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..........said my wife as I sat down to write this, for the Cumberland Show with the two Centenary Challenges and other excitements in Rickerby Park and a boys' championship at Great Eccleston Show had provided a bumper week for Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling.

The big prize-money for the Centenary Challenges certainly brought out the wrestlers in droves at the Cumberland Show and kept a big crowd happily entertained for three hours in the evening sun.

Biggest and best was Rab McNamara of East Kilbride, Heavyweight Champion for the last nine years who won the £500 first prize for the All Weights Centenary Challenge. He has always been a formidable figure, and it would seem that other wrestlers may have to rely on his age and injuries to be able to stand a chance. One look at him as he stood up to walk into the ring for his first bout annihilated any such hopes for he was heavier than ever at 24 stones and was as fit as a butcher's dog.

Local livestock auctioneer, John Wharton, is big and strong, but he looked like a boy as Mighty Mac hoited him and flicked him sideways on his chest. Even when McNamara met another massive opponent, Russell Housby, in the semi-final, he still eased him into the air before twisting to win.

The final, was a complete mismatch for weight as Richard Fox had stolen up the other side of the draw and then got a bye into the final. Fox was taking someone on who was literally twice his weight. Fox to his credit made a fight of it, hiding from the power and trying to keep McNamra moving, but such was the weight discrepancy that Big Mac was easily able to cope and hiped Fox to win.

Robert McNamara once applied to be a Prison Warder in Barlinnie Gaol in Glasgow, and was turned down for being overweight! On this week's showing he could have blocked any prison corridor on his own.

The winner of the Boys Under 15 Years Centenary Challenge was Fin Healy of Tynemouth who has flourished this season by his keenness and competitive will, for he has had no access to specialised training. In the third round he felled the skilful Adam Ridley with hipes and a well chosen left leg back-heel. And after a bye into the final he met there a wrestler scarcely known to him, Stuart Mason of Milnthorpe Academy. Healy had the edge all the way with Mason coming close in the second fall with a leg up buttock which was adjudged a dog fall. The matter of who won the £250 first prize was finally settled when Healy brought Mason to ground with a typical backover twist.

Two notable Carlisle wrestlers made their return to the ring after injury: David Atkinson announced he was back after breaking his leg a year ago at Ambleside with his trademark hipe off the right hip. He wrestled well until the final when Kendal Academy's Chief Coach John Wilson gave him a lesson in buttocking.

Mark Lowry came bustling and bouncing into the ring as if he had never been away and made the crowd gasp at the sudden violence of his buttocking. His campaign ended when Thomas Brocklebank coped with the speedy attacks.

Richard Fox was awarded the Guinness Trophy for the best performance for the second year in a row,by that fine former lightweight champion, Jimmy Atkinson. Fox, by his own high standards, had done less well in the lighter weights, but his campaign to reach the final of the All Weights impressed the judge.

John Harrington won the 12 stones despite carrying an injury. West Cumbria provided a worthy winner in a strong Under 18 Years class: James Benn of Millom, also broke his leg last year, but was able to swing and twist Graham Brocklebank for his first win of the season. The youngest boys' class was won by a young giant, James Raine of West Woodburn in Northumberland.

Great Eccleston Show hosted the Boys Championship at Under 15 Years and 8st. Last year Adam Ridley of Slaggyford won it at Allendale. This year it goes back to the same house when younger brother Craig Ridley felled Jack Brown in the final. When Craig Ridley first turned up to train at Carlisle Wrestling Club he showed all the fast reactions and instincts that you look for in a good wrestler. Now with two years' training under his belt he is now fulfilling his potential.

The Brocklebank family from Warton in Lancashire did particularly well with each of the three brothers, Ben, Graham and Thomas taking first prizes, but it was Craig Ridley who was awarded the Bill Threlfall Memorial Trophy for the best performance.

Tomorrow sees the Ladies Open Centenary Challenge at Penrith Show with prize-money of £500. The organisers are also signalling their support for the traditional wrestling strip by giving a good prize for the costume competition.


Cumberland Show

Under 12 Years: 1, J Raine; 2, J Brown; 3, B Wilde.

Under 15 Years Centenary Challenge: 1, F Healy; 2, S Mason; 3, C Ridley.

Under 18 Years: 1, J Benn; 2, G Brocklebank; 3, C Lowry.

12st: 1, John Harrington; 2, A Carlile; 3, R Dixon.

14st: 1, J Wilson; 2, D Atkinson; 3, John Harrington.

All Weights Centenary Challenge: 1, R McNamara; 2, R Fox; 3, R Housby.

Guinness Trophy: R Fox.

Great Eccleston Show:

Under 12 Years: 1, B Brocklebank; 2, W Hayhurst; 3, J Brown.

Under 15 Years/8st World Championship: 1, C Ridley; 2, J Brown; 3, C Inman.

Under 15 Years: 1, S Mason; 2, D Easom; C Ridley.

Under 18 Years: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, S Mason; 3, C Ridley.

13st: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, C Ridley; 3, C Threlfall.

All Weights: 1, T Brocklebank; 2, G Brocklebank; 3, R Threlfall.


July 22 (Sat) 1pmPenrith U12/U15/U18/10½Chship/13/AW/Ladies Open Centenary Challenge

July 23 (Sun) 3pm Coniston U12/U15/U18/11½/13/AW

July 27 (Thu) 1pm Ambleside U12/U15/U18/11½/12½/14/AW

July 28 (Fri) 2.30pm Langholm Common Riding U12/U16/12½/15Chship/AW

July 29 (Sat) 1pmCockermouth U12/U15/U18/11½/13½/AW

July 30 (Sun) 12 noonFlookburgh U12/U15/U18/11½/13/AW

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)


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