W Harrison of Silloth, the dominant boy wrestler in the late fifties.....

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........and 14st Champion in 1965, has died at the age of 63 after a prolonged illness. Bill was one of those lads who was fully grown at 14 years of age and was unbeatable amongst the boys and a difficult opponent for the men at an early age.

This level of achievement was all the more remarkable when you consider that the great champions Tom Harrington and Bob Millican were his contemporaries and sparring partners at Wigton Academy. They certainly put in the hours of training needed for success. Tom Harrington remembers a man with a wooden leg coming to spectate at a training session. At the end of the night he told Tom and Bill that he had watched them all night and that Bill had won 37 falls to Tom's 35.

He first won the Under 18 Years Championship in 1959 when he felled Billy Bland in the final at Brampton Show. The following year he repeated the feat at Bardon Mill when he beat Ivor Armstrong of Roweltown in the final. In 1965 he had no distance to travel to win the 14st Championship Belt at Kirkbride against Brian Armstrong of Roweltown, but he obviously took a long time to go home for he was in serious trouble with his dad when failed to do up at the farm that night.

I knew him as a strong skilful wrestler, always immaculately stripped out, a good winner and a sporting loser.

He is survived by his wife, son and three daughters, and eight grandchildren.

Statistics

When I compiled the statistics for the 2006 Grass Season I was astonished to find that Craig Ridley of Slaggyford had only a single win to his name, for I had seen him wrestle with such skill at many events. Perhaps the reason for this situation lies in the fact that his only win was in the Under 18 Years/8st Championship: he is a slight figure who is all the time competing against heavier and stronger lads. Many lighter boy wrestlers have to endure barren years when their age is against them. Richard Dixon, all conquering in the Under 12 Years, had some lean years thereafter but stuck with it until he is now able to compete against anyone as an adult.

When it comes to indoor competition the situation changes as weight becomes the criterion rather than age, and Craig Ridley flourished on the mats at Currock House when Carlisle Wrestling Club held its first Points Night of the 2006-2007 Season. He was the unanimous choice of the judges for the best performance trophy as he won at 8½st, 10st and at Under 15 Years. Each win was the result of the skilful use of a range of chips: hipes and hanks and inside-clicks. No doubt the success was just that bit sweeter as he felled big brother Adam in two finals.

Jack Brown also won three times as he stood head and shoulders above the rest both in stature and skill. The winner of the Under 18s was a surprise packet, as Phil Housby has not followed the wrestling much during the summer, but at a tall 15st he is an imposing figure. His biggest test was in the semi-finals when the Centenary Challenge winner, Joe Harrington succumbed to a powerful back-heel.

Amongst the men, John Harrington had a clean sweep of three wins. He lost falls to Andrew Carlile and Richard Dixon at various times during the night, but was able to claw back the ascendancy in subsequent deciders.

Results:

Carlisle Wrestling Club First Points Night

6st 1, J Brown; 2, D Miller; 3, K Miller.

7st 1, J Brown; 2, K Miller; 3, D Miller.

8½st 1, C Ridley; 2, A Ridley; 3, P Murray; 4, K Brown.

10st 1, C Ridley; 2, M Atkinson; 3, J Brown; 4, W Noimai.

Under 12 Years 1, J Brown; 2, B Wilde; 3, K Miller.

Under 15 Years 1, C Ridley; 2, B Wilde; 3, M Atkinson; 4, D Miller.

Under 18 Years 1, P Housby; 2, A Ridley; 3, Joe Harrington; K Brown.

11½st 1, John Harrington; 2, R Dixon; 3, A Carlile; 4, A Davidson.

13st 1, John Harrington; 2, A Carlile; 3, R Dixon; 4, A Davidson.

All Weights 1, John Harrington; 2, A Carlile; 3, Joe Harrington; 4, R Dixon.

Dates:

Saturday 18th November
Weigh-in 11am to 12.30pm Under 21s Scottish Open Backhold Championships 2006, Barmulloch Community Centre, 46 Wallacewell Quadrant, Glasgow G21 3PX Three age categories for males and females 13 and Under with 6weights from 4½st to 10½st and Open; 17 and Under with 4 weights from 6½st to10½st and Open; and 21 and Under with 5 weights from 8½st to 12½st and Open.

Saturday 2nd December
(Weigh-in 7. 15 pm) Academy Shield at Currock House Carlisle

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

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