After the big prize, major excitements..........

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...............of Grasmere and the Rothbury Centenary Challenges, wrestling reverted to its basic fare this week with smaller events at Grayrigg and Stanhope Shows. Nevertheless, youth, good wrestling and responsive crowds were the common themes. And, of course the ambience of each event provided its own pleasure.

Alf Harrington travelled from Kirkbampton, on the edge of the Solway, to Stanhope, deep in Weardale, to organise the wrestling there. His expectations were not high as few wrestlers had indicated that they would be competing, but when he arrived he was delighted to find two car-loads of wrestlers from Rothbury, two lots of Carlisle Wrestling Club regulars and the usual bus-load of Hodgsons from Dentdale. The wrestling ring was in a corner of the main ring which attracted a good crowd. As an interlude half way through the wrestling the Shetland Pony Grand National thundered round nearby, and at the conclusion of the wrestling he witnessed the biggest gathering of heavy horses he had ever seen.

The wrestling was excellent, but lacking many senior wrestlers, so it was open to the youngsters to carry the day. Jack Brown shone as he often does in the Under 12 Years. Fin Healy, who has missed a few events recently, returned three inches taller, stronger and sharper so that Adam Ridley, clever though he is, had no answer in the Under 15 Years final. James Oliver of Rothbury dominated the Under 18s with his back-heels and twists. Ross Wilkinson, also of Rothbury, the winner of the 11½ stones, had the best fall of the day when he hit his opponent's top trouser pocket with a cross-buttock which whirled him over to the ground in spectacular style. Tracy Hodgson won the girls' wrestling, but only after a mammoth struggle with Donna Thompson who is closing the gap each time they meet. Joe Brown was too strong for the younger generation in the 13 stones. And the winner of the All Weights, Rothbury coach Darren Whitfield, could have beaten all his opponents at will, but chose to give them a try out first so that he was coaching while winning.

Grayrigg also relied on youth as there was no wrestler over the age of eighteen. This allowed Graham Brocklebank to accumulate numerous wins for he was the dominant wrestler. Time and again he grabbed, hiped and somersaulted his way to first place. He lost only one fall when Graham Benson took him for a ride on a swinging inside-hipe, but he reasserted himself immediately.

The biggest gathering of wrestlers during the week took place at Wyndham School, Egremont, when 28 fit lads turned up for a wrestling session on the mats in the week leading up to Egremont Crab Fair. The PE teacher, Alex Price, had firstly watched and then taken part in wrestling at some of the West Cumbrian events. Enthused by the experience, he canvassed opinion amongst the boys at school and received such an enthusiastic response that he arranged for me to take a training session backed up by the Centenary Challenge winner David Barnes, who lives at Dearham. There is now a real possibility of further regular sessions with David Barnes passing on his skills now that he is the latest wrestler to qualify for the CWWA Basic Coaching Certificate.


Grayrigg Show

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

Under 15 Years: 1, S Brocklebank; 2, W Hayhurst; 3, J Hodgson.

Under 18 Years: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, G Benson; 3, D Bland.

Girls: 1, H Hodgson; 2, C Hodgson.

11½st: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, T Bland; 3, G Benson.

13st: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, T Bland; 3, G Benson.

15st: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, G Benson; 3, J Hodgson.

All Weights: 1, G Brocklebank; 2, G Benson; 3, J Hodgson.

Stanhope Show

Under 12 Years: 1, J Brown; 2, C Iley; 3, C Whitfield.

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

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

11½st: 1, R Wilkinson; 2, J Hale; 3, F Healy.

13st: 1, Joe Brown; 2, W Noimai; 3, F Healy.

All Weights: 1, D Whitfield; 2, J Oliver; 3, F Healy.

Girls: 1, T Hodgson; 2, D Thompson; 3,C Hodgson.


16 (Sat) 2pm Egremont U12/U15/U18/11½/13st Ch'ship/AW

17 (Sun) 2pm Borrowdale U12/U15/U18/11½/13/AW
Borrowdale Lakeland Country Fair on Sunday strongly supports the traditional wrestling strip. They have given good prize-money for the Costume Competition and urge all regular wrestlers to turn out in the traditional strip.

23 (Sat) 12 noon Langholm Show U18yrs Ch'ship

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


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