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Driffield Town are Yorkshire Premier League North champions

Just over a year ago, Driffield Town Cricket Club’s Yorkshire Premier League North status hung in the balance as the Woldsmen faced a final-day relegation decider against Stamford Bridge.

In a dramatic end to the season, Driffield survived the drop when Sri Lankan Randeera Ranasinghe took the final wicket to preserve his side’s Premier Division status.

When newly-appointed captain Sam Drury declared at the beginning of the 2022 season that he was confident Driffield would be contenders at the top end of the division, few would have been heading to the bookies to put their money on them.

Yes, the Woldsmen had made some shrewd signings, with brothers Alec and George Drury returning to the club from Dunnington and Indian professional Mayank Mishra heading to East Yorkshire after an eye-catching season in his home country.

But up against the might of York, Castleford and Harrogate, surely Driffield wouldn’t end the season with the league trophy in the Kings Mill Road trophy cabinet?

There were more doubts when Castleford reached 101-1 in pursuit of Driffield’s 182 on the opening day of the season.

However, with the belief from their captain ringing in their ears, this new-look outfit found another gear with spinners Mishra, Nick Hardgrave and Alec Drury combining to bowl Castleford out for 143.

And the Driffield juggernaut continued to defeat all who came before it thanks to a combination of skill, hard work and steely determination, with the Woldsmen coming out on the right end of some thrillers.

Come the penultimate game of the season against Clifton Alliance on Bank Holiday Monday, backed by a large crowd at Kings Mill Road, Driffield knew that even four points from a defeat, along with a York slip-up at Castleford, could secure the league title.

Everything appeared to be going to plan when the Woldsmen bowled Clifton out for 125.

Surely Driffield would keep their side of the bargain and put the pressure on York?

Not so, and the title looked in jeopardy when the home side fell to 87-8. The 96 required for two points was reached and the 113 needed for four points as well before Driffield were all out for 116.

All eyes were glued to mobile phone screens as attention switched to Castleford.

It wasn’t good reading for Driffield supporters when York appeared to be in cruise control at 55-2 and looking on course to go two points behind the Woldsmen with one game remaining.

But cheers started to be heard around the ground as one York wicket after another fell and soon they were 93-9.

One ball later, there was scenes of celebration among the Driffield players and supporters when news came through that York were all out for 94 and the Yorkshire Premier League North title was Driffield’s for the first time.

The celebrations went on long into the night, as players and supporters joined together in what will go down as one of the greatest achievements in Driffield’s long history.

Drury told the Wolds Weekly: “It would’ve obviously been better for us to win the Clifton game, but league titles are won over the season.

Photo by Andy Desmond

“We’ve won 17 out of 20, which is two more than York in second, so the lads thoroughly deserve it.

“All the old faithful fans were in the clubhouse as well when the result came through, so it was good to share that moment with them too.

“They’ve supported us for so many years and it’s been great to give them some high quality games of cricket this year, which has brought success and makes them proud of the side and the club as a whole.

“Every game of the season is like a cup final if you want to win the league.

“It’s exhausting, but when you get over the line it’s 100 per cent worth it.”

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