National title gives bowls club such a happy ending

Ashley Caress, Graham Smith and Matt Whyers.
Ashley Caress, Graham Smith and Matt Whyers.
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There was an emotional twist to Spalding’s sensational 20-4 victory over the Angel club, Tonbridge, in the final of the National Indoor Triples Championship at Melton Mowbray on Thursday.

Ashley Caress, the 22-year-old who played in between Spalding lead Matt Whyers and skip Graham Smith, was substituting for his friend, 25-year-old Martin Spencer, who recently underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his spine.

Spencer, who had to drop out of the England team last month, is now fit again, and looking forward to the outdoor season.

Caress said: “It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but it’s a happy ending twice over as Martin is on the road to recovery and we have won the national triples title.”

Spalding took a 9-1 lead after seven ends of the final and allowed their opponents only four singles in the first 14 ends, at which stage the Angel trio threw in the towel with four ends still left to play.

Smith said: “We had a few narrow escapes on our way to Melton.

“I think we won four of our matches by a single shot – but we played really well as a team when we got to Melton.”

Spalding scored 42 shots to 11 across their two games having won 22-7 in the semi-finals.

The women’s trebles saw a Spalding trio in semi-final action but Rebecca Simpson, Chelsea Tomlin and Annalisa Bellamy were on the receiving end of a 21-14 defeat by Paige Dennis, Sandy Hazell and Wendy King of Swale.