Hull Zingari earned promotion to the Yorkshire Premier League North for 2024 the hard way, beating league winners Woodhouse Grange seconds during a thrilling final day in September to hold off the challenge of third-placed Welton.
Now they are relishing the next challenge of taking on some of the county’s league powerhouses, confident of consolidation and then progression.
“We are confident,” said first-team captain Nathan Johnson. “But it is a big jump.
“We can say that we’re confident, and we can say that we’re well prepared. But unless you’ve played in that league, you don’t know how you’ll get on.
“We’ve made a few signings. We’ve got an overseas in (young Pakistan all-rounder Mubasir Khan) and two other new signings as well. We’re doing everything we can to stay up and compete with some of the top teams.
“Where this club has come from to be playing in the top league, it’s amazing. And I can only see it continuing to grow because the juniors coming through are fantastic.
“The main aim for next year is to stay up, but we want to push as far as we can in the next few years.
“Next year, if we survive, that would be perfect. It will be a tough battle. Anything more would be a bonus.”
Johnson’s side finished second in the Championship East division – one of two second tiers in the YPL structure. The top team from each goes up, with Easingwold winning the Championship West.
Zingari’s promotion came courtesy of Woodhouse Grange seconds being prevented from going up due to their first team already being in the Premier Division.
The use of the abbreviated title ‘Zingari’ brings us onto the club’s history.
A club history page on their website says: “In 2018, Zingari merged with the much older Hull Cricket Club. Following the merger, Zingari took over the financial and administrative responsibilities, and we are now the only large cricket club remaining in the city.”
Johnson’s side went into the final day of the season with a four-point lead over Welton. They knew they would likely have to beat champions Woodhouse Grange. So it proved. Welton won at Driffield Town seconds, but Hull held them off with a four-wicket win chasing 170.
All-rounder Johnson, a seamer and middle order batter, took the new ball and claimed four wickets to set things up.
“It was tough all the way through,” he reflected. “We had a couple of losses, we won a few, we lost a few. It was back and forth all through the season. It was a great league to be in and a great promotion battle.
“We did the double over Welton. At the start of season, we thought, ‘If we win both games against them, we’ll be clear’.
“Apart from Woodhouse, we knew Welton would be our biggest rivals. We expected it to be us or them. It just shows that we beat them twice but it still went down to the last game.”
This was Johnson’s first campaign as captain having only just returned from the club following a short spell away at Bridlington.
He said: “I went to Bridlington the season before last for a new challenge. But I missed Zingari. And I’m really appreciative of the opportunity to come back and to be given the captaincy as well.
“When I started, I wanted to win the league. We couldn’t quite do that, but promotion is the next best thing obviously.”
Jack Storey led the way with 737 runs, while Johnson claimed 32 wickets, one behind the father and son combination of the Hellwigs – Jason and Callum. Wicketkeeper Jimmy Phillips claimed 27 victims, the most in the division.
“Runs wise, I could have done better,” said Johnson. “But I got 32 wickets, and just bowling was an achievement for me because I was coming into this season off the back of a broken femur last year.
“I must say how proud I am of this set of players for all of their hard work and sticking together because, as I’ve said, it was a tough season with some ups and downs.
“The likes of Jack Storey, Jahangir Alam and Matthew Bunn with the bat stood up most weeks.
“Jason (father) and Callum took crucial wickets with the ball, and obviously Jimmy with the gloves.
“Faraz Dar is another. He played two crucial innings down the order in the last two games to get us over the line when we were in a spot of bother.”
To give an idea of that hard work Johnson referenced, a good number of the squad have been netting since early on in the winter at the nearby St Mary’s School.
“I get bored on a Saturday just sat home,” laughed Johnson. “So nine or 10 of us have been getting together, netting for an hour and then going for a beer afterwards.
“We can’t wait to get going again. It’s a long winter, isn’t it.
“We’ll be playing against some big clubs and some fantastic players.
“The likes of Duncan Snell at York, he’s been performing for years. Noah Kelly at Driffield is just coming through. We’re just looking forward to showing what we can do.”
Delving deeper into the club, the firsts are one of four senior teams in action over a summer weekend; three on a Saturday and one on a Sunday.
“The Sunday fourth team is more to bring the juniors through and for them to play hard ball, men’s cricket,” said Johnson, before reeling off the list of junior teams.
“We run teams at Under 9s, 11s, 13s and 15s as well as having the All Stars and Dynamos as well. There’s a lot of talent coming through, and it’s great to see.
“We have a couple of young girls coming through as well. We don’t run a women’s team like Bridlington do, as an example. But hopefully we can get there sooner rather than later.”
Speaking to clubs across the county, ‘We’re like a family’ is a phrase you hear quite often, and it’s no different with Hull Zingari.
“We’ve had some curry nights, and we have a quiz night in January and race night in March,” added Johnson, who also paid a particular thanks to kit sponsors Barrass Hull Metal Fabricator and new kit suppliers Vx3.
It has been a memorable year for Hull Zingari, that is for sure. But they will be hoping next year is even better.