Pateley Bridge’s brightest stars shine in Pairs Merit final

Pairs Merit Final winners Adam Varley and Tony Brown and the finalists. (s)
Pairs Merit Final winners Adam Varley and Tony Brown and the finalists. (s)

There were celebrations abound for Pateley Bridge this week as two of their newest and brightest stars clinched the coveted Pairs Merit title, writes Ian Kennedy.

Adam Varley and Tony Brown bowled their way through a host of Division One bowlers to claim their first ever major title.

It shows the scale if this victory when you consider that Brown started the year in Division Four in his debut season in the Harrogate League, where he has pushed himself into Pateley’s first team and now competing alongside Varley in Division Two.

Varley’s success also reflects Pateley’s youth policy success. Driven by Paul Kirkbright and Tom Parker amongst others, they have put great efforts into introducing Crown Green Bowling into the local schools by organising bowling days, competitions and PE sessions. They are now reaping the rewards of this hard work with a group of juniors adding their impact throughout the league, culminating in not only the Pairs Merit victory, but also having Tom Beecroft and Tony Derrick breaking through into the North Yorkshire National Federation team this season. It has been a great policy that every club in the country would do well learning from.

The Pairs Merit got under way at the start of the week with almost 50 pairings competing over four greens until the last eight went through to Finals Day.

Varley/Brown got the day going with a real battle against current Wilf Shaw champions Carl and James Bushby. The Bushbys led throughout the whole game with Varley/Brown never nearer than 4 chalks. With the game standing at 20-16, Varley and Brown put in two terrific ends scoring a 2 and a 3 to clinch the game.

Next up were Bilton Clubmen John Jennison and Stuart Worsnop against Wayside’s Steve Cochrane and Ian Kennedy. The clubmen took an early lead but the game remained fairly close until 10 across, when Jennison\Worsnop took control of the game and a good 8 break giving them a good advantage. Cochrane/Kennedy fought back with a good run bringing the game to 19-19. With the Wayside pair lying game, Worsnop bowled the final wood of the match and he picked up the Jack with pin point accuracy pushing on to score two and deservedly taking the game.

Two took the pre match favourites took to the green next. Defending Champion Brian Walker paired with son Stephen against the experienced Martin Hemmingway and Alan Whittaker from Black Swan. Hemmingway/Whittaker controlled much of the match keeping themselves ahead in this competitive game. At 19-14 down Walker/Walker put in a good fight to get back to 18 before losing out to an excellent finish by Hemmingway.

Billy Bowers’s reigning champions and last year’s losing finalists Richard and Adam Briggs were next up against Dacre’s Julia Heaton and David Brockhill.

In the first semi-final Varley/Brown certainly faced a tough battle ahead against the experienced Jennison/Worsnop. It was a commanding performance from the newcomers however who enjoyed some good ends including three three’s and four pairs which helped them onto a great 21-12 victory.

It was a similar tail in the second semi as Briggs/Briggs faced Hemmingway/Whittaker. With a commanding performance Briggs booked their spot in the final with a 21-14 win.

And so it was to an exciting final where Varley/Brown had undoubtedly their toughest battle of the day as they faced Briggs/Briggs. The Almscliffe pair took the first three ends scoring singles and settling in early. Varley/Brown took the Jack however and followed up with a great 4 which helped settle the nerves and get them started. They built up a good 14-8 lead before Briggs/Briggs pulled the game back to 14-13.

With the game hanging on a knife edge, a couple of cracks started to appear in the Briggs armour. With father Richard giving some sound advice, son Adam overruled in what turned out to be a couple of poor decisions that turned the course of the game.

Fortune favours the brave, and bravery on the green is certainly something young Briggs doesn’t lack. Lying one on, Adam took the gamble to turn over his bowl and fire at the opponent’s bowl. A tactic, had it come off, that would have given them three chalks rather than just the possible two a safe draw would have offered. Unfortunately he hit his own leading bowl leaving them down.

It wasn’t a gift that Varley/Brown were going to squander, with a great four end run the Nidderdale lads wrapped things up with a terrific couple of singles, a pair and a great three chalk finish to clinch their first major title and get the Pateley celebrations underway.

Harrogate Amateur Bowling Association Secretary Chris Light and Vice President Chris Sunter made the presentations, and congratulated every competitor for their part in a great day.

Special commendations were reserved for Adam Varley and Tony Brown on a fantastic victory. Starbeck Bowling Club were thanked for again proving to be excellent hosts.

As the season continues, tonight sees the Final of the Challenge Cup. This will be played at Bilton Dragon between Wayside and Black Swan with a 6.30pm start. This is sure to be a fantastic game between these close rivals.

As the busy period continues, Saturday also sees the Junior Merit Final taking place. This will be held at Black Swan Bowling club and will also start at 6.30pm.

HARROGATE Bowling Club Men played their annual fixture against The Yorkshire Bowling Association Patrons and lost 71-121. In the York League Second Division the men played Poppleton at home, losing 1-7.

In the Dalesman League the men drew 4-4 against Dishforth at home, whilst the Harrogate Ladies League won 6-2 at home to Dishforth.

BATESON Bowls League results: Bedale 6 points 74 shots, Ripon 1 (54); Boroughbridge 6 (78) Sowerby 1 (59);Easingwold 6 (48) Northallerton 1 (25) after 12 ends;Dishforth 5.5 (43) Thirsk 1.5 (40) after 12 ends;Bishop Monkton 5 (49) Masham 2 (44).

GALTRES Bowls League results:Sowerby Flatts 5½ pts (66 shots) Easingwold 1½ (63); Stillington 6 (65) Topcliffe 1 (55); Thirsk A 6 (65) Wetherby 1(57); Dishforth 4 (76) Boroughbridge 3 (72); Sessay 5 (73) Thirsk B 2 (59).