World champions clash at Gallow

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By Peter Bird

Two world champions clashed at an evening of sparking indoor bowls competition at Fakenham’s Gallow Indoor Bowls Club on Saturday.

The home club’s Mervyn King went head-to-head with Isle of Ely’s Greg Harlow.

Both have won innumerable world and national titles in long careers and an enthusiastic audience was treated to an evening of top-class play.

The event started with a head-to-head match over six ends between two players who have been friends for 25 years and competed both with and against each other more times than they care to remember. “We first met playing against each other in Eastern Counties inter-counties matches in 1990,” said King.

They were world finalist opponents in 2006 when King won only for Harlow to gain his revenge in the 2010 final.

“This is the decider,” said Harlow before he beat his opponent 7-5 in a match noted for Harlow’s self deprecating banter including asking the audience, more than once, for advice on which shot he should play next.

But although it was a relaxed and friendly match the audience knew they were watching two of the finest players of their generation.

World singles titles apart King has won the world pairs title three times and Harlow once. Harlow also won last year’s world mixed pairs title.

With that sort of pedigree on show the second half of the evening could have overawed two of Gallow’s talented youngsters, Jack Wells and Daniel Cawthorne, who were selected to partner the two internationals in a pairs match also of six ends.

But the two seniors acknowledged their part in a win for King and Cawthorne 8-7 in a tight match that went to an extra end.

“The youngsters excelled,” said club chairman, Jack Bedingfield Dennis. “Greg said their play was easily up to national standard. They could hold their heads high in such distinguished company.”

“Despite the many years we have known each other we’ve only played together once as a pair,” said Harlow. “That was in the 1995 world championships where we lost in the first round 3-2.”

King added: “But we’ve been team colleagues many times since first representing England in 1990.

“All in all it was a world class evening of bowls,” said Bedingfield Dennis.

“And it was pleasing to see that the event attracted many in the audience who weren’t bowls club members.”

Club secretary, Dick Andrews, said: “We were very pleased with the success of the evening.

“We not only organised it to help raise funds for the bowls club but also to help raise the profile of the sport in the Fakenham area and to remind people what an active and successful club we are.”

The evening was sponsored by S.A.M Windows and Conservatories.