Cheshire regained the English Seniors County Championship when they beat Devon 5-4 at Trentham while their main rivals Shropshire & Herefordshire went down 6-3 to defending champions Kent.
Three of the four counties were still chasing the title at the start of the third and final day but it was Cheshire who came through while Kent’s victory left them second to Cheshire for the third time in four years.
Cheshire’s victory followed their triumphs in 2005, when they pipped Kent with the final putt on the final green at Minchinhampton, and 2006 when they also denied the South East Champions.
Naturally Cheshire captain Roger Fielding was delighted with his side’s third success which provided a perfect swansong to his term in charge. “I’m overjoyed at having won again,” he said. “A third win shows we have some very committed golfers who are competent under pressure.
“It was very close and we can look back on one putt in the last match last night which in the end probably tipped it our way. I knew Shropshire would be a tough nut to crack. We drew with them in an earlier county match and we were relieved to get a draw against them on the first day.”
Not that it all went Cheshire’s way. They lost the morning foursomes 1-2 but loaded their top order with senior internationals who saw them on the brink of victory with wins from Roy Smethurst, Philip Jones and Philip Slater. George Payne added the other win that saw Cheshire over the line.
Fielding then revealed this was his last match as captain after seven years. “It is the perfect way to sign off,” he said. “It has been one of the most powerful experiences of my life working with so many committed people.”
He was also quick to salute his side saying: “Four of the team have been in the three winning sides and in Philip Slater we had our man-of-the-match. He won all of his matches as he did when we won at Lincoln in 2006.”
Slater’s performance probably underlined Cheshire’s determination. He was up against Paul Vicary in the singles, the only other with a 100% record, but won through 3 and 2.
Shropshire knew they had to at least tie with Kent but they were on the back foot after losing the foursomes 1-2.
At one stage in the singles they were ahead in several matches, but Kent gradually turned it around and with seniors international Chris Reynolds setting the pace with a 5 and 4 win over Garry Huggett in the top match the tide began going their way.
With further wins for Dave Jessup, Sam Smale and Howard Moxon, Shropshire knew their hopes of a first title were gone. But at least they improved on last year’s wooden spoon which they handed over to Devon.