THIS has surely been one of the most memorable summers for Barnsley sport in recent memory.
It is relatively unusual for sportspeople from the town to be competing at the top level of international sport in large numbers, but that has been the case in 2022.
It started with Joe Ferguson, a young sprinter from Darton, taking half a second off his 200m personal best this year and qualifying for the World Championships.
At 22 years old, the psychology student who works part-time at a jewellers, took on the fastest runners in the world and reached the semi-finals before refocusing on his long-term goal of the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Last week, Bethany England, from Kingstone, was part of the Lionesses squad which made history by winning the European Championships at Wembley.
They have also taken a big step in the women’s game’s journey closer to parity with men, in terms of status and support, from a time when Bethany had limited opportunities to play in girls’ teams then had to work at a fish and chip shop in Barnsley to supplement her income as a footballer.
Bethany was born in the same week and the same hospital as fellow Barnsley footballer John Stones who is a regular in the England men’s team.
She will now return to Women’s Super League champions Chelsea, where she has been joined by fellow Barnsley woman Lucy Watson.
The teenager from Royston has just signed from Neil Redfearn’s Sheffield United after representing England under 19s in their Euros this summer.
Then we had the Commonwealth Games, in which four Barnsley people competed – finishing first, second, fourth and fourth.
Lachlan Moorhead, whose father set up a judo club in Penistone so he could train and travelled hundreds of miles across the country taking him to competitions, began what he hopes will be a glorious international career with gold.
That was followed two days later by a silver for Hollie Naughton, from Cudworth, who represents Canada but speaks with a Barnsley accent and felt as though she was competing for both places in the squash final.
Dodworth duo Katherine Brunt and Sue Bailey were both gutted to finish fourth in Birmingham but have represented Barnsley around the world at the top level of their sport for decades.
Cricketer Brunt is already one of the greatest sportspeople Barnsley has ever produced, with the most wickets for England women in both Twenty20s and One Day Internationals as well as three World Cup medals.
She will be devastated not to add Commonwealth gold to that glittering CV and it is unclear now whether she will retire or play in next year’s World Cup.
As well as the athletes competing in Birmingham, there were some successful coaches at the Commonwealths from Barnsley.
Trevor Fox watched his pole vault star Adam Hague win silver, while former Olympic champion Ed Clancy – who grew up in Ingbirchworth – helped to coach the cycling team.
Barnsley’s rugby union club have been promoted this year, while the cricket club are at their Twenty20 finals day on Sunday and have another final to look forward to later.
While other sportspeople and teams are putting it on the map, Barnsley FC will always be the sporting centre of the town.
The Reds had looked the weak link in a successful summer, after following relegation with a poor opening day loss at Plymouth, but the victory over Cheltenham in Michael Duff’s first home game provides hope for the future.
The away success at Championship Middlesbrough in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening was another big step forward and a great moment for the fans who travelled to the North East.
Whether they can compete for promotion remains to be seen – and could be determined by the final weeks of the transfer window – but they seem to have a competent manager who is starting to get more out of his squad and put a few smiles back on faces of the long-suffering fans.