Lancashire have the English County Championship back in their grasp after a dramatic final day at Minchinhampton when they not only needed to win their match but to accumulate as many points in doing so.
They did just that, overcoming Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands 6½ – 2½ while Devon beat Leicestershire and Rutland 5½ – 3½ to finish second place.
In the end both counties had two match wins so the verdict went to game points with Lancashire gaining 15½ to Devon’s 14.
It is Lancashire’s 11th County Championship overall and their third in the past six years and their captain Paul Williams, in his first year as captain, was naturally delighted with his side’s success.
“It has been a fantastic experience being involved with a team that’s friendly and full of spirit,” he said. “We knew what we had to do and after a tie in the foursomes so I loaded by experienced players at the back in the singles and all produced.
“I wanted Haydn McCullen to show he was No.1 and he has made it a hat-trick. He won the Lancashire county and boys championships and now the English County title.
“Also, Sean Towndrow holed a six foot clutch putt on the final green this morning to earn us a half. Without that we could have lost momentum so I’m really pleased for him.
“But it’s been a good year for me. We‘ve won the Northern League and now this but everyone has pulled together.”
After being held 1½ – 1½ in the morning foursomes, the North Region champions knew they needed as many game points as they could get from the six singles. There was little to separate the players in any of the games in the early stages but as the afternoon wore on so Lancashire gradually assumed control.
Haydn McCullen gave them a great start with a 3 and 2 win over Hampshire’s Harry Ellis, who found himself 5-down after 12 holes but strung together three successive birdies to reduce the damage.
Mark Young found himself behind early on to Ryan Henley but battled back to lead 2-up at the turn before taking advantage of the Hampshire man’s errors to win 5 and 3.
Paul Howard and John Carroll both came through 3 and 2 over Elliot Groves and Gavin O’Neill respectively which meant that Sean Towndrow’s 4 and 2 defeat by Tom Robson hurt little.
Devon made a great bid for the title. After taking the foursomes 2-1 against Leicestershire, they took command of the top singles and soon had three points on the board which assured them of victory in the match. But they needed also every point they could get.
After leading early, Jimmy Mullen went 1-down to Colin Mitchell at the turn. But he pressed the accelerator on the back nine, regaining the lead with a birdie at the 12th then winning the 14th and 15th on his way to a 3 and 2 victory.
Sam Edwards had two front nine birdies to Jonathan Herbert’s three but the Leicestershire man added a couple of bogeys to be out in level par to Edwards’ two under 33 for a 1-up lead. Herbert fell 2-down with a double-bogey at ten while Edwards went further in front with a birdie at 13 before closing out a 2 and 1 success.
David Blick also went out in 33 to be 3-up against Leicester’s Ashley Mason on his way to a 5 and 3 win, which ended when Mason lost his ball on the 15th and conceded. But they could only reap a half from the bottom three games, thanks to Dan Rosevear against Martin Anderson.
The two bottom games went Leicestershire’s way through their long-serving campaigners, Steve Sansome, who won 4 and 3 against Dave Ashley, and David Gibson by 5 and 3 over Adam Bridgewater.
Photo copyright Leaderboard Photography.