The penultimate weekend of Yorkshire League cricket, as it has been played for almost 80 years, saw the winners crowned and the race to avoid the wooden spoon remain close.
York’s win against Harrogate confirmed them as champions, and their status as the dominant side in the last ten years of the competition. The fortunes of the two Sheffield sides in the league have not reached anywhere near those heights in recent years, and United need points in the final weekend to ensure they don’t finish bottom of the pile in 2015.
Their city rivals, Collegiate, travelled to Cleethorpes last weekend and having won the toss, decided to bat first. It didn’t take long for stand-in skipper Josh Varley to regret that decision, though, as the previously-reliable top order failed spectacularly, with the top six all back in the pavilion for the meagre return of 26.
Simon Guy was most ‘successful’ with 7, whilst previous headline grabber Billy Root was out first ball. The skipper sought to rectify the situation with a patient 22, whilst Michael Simpson supported his captain in bullish style, counter-attacking with 53 off just 43 balls.
Extras were second top scorer with 25 and Collegiate struggled to 127 all out. Alex Willerton was the main cause of the batting angst with 4-28.
In reply Cleethorpes made a steady start with 58 on the board before Rollinson was stumped off Root by Guy for 28. This quickly became 68-3 as Root dismissed Mansfield and caught Osmond off Varley both for four.
However the consistent Kirby was joined by skipper Warwick and with a patient approach got the home side within sight of victory, before the latter fell to Root for 19. Dan Priestley chipped in with a further two wickets, but Kirby absorbed the pressure to finish 58 not out off 149 balls and secure a home win by four wickets. Root finished with 3-32.
United made the shortest trip of the season to Clifton Lane to take on Rotherham Town, a side without momentum after promising so much for two thirds of the season.
Home skipper Mark Cummins decided to make first use of the wicket, and the top four all made starts but failed to make the big score. Luqman Asad picked up 2-23 for United as they kept the home side in check.
Wickets continued to fall, and eventually Rotherham were grateful to Chris Pursehouse (43) in being able to post something to bowl at. Skipper Weekes returned to his old stomping ground with some success with 4-21 from 14 excellent overs; United had a target of 152 all out and 58 overs to get them.
However, the return from county action of Ben Sanderson gave Rotherham the attacking spearhead recently lacking, and United’s batting collapsed in the face of it. With support from the Ogden brothers, 48-6 was a difficult position to win from. Weekes hit 31 and, with Asad (15*), got United to three figures, but Cummins (4-26) polished off the tail and the hosts won by 41 runs.
The opposition for the final games could not be more contrasting. Collegiate aim to be party poopers at champions York, while United aim to ensure the wooden spoon goes to Hull by beating the bottom side at Bawtry Road.
Standings (23 games unless stated): York 136, Barnsley 120, Harrogate 108, Rotherham 107, YACA (23) 106, Cleethorpes (24) 85, Driffield (23) 77, App Frod 76, Doncaster 75, Castleford 75, COLLEGIATE 69, UNITED 45, Hull 39