King feeling on top of the world
Norfolk's Mervyn King powered into the semi-finals of the WBT world indoor pairs championship with Aussie partner Kelvin Kerkow at Hopton on Sunday to make it a truly memorable weekend.
It was not the way that the twice former winners clinched their place in the last four that made it so special for King, of the Fakenham Gallow club – it was the double-barrelled accolade he received at the WBT's awards ceremony on Saturday night.
King was not only crowned Player of the Year but received the Players' Player of the Year award – something he said made him especially proud.
'That's probably the best award there is,' responded an emotional King, after Welsh veteran John Price had handed him the cut-glass crystal statuette. 'To be voted for in this way by one's fellow players, who are all great mates of mine as well as tremendous players in their own right, makes it very special indeed.'
King's rich vein of form in the second half of 2010 saw him win the Wyldecrest Homes Matchroom Premier League title in Cyprus, a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games, and the Scottish International Open in Perth.
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And that earned him the overall title of Player of the Year, a similar cut-glass crystal trophy, this time presented by Ken Fawcett, who recently retired from the post of WBT Tournament Director.
There was a gasp of surprise when the Unsung Heroes award was presented to the team that have provided front-of-house back-up to the WBT championships since they moved from Preston Guild Hall in 1999.
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The Anglia Bowls team, known to everyone affectionately as the 'blue-blazered brigade', were praised for their loyalty, dedication and professionalism, and the award was accepted on their behalf by Anglia Bowls Managing Director Mark Hedges, who has been a driving force in bringing World Bowls to Norfolk.
Today King and Kerkow face legendary Scots Paul 'Fossie' Foster and Alex Marshall for a place in the final of the world pairs, but King could so easily have found himself facing his Gallow clubmate Jamie Chestney.
Chestney, who teamed up with Nick Brett, from the City of Ely, came through the England PBA play-offs, and the two players, who are trying to force their way into the top 16, looked a likely combination when they knocked out Darren Burnett and Jonathan Ross in the final qualifier.
Although it was the Scots who edged the first set 8-5 in the quarter-final the England duo matched them all the way in the second set, and forced a tiebreak with a 9-8 scoreline.
Foster and Marshall won the first of the best-of-three tiebreak, but Brett and Chestney appeared to have the second end sewn up when Marshall, who has won the world singles five times, produced a bit of Scottish magic to claim the winning shot with his last bowl.
Earlier, King and Kerkow had followed up their Friday night win over a young Welsh duo with a much more impressive victory over reigning singles champion Greg Harlow and the 1990 world champion John Price.
'I have to confess I didn't play very well in the first game, but I hit good form against Greg and John, and the first set was a runaway affair,' recalled King. 'Although we continued our good form in the second set, they improved, and gave us a hard time, but we stuck with it, and we were delighted to score two shots to tie the set 7-7, and win the game, 10-1, 7-7.'
King and Kerkow will be involved in the first of this afternoon's (Monday)semi- finals, and will take to the portable rink at 2.15pm.
In the second semi final, which will follow immediately, Stowmarket star Mark Royal lines up with Nottingham's Simon Skelton against the Scottish sensations Andy Barker and Mike Stepney. The Elgin duo – who won the PBA play-offs – took the scalp of Commonwealth Games singles champion Robert Weale and world number seven Jason Greenslade, then defeated the defending champions Ian Bond and Andy Thomson to reach the last four.
Royal and Skelton won a high-class quarter-final against former world singles champions Billy Jackson and David Gourlay 8-6 7-7.
There are two first round singles matches this morning: Jason Greenslade (Wales) v Neil Furman (USA) at 9.30am and Robert Weale (Wales) v Craig Rimmington (South Africa) at 11am.
2010 WBT Awards winners:
Player of the Year: Mervyn King (England). Young Player of the Year: Stewart Anderson (Scotland). Best Qualifying Performance: Robert Paxton (England). Players' Player of the Year: Mervyn King (England). Fans' Player of the Year: Greg Harlow (England). Shot of the Year: Robert Paxton (England). Performance of the Year: Stewart Anderson (Scotland). Services to Bowls: Dales Sports Surfaces. Unsung Heroes: Anglia Bowls stewards. Lifetime Achievement: Andy Thomson (England).