Challenge matches .......

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........were the order of the day in Victorian times, but they are a rare animal these days, so there was a special piquancy about the match between Joseph Robson and Robert Leiper, best of nine falls, at the Cumberland Show.

The match brought together two well matched wrestlers weighing in at around the 15 stone mark, who have both had their share of the 14st and 15st World Championships in the past few years.

No damp squib

The fear for the organisers of such an event is that it goes off like a damp squib in a one-sided encounter. At first Robson took the lead when he twice rode Leiper's hipe to twist on landing(2-0), but then Leiper pulled one back with a back-heel (2-1). Robson took the fourth with a typical low and powerful cross-buttock (3-1). With defeat in the offing, Leiper changed up several gears and won the next three falls to swing the momentum his way: 5, hold, hipe and twist back; 6, a twist off the back-heel; 7, Leiper ducked a cross-buttock so that he gained all the hold and twisted down (3-4).

The pressure was now on Robson, and it looked as if Leiper's hold and powerful lifts would carry the day only for Robson to rescue himself by inches with a desperate cross-click. (4-4). You could not have scripted it better as the two tiring men took hold for the deciding fall. Robert Leiper said afterwards that he wasknackered and unable to apply his usual power, but he certainly started well enough when he stopped Robson's attempt to buttock. He tried to pick his man up and twist back but Robson hit with a cross-click which did a lot of damage, as it made Leiper drop down to earth, and from that position Robson struck with his original ploy and brought Leiper to earth with a cross-buttock to win the match.

John Harrington was the star of the main menu of wrestling at the Cumberland Show. He was annoyed with himself when Alan Jones cut past him in the semi-final of the All Weights, but he had already won both the 12 stones and the 14 stones before that, so the Guinness Trophy for the best performance of all the wrestling went inevitably to him. In his present form he seems to have the answer for most situations.

Returns

Over the week-end several wrestlers made their mark after a rare return to the ring. The head prize at Carlisle, the All Weights, went to Russell Housby, who was a regular wrestler as a lad, when he trained at Carlisle Wrestling Club. Now weighing in at 22st and retaining his quick footwork and natural twists, he is a formidable opponent. Next week at Cockermouth he would be one of the few wrestlers able to match Rab McNamara as he defends his All Weights title for another year.

Another occasional wrestler, Adam Hird, shone in the Under 15 Years where he was able to cope with the power of Scott Brocklebank, a regular winner of that age-group. His winning fall came from a buttock and a low swing round to finish the job. Jack Brown enjoyed the luxury of wrestling opponents no heavier than him when he won a rare weight category for boys, the Under 15 Years/7st. He felled Bradley Thompson, a rising star from Kendal, in the final. Thompson had already won the Under 12 Years, and did the same the following day at Coniston Lakeland Country Fair. He is a wonderfully active and fluent wrestler, able to survive attacks, and capable of buttocking hevier opponents low by the ground.

At Coniston

The theme of occasional wrestlers winning was continued at Coniston when Stuart Fleming won the All Weights in a final with the Kendal coach, John Wilson. Apart from that it was business as usual: Scott Brocklebank won the Under 15 Years; Graham Brocklebank won the Under 18 Years, and John Harrington won at 11½st. Then came one of those moments when the out come was in severe doubt when Graham Brocklebank met John Harrington in the final of the 13 stones. Early in the season in their first encounter Brocklebank had swept  aside the 13st champion, but thereafter Harrington has kept the younger man in his place. This time the pendulum swung the other way and Brocklebank won in straight falls with a late twist for the first and an inside-click and follow down for the second. The scene is set for more glorious action when John Harrington returns from holiday.

Results:

Cumberland Show

Under 12 Years 1, B Thompson; 2, W Atkinson; 3, T Piele.

Under 15 Years 1, A Hird; 2, S Brocklebank; 3, J Thompson.

Under 15 Years/7st 1, J Brown; 2, B Thompson; 3, T Piele.

Under 18 Years 1, J Oliver; 2, C Ridley; 3, A Hird.

12st 1, John Harrington; 2, J Thompson; 3, C Ridley.

14st 1, John Harrington; 2, R Fox; J Wilson.

All Weights 1, R Housby; 2, A Jones; 3, John Harrington.

Challenge Match: Joseph Robson beat Robert Leiper 5 falls to 4.

Guinness Trophy: John Harrington.

Coniston

Under 12 Years 1, B Thompson; 2, S Wilson; 3, J Woodhouse.

Under 15 Years 1, S Brocklebank; 2, J Thompson; 3, T Barnes.

Under 18 Years 1, G Brocklebank; 2, J Ewart; 3, S Wilkinson.

11½st 1, John Harrington; 2, T Barnes; 3, J Thompson.

13st 1, G Brocklebank; 2, John Harrington; 3, G Benson.

All Weights 1, S Fleming; 2, J Wilson; 3, T Brocklebank.

Dates:

July 27th (Fri) 2.30p Langholm Common Riding U16/11/13/AW

July 28th (Sat)  Penrith Show Cancelled

July 29th  (Sun 12.30p Flookburgh  U12/ U15/U18/11½/13/AW

Aug 4th (Sat) Beetham Sports

   Cockermouth Show U12/ U15/U18/Ladies/11½/13/AW Ch'ship (£1000)

   Powburn Show  10½st Ch'ship

Aug 5th  (Sun) Lowther

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (29/7/2007)

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