NO PROMOTION FOR MENS COUNTY TEAM!
After scraping through with a bit of luck into the promotion group in the first half of inter-counties in November ther was not to be further fortune in the second half.
With a home fixture at the Northumberland Club and with Paul Lord and Jon Tate coming in to strengthen the team things were looking positive for a promotion to division 1. However on the thursday before Lord had to withdraw, it was going to be a tougher task.
The visiting counties were Ulster and Leinster( flying in on sat am) and Oxfordshire. The team for the first match against Ulster (who were also a bit weaker due to a no-show from their number 2) was Dave Barnett, Jon Tate( travelling up from his new home in Birmingham), Andrew Staley, Chris Boyer and Craig Forsyth. Ulster had juniors at numbers 3,4 & 5 and they were in the end more than a match for our players. Craig playing in his first senior match for the county started really strong winning the first but went down 3-1, also winning the first game at 4 Boyer also fell short 3-1 and with Staley under the weather losing 3-0 at number 3. With Barnett and Tate winning at 1 and 2 the match ended with a 3-2 win for Ulster.
Saturday afternoon opposition was Oxfordshire, they had won their morning match. The 15 times Northumbrian champion Bryan Beeson replaced Staley at number 3 in the line up to strenghthen our chances. Tate was first match on at number 2 beating David Naish in an easy 3-0 and Bryan followed on against Dominic Hamilton. Bryan started very well taking a long first game and a quick second to lead 2-0, however his ageing legs and lots of running from Hamilton saw Oxford come back to 2-2 and then take the 5th 9-6, best match of the tie! At 4 & 5 Boyer and Forsyth again showed promise but both fell to close losses leaving Barnett to play out the dead rubber at 1 winning 3-0 against Steve Richardson.
The Sunday morning fixture against Leinster left Northumbria with a very outside chance of coming in the top 2 and getting promoted. The team was to change gain with Beeson dropping out and Neil Dawson coming in at number 5. Boyer and Tate were first on and both went down 3-0, following on were Forsyth and Barnett having to win to keep chances alive. Forsyth playing up the order at 4 struggled against Brian Byrne losing 3-0 and Barnett despite leading 2-1 against past top ten player Derek Ryan also lost in 5. This left Dawson to spare our blushes playing very well to win 3-1 against Leinsters Keven Moore.
The irish teams Ulster and Leinster both got promotion leaving Northumbria to try again next season in Division 2.