In the last 3 years Herefordshire teams have been making an impact at national level with increasingly impressive performances in both the Inter County Championship and the National Championships. This upward trajectory has now culminated in a first ever national title being brought back to the county with the 2020 National Mixed Fours Championship, held in Solihull, being won by Kate Williams (Ross), Shirley Cox, John Mills (Woolhope) and Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel). Three of the four players had previously equalled the county’s best ever showing at the Nationals by reaching the 2018 semi-finals of this discipline but this time they went all the way to the title.
The Herefordshire four dominated their qualifying group, winning all 3 of their games to top the group and progress to the knockout stages which would prove to be tense and exciting throughout. Their first 3 knockout rounds all resulted in tied matches which had to be decided by an extra end. First up were a Cheshire side who almost ended the run before it had begun – leading Herefordshire by 3 shots going into the last end before a 3 from Herefordshire forced the tie and the extra end which they won to progress. The situation was reversed in the next round as Herefordshire conceded a score of 3 to Dorset in the final end before again winning the resulting extra end. Herefordshire once again came from behind against a Hampshire team in the quarter finals to force the extra end and match their previous run to the semi-finals. Trailing again by 3 shots going into the last end in the semi-final against an Avon foursome, Herefordshire held their nerve superbly and scored 4 to win the game by a single shot and secure their place in the final. They started the final against North Yorkshire slowly and trailed 7-3 after 5 ends but the match was turned on its head by Herefordshire scoring a magnificent 7 in the 6th end to take a lead which they never surrendered, seeing the game out with a 12-10 victory to secure the county’s historic first ever national title.
This tremendous result comes at the end of a memorable season for Joe Loveys who now has a national title to sit alongside his record breaking five county championship successes. This win will also provide an extra boost to the Herefordshire players who compete in the 4 remaining Nationals disciplines in early April.