The South Yorkshire County senior merit finals day was increased to a 32-man event for the first time in 15 years thanks to the continued sponsorship of Don and Beryl Cooke.
The reward was a beautiful sunny day at the excellent setting of Swinton LNER, and a sprinkling of close encounters kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with no fewer than six 21-20s during the day.
The random draw after the regional qualifying rounds had pitched the previous two winners and regular competition winners Chris Hill and Chris Brown against each other in the first round along with a few other fancied contenders including the prolific John Sneddon in the same section, and many expected the eventual winner to emerge from this quarter.
But things panned out differently with two of Sheffield’s best bowlers over the last 25 years, Andy Turner and Jack Clarke, proving the most consistent both reaching the final of this event for, surprisingly, the first time.
For only11 bowlers have more South Yorkshire county appearances than Andy with 42, including Jack who sits atop the list with 71.
The final is rarely a well contested game with the last close finish back in 1999 and so it transpired with the Bradfield man beating his long standing rival from Meersbrook Bowling Club 21-8 to gain the first prize of £300 plus the invitation to the Champion of Champions in Blackpool in September.
Jack received the consolation of a cheque for £160 and a coveted place in the BCGBA senior merit finals at Cleckheaton Sports on July 26.
Full scores: Brian Holdsworth (Dodworth MW) 15 Matthew Whitaker (Meersbrook Park) 21, Andrew Whitaker (Meersbrook BC) 21 Steve Shannon (Unison) 16, John Richardson (Armthorpe Welfare) 11 Jack Clarke (Meersbrook BC) 21, Joe Westell (Meersbrook Park) 20 Mark Brammall (Millhouse Sports) 21, Kevin Nixon (Dearne Sports) 21 Glyn Davies (Crookesmoor Rec) 19, Michael Hague (Meersbrook Park) 16 Jonathan Sneddon (Maltby) 21, Shaun Goldthorpe (Barnsley BC) 10 Michael Crawshaw (Bradfield), Chris Hill (Bradfield) 10 Chris Brown (Swallownest) 21, Michael Lisles (Dodworth MW) 21 Richard Jackson (Millhouses Park) 11, Paul Bailey (Meersbrook Park) 21 Paul Stancil (Maltby) 14, Geoff Ball (Wickersley Village) 14 Andrew Turner (Bradfield) 21, Calum Mailer (Hillsborough Park) 21 Michael Boyd (Woodlands Park) 14, Craig Hill (Dearne Sports) 21 Aaron Williams (Hillsborough Park) 5, Glen Smedley (Whiteley Woods) 9 Robert Wiltshire (Penistone) 21, Adam Jones (Woodlands Park) 21 Matthew Goulding (Meersbrook Park) 20, Steve Marshall (Millhouses Park) 21 Steve Oliver (High Hazels Park) 20.
Last 16: M Whitaker 20 A Whitaker 21, J Clarke 21 M Bramall 15, K Nixon 21 J Sneddon 14, M Crawshaw 11 C Brown 21, M Lisles 21 P Bailey 16, A Turner 21 C Mailer 11, C Hill 20 R Wiltshire 21, A Jones 13 S Marshall 21. Quarter-finals: Whitaker 8 Clarke 21, Nixon 16 Brown 21, Lisles 14 Turner 21, Wiltshire 21 Marshall 20. Semi-finals: Clarke 21 Brown 8, Turner 21 Wiltshire 19.