BRADFORD, under new leadership in Martin Gaffney, got off to a promising start in the YIDU League and recorded two wins in their first three matches.
And despite the points gained in June's win over East Riding being their last of the season, four successive defeats ensuing, Gaffney has savoured his first year in a role that had been filled by Tim Wade.
“I was immensely proud to be asked by Colin Edwards, Bradford Union president, to take on the captaincy of the Union team,” says Gaffney.
“Replacing the highly-respected Tim Wade was inevitably challenging, but Tim and the players have been very supportive.
“Cec Bloice, ex-Yorkshire and England captain, and a fellow member at Cleckheaton, has also shared his invaluable experience.
“Terry Brushwood accepted my invitation as vice captain and he, too, helped throughout the season.”
The fixtures list already pointed to a challenging time ahead for Bradford, with four of their seven matches scheduled to be played in opposition turf, but, somewhat perversely, their two wins – against Halifax-Huddersfield and East Riding – came away from their own patch.
“I expected a tough league campaign and it was great to start with an away win against local rivals Halifax-Huddersfield, especially given one of our leading players, (England B international) Will Whiteoak, had elected to represent them,” recalls Gaffney.
“Unfortunately we couldn't replicate this success in our subsequent home match against Harrogate, but another away win, this time against East Riding, meant we could still challenge for the league at that stage. However, this was to be our last win in the league.”
Gaffney tried to ensure that players' good form in individual events was reflected by selection for the union.
“Throughout the season I've endeavoured to increase the depth of the team and reward players that are in-form and willing to represent the union,” he says. “Many of the players have family commitments, and therefore sacrificing Sundays is not always easy.
“Introducing a few younger players should enable me, in future seasons, to balance experience and youth while not relying too heavily on those with family commitments.”
In Ben Rhodes, Oliver Tasker, Jordan Clements, Matthew Morrison and Harry O'Callaghan, Bradford have a crop of talented young golfers aspiring to replicate the efforts of fellow Yorkshiremen such as Masters champion Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick, twice a winner on the European Tour last season.
“It is important they reflect on their performances throughout the year and focus on areas for improvement if they wish to emulate the likes of Danny and Matt,” advisesBradford's captain.
A fiercely-contested six-man team championship at the conclusion of the YIDU season saw Bradford just one shot shy of champions Sheffield and runners-up Halifax-Huddersfield, who each had an aggregate of 894 over the 36 holes at Halifax Bradley Hall.
“Agonisingly losing the YIDU six-man team championship by a single shot to a talented Sheffield side was very frustrating, yet equally encouraging,” says Gaffney.
“The team spirit was excellent and the words of encouragement following the tournament gives me confidence we can develop a strong squad for next season.
“There is a good possibility a couple of players who were unavailable this year due to personal circumstances will also return.
“And it was fantastic to see Chris Green win the individual prize in that team championship at Bradley Hall. Chris is a true team player - for club and union - who does not seek the limelight and is very deserving of his success.”
Look out for reviews and captains' thoughts on Halifax-Huddersfield and Harrogate unions - online on Saturday.