We have had four winners of the most prestigious prizes in bowls. Tony Poole won it in 1976 and 1985, Brian Shore in 1987, Callum Wraight in 2015, and Mike Beer in 2017, beating Callum in the final.
For a history of the competition please click here.
Spencer Clarke and Callum Wraight both fell at the first hurdle of the BCGBA Champion of Champions. Callum lost 18 to Martin Gilpin while Spencer got 16 off Matt Gilmore.
Full results are here.
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.
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