Yorkshire's 'Wolf' pack outfox Merseyside
Overthorpe Sports and Heavy Woollen District stalwart, Alex Wolfenden, starred on his debut for Yorkshire in a convincing win against Merseyside.
It’s great to see county bowls back, even in its slightly altered pandemic format, with this season’s competition a straight knock-out. Merseyside, runners-up in the last county championship in 2019, would be a stern first test for a Yorkshire squad keen to get back to the top table of the game. The format is 12-a-side, both home and away, the white rose 24 peppered with players from our district.
It was a steady start against a strong Merseyside first four at Yorkshire’s home venue, Whitkirk. Denby Grange’s Scott Fisher was always in control of his game, finishing 21-13 to the good. Kirkheaton’s Dave ‘Wasp’ Fox and captain Tom Hanson battled to 21-15 and 21-16 wins respectively, but the performance that really stood out was a losing card from Hanson’s Pudsey team-mate and younger brother, James. Up against an in-form double British champ, Matt Gilmore, James did everything possible to stay on the green, clawing back from 14-6 behind to reach 19.
In the away leg on an artificial surface at Mossley Hill Yorkshire’s own double British champ, Lower Hopton’s Graeme Wilson, started proceedings with 21-20. Josh Mordue and Craig Gant kept things tight, with creditable 16 and 17 cards, but Crosland Moor’s Wayne Moseley stunned Merseyside with a game-changing 21-5 victory. Yorkshire led by 25 after the first four at both venues.
It was a lead Yorkshire wouldn’t relinquish. Back at Whitkirk Josh Brown battled to 21-18 in a tight game. Self-isolation has interrupted sports fixtures this summer and bowls is no different. Lower Hopton’s Gary Wike missed this fixture (get well soon, Gary), his replacement Jonny Wood thriving in the atmosphere of his first county game, overturning 12-18 into an impressive 21-18 win across the difficult middle of the Whitkirk green. Wood’s Crossgates teammate, Kez Smith, eased to 21-11, but the raucous Yorkshire crowd raised its game for another debutant, Alex Wolfenden. Mainly playing his bowls at Pudsey Littlemoor, ‘Wolf’ is well-known in these parts and still plays for Overthorpe. 21-3 is an incredible winning scoreline on a debut. The Yorkshire crowd howled in appreciation.
Back in Liverpool it was honours even in the middle four, Lower Hopton’s Stuart King winning 21-14, Crosland Moor’s Gary Siswick pitching in with a 21-11 victory. James Davison (11-21) and Kevin Burns (8-21) found things tougher, but this is a team game and Yorkshire led home and away, by 53 chalks in total, after the first eight.
Onto the back four. At Whitkirk wins from Mark Regan (21-16), Mark Hughes (21-12) and Steve Gilroy (21-18), followed by a battling 19-21 from back man, Lower Hopton’s Ash Tattersley, aided a 66 point Yorkshire home advantage. Away at Mossley Hill Lower Hopton’s Ian Booth managed a creditable 18-21. Chris Mordue (11-21) and Ashley Daykin (8-21) found the going tough on the artificial pitch, but Jack ‘Hoover’ Dyson is in his element on carpets, cleaning up with a 21-18. Whilst Yorkshire lost by 21 chalks away, a 45 point victory overall is a great start to the county championship campaign for the white rose.