The contrasts could hardly be greater:

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after a week of intense international wrestling, culminating in a Centenary Dinner which brought together 250 wrestling aficionados, old and young, it was back to the homely fare of Buttermere Show on a sodden hillside on the Saturday.

The European Espoirs Championships at Lime House School, Dalston were a major achievement for the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association bringing together four closely balanced teams from Austria, England. Brittany and Spain. Scotland was there, too, but with only a single representative they were scarcely going to figure in the Team Championship. The bouts were so close throughout the competition that any team could have come out on top.

The Cumbrian's chances of winning, however, took a severe drop when Richard Younger sustained a sprained ankle on the first day when he was within 20 seconds of reaching the final of the Heavyweight Gouren section. That injury meant that on the second day, instead of winning maximum points in his own style of wrestling, he did not score at all.

All the Cumbrians wrestled their hearts out. The two youngest wrestlers Tom Mason of Milnthorpe and Josh Desborough of Carlisle found the opposition too strong for them, so had to be content with some good falls in the backhold wrestling to inspire them for the next championships in two years time. Mason was completely exhausted by the end of the first day, battered and bruised, but he still managed to win good falls with his subtle wrestling on the second day. Richard Dixon, though injured and away from the wrestling ring for many weeks before the event, showed enough of his ability to indicate what a force he would have been if fully fit.

Joe Harrington in the 90kg class had a long day of backhold wrestling. Three wrestlers took an age to sort themselves out: Harrington could fell the Leonese wrestler, who in turn could fell the Austrian wrestler, who in turn could fell Harrington. This pattern went on and on, firstly best-of-five, then an extra round of best-of-three and finally several rounds of sudden death. At last the pattern changed when both Harrington and the Leonese wrestler felled the Austrian, so that a result was at last possible. Unfortunately, despite the cheering and his previous success against the Spaniard Harrington lost the bout and ended up in second place.

Richard Fox had given an excellent account of himself in the Gouren style on the first day and went one better on the second when he won the European title in the backhold style in a closely balanced final against the Breton Sylvain Corvez. He won his share of falls with his favourite chip, the buttock, but the surprise element is always there with the foreign wrestlers, so very often it came down to quick fire response to whatever is happening.

Best performance of all came from John Harrington who performed so well in the 74kg class of the Backhold wrestling that he was unanimously voted the best wrestler in that style by the four other teams. The second day of wrestling when he changed over to Gouren began well too with some skilful and dominant wrestling. All went well until the final when he was well beaten over the five minute round.

After all the points were counted two teams, the Austrians and the Bretons were equal. A further count back meant that the Austrians flew back home with the heavy wooden shield which is the team trophy for the event. The Leonese were third and we were a close fourth.

Meanwhile at Buttermere, as the rain added more mud to the morass masquerading as a showfield, only the Herdwicks and their shepherds turned up in force; presumably on the basis that it seemed a fairly normal day to them. The hound trails were cancelled and the fell runners spent most of the race in dense cloud. Certainly the wrestling was affected badly with few wrestling and few watching. However it was good to see Dan Robson struggling manfully against a bigger lad in the final of the Under 12 Years so that he was awarded the cup for the best performance. Tom Barnes, a product of the wrestling course at Grasmere School earlier this year showed that he had been paying attention to Messrs Jones and Carlile when he won the Under 15 Years. Luke Benn, mature beyond his years, was an easy winner of the Under 18s. Alex Price, a PE teacher at Wyndham School, won his first Senior event, and it was good to see Robert Lowery of Millom returning to the ring to win the All Weights.

The closest fought bout of the day, however, was between Emily and Jenny (no surnames given), with dispensation to wrestle in their wellies, one in pink and the other in red. A good muddy day was had by all.

Results:

Buttermere Show

Under 12 Years 1, J Bland; 2, D Robson; 3, H Barnes.

Under 15 Years 1, T Barnes; 2, J Oaks; 3, J Bland.

Under 18 Years 1, L Benn; 2, J Oaks; 3, T Barnes.

12½st 1, A Price; 2, T Barnes.

All weights 1, R Lowery; 2, L Benn; 3, A Price.

Girls 1, Emily; 2, Jenny.

Best Performance Dan Robson

Date:

Sat 8th Nov 7.45pm Carlisle Wrestling Club First Points Night in the Currock House Gym

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

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