The Paths to Glory

The key moments on the way to the Barney’s historic league and cup double.

This has been an extraordinary season for Barnard Castle Cricket Club. The first XI won the North Yorkshire South Durham League for the first time and also the Kerridge Cup, the oldest league knockout tournament in the world.

A total of 17 players appeared in the league first XI, 13 of them eight or more times. Sixteen of them were under 30 and 10 of those under 25

If these were the blue riband achievements, there was success throughout the club with cups for the second XI, the under 17s, the under 15s and the under 11s. Both the second and third team were in contention for their respective divisional titles until the last week of the season, both narrowly missing out.

Here is how the first team won their epic double.

April 23, Norton, home

A low key opening ended in a tepid draw. None of the new signings made an early mark but the innings played by Richard Borrowdale — 74 from 56 balls — not only averted potential calamity but was an important indicator of growing maturity in the middle order.

May 7, Richmond, away

The astonishing eight wicket victory which made everyone realise that Barney’s league ambitions were no mere pipe dream. Needing 293 runs to beat the 2015 champions, they made them with 14 balls in hand. The riveting centrepiece was the partnership of 203 between the club’s new professional, Karl Turner and the overseas amateur, Lachlan Pfeffer. Both made hundreds, Pfeffer his second in succession.

May 14, Hartlepool, home

Barney swept aside Hartlepool with thrilling hundreds from Borrowdale (106 from 81 balls) and James Quinn (109 from 110), the one hitting booming drives down the ground, the other caressing through the covers, in a club record league total of 313–7. In reply Hartlepool subsided before the wiles of Barney’s captain James Finch who took 6–46.

May 25, Marske, away

First defeat of season, by seven wickets, to the current leaders as opposing captain, Lee Hodgson, made the third of his record eight league hundreds. If there were any doubts before, Barney now knew how hard it would be. Compensation came in the form of runs for the middle order batsmen, James Alderson (42) and Josh Bousfield (59no).

May 30, Darlington, away

The second of four league matches in nine days yielded the side’s worst performance of the season. Needing an attainable 200 to win they fell to 69 for 9 before being bowled out for 107 in a welter of false shots confronted by accurate pace bowling from Dale Marshall. It was to be Barney’s last collective failure.

June 9, Norton, home, Kerridge Cup

First match in the premier knockout competition and a feast of runs, which followed Barney’s totals of 241–9 and 300–2 in two agonising home league draws (with Pfeffer and Quinn sharing a scintillating third wicket stand of 217 in the latter). When Norton made 181–7 from 20 overs and Barney fell to 2–2 it seemed there would be only one winner. But Bousfield (66 from 27 balls with five fours and eight sixes) and Simon Tennant (55 from 27, eight fours, one six) played bravura innings to seal victory with 2.5 overs left to show anything was possible.

June 11, Great Ayton, away

At 118–7, a target of 163 on a wearing, difficult pitch was on a distant horizon. In came a nerveless 16-year-old Tom Merryweather, called up only that morning. With the fearless assurance of youth and determinedly straight bat he calmly engineered an important, improbable win guided by Finch at the other end, finishing on 27no, which in the circumstances was worth many more.

June 18, Stokesley, home

What little brother could do, big brother could do even better. Barney were 172–8 chasing another 50 to win. There were 33 balls left. Phil Merryweather, the team’s wicketkeeper, made it seem easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy by smiting 42 from 23 balls and hitting his final four with three balls left. It followed another Turner century and captain Finch was again there at the end. This was perhaps the most extraordinary victory of a remarkable season.

July 12, Kerridge Cup, semi-final, Hartlepool, away

Barney’s hopes in the competition constantly hung by a thread. The high scoring first round victory had been followed by nerve tingling tie against Great Ayton, abandoned in deeply unfortunate circumstances when an opposing player broke a leg while fielding. Barney won the rearranged game but now found themselves at 3–3 needing 145. Quinn and Borrowdale then constructed another of their specials with a helter skelter stand of 94. Bousfield struck as eagerly, Quinn finished on an exhilarating 59no and there were seven balls left.

July 30, Richmond, home

There had been five league wins from the last six matches, Seaton Carew recently beaten with the highest of Turner’s centuries (180 from 134 balls). But this was the big one, Richmond at home. When Barney made 183–9, Tennant top scoring with 49, Richmond were confident if hardly cock-a-hoop. But it went wrong from the moment Rob Dixon dismissed their prodigious opener, Gary Pratt. Then Bousfield came to the party, Turner swept away the tail and Barney’s victory by 75 runs was an emphatic statement.

July 31, Kerridge Cup Final, Marske

This was between the sides who were at the time first and second in the league. Barney won a thrilling contest by chasing down the highest target in the competition’s history. In truth, it was never in doubt and after a solid opening, Turner (101no) and Quinn (63no) made the most of missed chances to secure the club’s second Kerridge triumph in three years.

August 13, Marske, home

A damp squib of a contest in the end. Marske, without the talismanic Lee Hodgson, were limp. Barney bowled them out for 113 with Bousfield at the start, Finch in the middle and Turner at the end unstoppable. Turner, timing his rich vein of form perfectly, hit a disdainful 66no as Barney knocked off the runs in 65 balls.

August 29, Darlington, home

Truly, this was it. Barney’s tough run-in now saw them play Darlington, north east cricketing royalty and aiming for their 23rd title. As these things do, it hinged on small but significant moments. Six Barney batsmen made important contributions to a total of 192–7 on another superb surface. At 65–1, Darlington looked comfy but Barney were hungry in the field and the tide turned with Turner and Finch reaping the bowling benefits. The title was within touching distance.

September 3, Great Ayton, home

In the sort of torrential rain that made it possible to think that cricket would never be played again in England, the NYSD League Premier Division title came to Barney for the first time. The game was swiftly abandoned but the six points it gave Barney were enough. In the end, with victory at Guisborough in the final match, they were 43 points clear.

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