We weren't the only ones who tipped them to go down. 2012 was ugly for them, (and no, Peter Beardsley hadn't joined the coaching staff) with certain players being shipped out for not being hard enough. They were old, and weary by the Wear. Throw in a points deduction for breaching the salary cap, Durham being skint, pre season being snowed and rained off, and then their coach Geoff Cook suffering a heart attack and you can see why we did. The club was in turmoil.
One thing though, that people in this part of the world show, is fight. Having been to Newcastle, where even the arms of the chairs in pubs have tattoos, I can vouch for that. Talking of tattoos, having seen a lady from this part of the world get a tattoo of a flower on her arse recently, I'm sure many of our readers would like to come up 'smelling of roses'!
However, in Paul Collingwood, no one shows more fight, desire and hunger. Always up for a battle, he punches above his weight and you could say that he is the hardest bloke in the North East this year, apart from the gentleman who was filmed punching a police horse in the aftermath of the Newcastle v Sunderland game. It was fitting that his 88 not out in the final game was part of the reason that Durham won. Whilst not being quite the player he was a few years ago, he has led from the front, and was an integral player in their campaign.
The previous titles were gained with the help of some imported talent. Di Venuto, Chanderpaul and Benkenstein all came to the North East and added value. This year, they have won through home grown talent and six of their nine victories came on the difficult pitches at Chester le Street.
Onions and Rushworth were the main men. With over a hundred wickets, they have been a handful on the northern green tops and backed up by Ben Stokes, the most fiery ginger bloke from these parts since Raoul Moat, they have bowled sides out regularly. Mark Stoneman opening the batting has had a fine season. I first saw him playing for England Under 19's alongside Billy Godleman and Rory Hamilton Brown a few years back, and knew he would be a good player. His runs were crucial on tough wickets, and with the decision to promote Scott Borthwick up to number three was inspired. Borthwick was another to have a fine year. With Middle Stump interviewee Will Smith also having a decent year, and the Colonel Phil Mustard chipping in, it has been a collective effort.
Local lads, doing the business with the club in their hearts. This is what county cricket is about, playing for your locality. No Kolpak, no imports, just guys who want to battle it out for the locals, their fans, the guys they grew up with. It's called pride, and this side have it in spades.
|Stoneman...a fine season|
The win at Yorkshire in August was significant. On a flat Scarborough deck, to bowl the Tykes out was when you knew they were going to do it. Up until then, we all thought that Yorkshire would win it, and then when they skittled Nottinghamshire for just 78 in the final game, it was more or less theirs.
I hope they have a good few beers up there in the next few days. They bloody well deserve it.