FIRST Leeds United, then Sheffield United and now Barnsley.
In the 45-year history of the Professional Football Association’s Team of the Year awards, which recognise the accomplishments of fellow players from the most important judges of all – their peers – just three Yorkshire teams have been able to boast a quintet of representatives in one season.
That is the rarefied honour now bestowed upon Barnsley after five players – Adam Davies, Ethan Pinnock, Dimitri Cavare, Alex Mowatt and Kieffer Moore – were named in the PFA League One Team of the Year for 2018-19.
It emulates the feats of the Blades two seasons ago when Simon Moore, Kieron Freeman, Mark Duffy, John Fleck and Billy Sharp were named in the League One line-up.
Prior to that, you had to go way back to the inaugural year of 1973-74 for the last time that a Tykes side boasted a five-strong representation in a league XI.
That club was Leeds, with Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles and Allan Clarke chosen by their top-flight peers, with Hunter winning the overall players’ player vote.
In the here and now, Leeds are pitted in an intense fight to reclaim their place in the top-flight and while their season’s fates remain on a knife-edge, the impact made by a number of their key players has been duly recognised by their peers.
Central-defensive duo Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper have been named in the Championship XI, ahead of the likes of Blades rivals John Egan and Jack O’Connell.
The naming of both Leeds players in the line-up may be open to conjecture – with nominations often starting in February with around a third of the season still to go – but what is surely beyond any reasonable doubt is the merit of Pablo Hernandez’s place in the second-tier team.
It arrives after his controversial omission from the EFL Championship team of the year, which irked so many Leeds followers and with good reason.
The inclusion of Blades midfielder Oliver Norwood – one of the buys of the season at second-tier level – is also fully deserving, with recognition for Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph also justified, given that the Republic of Ireland international has recorded 19 clean sheets this season.
For Blades captain and top-scorer Sharp, further appreciation from his fellow professionals arrives for the fourth time in his long and distinguished career, with his first nomination coming way back in 2005-06 in his early days at Scunthorpe United.
The fact that award nominations are taken from February has undoubtedly helped Reds striker Moore be named in the League One side.
The 26-year-old was expected to be out for the rest of the season on medical advice after suffering a head injury in the win at Gillingham on February 9, but made a surprise comeback from the bench in the Good Friday victory over Shrewsbury.
His earlier than expected return was testament to his importance to the Reds cause at a climactic point of the season and his recognition along with four of his team-mates will serve as a further boost for the Reds ahead of two huge encounters against Blackpool and Bristol Rovers.
On the impact of 18-goal Moore, a talismanic presence in the mould of Sharp and Hernandez for their respective clubs, his striker partner Cauley Woodrow said: “It is brilliant that Kieffer is back and another boost for us and the fans.
“When he came on (against Shrewsbury), I have not heard the fans shout so loud since I have been at the club. He is loved by all of the players and fans. I am sure that in the last two games, he will get among the goals again.”
All told, Yorkshire teams have taken up over half of the slots in each line-up in the Championship and League One, testament to the fine seasons enjoyed by several county sides.
Joining Barnsley’s quintet in the League One side is Doncaster Rovers’ striker John Marquis – following on from his recognition in the League Two line-up with Rovers in 2016-17 – but there is no place for midfielders Herbie Kane and Ben Whiteman, who have been overlooked.
The non-inclusion of Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, whose renaissance has been emblematic of the Marcelo Bielsa revolution, will also be a disappointment to some, alongside the omission of Blades’ own ‘Mr Reliable’ in the shape of Enda Stevens.
Stellar Hull City winger Jarrod Bowen can also count himself unfortunate, with the free-scoring winger perhaps tainted by association with a side who spent much of the first half of the season in the bottom half of the Championship.
Meanwhile, Teemu Pukki is one of three players from title-chasing Norwich City in the Championship XI.
The division’s 28-goal top scorer is joined by team-mates Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis, with Aston Villa’s 25-goal forward Tammy Abraham included alongside Sharp and Pukki.
Abraham’s colleague and captain Jack Grealish is also included, despite missing three months of the campaign with a shin injury.
PFA Championship Team of the Year 2019: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Max Aarons (Norwich), Liam Cooper (Leeds), Pontus Jansson (Leeds), Jamal Lewis (Norwich), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United), Pablo Hernandez (Leeds), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United), Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa), Teemu Pukki (Norwich).
PFA League One Team of the Year 2019: Adam Davies (Barnsley); Dimitri Cavare (Barnsley), Ethan Pinnock (Barnsley), Matt Clarke (Portsmouth), James Justin (Luton); Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Alex Mowatt (Barnsley), Jamal Lowe (Portsmouth); James Collins (Luton), John Marquis (Doncaster), Kieffer Moore (Barnsley).
PFA League Two Team of the Year 2019: Joe Murphy (Bury); Neal Eardley (Lincoln), Jason Shackell (Lincoln), Krystian Pearce (Mansfield), Harry Toffolo (Lincoln); Danny Mayor (Bury), Jay O’Shea (Bury), Reece Brown (Forest Green); James Norwood (Tranmere), John Akinde (Lincoln), Tyler Walker (Mansfield).