Two national champions for Spalding

Rebecca Simpson (left) and Annie Dunham were beaten in the women's triples quarter-finals along with Spalding team-mate Chelsea Tomlin
Rebecca Simpson (left) and Annie Dunham were beaten in the women's triples quarter-finals along with Spalding team-mate Chelsea Tomlin
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Martin Spencer and Annie Dunham completed a double for Spalding Indoor Bowls Club at the National Championship finals today.

They both won the singles finals at Melton Mowbray - Spencer beating Sam Tolchard (Torquay United) 21-10 and Dunham claiming victory (21-19) over Amy Stanton (Welford-on-Avon).

When Tolchard led 4-2, there was nothing to suggest that the men’s singles final would turn out to be a runaway affair.

But Spencer strung together a devastating 2-3-1-1-1-3-3 sequence, punctuated only by a Tolchard single, to lead 16-5 after 12 ends.

Spencer’s accurate drawing to the jack was the major factor but Tolchard often came close and never got the breaks. On one end, for example, he struck accurately - only to see the jack rebound up the green, giving Spencer three shots.

When Tolchard scored doubles on the 13th and 14th ends, many in the spectators’ gallery anticipated a comeback from the talented Devonian.

Martin Spencer in the men's singles final. Photos by David Rhys Jones

Martin Spencer in the men's singles final. Photos by David Rhys Jones

However Spencer was ruthless and allowed the 26-year-old Tolchard - who won the pairs with Louis Ridout last Sunday - only one more single as he sealed victory.

“I have always watched people winning this title and wondered if I might do so one day,” said Spencer.

“But I really didn’t think it would happen and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet!”

Has he played ever better this? - “I don’t know about that,” he replied.

I have always watched people winning this title and wondered if I might do so one day.

Martin Spencer

“But I was certainly glad to be able to bring my ‘A’ game to the semi-finals and final - and it’s fantastic for the club that Annie won the women’s title.”

Two years ago, he should have been in the Spalding trio that won the national triples title but, after helping Matt Whyers and Graham Smith to qualify, it was discovered that he had a tumour on his spine and had to undergo an emergency operation.

Ashley Caress took his place in the nationals and Spalding powered to an impressive victory - so it was a special moment for Spencer today when he was presented with the men’s singles trophy by EIBA president Jenny McConnell.

In the semi finals, three-time champion Greg Harlow - who won in 2002, 2011 and last year - suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Spencer who played consistently well to beat him 21-10.

Spalding's Martin Spencer and Annie Dunham

Spalding's Martin Spencer and Annie Dunham

Earlier, Spencer had finished with a flourish against Weymouth Moonfleet’s Martin Puckett, scoring a full house of four shots on the 22nd end that gave him the lead for the first time, and turned a 17-18 deficit into a 21-18 quarter-final victory.

Before the ladies singles final began, Annie Dunham’s husband Scott - a fine bowler in his own right - told her to pretend she was a red bus - a concept that perhaps that needs some explaining.

“In a recent Test match against Scotland, the commentator, referring to my red bowls, suggested that I was playing so well I was as unstoppable as a red English bus - and we rather liked the description,” explained Dunham.

“Scott’s always very good at helping me prepare for a big game and I went out there with that phrase running through my mind.

“Although I was behind for most of the final, I was determined not to give up - and I kept on revving myself up, and believing I could do it.”

Stanton started brilliantly, carding a full house of four shots on the first end, and was 12-7 ahead by the 12th end. Seemingly always in control, the 26-year-old looked the likely winner when she led 17-11 after 19 ends.

Annie Dunham

Annie Dunham

But Dunham, who scored a treble on the 20th and a double on the 22nd, struck a telling blow when she picked up a full house of four shots on the 24th end to take the lead for the first time.

On a nail-biting 25th end, she trailed the jack gently to a place that Stanton just could not reach.

“It’s really special to have won both titles for Spalding,” Dunham said.

“It’s such a close-knit and friendly club with a lively junior section that Martin, who is three months younger than me, and I came through at the same time.”

Dunham, who faced Riverain’s prodigious 17-year-old star Rachel Tremlett in the ladies quarter-finals, took her time to get on top and was only 9-8 in front after nine ends.

But a full house of four shots on the 10th gave her a 13-8 lead and she allowed Tremlett only three more singles as she won 21-11.

In Saturday night’s semi-final, Dunham was all-square with Egham’s Kylie Hampton, 9-9 after 14 ends.

However, she allowed the Surrey star to score on only one more end - a treble on the 18th - as she scorched to victory, scoring a treble herself on the 19th end, and a full house of four shots to win on the 20th.