History was made at the National Bowls Championships in Royal Leamington Spa as Northampton West End pair Jamie Walker and Darren Childs faced each other in the final of the men’s four-wood singles, with Walker emerging as the champion.
It was the first time in history in the four-wood singles, widely regarded as the premier men’s competition, that the final has been played between two players from the same club, and only the fourth time that players from the same county have competed in the same final.
The previous occasions were in 1914, 1978 and 2003.
Walker also becomes the first men’s national singles champion for 107 years, with the previous success coming in 1910 when Kettering’s Frank Shatford was the winner.
The final itself was a tight affair, before Walker beat his good friend and club-mate 21-14.
Walker took a 6-1 lead after five ends, but by the 13th end Childs had fought back to level the scores at 10-10.
Again Walker pulled away to lead 15-10, but Childs wasn’t giving up the fight and it was 15-13 to Walker after 16 ends.
The next end, however, was superbly played by Walker, and despite going fairly close to reduce the count or get shot himself, Childs just failed and Jamie picked up a maximum.
Walker was suddenly 20-13 up and within touching distance of the silverware, and although Childs pulled one shot back on the next ends, Walker won the title on the next.
Walker’s final win brought the curtain down on a brilliant run for both players in Leamington.
In the first round, Walker beat Charlie Bailey of Fareham BC in Hampshire 21-8, while Childs saw off Dave Whelan from Luton Town BC 21-4.
The second round saw Walker beat Travis Meller of Shanklin BC on the Isle of Wight 21-14 and Childs got the better of Tim Bloomer of Fairford BC in Gloucestershire 21-6.
Walker beat Mark Housley of Langwith Juntion BC from Nottinghamshire 21-4 in the third round, while Childs beat Elliott Guthrie of Newark Northern BC 21-16.
In the last eight, Walker squeezed past Louis Ridout of Kings BC of Torquay 21-19 while Childs was also pushed all the way before pipping Mark Atkins of Ledbury BC in Herefordshire 21-18.
Walker’s semi-final was also a close-run thing as he beat Tim Phillips of Carnon Downs BC in Cornwall 21-19, while Childs had a slightly easier time of it, beating Ben Paulley of Dorset 21-16.
Iddles and Sharpe lose in second round
THERE was plenty of other Northants interest at the National Championships, although nobody could match the achievement of Jamie Walker to land a title.
Kingsthorpe’s David Iddles and Ben Sharpe were competing in the men’s pairs, and squeezed to a 17-16 win after an extra end in their first round matches against Mark Terrell and John Bowley of Long Eaton Town BC in Derbyshire.
That set up a second round date with Darren Griffith and Travis Meller of Shanklin BC on the Isle of Wight, and lost 28-15.
Abington’s Adam Brown competed in the men’s two-wood singles, but his competition ended at the first round stage as he was pipped 16-15 by Matt White of Weybridge BC in Surrey, despite having led 15-11 with three ends left to play.
The mixed fours saw the Kingsthorpe quartet of Hilary Sharpe, Sharon Tansley, Roger Tansley and Andrew Manton representing Northants, and they were first round winners as they beat Laura Holden, James Branfield, Neil Westlake and Stefanie Branfield of Clevedon BC in Somerset 23-15.
That saw them into the last eight where they were to go out, losing 20-11 to Ann Lewis-Wall, Helen Lewis-Wall, Jamie Haskins and Philip Broughton of Long Eaton Town.
Northants Ladies took part in the Amy Rose Bowl Double Rink, which is a competition set at 15 ends, for women under the age of 31 years.
In the first round, Northants were 38-19 winners over Berkshire.
The rink of Emma Muir, Abbi Johnson-Young, Ann-Marie Johnson-Young and Rebecca Wigfield claimed a 20-14 win, and the rink of Louise Haladij, Abby Woodward, Billie Swift and Katie Smith won 18-5.
That win set up a quarter-final against reigning champions Somerset, but the County girls were well beaten, going down 33-18.
The rink of Haladij, Woodward, Swift and Smith was beaten 19-8, while Muir, Johnson-Young, Waters and Wigfield went down 14-10.
Ladies easily beaten by Leicestershire
NORTHANTS Ladies took on Leicestershire at Birstall in Leicester in a Middle England League match, and were thrashed 152-90. The County had one winning rink, skipped by Di Brumwell, which posted an eight shots victory.
Rink scores, Leicestershire skips only, as follows:
Rink 1: Linda Warren, Heather Lack, Wilma Walker & Di Brumwell 24 – J Bontoft 16
Rink 2: Sian Hughes-Jones, Marion Mackie, Jill Welch & Barbara Haseldine 15 – K Kyle 29
Rink 3: Chris Cooper, Marlene Armitage, Karon Bierton & Alison Dring 8 – P Walker 23
Rink 4: Julie Spreadbury, Elaine Urquhart, Pat Mattinson & Audrey Height 15 – L Green 27
Rink 5: Trish Basford, Velda Cooper, Pat Starsmore & Margaret McGillivray 19 – S Sharpe 31
Rink 6: Margaret Cave, Rhona Holland, Pat Bodily & Hilary Sharpe 9 – C Dixon 26