Home start for Durham County

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DURHAM County will open their 2012 Daily Telegraph Northern Counties Championship golf campaign with two home games in May.

Captain James Handy endured defeat in all five matches last season, but he will hope to make the most of home advantage, with Durham facing Cumbria in the opener at Seaton Carew on May 5.

Durham then host Cheshire at South Shields on May 26, head to Pannal to meet Yorkshire on July 14, entertain Northumberland at Tyneside on August 4 and go to Clitheroe to tackle Lancashire in the final fixture on September 8.

Durham, though, must do without Graeme Marchbank next year, with the Durham City player retiring from County golf. Handy thanked Marchbank for his “outstanding performances and commitment to Durham County throughout his County career.”

Marchbank reached the landmark of 50 County appearances last season and was presented with a memento to mark the achievement, along with team-mates Michael Curry (Brancepeth Castle) and Bryan Ross (Heworth).

Marchbank was runner-up to Seaham’s Dave Patterson in the County order of merit for this year, with Sunderland’s County champion Martin McCririck (Heworth) third.

Prior to the new league campaign, Durham have two friendly outings – against the Durham County Junior Golfing Society at Whitburn on April 1, and against the Teesside Union at Washington on April 22.

H Durham County Veterans have a pre-season date with the Durham County Ladies Veterans at Ramside on May 3 ahead of a busy summer which finishes with a trip to take on Lancashire at Royal Birkdale, a treat for the visitors on the Open championship course.

Wearside will stage the Veterans’ clash with Northumberland on Monday, August 13.