DARTS LURES HOPPY
ROBERT HOPKINSON [OAKWORTH CC 2000 to 2002 and 2008 to 2015]
The tumultuous finale to the 2015 season was fantastic for everyone connected with the club. The Wynn Cup Final defeat by Bingley Congs was a disappointment in that Oaks didn't complete the 'double double'. But there was sadness too as two long time stalwarts played their final match in Oakworth colours.
Now father of a bundle of energy, Robert wants to spend more time with Cain [pictured with niece Kirstie, our First Xl scorer] and also give more time to his other sporting love, Darts, at which not surprisingly he is also pretty good.
For 40-year-old Robert Hopkinson it was the culmination of a two-stint career which had seen him complete 247 appearances [192 league] for Oakworth and more importantly score 7,021 runs, [5,671 league] a number headed only by Michael Scarborough, Wilfrid Scarborough and Barry Sayer, the big three. It's a phenomenal achievement and to underline it's significance it ended with a league average of 40.80; the highest average [min 30 inns] at career completion of any Oakworth batsmen, ever.
Robert had started his cricketting life as a junior at the 'Johnnies' and hade been noted as arguably the best batsman in the Second Division. Oakworth recognised that and approached him to join the Wide Lane brigade. So he joined Oakworth CC as Cap No 160 from Ingrow St Johns CC in Millennium Year 2000 and made his debut on 6th May at Bradley.
In that first appearance Robert batted at no 5 and scored 28no [four 4s & 1 six] combining with Graham Rankin 3no to carry Oaks to a 142-5 winning total. In his 19th appearance at Booth Bridge Lane, Thornton, we saw his first half-century [55no] with six 4s and three 6s. His first season' tally for Oaks was 246 runs at average 30.75, a most satisfactory start at a new club. But in 2001 his star had a meteoric rise to reach an enormous 812 runs, at average 62.46, the second highest number of runs in a season by any Oakworth batsman. Amazingly it carried him to the Batting Prize for the Craven & District League and was a significant factor in Oakworth capturing the First Division title. His value to the team on their travels to away matches was immense and he became the only Oakworth batsman to score over 500 runs away from Wide Lane. That year on 13th May his Wynn Cup innings of 147 against hapless Jimmy Nelsons' CC signalled the forthcoming run-fest with 15 fours and 8 sixes and a then record Oaks Wynn Cup partnership of 165, shared with Michael Scarborough, who also hit a ton .!! The following seven league matches produced half-centuries in five of them, including a best league innings to date of 96 against Skipton CI, sharing a 157-run stand with Jon Crossley, then the highest ever by Oakworth openers. The 'extended' 26-match league season as a whole brought Robert 9 half-centuries to elevate him rapidly to the upper rankings of batsmen at the club. In addition to a first League Championship medal there was also a Wynn Cup winners medal [vs Haworth] and a Keighley Cup medal [vs Silsden] as Oakworth completed a historic First Xl treble. The two Cup campaigns had brought Robert a further 350 runs to propel his season' runs total to 1,162, only the 2nd Oakworth player over 1,000.
To follow that magnificent 2nd season, his third, 2002 could have been perhaps an anti-climax, but his star continued to shine brilliantly. There was his first league century on 29th June with 106no [14 fours & 4 sixes] against Skipton CI from only 93 balls. 10 days after his 27th birthday Robert really made hay at the 'Meths' with a monstrous 157 from 129 balls, Oaks 3rd highest ever individual innings, sharing in a [then] new Oaks record opening partnership of 211 with Steve Hartley who made 74 [it was to last 13 years]. In addition to his 2 centuries there was a further half-dozen 50s to savour. Hi season's tally from 5 fewer matches than in 2001, was a staggering 1,053 runs!!
Clearly Robert was someone special and Oakworth whilst sad at his loss were delighted to wish him well following his decision to try out his skills in the Bradford League with Keighley CC. But what a record he left behind; 1,865 league runs in just 3 seasons with Oaks...........................!!
After 5 run-riddled seasons at Keighley, aged almost 33, Robert opted to return to the Wide Lane club for a second stint at terrorising Craven league bowlers.
