LEEDS UNION team captain Nigel McKee has lost two top young talents ahead of their opening Yorkshire Inter-District Union match against Harrogate on Sunday – one to a sporting injury and the other to collegiate duties in the USA.
But he has still lined up a strong side that he is confident can launch their season with a win at Scarcroft over opponents who were soundly beaten when the sides met in the final round of matches in 2017.
Cookridge Hall’s Tom Broxup had to be declared a non-starter after breaking his fibula while playing football on Sunday.
Dan Bradbury, of Wakefield, had already had to be deleted from the reckoning after helping his American college – Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee – reach the national collegiate finals for the first time in their history.
It caps a superb year for the former Yorkshire Boys’ captain, who was selected as the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year.
But it has delayed Bradbury’s return home until later this month and meant, when Broxup broke his leg, that McKee felt the sting of losing two Bs.
However, the Leeds GC member is no less enthusiastic about his side’s chances and has assembled a hugely experienced and talented side.
Broxup was due to play in yesterday’s Brabazon Trophy Northern Qualifier at Fairhaven, and McKee lamented: “It looks like he’s going to be out for three months. It is a crying shame for the boy.
“Dan Bradbury was supposed to be playing, but he is now staying in America because his college has got to the national finals for the first time ever and he’s not coming back while May 27, so he’s not playing.
“But I have drafted in Sam Stokes (Wakefield), who is an ex-Scarcroft member, hits the ball a country mile and is a great player.
“I have Adam Frontal (Cookridge Hall) spearheading the team, we have got the Leeds stroke play champion Craig Watt (Howley Hall) back this year, we have got (Selby’s) Neil Clark, the golfer of the year, we have got Andy Wiltshire (Pontefract & District), who got through 36-hole qualifying of the Seniors Tour.
“I have got Ade Arnold, from Headingley, Phil Holmes (Leeds Golf Centre), PE teacher at Leeds Grammar, who is a great player, I have got Tom Pilling (Cookridge Hall), who did not lose a game for me last season
“And I have also got Scarcroft members John Rea and Steve Cain, and Barry Hardcastle (Leeds Golf Centre), so the team is really strong to be fair even with Bradbury and Broxup – who were supposed to be playing – missing.
“I have just one more place to fill.”
Leeds beat Harrogate 24-12 in September last year to ring down the curtain on a season – McKee’s second in charge – that saw them place second only to the largest of Yorkshire’s eight unions, Sheffield.
“I am not taking anything for granted, but hopefully we will get the season off to a cracking start,” continued McKee.
“With the shocking winter we have had all you are thinking about is getting back onto the golf course in the summer.
“I hope we can challenge for the league this year, but if we can’t but we can do as well as we did last year I will be highly delighted.
“We beat Harrogate comfortably in our last game last year and that gives us the upper hand, I think. I’m not being cocky about it, but if Leeds Union don’t beat Harrogate with the players I will have out I would be devastated to say the least.
“But they did beat a couple of strong sides last year so you can’t take anything for granted – and I’m not.”