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Magnificent seven target more Shropshire County Merit glory

Seven past winners of the County Merit will be among the favourites to triumph again at tomorrow’s 2022 finals day.


They are among a high class field of 32 who are expected to weave a rich tapestry of crown green bowls action on the green of Telford club Sinclair from 11am.

The experience of four-time champion and five-time beaten finalist Peter Farmer (St Georges) is sure to make him shorts odds with the bookmaker on a day County President Mike Potter has planned meticulously for.

Few having a bet though will look beyond three-time winner of the stunning Charles Beddard Cup and twice runner-up, Callum Wraight of Castlefields, the British No.1 who is on course yet again for another stellar season on the open comps circuit. It was Sir John Bayley star Spencer Clarke who beat Wraight in successive Merit finals in 2018 and 2019 – and he’s in the line-up too, although not enjoying the best of seasons.

The claims of double winners Rich Goddard, Keith Pessall and Derek Wright in the Barlows Fire & Security-sponsored event can’t be ignored either, the latter enjoying his second success in the competition on the same green back in 1994. He’s now in his 60s, as is Pessall, who returned to the sport last year with such aplomb that he became Shropshire’s first ever winner of the British Veterans Merit. There’s also 2001 champion Charlie Weaver to consider and proven class acts like Michael Beer and Rich Lawson but, as bowls pundits know, big names are not everything at Merit finals, it’s all about who performs best on the day.

So what chance the likes of Josh Bradburn, Matt Beeson, Liam Stevens, Aaron King, Dan Taylor, Harry Parsonage and Ben Hinton, who are all playing Premier League bowls? “With the right approach and a bit of luck, if could just be their day... just like it was for young Jack Hewitt at Nantwich Park Road last year,” said a county association spokesman.

“Whoever eventually gets to the winner’s enclosure, we just hope it’s as good a day as it was at Allscott seven years ago when the highly-respected Mike Potter enjoyed his first stint as County President.”

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Three Shropshire bowls leagues have double shots at success in tonight’s quarter-finals of the Shropshire Senior Inter-League Championship.

Whitchurch and Mid Shropshire field six of the teams in the last eight of the eight-a-side knockout at neutral venues.

Both Premier sides are in action at Donnington Wood (6.30pm), with the Blue team taking on Mid Shropshire B on the new green while Premier White face Market Drayton on the Telford club’s old green.

At the same time at Old Shrewsbury, Mid Shropshire A face Whitchurch B (No.2 green) as Whitchurch A take on Shropshire Ladies on the No.1, with the semi-finals to be played on July 23.

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