Yorkshire Merit: Win No 6 for Wilson

Graeme Wilson won his sixth Yorkshire Merit crown
Graeme Wilson won his sixth Yorkshire Merit crown

Elland-raised Graeme Wilson raised the bar even higher yesterday by winning a sixth Yorkshire Merit bowls title at Broad Oak, Huddersfield.

The 49-year-old beat Tom Hanson (Myrtle Park) 21-20 in an epic final to add to his previous wins in the prestigious event in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2015.

Nobody else has won more than three Yorkshire Merit titles with Wilson’s long-term Yorkshire teammate Robert Hitchen, from Halifax, one of those to achieve that.

Wilson lives across the Pennines nowadays but still earned his place in the field for the 123rd running of the event via Saturday’s Halifax area qualifiers. He plays for all-conquering Elland WMC in the Halifax League on Wednesday evenings as well as recent Yorkshire Cup winners Lower Hopton.

Wilson opened with a 21-8 win over Stuart Thompson of Pontefract BC and then beat Michael Hick of Mirfield Old Bank, James Hanson of Pudsey BC and Wayne Moseley of Crosland Moor BC by 21-19 in the semi-final.

Tom Hanson came through the top half of the draw, beating Gareth Coates (Akroydon Victoria) 21-13 in his opener and then accounting for Kieren Smith (Rothwell BC) and Nathan Dobson (Littlemoor) before edging past Liam Griffin (Lower Hopton WMC) 21-20 in his last-four contest.

Wilson and Tom Hanson were locked together at 15 across in the final. Wilson went 19-17 up, only for Hanson to take the next three chalks to move to the brink of victory. Wilson was not to be denied, however, making a single for 20 across before winning the deciding end.

Two other Halifax League players, Robert Holmes (Elland WMC) and Stuart King (Asa Briggs), lost in the last 32.