Just about the most dramatic finish imaginable brought Andrew Minnikin his first county championship during his first year as captain of Northumberland.
Victory over Ponteland’s Chris Petts came at the 37th hole of the final at Tynemouth. Coincidentally it was Tynemouth’s Peter Davidson who was the last man to capture the title while county captain, in 1972.
On this latest occasion, the ultimate drama started when the finalists arrived at the 36th hole all square.
Petts pitched to eight inches from 75 yards for a gimme birdie. Although Minnikin had pitched from ten yards closer he faced an eight-footer to avoid losing the final. He sunk it. At hole 37 again it all came down to the putting. Minnkin was successful with a magnificent monster uphill effort from 35 yards. Petts had a five-footer to take the match to another hole but overcooked his effort across the break and missed.
“It was a sad way for it to end for Chris,” said Minnikin, who lost to George Cowan, then an amateur with Bellingham, in the 2006 final. “But I have never been involved in a finish as exciting as that, not by a long way.”
Having won the strokeplay championship ten years ago, Minnikin, 33, joins an elite band who have won both county titles. His victory gives the Northumberland club both the 2013 men’s and women’s titles, Nicola Haynes having triumphed earlier this season. Minnikin conceded his overall task was made easier by qualifying for the county championship clashing with the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters. This robbed the county tournament of three England Boys internationals in Jack Hermeston, Matty Lamb and Jake Storey.
Lamb, who won the Henry Cooper – a junior major involving an international field – has also captured three men’s county titles this season at 15.
Competition does not come much fiercer than the Northern Counties League derby between Northumberland and Durham County, being played at Arcot Hall on Saturday.
Lamb and Storey play for Northumberland with Hermeston the reserve.
There is a fascinating contest at No 6 in the singles with Lamb playing Durham County’s England Boys international, Chris Handy.
Northumberland: Andrew Minnikin (The Northumberland Club), Russell Hayhoe (Ponteland), Sean Heads (Hexham), Jake Storey (Foxton), Simon Lee (Newcastle United), Matty Lamb (Hexham), Martin Coup (Hexham), Mark Wharton (Newcastle United), Chris Petts (Ponteland), Kris Gray (The Northumberland Club), Martin Carss (Dunstanburgh Castle), Jamie McFarlane (Westerhope).
Northumberland: Ricky Lee (Tyneside), Callum Tarren (Wynyard), Andrew Wilson (Darlington), James Simpson (Whickham), Michael Curry (Brancepeth Castle), Chris Handy (South Moor), Martin McCririck (South Shields), Rhys Thompson (Boldon), Matty Hayes (Wynyard), Shaun Embleton (Ryton), Chris Hewitt (Beamish Park), Gavin Nesbit (Boldon).