In a jam-packed Sunday of bowls in Leeds, three of the less-fancied bowlers came out on top in both the Leeds & District Marsden Pairs and the South Leeds Classic.
In the Marsden Pairs, Neil Porter and Steve Longley triumphed whilst, over in Beeston, Pudsey’s Tom Hanson became the first Leeds-based bowler to take the Classic title since Dave Tinker of Cross Gates in 2004.
Porter and Longley enjoyed a fair old romp of a quarter-final against Chris and Mick Firth, storming out to an impressive 18-1 lead after just eight ends. When you consider that there are four bowls per pair and that they failed to score on one end – 18 across seven is the definition of one-way traffic.
It didn’t stay that way, with the Firths adding 10 shots to their score before the end, but when you are that far ahead with only three shots needed, the result was inevitable, 21-11.
Two other quarter-finals finished on a similar scoreline, with Phil Hill and Danny Towning beating Darran Baker and Brian Berry to 12, whilst John and Steve Packer beat Robert Walmsley and Gary Dennison to 10.
The final quarter proved to be the tightest of the bunch, with Mick Hall and Craig Oddy squeaking through by a single end as they beat Colin Scorah and Ian Vickers 21-19.
The pairings were tied at various intervals before the eventual winners would jump out to an unassailable lead – unassailable in the loosest sense, as they would eventually win even after they went behind. From 12-12 the pair of Hall and Oddy extended a gap to 18-13. Six unanswered shots from Scorah and Vickers saw the game delicately poised at 19-18, before a swing of three shots to Hall and Oddy sealed the tie.
Sometimes it feels as though we have to put obscure comments in to each column, just to prove they have been written afresh each week.
With the way the calendar falls each year, it often feels as though it is very much a case of simply changing the names, as the events and scenarios play out.
A familiar turn in Leeds merits is for the two semi-finals to produce polar opposite results – in terms of the distance between the competitors. The final is then flipped on its head, with the pair that narrowly avoided defeat in the previous round taking strength from that result and easing to victory in the final. Insert obscure comment here.
The first semi-final saw Phil Hill and Danny Towning hold a 14-4 lead over father and son duo John and Steve Packer. The family connection managed to close the gap, slightly, to just 14-9 before Hill and Towning dominated the closing stages to take the tie 21-10.
In the other half of the draw, Mick Hall and Craig Oddy were leading eventual champions Porter and Longley 13-5. This one was clearly shaping up to be the more challenging semi. Although Porter and Longley got back to level the game at 14-14, they then found themselves on their way out of the competition at 20-17 down. Four bowls, one shot – Hall and Oddy through to the final. But it wasn’t to be, as Porter and Longley played the game out for a 21-20 win.
Almost out, but with the vociferous support around the green, Porter and Longley then secured the Marsden Pairs title with a comprehensive 21-10 win in the final; from a position where they led 9-6 and bossed the game through to the end.
The committee would like to congratulate the winners, Burley Park for hosting the event, the green keeper for the preparation and to Doris Ruddock for her sponsorship.
Meanwhile, Tom Hanson saw off a class field that included the likes of Callum Wraight, Chris Mordue and Chris Brown to take the South Leeds Classic last Sunday.
The draw was thrown wide open as the top trio went out before the semi-final stage. Hanson then saw off the challenge of Dave Poole, Richard Howson and Richard Goddard to secure his place in the final before he beat Halifax’s Ian Booth 21-12 to take the title.
Not only is Hanson the first Leeds-based winner in eight years, he also scooped the top prize of £1,000 as well as gaining entry to the end-of-season Champion of Champions at the Waterloo – this spot coming out of the reserve list due to Gary Ellis doubling up. No doubt those in control of such things have already put an order in for a coach to take the crowds over from Pudsey to Blackpool for another grand day out.