Flanagan helps Lancashire win English County title

The winning Lancashire team ' Tony Flanagan is second from left (standing)'Picture: Leaderboard Photography
The winning Lancashire team ' Tony Flanagan is second from left (standing)'Picture: Leaderboard Photography

Nelson Golf Club’s Tony Flanagan played a key role as Lancashire pulled off the great escape, as they snatched victory from Sussex in the title showdown for the English Senior Men’s County Championship.

Following their win against Nottinghamshire on day one, and a halved match against Dorset on day two, Lancashire needed a win against Sussex in the final on Thursday at Stanton-on-the-Wolds.

Flanagan contributed a valuable point, as he won his singles by 3 & 2.

Then teammate Bryan Hughes sank a crucial 30ft putt on the 18th green to win his match by one hole, and give Lancashire their third win in this championship.

Lancashire’s 5-4 win had seemed highly unlikely as little as 45 minutes earlier.

Flanagan said: “I don’t know how we did that.

“We’ve been behind every day.”

That was the theme of their championship.

They trailed their opposition, and frayed their captain’s nerves – but they kept themselves in it and, finally, claimed the prize.

The foursomes were shared, with two tense matches going to the 18th.

In the singles, Sussex were ahead in four games as the players went through six holes, and up in five at the half way stage.

Lancashire got the first point, courtesy of Neil Self, but Martin King delivered a major boost for Sussex when he beat British Senior Champion Foster 3/2.

The next point went Lancashire’s way, thanks to Flanagan, but Sussex were up in the other three games.

Ian Crowther brought Lancashire within touching distance of an unlikely victory as he came from behind to win the last hole to halve his game.

Hughes completed the comeback with his last hole birdie.

In the final game, Flanagan took the action to the 18th, but the point went to Sussex’s Martin Galway.

Their emotional captain Mike Gray said: “I have always believed in them but at times I thought someone up there didn’t! When they have to, they dig in, they deliver. They play for the team and they just don’t give up. And winning this is just a wonderful feeling.”