The Northern Counties Championships took place over the weekend gone, and were played at Heaton Hall BC, Manchester – with our players playing over both days. For those that are not aware of these championships, these are where the Northern Counties county winners play each other – that is in 2 & 4 Wood Singles, Pairs, Triples, Fours, u25 Singles, and an under 25 rink. The Northern Counties consist of ourselves (Northumberland), Durham, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire.
Firstly it was a super Saturday with Northumberland lifting 2 northern counties titles – the first champion was our Under 25 Singles Champion from Benfield’s Matty Bishop. Matty had a great win over home favourite and 2022 national under 25 runner up, and defending northern counties u25 champion in Lancashire’s Lloyd Milligan 21 – 19. In the final Matty played the Durham champion Liam Brodie, who had overcome the Yorkshire champion in the semi-final, and Matty won 21 – 13.
While Matty was winning our pairs representatives were also in action, as you may recall our champions are Josh Minto & Chris Yeomans, but unfortunately Chris could not make it and was replaced by Richard Curtis. Richard & Josh beat the Yorkshire pair 15 – 12 in the semi-final and faced Cumbria’s Mark Irwin in the final, as Cumbria had progressed after their prelim tie defeating Lancashire and then Durham in the semi-final. Our lads started really well and maintained their advantage throughout and won convincingly 21 – 3, and duly lifted the title, which is the first pairs title since 2014.
Also on Saturday was our fours, but unfortunately our lads lost to Lancashire 22 – 1. Lancashire then went to lift and defend their fours title they won at Gosforth last year, beating Durham’s Barry Hopkins in the final 22 – 15.
On Sunday we were competing in 3 events – that was 4 Wood Singles, Triples and an Under 25 rink, as unfortunately our 2 wood representatives were unavailable. First up was the 4 wood singles representative, and it was St. Georges Dragons Chris McGready (as the champion Simon Richardson was away on holiday). Anyway Chris played in a preliminary tie against Durham’s Barry Hopkins, and unfortunately for Chris he went down 21 – 13. Barry went on to lose in the final to Yorkshire’s Gary Bunce 21 – 17.
In the triples our champions, and Morpeth’s Nick Armstrong, Bob Leeson and Wally Ray played Durham’s Paul Hartley, and despite their best efforts our lads couldn’t recover the early deficit and lost 16 – 10. Durham went on to play Lancashire in the final, with Lancashire’s John Baker-Yates taking the honours 20 – 11.
Our last and no means least competition to report on was the under 25 rink, and we played all the other counties in a round robin format and I am delighted to advise we won the competition. Originally we had hoped to enter 2 rinks but 2 players unfortunately dropped out yesterday am, so we had 6 players playing, so therefore two players taking a turn out on each game. The 6 players involved were Benfield’s Adrian Allen& Matty Bishop, Westerhope’s Luke Heard & Jan Walton, Collingwood’s Alex Simpson and Forth’s Ben Sutherland. Well done to all concerned and especially to Ben and Alex making the county debuts.
Well done to all concerned and representing Northumberland – it is very much appreciated. A big thank you must also go to Heaton Hall BC, Manchester for being great hosts, and finally to Steve Atkinson (Northern Counties Secretary) for organising/running the event – thank you.