Yorkshire are Northern Counties champions after singles surge sees off Durham in final match

YORKSHIRE swept to a 14.5-3.5 win over Durham in their final EGU Northern Counties match to lift the title which so cruelly eluded them last year.

Yorkshire, the 2015 EGU Northern Counties League champions.
Yorkshire, the 2015 EGU Northern Counties League champions.

Lancashire had snatched the crown from Yorkshire’s grasp then by the narrowest of margins – half a game point after each had won four matches and lost one.

Captain Darryl Berry has led his side magnificently throughout this summer, constantly reminding his men of the pain of 2014 as a spur to ensure it was avoided this time.

The motivation has worked and was in evidence from the first match, against their Roses rivals at Hillside, when Yorkshire recovered from a 5-1 deficit in the morning foursomes to earn what has proved a pivotal 9-9 draw.

They had to battle hard in their next match to gain a 9.5-8.5 win over Cumbria at Hull and although Cheshire were subsequently seen off 11-7 by Yorkshire at Ilkley, Lancashire had assumed a game-point advantage of two.

That was halved when Yorkshire won their penultimate match 12-6 against Northumberland at Cleveland and Berry’s demand for his players to go up against Durham with “all guns blazing” was met at Durham City.

The minimum he had demanded from the foursomes was a 4-2 lead, which he got despite Yorkshire losing their new county champion Jamie Bower (Meltham) late on to a wrist injury.

His deputy was the man who preceded him as Yorkshire champion, York’s Julian Taylor, and he was more than up to the task, winning his singles after earning a half in the top foursomes match with Shipley’s Will Whiteoak.

New English title holder Joe Dean (Lindrick) was also absent, but his predecessor Nick Marsh, of Huddersfield, made his first appearance of the season after a busy schedule of commitments as the country’s champion and won both his foursomes match, alongside Bedale’s Dan Brown, and his singles.

After Whiteoak lost the top singles Yorkshire claimed a breathtaking 10.5 of the remaining 11 points available, with only Dan Brown held to a half.

News came through that Lancashire were on their way to defeat against Cheshire, and the title was Yorkshire’s.

Berry, a former Yorkshire champion himself, has now won the Northern Counties title as both player and captain, but swerved any praise for his part in this summer’s victory.

“It is all down to the players who have been magnificent,” he said. “I am just there as a bit of glue to hold us together on occasion, and have tried to pick the best pairings, but the players have got their reward for all their hard work.

“When we managed to pull that match back against Lancashire I knew the team spirit was good.

“Against Durham, our lads were down on the range very early on in the morning even though it was raining and at that stage I knew how much they wanted this.”

Despite Berry’s protests, his role as captain cannot be understated. Melding together the best pairings as well as constructing the correct ‘batting’ order for the singles is an imprecise science, but one he has managed superbly.

Add to that the pyschological nudges he has imparted in both practice and play and it is evident this was a true team triumph.