BC - Durham's delayed delight [29/May/20]

For the last time - Editor's note - BC stands for Before Covid-19.

Unpublished results from a string of NEUAL fixtures - at least, all those that ultimately took place - have now been published on the NEUAL 2019/20 page. Some of these scores are quite considerably "BC". This article is a longer one so strap in, or, TL/DR, Durham win NEUAL senior league for the first time.

From way back before Christmas, match W2 was never shot, but E3 was on 30th November 2019. This featured two of last season's top three, but instead of battle, York's 2160 won by more than a point per arrow. Defending champions Bradford have been hit hard by graduations and could only muster 1900 on the nose, not far ahead of Leeds' 1875. Tom Braxton (Leeds) hit 581, with Alessandro Pezzoni (York) just under 560. York won the novice match very comfortably, on 1389, with Katie Tlusty (York) top individual on 493.

Skipping forward in time to the weekend of the 25th January 2020, the fourth round of fixtures took place. Out of the 8 teams who shot, Durham's 2120 was by far the highest score as last season's runners up got off the mark with a win. Teesside, who were second in this match missed out on 2000 by 7, but were still over 100 clear of anyone in match E4 and W4, with Bradford and UCLan picking up low scoring wins. In the novice matches Teesside were the standouts on 1513, Fjolnir Kvaran on 514. Durham were second and like in the senior match, they beat all the E4 and W4 novice team scores, Liverpool (1251) and Bradford (1126) winning those fixtures.

The structure of NEUAL matches means trying to work out who is really leading at any point during the season can be tricky. It is often easier to consider who has lost fewest points. After round 4, York, Newcastle, Durham, UCLan and Lancaster all had "perfect" records, although only York and Newcastle had played twice. Teesside and Sheffield topped the actual table. Teesside also led the novice table, by a full 10 points, with a strong result from the NEUAL novice championships helping them here. Liverpool, third overall, actually had 3 wins out of 3 (including those novice championships), whilst Teesside had dropped 1 point in 4 matches.

Seniors: Teesside, Sheffield 58 (played 3), York, Newcastle 40, Liverpool, Bradford 39 (played 2) .... Durham, UCLan, Lancaster 20 (played 1)
Novices: Teesside 79, Sheffield 69 (played 4), Liverpool 60, Bradford 54 (played 3)... Lancaster 38, Durham 36 (played 2)

The fifth set of NEUAL fixtures took place over the weekend of 1st February. Leeds, Lancaster and Durham were the three winners, with Lancaster and Durham posting virtually identical scores, albeit both sub-2100. They also won their novice matches. Tom Braxton (Leeds) was by far the top individual in these matches, with 576. Lancaster's Peter Cox was the only other to break 550. Durham had the best novice team total (1344), whilst Sean MacIver (Lancaster) was top novice on 491. Whilst Teesside and Sheffield still led the senior table, there were by now 4 teams sitting on two wins out of two.

Seniors: Teesside, Sheffield 58 (played 3)... York, Durham, Newcastle, Lancaster 40, Liverpool, Bradford 39 (all played 2)
Novices: Teesside 79, Sheffield 69 (played 4)... Liverpool 60, Lancaster 58, Durham 56, Bradford 54 (all played 3)

The sixth set of NEUAL fixtures took place over the weekend of 8th February. A quirk of the set up means the Northern Conference doesn't have a fixture in this batch. Meanwhile, match W6 simply wasn't shot, leaving match E6, York v Hull to stand alone. York's 2065 beat Hull's seniors, who just missed out on 2000. Daniel Riley (York) was top novice on 481 out of his team's winning tally of 1337.

Seniors: York 60, Teesside, Sheffield 58 (played 3)... Durham, Newcastle, Lancaster 40, Liverpool, Bradford 39 (all played 2)
Novices: Teesside 79, York 72 (played 4)... Liverpool 60, Lancaster 58, Durham 56, Bradford 54 (all played 3)

NEUAL's next fixture was extracted from the BUCS qualifying scores, spread over the Manchester (15th Feb) and Napier (22nd Feb) dates. As all NEUAL clubs would be competing against each other, this is a huge opportunity to gain (or lose) points on league rivals from other Conferences. Although they didn't know it at the time, it would turn out to be the only opportunity to do so. Coronavirus restrictions caused the cancellation of NEUAL Indoor Champs, scheduled for 29th March.

Having averaged around 2100 thus far, Durham found their Scottish surroundings to their liking, firing in 2205, including Matthew Likely on 566, with team-mate Amy Titterington a point under 560. Not only did this deliver maximum points to Durham, but the only side to get within touching distance were Keele, who were not in contention for the overall title. Inspired by Rachel Moon smashing in a 589, Keele's 2170 put them over 40 clear of the chasing pack. Only 28 points separated 3rd down to 6th. Lancaster kept Leeds off the "podium" by a solitary point, 2117 plays 2116, despite a 584 from Tom Braxton. Central Lancashire took fifth spot on 2094, courtesy of 565 from Georgia Green and 561 from Harlie Mason. UCLan were a fraction ahead of York's 2089. Elsewhere there was a solo 569 from Nicole Burdett (Manchester).

Durham made it a double by winning the novice team event, fighting off Liverpool 1460 to 1446. This result ended Liverpool's novices' otherwise unblemished season, but with Bradford in third (1362) they may have been more relieved to have finished two places ahead of Teesside (1317), with York (1307) and Newcastle (1300) close behind. Top individual was Matthew Crawford (Liverpool) with 516, ahead of Esther Elaweremi (Durham) and Sean MacIver (Lancaster) on 501 and 500.

