We have had three winners of the most prestigious prizes in bowls. Tony Poole won it in 1976 and 1985, Brian Shore in 1987 and Callum Wraight most recently in 2015.
For a history of the competition please click here.
Wayne Rogers did the best of our two qualifiers as he reached the Quarter Finals of the Flowfit Champion of Champions. He had beaten Jason Jones 15 and Matt Horton 14 before losing to Matt Gilmore in the Quarters. Callum Wraight won 19 again against Lee Heaton, like he did on Tuesday, before coming up against an inspired Leighton Roberts, who plays in the Flowfit Shropshire Premier Bowling League for Ifton. Gary Ellis was the winner, beating Glynn Cookson 18 in the final.
Full scores are here.
Emulating the last Shropshire player to hold the title, Brian Shore in 1987, Callum Wraight certainly had to do it the hard way, facing and defeating four individual county Merit Champions on his way to meeting the current British No1, Gary Ellis in the final and eventually securing the accolade he and so many other players craved as being named the “Champion of Champions” for 2015.
Shropshire’s No.1 Callum celebrated his 29th birthday in some style whilst away in Blackpool as the Showman thrilled and excited the large crowd with his unique brand of exuberance, helping to deliver one of the most entertaining days bowling this competition has seen in the cauldron atmosphere of the infamous “home of Crown Green Bowls” that is The Waterloo Bowling Green.
As the players set off on their quest, they and spectators alike enjoyed the late September sunshine at the seaside resort venue. Shropshire hopes faded for the other three local competitors as Bowring’s Rob Roden found the going tough as he went down 11-21 against Craig Barker. Equally at odds was Newport’s Russell Pegram as he fell 6-21 to “All Britain” winner Tom Vickers and St Georges’ Glyn Picknell lost out in an “all but” 20-21 tussle with Simon Coupe.
Meanwhile, Callum Wraight was beginning to enjoy more favourable games and beginning to believe this could be his time after taking control of evenly matched games as he despatched Derbyshire Merit champ, Steve Barber 21-14 in the first round and then in the second, Yorkshire Merit holder & former British No1, Graeme Wilson, 21-15.
Now bursting with confidence, Callum’s quarter final opponent, Chris Mordue was put under immediate pressure as Callum raced 10-1 up which was a lead he was never going to give away to the British Parks Merit winner as the scores moved onto 15-5 and 18-8 before soon becoming a 21-10 result.
A semi-final encounter with Staffordshire Merit title holder and old friend, Craig Barker would prove to be Callum’s sternest test of the day as he had to endure early unlucky plays to trail 2-8 and 4-12 before mounting a strong rear guard attack to take the lead himself 13-12 and 17-14 and was able to hold on to finish the game and book his final ticket with a 21-17 card.
Perhaps something was written on the cards as over two years ago it was arranged for myself during my Presidential year of Shropshire to officiate this year’s final game of the day, and it was with great honour I greeted the two top draw players currently in the game and a personal privilege to share their stage with Gary Ellis & Callum Wraight.
The two-time(2004 & 2011) previous winner, Gary Ellis was forced to fight back from 0-5 using the corners to near tie the final 7-8(14 ends) before Callum Wraight took firm control on a 21 metre mark from the crown to the middle of the top edge of the green and despite enduring banter from a small group of individuals ill-educated in the laws of the game, maintained his focus on the prize throughout the contest as he pushed forward relentlessly to the brink of victory, 20-7 and soon completed and starred in his own dream come true as the 2015 Champion of Champions winning 21-10(27 ends). As we left the green, defeated fellow finalist Gary Ellis said to me “I had no answer to his form on the day, simply unplayable”
In his prize acceptance, Callum remarked he had now silenced critics that cite his ability should take him further in the event and perhaps the biggest of those critics was himself. Now he has finally defeated his “Waterloo Demons” and knows he can do it, I envisage we’ll be seeing “my current no1 player”, Callum Wraight’s name being etched again on the trophy. And with that also predict we’ll not be waiting another 28 years for a Shropshire Star success.
Congratulations Callum, a true Champion of Champions
President SCGBA 2015