Yorkshire golf - YIDU review: York honour Russ Chilton's memory with stoical season

York Union line-up with captain Martin Greaves, fourth left.
York Union line-up with captain Martin Greaves, fourth left.
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YORK endured a difficult campaign in 2016, playing under the shadow cast by the sudden death of their captain Russ Chilton on the eve of the season.

But they did Chilton's memory proud by finishing alongside Sheffield at the top of the Yorkshire Inter-District Union League table with six wins and just one loss, only ceding the title on fewer games won.

York captain Martin Greaves.

York captain Martin Greaves.

They also finished only two shots adrift of Sheffield in the six-man team championship at Halifax Bradley Hall, where the crown slipped from their grasp with a calamitous eight at the closing par-3 for one of their combatants.

Martin Greaves assumed Chilton's role as captain and concedes that it was painful and arduous for the team to deal with his passing.

“It was a difficult season and emotions were running high at the start,” he says. “We lost Russ before the season got underway, the early part of April, and he was such a larger than life character - not just for York, but for golf in Yorkshire and in the North.

“So many people knew the guy and had lots of time for him and respect for him that it was quite hard for the lads to pick themselves up from that.

“But we did and it was another very rewarding season in terms of the performance, but frustrating that we didn't win one of the two majors come the end of it.

“It was harsh and being beaten on game difference by Sheffield in the league... we actually beat them at Fulford in the first game of the year and we set ourselves up for the season because we knew if we could take advantage in that match we would be in pole position.

“But we had an unfortunate defeat at Sandburn Hall against what you would call our bogey team in Halifax-Huddersfield because they also did it on us the previous year as well.

“One of our players had got married the day before so he did not play and a couple of guys had been to the wedding and were, perhaps, a little bit worse for wear the following morning. It did affect their performance, I think, on the day.”

Greaves was at pains to express his admiration for Sheffield, who defended both the league and six-man titles.

“Sheffield did a fantastic job once again,” he says. “There is something about Sheffield, whatever they do in sport it seems as though they are superb, and long may it continue because they do bring out the best in folks.

“Athletics, boxing, you name it they are good at it,” and he laughs, “It drives me nuts.”

York were the only team to beat Sheffield in the league, in the opening encounter of the season at Fulford.

“It was within a couple of weeks of Russ dying and we had all the players stood around the putting green at Fulford for a minute's applause before the match,” says Greaves. “It was a touching moment and the match was highly charged.”

Greaves feels the future is bright for York with a good mix of junior blood and senior blood in their line-up.

“We have got a good squad of players and I think we are set up nicely for this year,” he says. “We will keep fighting and I think Sheffield know we are on their tails, so to speak, in every respect both from the league perspective and the six-man team.

“There is a good bit of banter between us and people like (Sheffield captain) Neil Stones and (past captain) Richard Hodgkinson.

“They know we are always there and I think it is fair to say for a union of our size we do punch significantly above our weight.

“I think that speaks volumes for the standard of five or six clubs in the York area, producing really good lads, and there are a few others lads in that area who we will be looking at in the next couple of seasons to make a break into the senior team.

“We have seen improvements there over the last three years and I think we could go quite well this year with the junior side as well.”