Seniors: York 75, Leeds 73, Sheffield 71 (played 4)... Durham 60, Lancaster 58... Newcastle 54 (all played 3)
Novices: Teesside 96, York 88 (played 5)... Liverpool 79... Durham 76, Bradford, Lancaster 72 (all played 4)

After the BUCS qualifying there was one more set of matches remaining on the weekend of 29th February. York were top, but would be overtaken by both Durham and Lancaster assuming they both attended their final fixture. Newcastle could still overtake Leeds. Similarly Liverpool would definitely go top of the novice league, with Durham still able to draw level with Teesside.

In the event, Durham's 2130 secured them match N6 by just over 100 points from Newcastle, whilst Hull and Lancaster won matches E7 and W7 despite both just missing out on 2000s. Four archers across eight teams broke 550, with Luke Dyer (Newcastle) and Matthew Likely (Durham) closest to a 560. In the novice matches, Liverpool (1423) beat Lancaster (1341), with Matthew Crawford (Liverpool) on 525. Bradford and Newcastle won the other two novice matches.

Seniors: Durham 80, Lancaster 78, York 75, Newcastle, Leeds 73, Sheffield 71 (all played 4)
Novices: Liverpool 99, Teesside 96, Durham 94, Bradford 92, Lancaster 91 (all played 5)

Unfortunately Durham were denied the chance to claim their first NEUAL title in the style they might have wished to. However, a top 3 finish at NEUAL Indoors would, realistically, have guaranteed them the title anyway and they had the highest match aggregate in the league. Durham were podium regulars without ever winning the title in NEUAL's early years. They then endured a lengthy spell in NEUAL's lower reaches, the nadir of which was in 2016 when they finished 16th and dead last. Revived from that low point, they roared back to finish runners up after a close battle with Bradford last season. Durham would not be denied this year and become the seventh different club to win the senior NEUAL title - indeed they are the seventh different winner in the last nine seasons.

Lancaster and York's final placings (2nd and 3rd) and overall match aggregates (7987 vs 8421) tell a story of their own. Lancaster made a low scoring, but winning start and peaked just at the right time. York were early season high scorers, but did not maintain that momentum and dipped just at the wrong time. Newcastle's overall 4th is one off their best two years ago. Leeds' 5th spot in 2020 is, practically speaking, their best ever finish. They did place 4th in 2006, but at that time NEUAL only had 8 teams - half of what it has now.

Liverpool win the novice title for the third time after 2014 and 2015. They won by 3 league points, but in truth it was a tough battle with Teesside, for whom second place is a new high. Teesside had a slightly higher overall aggregate total too. Durham's novices follow up second last year with another podium finish this year.

Inamongst the positives for NEUAL, there were a few negatives however. Two 3-team matches (W2 and W6) didn't take place at all, but not because of the coronavirus. New starts Manchester did not really take part, only fielding one archer, once. Salford did not shoot at all, dropping out after 4 seasons. Only 10 out of the 18 clubs fulfilled all their fixtures and results were slow to emerge. Durham had to wait approximately 80 days from last fixture to final confirmation.

NEUAL remains the biggest of the 5 leagues and with its Conference and league match/championship structure, it is without question the most complex. Interestingly, no team has successfully defended the senior league title since York won the first four in a row 2003-2006. The subsequent sequence of winners (starting in 2007) runs as follows: Keele, Sheffield, Lancaster, Sheffield, Keele, Sheffield, Liverpool, Lancaster, Liverpool, Lancaster, York, Bradford, Durham.

News and Editorials 2019/2020

  • London calling... for help... II [02/Jul/20]
  • June Update [26/Jun/20]
  • BC - Durham's delayed delight [29/May/20]
  • You said, BUCS EMG did [15/May/20]
  • BC - Plymouth SWWeep to titles [24/Apr/20]
  • BC - E-League Ends Early [15/Apr/20]
  • BC - Imps beat UEA for SEAL [03/Apr/20]
  • BC - Warwick sweep BUTTS [31/Mar/20]
  • Corona Cancellations [23/Mar/20]
  • BUCS Indoor 2020 Finals [20/Mar/20]
  • Napier claim SSS crown [04/Mar/20]
  • North and South... and Central [24/Feb/20]
  • Episode III of the E-League [14/Feb/20]
  • Episode III of SEAL [13/Feb/20]
  • Episode III of BUTTS [12/Feb/20]
  • Napier tie up SSS advantage [31/Jan/20]
  • New and Old Year updates [15/Jan/20]
  • SWWU's first Indoor Champs [20/Dec/19]
  • SEAL set for non-nailbiter [16/Dec/19]
  • Seconds out, E-Round 2 [12/Dec/19]
  • 3 way battles for SSS [06/Dec/19]
  • Double top for Plymouth [05/Dec/19]
  • Imperial win SEAL 1 [04/Dec/19]
  • Warwick, Birmingham lead BUTTS [03/Dec/19]
  • Hall-E-League-lujah [29/Nov/19]
  • BUTTS out of the blocks [21/Nov/19]
  • SSS 2 and National Rankings 2 [14/Nov/19]
  • SSS 1 and National Rankings [07/Nov/19]
  • SWWU 1 and Field Champs [04/Nov/19]
  • Three is the magic number [17/Oct/19]
  • Passport to Ireland [04/Oct/19]
  • E'll be back [30/Sep/19]
  • 2020 Regional Vision [20/Sep/19]
  • 2020 National Vision [11/Sep/19]

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