Eddie Haigh of Lockwood Con collected his third Veterans League Over-70's title yesterday when he beat a resilient Tim Poulter of Clayton West 21-19 in a riveting Final on the hottest day of the year.
Having also won this title in 2015 and 2017 Eddie became only the second bowler to claim the title three times following on from Jack Hewitt of Lindley Lib who collected the titles in 2001, 2002 and 2006.
The Lockwood Con green was the fastest green I have seen this year and proved a real test to all eight quarter-finalists as they struggled to keep the jack and their woods on the green. It was no easy ride for the winner at any stage during the final stages of the competition. Eddie was pushed all the way in his quarter-final match against Gordon Walker but sprinted away from 15-across to run out the winner. Then playing his teammate Peter Kain in the semi-finals to edge it 21-18 took all his experience of the green although it can never have been a more challenging green than it was yesterday.
In the other half of the draw Tim Poulter faced his Clayton West teammate Edwin Haigh who is also his pairs partner so they know each other's game very well. Tim mastered the conditions better to run out the 21-14 winner and then played surprise semi-finalist Mike Ralph of Springwood who was always up against a tough task of playing Eddie on his home green and was eventually overcome 16-21 but was far from disgraced.
That set up what was to be come an epic Final encounter between two Inter-District bowlers playing off scratch. In the first half of the game Eddie looked to be running away with it as he notched up a 15-6 lead but that only inspired Tim to fight back to 16-across.
The 27th end proved to be pivotal in the outcome as Tim lead a wood less than 3-inches from the block and on this green on this day was a great statement of intent. However, Eddie needed to do something dramatic having taken only one-chalk from the previous nine ends and he produced a great wood to knock Tim's lead out of contention. Tim's second wood was less than a foot away from the jack but Eddie squeezed in a second counting wood to trigger a second coming and a decisive moment in the outcome. However Tim wasn't finished yet and he took two-points from the next end to take it to 18-across. The finalists then traded single points over the next four ends, all very closely contested, including a tight measure on the final end for Eddie to claim the ultimate prize.
Douggie Mellor speaking on behalf of the host club congratulated both bowlers on a great final and Veterans League President, Alan Hirst, presented the prizes and Shield to the winner. In his acceptance speech Eddie told of the moment he thought that he had lost the match and he was clearly suffering physically from the concentrated effort of three tight matches on one very hot afternoon. A great final with magnificent contributions from both bowlers.
Eddie Haigh (scr) Lockwood Con 21-15 G Walker (3) Kirkheaton Con
M Gilbert (scr) Clayton West 9-21 P Kain (scr) Lockwood Con
J Sharp (1) Rastrick 10-21 M Ralph (5) Springwood
T Poulter (scr) Clayton West 21-14 Edwin Haigh (scr) Clayton West
Eddie Haigh 21-18 Peter Kain
Mike Ralph 16-21 Tim Poulter
TIM POULTER 19-21 EDDIE HAIGH
Click on any image to enlarge