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Shropshire had two finalists in the 2017 Champion of Champions, in a day that the county was done proud. Michael Beer beat 2015 champion and Castlefields team mate Callum Wraight in the final, running out from 11-10 down. Mike had continued his form from winning the Talbot Trophy but had to fightback in his 1st round game from 18-10 down against Darren Plenderleith to win 20. He then beat Liam Baxter 11 and Scott Simpson, the Sir John Bayley man who he beat in the final on Thursday, 19 to set up another match with Wayne Ditchfield on the Waterloo. This time though he got past him 16 to set up a final with his team mate. Callum had just been involved in one of the greatest games ever televised with Hanwood’s Greg Smith in the Semi Finals, coming out in an epic winning 20 in a game that had everything! He had a couple of close shaves before then with beating Peter Illidge first round 18, then Gerald Merry 6 and Jack Dyson 17. Our other qualifier, Martin Lloyd from Chester Road, lost first round to Ben Percival.
Mike Beer, in his interview with Globegig, was still in shock at his success. “What a week! I don’t know where to start, it was my mate’s idea just to come up for a day out, and I qualified in both, even though I’m not used to getting through a competition. Playing Wayne Ditchfield on Tuesday gave me confidence, I was gutted but showed I could compete with the very best on a green he knows very well and it inspired me! I’m still in shock, it’s just a day out for me. It was outrageous for me to win the Talbot, I’m not used to playing so much bowls!” Commenting on his day today, “being older I can’t handle my drink so well, and I woke up this morning with a bad head and thought how I was going to do myself justice! I was 18-10 down against a fantastic player in Darren but somehow got back to win. I played Wayne again in the Semis and got the rubs this time. I was able to watch the end of the Callum and Greg game for 15-20 minutes which helped me but you never write Callum off. It was a massive honour to play him as he’s a massive talent, and to be able to beat him was an even greater honour! He’s a great mate but I had to concentrate on my game and not him. I’m over the moon, I still can’t believe it!” On being asked if he would play more competitions now, “I just don’t have the time to play to many, I have an amazing wife and daughter at home! I’m not going to do a Callum, it’s incredible how many competitions he plays in. I’m not going to get carried away, I’m going to log this in the bank and keep it prized. It’s a dream!” His only regret was “my daughter not being able to be here to see this, but hopefully she was watching online. But I would like to thank my amazing wife, she is my rock.”
Callum, reflecting on his week, admitted he was “a little disappointed despite winning the Brighouse Classic and the Charlie Tattersall Memorial. I’ve played a lot of bowls with many ups and down. Many people would be happy with the week but not with my high standards.” On his Semi Final with Greg, “that was the best game of bowls I’ve ever been involved in and probably won’t be bettered. The tanked up Warwick and Worcester supporters added to the atmosphere which did get a bit stupid at times but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a few supporters up here but they were drowned out by those supporting Greg. It’s a great rivalry I have with him, I’ve got the better of him so far but will probably get his own back.” On his mates success, “I’m made up for Michael, what a talent he is! If he played in competitions he would be top 10. He dialled it from 11-10 down, he was phenomenal. It was a difficult game playing him being such a great mate. I need a week off work now to recover!” There was some comfort for Callum though, as he won the Player of the Year for the Champion of Champions rankings. “I’m really pleased for winning that and being the highest ranked player of the year.”
The SCGBA would like to congratulate both players on their success and making history as the first two Shropshire players to ever make the final.
Full scores are here.