In his 15 matches he added 421 runs to his Oakworth tally as he settled back into the team. He reserved his best knock for rivals Cullingworth on 28th June with a belligerent 85 which included 6 fours and 5 sixes. 2009 was a much more solid year for Robert with 594 league runs at 39.60 with a best of 92 at Wide Lane against Embsay. It was a pleasing year as still more often than not opening the batting, Robert showed his star was nowhere near ready to wane!! 2010 was to prove a real festival of runs for Oakworth as a whole and Robert was in the thick of them with 839 in all matches [777 league]. His league average was 55.50, showing he was back at his very best. On 22nd May, Glusburn felt his power with 117no coming from their bowling attack. On 19th June he followed up with 110 against locals Ingrow and on 21st August he added 107 at home to Cowling to become the only Oakworth batsman to score 3 centuries in one season. Robert's record setting didn't end there either as his full-flowing attacking preference burst into full flower by setting a new record of 58 league sixes struck in a year, to eclipse the 53 set in 1996 by Michael Scarborough.
A difficult start to the 2011 season saw Robert move into the middle-order from his accustomed opener slot to make way for new signing Gareth Marshall, and understandably led to a lower but valuable contribution of 355 runs [av 35.50] but featured Home  and Away  half-centuries against Cowling. 2011 was the year Oakworth re-captured the League Championship and Robert picked up his second medal. For 2012 Robert's average went up to 43.00 from his 430 runs in yet another most pleasing season in which Oaks just failed to defend their Championship. Just 3 days before his 37th birthday Robert smashed Thornton-in-Craven for 103 and followed up 8 days later with 99no to evict holders Haworth Road from the Wynn Cup semi-final. Yet again in 2013 the Hopkinson run tally went up [to 466] as Robert continued to be a pivotal element in the growing local dominance of the Oakworth club. The early months of the year brought Robert 4 fifties [best 78 vs Embsay] but his high scoring was less evident towards the end of the campaign, which saw Oakworth pick up the Roundell Trophy as Champions for the second time in 3 years and a third medal for Robert.
150 runs in Robert's first four innings of 2014 seemed to show a not unexpected return to high-scoring feats in the very strong Champions' line-up. But only 1 fifty [vs Barrowford] came his way in a season of 309 runs [av 23.77]. But clearly the highlight for Robert and everyone else was the annexation of the Wynn Cup for the first time since 2006 despite several Finals. Robert scored 26 as Thornton proved no match in what was a disappointing match. albeit with the right result! Towards the season end Robert let it be known that 2015 would likely be his last in Oakworth kit.
Many players express the desire to go out at the top and Robert certainly did that. In 14 league innings and 5 Wynn Cup matches only 3 single-figure scores came his way as the solidity and reliability of his presence in the team was once again amply in evidence. In those league matches 454 runs flowed from his bat [av 41.27]. Yes his average went back over 40 to show us what we already knew we would miss in 2016. There was no centuries and indeed only two half-centuries but a string of scores 25-45 underlined that solidity. One of those half-centuries was perhaps an emotional 85 against his old club Ingrow St Johns in a pulsating last-ball nail-biter of over 500 runs in June. But each year Robert has shown top form around his birth-date and this year the day after he celebrated his big 40, he whacked 71 from the Foulridge boys as another signal of his impending retirement. His final innings was of course the Cup Final against Bingley Congs, in which yet another solid 28 sadly wasn't enough to defend the Cup we had won in 2014. But Robert did stand down with another medal, a fourth Championship medal as Oakworth sailed away with the 2015 Championship.
Over those 11 seasons, Robert shared in a lot of stands for Oakworth. His leading partners were: 70 with Michael Scarborough [2,623 runs], 68 with Jack Hainsworth [2,195 runs], 35 with Drew Duffy [1,044 runs] and 31 with Jon Crossley [1,357 runs].
Of course in earlier years Robert was also a quick-medium bowler, who as a partnership breaker provided useful back up to Oaks front-line bowlers. His best bowling was a very acceptable 4-17 [league][ and 4-9 [cup].
So with a half-century every 4 innings to his name,, 4 Championship medals, 2 Wynn Cup winner medals, a Keighley Cup winner medal and a 20-20 winner medal, there is nothing left for Robert Hopkinson to prove. Its the end of a magnificent career, arguably the best to date, although there a few bets that there could be a few cameo appearances to come!