Durham success a cricketing fairy tale
History will probably never relate exactly how many alcoholic beverages were consumed by the Durham players and coaches on their triumphant 320-mile coach trip from Canterbury back to Chester-le-Street on Saturday.
But the story of how this county went from perennial whipping-boys to County Champions just 16 years after being granted first-class status is one of the most romantic tales English sport has to offer.
And this year nobody can say they have not deserved the first of what could be a number of Championship pennants. In recording six superb victories this summer - while loaning their best players Steve Harmison and Paul Collingwood to England for significant chunks of it - Durham have served notice of their immense quality.
Thirteen months after lifting their first domestic Cup at Lord's (the Friends Provident Trophy) - the men from Chester-le-Street set the early pace in the Championship this season, winning five of their first 10 matches.
Some strong late summer form from Nottinghamshire and Somerset left them third and 10 points behind Notts going into the last round of matches. But Harmison and Callum Thorp showed a deadly zeal that eluded the bowlers from those other two counties, and realistically the glory was Durham's long before Notts' desperate run chase against Hampshire had run out of steam on Saturday.
So, where did it all start? In the 1970s and 80s Durham created a name for themselves as regular winners of the Minor Counties title capable of springing the odd surprise against first-class opposition in the one-day knockout competitions.
As a reward for those achievements, the Test and County Cricket Board made them the 18th first-class county in 1992, some 71 years after Glamorgan had become the 17th.
The early days at Durham were marked by the arrival of two players in the final stages of distinguished careers - national hero Ian Botham and Australia star Dean Jones.
There were also various county stalwarts like Paul Parker, Wayne Larkins, Simon Hughes, Phil Bainbridge and David Graveney - yes that David Graveney - who propped up an otherwise young squad made up of the most promising club cricketers on the local circuit.
It was not easy at first - they particularly struggled with the ball - but little by little the green shoots of something promising could be seen.
Now that process has come to its stunning climax, although in many ways the two trophies the county has garnered are adornments to something more significant.
Collingwood, Harmison, Liam Plunkett and Phil Mustard - all proper "locals" - have gone all the way to play in the England side. In so doing, they have provided ample proof that the decision to bring first-class cricket to the north-east was justified.
One of the elated Durham fans e-mailing into us on Saturday was Alan Wright, chief executive at the club from 1993 to 1995.
In his time, most of Durham's prominent matches took place at the Racecourse Ground, and outgrounds at places like Hartlepool and Stockton were in regular use.
The Riverside - now elevated to the Test match roster - was merely "a pitch and a portakabin", in the words of Wright.
He said "tears were running down our cheeks" when he and his colleagues saw the Riverside open for business against Warwickshire in 1995. At about the same time, a prominent individual from another sport also had a big role to play.
"One guy that deserves a lot of credit is Kevin Keegan," explained Wright. "He was one of the first people to ring in and say 'if I can help give me a shout' and I can remember vividly a few times when I was close to negotiating a sponsorship deal I asked if I could bring along a colleague, and the colleague was Kevin. When he walked in the contract was signed immediately.
"There are hundreds, thousands of people, many of them unsung heroes, who have busted a gut somewhere along the line and Kevin was typical of that."
Wright and others can cite how local schools and club cricket has developed at an astonishing rate in and around Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland and Hartlepool.
As it should do everywhere, all that youthful enthusiasm eventually makes its way to the top. Even today, the numbers of locally-produced players in and around Durham's first team dwarves what certain other counties are able to achieve.
And after a season marred by the endless conveyor belt of Kolpak mercenaries, it's refreshing to see that a county which genuinely believes in homegrown talent can outshine the rest.
(While we are on a controversial subject, it should be added that Durham have also used the Kolpak loophole - their captain Dale Benkenstein is signed on those terms - but they are a long way from offending on the grand scale of certain others).
Certainly, a little bit of luck fell Durham's way when Harmison - thrown out of the England squad at the start of the season - forced himself back into the selectors' minds with some accurate hostility - and an overall return of 60 wickets from 12 matches.
The re-emergence of Stockton-born Mark Davies, after several injury-plagued seasons, has been another huge plus. Will Smith (nickname Posh Kid) has been a beacon of consistency with the bat, and guess what? Though born in Luton, he's a graduate of Durham University.
But if we're going to start naming individuals the one person who can be proudest of all on this happy day for Durham County Cricket Club is Geoff Cook.
A summer after ending his successful career as an opening batsman with Northamptonshire in 1990 he was named director of cricket at Durham.
Never tempted to jump ship when times were tough at the beginning, he has instead carefully nurtured every one of those local players the club has brought through the system.
One can only hope that many of the plaudits that come Durham's way this weekend will acknowledge Cook's role, as well as the more obvious and immediate input of Thorp and Harmison.