Seventh heaven for retiring Berry
Darryl Berry bowed as out as captain of the Yorkshire Men’s team with a 7th consecutive Northern Counties league title, after wrapping up the campaign with 10.5-7.5 and 10-8 wins over Lancashire and Cumbria respectively.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the White Rose men, after they were pushed to a season-opening 10-8 win over Cheshire at Wallasey, then being held to a 9-9 tie with Northumberland at City of Newcastle.
But the team spirit Berry has installed in his White Rose golfers over the past 11 years shone through.
He wasn’t present for the Newcastle match, the first he’d missed in his 10 years as captain and one year deputising for Andy King. Kevin Tucker took the team in his place and in a battle royal, Yorkshire needed Berry’s go-to last man, Rotherham’s Hollingworth, to hold his nerve for a 1-up win to scrape the draw.
“When you look back, that draw at Newcastle was massive,” he said.
It meant that defeating Lancashire at Fixby would leave the title in Yorkshire’s own hands. With the foursomes ending 4-1 and Yorkshire taking five of the first seven singles, it meant they couldn’t be beaten, but with three of the next four matches down, it took a half from Max Berrisford to seal the win.
Gloss was put on the result with home golfer Adam Walker, given the anchor slot on this occasion, delivering 1-up.
Reflecting on the final win against Cumbria at Seascales, the captin said: “It was good to get it over the line. After taking the final morning foursomes 5.5-0.5, I briefly thought about beating my first ever result as captain – a 17-1 win.”
Those prospects soon disappeared however.
“It wasn’t to be. Cumbria gave us a good fight, they got their lads up for the afternoon session. But the main goal was to go out with another title.”
Yorkshire won three of the first five singles meaning they needed just a half to be guaranteed avoiding defeat. Steve Uzzell got that half point home as three of the next four games out went Cumbria’s way, before Max Berrisford and last man Hollingworth earned halves to guarantee victory and the title.
“I don’t build my team around my top players because you don’t always have everyone there to play. Lewis Hollingworth isn’t a full-time golfer, but he’s been there for me so many times, Lewis is a massive part of the team.
“The tail wags the dog at the end a lot with this Yorkshire team, but they’re a great bunch, a real team, which is all I’ve ever wanted from them. They play for each other and that’s so important.”
After their practice round before the Cumbria match the players presented their skipper with a new embroidered golf bag which they’d chipped in to buy.
“I’m glad they did it then,” Berry said. “If it had been at the end of the match I’d have been in bits.”
On his decision to step down, Berry said: “The time is right. I’ve invested a lot of time in the role but so have my family. My wife and two boys have been great supporters of what we do, but my boys are both playing football for Bradford Schools and that’s demanding more and more time.”
Not so much that dad didn’t accept the role of secretary of Bradford Schools FA’s five football teams. “Well, it’s mostly admin which isn’t hard to be fair, and I can do that from home,” he laughed.
As for how he leaves Yorkshire golf? “I didn’t take the captaincy to be the captain,” he said. “I wanted to give something back to the county which had given me so much. When I played we had a great team spirit and that was my main goal, to recapture that. I’ve tried to be more of a friend than a captain – I don’t tell these lads how to hit a golf shot!
“I just want them to go out and enjoy themselves and play for each other. And I think the team has that.”