Andrew Carlile, on his own........

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....... was the England team at the European Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling, held in a mountain village near Leon in Northern Spain. Nine countries were represented with the team championship going to Brittany who pipped the  Leonese team by two points (103 to 101), with the Canarians close behind.

Carlile had a hard first day of wrestling in the Gouren Style saying that he had never been so tired in a wrestling ring. He began well in the alien style by gaining a good fall against an Austrian by hanking off a back-heel. Having gained a Kostin he defended well for the rest of the encounter so that became a winning score. In his next bout of Gouren he felled his old rival, Rab Clark of Glasgow, by two Kostins.

The third bout pitted him against the Breton Champion, Tudy Le Meur, who gave such a good account of himself when he wrestled at Grasmere and other venues here last year. Le Meur won by two Kostins to one, but at one point Le Meur thought he might have been Lammed by Carlile which would have been a knockout blow.

These results in the pool, sent him through to the semi-final cross-ties, where he had a good bout against a Canarian but went down to a Kostin late in the five minute bout. Much the same happened in the wrestle off for third and fourth place so that Carlile ended up fourth and “shattered”.

After a night’s sleep and the help of a Scottish physiotherapist, Carlile was in more familiar territory the next day, wrestling in the backhold style. He showed the full range of his talents varying his style for each opponent. The Leonese and Canarian wrestlers were strong and forced him to wrestle from the left, using buttocks and back-heels. The Friesland wrestler was less forceful and Carlile sent him flying with outside hipes. Against Tudy Le Meur he knew that the main danger lay in the Breton’s hanks, so twice he leapt straight into action with swinging inside-hipes before the Breton could gather his wits. Another fall saw him lift Le Meur high in the air, all the time locking his legs together to prevent the hank. An outside hipe sent the Breton’s legs one way and set him up for a left side cross-buttock to finish the job.

All this action took him to the 68kg final with Robert Clark who had gone through without losing a fall. Within five seconds of the command to “Wrestle!” Clark would have swung his opponent up in the air and inside-hiped him.

Andrew Carlile knew what was coming and took evasive action, each victory coming from counter-attack wrestling. In the first of the best-of-five bouts, Clark went for hold, and Carlile let him have it so that he could tire him out. When Clark eventually played the outside-stroke. Carlile stepped over it and hit Clark with the same trip, successfully. After a dog-fall, Clark went to hipe, but Carlile slid off it and back-heeled to win.

Clark then won a spectacular fall when he caught Carlile with his trade-mark hank. Having had that success, Clark then tried to repeat it, and for a moment it looked as if he had. A good hanker always has to load up his man before falling back over and twisting with leg and arms so there is a moment when his right foot stamps down close to his opponent. Inexperienced wrestlers have no idea what is happening at that point, for their opponent seems to be lying down backwards, almost as if giving in. But Carlile knew exactly what was happening and hit that tiny window of opportunity when Clark’s standing leg was within range for a back-heel. Once the back-heel catches the leg the hank is nullified and the hanker, Clark, went down on his back.

If we had had a team of seven Andrew Carliles then England would have won the trophy, for his average points score was better than any other team, but only by taking a full team can one hope to win a team trophy at such a tough event.

Best back-hold wrestler was John Taylor of Glasgow who won in style in the toughest group of all. Best Gouren wrestler was Kevin Jerome, another seasonal visitor here.

Our Heavyweight Champion from Scotland, Robert McNamara, was injured in the Gouren on the first day, when he was back-heeled of the mat and hit his head on the unprotected floor. He spent the night in hospital with drips. The medical staff were unable to do the normal tests because his neck was so thick, but the next day he was cleared by scanning.

The Leonese deserve congratulations for an excellent event well organised in a beautiful mountain village. The locals were enthusiastic and hospitable, mingling and interacting with the wrestlers.

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (April 28th 2007)

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