, were Hallam and Tickhill, whilst Doncaster Town and Rotherham Town were the first clubs to be relegated.
The South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League
The League was founded in 1948 as the South Riding League. It was a member league of the historic Yorkshire Cricket Council and, besides its annual League and Cup Competitions, its champion clubs competed against clubs from the other three member leagues to become Yorkshire Council champions.
SRL clubs met with limited success outside their own competitions. In the first 50 years of its history, the League had produced just eight Yorkshire Council Champions and only one Yorkshire Champion of Champions. There was a similar story at representative level in competition against the other Yorkshire leagues, where two games were won in 17 years of competition. Over this time, ground standards had also started to decline, due in part to the decline in support from the coal and steel industries.
With the advent of the League’s 50th year in 1998, the League Management Committee made important decisions, which were to raise the standing of the League. The top division was redesignated as the Premier League; achievable ground and facility standards were defined for all clubs to meet by 2002; and full ground Inspections were carried out. New Clubs were only admitted if they met required standards.
As a result, a marked improvement in standards both in ground and facilities was achieved, with the result being a noticeable increase in spectators, particularly at cup finals. In 2002, the League changed its name to the South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League.
The showpiece of the SYSCL season was the Whitworth Cup Final, that was hosted only by clubs that met the highest level ground criteria level criteria. SYSCL clubs have also hosted representative games, Yorkshire Council Finals and, in 2012, the Black Sheep Champion of Champions Trophy Final at Elsecar CC, when Whitley Hall CC became the first club to win the trophy two years in succession.
The most successful club in the history of the SYSCL was Elsecar, who were its champions on no fewer than 18 occasions – ten more than next-placed Shiregreen and Treeton. Elsecar also have the most number of Whitworth Cup wins, ten – one more than Whitley Hall.
In 2020, the SYSCL had 120 teams from 60 clubs playing in nine divisions.
At a meeting between clubs of both leagues at Whitley Hall CC in March 2020, the suggestion was made by club representatives that it would be sensible operationally for the two leagues to merge. The proposal found majority favour; a Merger Working Party was set up to develop detailed proposals; both leagues voted in favour; and the new league formally came into being on 1 December 2020.