Novices enjoy the competition at HAltwhistle Gala


Sunday July 15th - 2.15 - Great Eccleston
U12 / U15 / U18 / Girls / 13st / AW
Saturday July 21st - Kirkheaton CANCELLED
Sunday July 22nd - 2.30 Coniston U12 / U15 / U18 / Ladies / 11½ st / 13 st / AW
Wednesday July 25th - North Lonsdale Show
Friday July 27th - Langholm Common Riding

The wrestling at Haltwhistle Gala has a flavour of its own with experts travelling from distance, a smattering of trained locals, novices with brawny arms and great support, and a bloke dressed as a woman. Add in all the young lads who rushed to enter for the boys' Novice class at the end of the main programme and you have a lively entertainment for the big crowd that flocks over the Tyne from the town.

Haltwhistle is home to an excellent wrestler, Alan Walton, who is now a veteran and only wrestles at this one event each year. Last year he was knocked out in a bout in the 13 stones, and still won. This year he won in less dramatic circumstances. As in his hey day he relied on gaining a good hold, and striking with the back-heel or a twist over the knee. Jack

Brown in the first round reacted to this spectacularly with one fall when he countered the back-heel with a hank. Otherwise, Walton was in control, felling Craig Ridley in straight falls in the final.

Jack Brown had already won the Under 18 Years and the 11½ stones, looking like the champion he is, and his adventures continued when he reached the final of the All Weights against Andrew Ord, the All Weights champion. Because of the weight difference the result seemed a formality, especially after Ord took the first fall in typical fashion with an outside-hipe with the left knee. In the soggy conditions, Jack Brown dived under and across Ord's long legs, and, crucially, kept the momentum going until he landed him. Andrew Ord has a habit of losing the odd fall then coming back to win the decider with more thought, control, and an outside-hipe.

Usually, the final of the All Weights would signal the end of wrestling for the day, but at Haltwhistle it was the beginning of the real action for the youngsters gathered round the ring, for it was their turn to star. Having seen the trained wrestlers in action, they knew what to do and displayed all the natural athleticism and enthusiasm of youth.

In the previous week, after all the trauma and meetings occasioned by the discredited Under 18 Championship at Hethersgill Vintage Rally in May, it was a pleasure to watch the intense competition when the event was wrestled afresh at Alston Gala. The new champion is Ben Brocklebank of Warton who showed great levels of skill, strength and technique as he seized the renewed opportunity.

In the first round he met Jack Brown of Haydon Bridge who is his match pound for pound, inch for inch, and skill for skill. On this occasion, though, Brocklebank swept him aside with two opposite chips. First, he gained hold and then hoisted Brown high and then suddenly back over in a sort of salto in mid air. For the next fall he went full blast and brought Brown over with a full buttock.

In the next rounds he met younger wrestlers and kept them well under control, until he reached the final with Matthew Atkinson who took the first fall with a succession of hipes clinched by an outside-stroke. Brocklebank had to raise his game, and did when he equalised with an inside-hipe of his own. The decider also went to Brocklebank's hipe, but this time it was low and sudden.

Ben's win is another triumph for the Brocklebank dynasty which has been a powerful force in wrestling for 45 years and three generations.

Results ( * signifies 'not eligible' for The Victor Ludorum 2012)

Haltwhistle Gala
Event First Second Third
U12 Years G. Singer L. Briddock  
U18 Years J. Brown G. Wilson A. Singer
Boy's Novice C. Balush D. Hepple A. Archibald
Men's Novice A. Houghton B. Sloan J. Hodgson
11½ Stone J. Brown B. Sloan C. Naylor
13 Stone A. Walton C. Ridley C. Naylor
All Weights A. Ord J. Brown C. Ridley

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (2012)


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