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Stuart Church’s long road to league’s summit

A Telford man’s dedication to his local bowls league has reaped the richest individual reward possible.

Centre stage: Mid Shropshire Senior Merit champion Stuart Church with sponsors Paul Beer and Mike Humphries
Centre stage: Mid Shropshire Senior Merit champion Stuart Church with sponsors Paul Beer and Mike Humphries

Stuart Church has played his way to the top of tree for Sinclair in the Molson Coors Mid Shropshire League over more than a decade – and now he’s king of the league too.

He won the Mid Shropshire Senior Merit on Saturday at Maddocks, capping a day of fine performances with a 21-12 victory over Ian Pessall of Hadley USC in the final.

Church’s day did not start too well as plans to pick up son Harry en route to the Shropshire Vertidrain & Turf Services Ltd-sponsored competition went awry and he was left to cut a lone figure for most of the afternoon.

But it did not stop him performing on the green as he beat young Akeel Khan (Shifnal) 21-17 in the quarter-finals and then comp organiser Phil Jing (Sir John Bayley) 21-16 in the semis.

And in the final Church produced a vital burst of three doubles to go from 11-6 up to 17-6 and then holding his nerve to get over the finishing line. With Sinclair doing so well in the top flight of the league this season, Church must surely have his sights on his championship title too.

The consolation for runner-up Pessall, younger son of Shropshire legend Keith, was to be the recipient of a new trophy donated by County and League President Mike Potter.

“I tried but the better bowler on the day won,” said Pessall, after he had rallied well to beat Jamie Brookes 21-19 in the semi-finals, the Shifnal bowler then heading off to the Conwy Festival.

Brookes had ended the four in a row title hopes of Wrockwardine Wood star Jamie King 21-16 in the quarter-finals when the other scores were: Pessall 21 Alison Cotton (St Georges) 16; Phil King 21 Harry Brookes (Shifnal) 13.

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