Ashley Daykin captured the British Crown Green Senior Merit title amid emotional scenes at Cleckheaton Sports Club to become All-England champion.
The 50-year-old from Netherton Cons is one of the most popular and talented bowlers on the circuit – not to mention a highly-respected Yorkshire player over many years – but after his 21-20 victory over Warwick & Worcester’s Ant Bracken in the showpiece he beamed: “It doesn’t get any better than this – it’s the highlight of my career.”
Holmfirth-based Daykin celebrated his success with his parents, John and Sue, and his wife Lisa, who were greenside among an army of supporters.
His victory qualifies him for the Champion of Champions at Blackpool’s famous Waterloo Hotel and it ended a great week for Daykin, who won the Nursery at Stockport, as well as the Strawberry Gardens Competition at the Fleetwood Festival, topped with the pinnacle of all titles.
Daykin, who runs his own joinery business, had a close call in the very first round, beating Shropshire’s Spencer Clarke 21-20, and he then toppled Robert Eaton from Cheshire 21-16 to move off the back green and onto his more favoured surface at the M62 venue.
Another Warwick & Worc-ester bowler, Chris Lambert, was defeated 21-10 in the third round before his friend from South Yorkshire, Jack Clarke, was overcome 21-18.
Daykin expected to be facing Cheshire’s Glynn Cookson in the last four but he lost to Nigel Iliff of Derbyshire. By then Daykin was in top form and Iliff couldn’t cope with the Netherton player’s accuracy, going down 21-4, to set up a final against Bracken.
The final didn’t disappoint and, right from the first end, both players were on top of their game, with vocal support for both players.
It looked like Daykin was going to run away with the match, as he raced into a 15-5 lead. A bad lead let Bracken back in and he upped his game to edge in front 20-19. But then a bad lead from Bracken allowed Daykin a double to take the game 21-20 and beat possibly the strongest field ever assembled for a BCGBA Senior Merit Final.
SCORES – Third round: Jack Clarke (South Yorkshire) 21, Liam Griffin (Yorkshire) 11; Chris Lambert (Warwick & Worcester) 10, Ashley Daykin (Yorkshire) 21; Darren Plenderleith (North Midlands) 6, Nigel Iliff (Derbyshire) 21; Paul Busby (Staffordshire) 13, Glynn Cookson (Cheshire) 21; Simon Coupe (North Lancs & Fylde) 18, Ross Dunkley (Warwick & Worcester) 21; Adam Douglas (Yorkshire) 11, Steve Morrey (Cheshire) 21; Gary Ellis (Greater Manchester) 21, Liam Howard (Cumbria) 9; Stephen Glover (Merseyside) 19, Ant Bracken (Warwick & Worcester) 21. Quarter-finals: Clarke 18, Daykin 21; Iliff 21, Glynn Cookson 20; Dunkley 18, Steve Morrey 21; Ellis 14, Bracken 21. Semi-finals: Daykin 21, Iliff 4; Morrey 14, Bracken 21. Final: Daykin 21, Bracken 20.
The finals day of the Four-a-Side KO, sponsored by Kolorco Printers, takes place on Sunday, with eight teams in action.
Scores from second round – At Drighlington: Harold Park 97, Shipley Club B 113; Wyke B 118, Asa Briggs C 104. At Greengates: Asa Briggs A 114, Drighlington 110; Wyke A 124, Hightown 82. At Asa Briggs: Salts 101, Birkenshaw 119; Wibsey A 118, Tyersal 103. At Wibsey: Brackenhill A 102, Asa Briggs B 109; Birkenshaw B 124, Brackenhill B 92.
Draw for finals day (Quarter-finals at 10.30am) At Birkenshaw: Shipley Club B v Wyke B; Asa Briggs A v Wyke A. At West Royd: Birkenshaw A v Wibsey A; Asa Briggs B v Birkenshaw B;. Semi-finals at Pudsey at approximately 1.00pm. Winner of QF1 v Winner of QF2; Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF4. Final at Pudsey at approximately 3.00pm.
Wilcox beat Wayne Ditchfield (Eccleston) 21-20 in an epic game and Scott defeated Stephen Gilroy (Leeds) 21-18.
The action continues on Friday when previous winner Simon Coupe (Preston) has a tough opener against Harry Seehra (Lower Hopton).
Lower Hopton bowlers, Chris Brown and Ian Booth were week one qualifiers of the A D Sports Supplies Ltd-sponsored Pudsey Classic.
Brown defeated Alan Broadbent (Rastrick) 21-18 and Darren Plenderleith (Tamworth) 21-20 and Aaron Tapper (Cheslyn Hay BC) 21-13, to make it through to finals night, while Booth made it through with wins over Danny Sillitoe (Dearne Sports) 21-14, Mark Bramall (Netherton Cons) 21-7 and Lee Kington (Kings Heath Park) 21-7.
Qualifying continues on Saturday, with Andy Southwell (Asa Briggs) and Andrew and James Davison (Eccleshill) in action.
Shipley Club are now also taking entries for their Indoor Bowls League, which runs from October through to March. Telephone John Preston on 07460-851570 to enter a team.
Yorkshire Ladies earned a place in next month's Inter-County Championship semi-finals after beating Dudley & District by 39 points in their final first-round match.
The home team, bowling on the fast-running Lockwood Cons green, won by 57 points, with the away team losing by just 18 at Dudley Dell.
Karen Whitefoot (Marsh United) and Linda Gledhill (New Mill) set the home team off to a great start by winning 21-8 and 21-6 respectively.
The away team saw Laura Middleton (New Mill) turn a 19-8 deficit into a 21-19 victory, helping the first four bowlers to a good start which was followed by strong performances from Alexis Lunn-Gadd (Cowcliffe Libs) 21-13 and Lisa Rice (Harold Club) 21-11.
Home: Karen Whitefoot (Marsh United) 21, Mandy Pagett 8; Linda Gledhill (New Mill) 21, Sarah Jones 6; Julie Mallinson (Lockwood Cons) 9, Susan Pugh 21; Marie Lockwood (New Mill) 21, Linda Smith 11; Julie Best (Marsh Utd,) 21, Pat Dobson 10; Chloe Ghaffer (Meltham) 10, Kaye Coulthard 21; Lynn Carter (Cowcliffe Libs) 21, Mandy Basterfield 11; Sally Turner (Mirfield C&B) 21, Lynn Morgan 17; Karen Gant (Meltham) 21, Kath Rubery 10; Carron McGrath (Linthwaite Hall) 21, Natalie Bubb 13; Jacqui Roper (Meltham) 20, Gemma Davies 21; Katy Atkinson (Marsh Utd) 20, Pat Gilbert 21.
Away: Helen Gilroy (Rufford Park) 19, Jo Webster 21; Dawn Bray (Ossett Flying Horse) 21, Julie Bullock 20; Laura Middleton (New Mill) 21, Karen Williamson 19; Alicia Ormsby (Meltham) 17, Brenda Fletcher 21; Alexis Lunn-Gadd (Cowcliffe Libs) 21, Karen Green 13; Joanne Ellis (Skipton Craven) 21, Sarah Pearson 17; Maureen Chambers Glasshoughton) 20, Tracey Wilkins 21; Sharon Gadd (West Park) 11, Maggie Hulme 21; Katie Turner (Cranmoor) 11, Jenny Mason 21; Lisa Rice (Harold Club) 21, Leanne Attwood 11; Karen Hill (Ossett Flying Horse) 12, Katy Lang 21; Andrea Buckley (New Mill) 14, Ruth Brookes 21.