Friday night at Rothbury Mart .............

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.................was a time for superlatives. Even the veterans of the Post-War wrestling boom and the hey day of the Academy League agreed that this was the best night of indoor wrestling they had ever witnessed. A crowd of 400 filled every tiered seat in the Mart Hall. The wrestlers had travelled from Lancashire, West Cumbria, Glasgow, Dundee and Brittany. Twenty-five of them, all genuine contenders, entered for the 13½st Centenary Challenge with its £500 first prize. Skill, tension and decibels were in abundance.

Many thought that the Breton, Mathieu Le Dour, was the favourite to lift the head prize, but he met the only man he feared, David Atkinson in the second round and lost after a high octane display of attack and counter attack. That effort drained Atkinson so that he went out in the next round after a lot of stopping and starting with a hyped-up Richard Fox who looked unstoppable for a time, but went down to the clinical expertise and fitness of Andrew Carlile in the semi-final.

That left Carlile to face David Barnes of Dearham in the final. Barnes is only an occasional wrestler, but has a solid background of coaching from Tom Harrington and Alan Jones at Carlisle Wrestling Club before he moved down West. Indeed, one of Barnes' biggest challenges, after felling Andrew Fox and Graham Brocklebank, came from his former coach, Alan Jones, in the third round. And the hank which left Jones lying horizontal and felled whilst still two feet above the mat was for me the best fall of the night. Afterwards he confided that this was the first time he had felled Jones.

In the semi-final he proved better than most at dealing with a hanking Breton, on this occasion Gwendal Evenou, and that set up for the biggest bout of his life.

As the two wrestlers entered the ring Barnes obviously had a significant weight and height advantage, but Carlile is the on-form wrestler this year and full of match fitness so the contest seemed finely balanced. For the first fall Barnes used the height asset and hiped Carlile. Then he finished the matter in the second fall with a most unlikely chip for such a big lad, the same hank that had cut through Alan Jones's defences earlier. Barnes is a cheerful character but his grin has never been wider than when he received his medal, tankard and little brown envelope..it beats stacking shelves on the night-shift at Sainsburys.

Earlier in the evening the Under 12 Years Centenary Challenge provided a tasty first course for this feast of wrestling. The two most prolific winners in this age group, Ben Brocklebank and Jack Brown, met in the second round, with Brocklebank winning with his strong grip and twists. All that remained then was for Brocklebank to prevail against two local wrestlers, Robert Cuthbert in the semi-final and Joe Ferguson in the final. They were tough opposition but much less experienced than the victorious Brocklebank

In another big entry Adam and Craig Ridley proved with their silky skills why the Ridley family has monopolised the Under 15 Years Championships. At Under 18 Years Graham Brocklebank, Ben's older brother, won from an entry of 24. In the 11½ stones Andrew Carlile accounted for several Bretons, and Rab Clark. Robert Leiper was in command throughout and the same can be said of Rab McNamara in the All Weights. His final with Darren Whitfield was no walk over but there were no moments of weakness to give Whitfield, or the enthusiastic crowd, any hope.

The sight of the ice-cream van being towed out of the Harbottle Show field as I arrived along flooded roads, set the tone for the other events of the week-end. Both Harbottle and Hesket Newmarket suffered badly because of the weather but went ahead nevertheless. Wolsingham and Loweswater Show had better weather, but not the best of entries after so much travelling and exertion by wrestlers in the past fortnight.

The Bretons made the best they could of Harbottle by buying team umbrellas, wrestling as well as they could in the conditions and after the night before, and won the Tug-o'-War, before setting off through the night for the Plymouth Ferry. A bientot.

Results:

Ennerdale

Under 12 Years: 1, J Brown; 2, D Fearon; 3, A Chapman.

Under 15 Years: 1, A Ridley; 2, C Ridley; 3, C O'Fee.

Under 18 Years: 1, J Graves; 2, G Flaux; 3, W Noimai.

Ladies Open 1, F Nouvel; 2, K Brown; 3, L Murray.

12½st: 1, M Salaun; 2, T Le Meur; 3, R Roberts.

All Weights: 1, C Clark 2, J-M Menezgou; 3, T Le Meur.

Rothbury

Under 12 Years Centenary Challenge: 1, B Brocklebank; 2, J Ferguson; 3, R Cuthbert.

Under 15 Years: 1, A Ridley; 2, C Ridley; 3, D Crane.

Under 18 Years: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, J Oliver; 3, A Ord.

11½st: 1, A Carlile; 2, T Le Meur; 3, R Clark.

13½st Centenary Challenge: 1, D Barnes; 2, A Carlile; 3, G Evenou.

15½st: 1, R Leiper; 2, G Evenou; 3, J Davidson.

All Weights: 1, R McNamara; 2, D Whitfield; 3, R Younger.

Hesket Newmarket

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

Under 15 Years: 1, J Brown; 2, T Teile; 3, D Millar.

Under 18 Years: 1, S Foster; 2, W Noimai; 3, J Brown.

12½st: 1, A Fox; 2, S Foster; 3, C Grant.

Loweswater

Under 12 Years: 1, O Thompson; 2, B Graves; 3, A Hughes.

Under 15 Years: 1, W Nixon; 2, C O'Fee; 3, P Murray.

Under 18 Years: 1, Joe Harrington; 2, J Ewart; 3, N Townsend.

12½st: 1, Joe Harrington; 2, M Hayton; 3, D Millar.

All Weights: 1, C Clark; 2, Joe Harrington; 3, A Pace.

Ladies Open: 1, L Murray; 2, T Clark; 3, L Askew

Wolsingham

Under 12 Years: 1, J Brown; 2, S Campbell.

Under 15 Years: 1, A Ridley; 2, J Hale; 3, C Ridley.

Under 18 Years: 1, A Ridley; 2, J Hodgson; 3, J Hale.

11st: 1, K Ridley; 2, J Hodgson; 3, A Ridley.

12st: 1, K Ridley; 2, J Hale; 3, J Hodgson.

14st: 1, A Jones; 2, A Ridley; 3, C Ridley;

All Weights: 1, R Leiper; 2, K Younger; 3, J Davidson.

Ladies Open: 1, T Hodgson; 2, K Brown; 3, H Kennedy.

Dates:

Sept 10 (Sun) 12noon Stanhope U12/U15/U18/11½/13/AW

Sept 14 (Thu) 2pm Westmorland Girls U14/ Ladies/ U12/U15/ U18Centenary Challenge(£500) /11½CC(£1000) /12/13/13/ 14st Ch'ship/AW

Sept 16 (Sat) Egremont 13st Ch'ship

Sept 17 (Sun) 2pmBorrowdale 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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