Barrow’s Callum Sharples became the first Cumbrian to win the BCGBA Junior Individual Merit Competition in 30 years when he triumphed at Netherfield Bowling Club last Saturday.

Not since Jonathan Lowes in 1989 had someone from the county won what is known as the ‘Junior All England’, but 17-year-old Sharples, who plays for Red River, Lindal and Walney Park in the various league didn’t let history faze him as he defeated Shropshire’s Ben Hinton 21-15 in the final.

Each county hosts the event every 15 years and it is held at the county of the associations deputy president, who this year is Cumbria’s Ken Howarth.

Each county had held their own individual merit competitions with the county champions and runners up from Cheshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Isle of Man, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Lancashire & Fylde, North Midlands, Potteries & District, Shropshire, Staffordshire, South Yorkshire, Wales, Warwick & Worcester and Yorkshire all competing to be crowned the winner.

It was another Shropshire player, Harry Parsonage, who gave Sharples his hardest game in his opening match.

Sharples began brightly leading 8-1, but Parsonage stepped up his game to lead 17-13, before Sharples regained his composure to run out a 21-17 winner.

He then comfortably beat Tom Farmer (Potteries & District) 21-6, then Staffordshire’s Owen Evans 21-16 to move into the semi-final.

There he met 12-year-old Alfie Knight from North Midlands, who had stolen the show with some excellent bowling, but Sharples was always in command as he reached the final with a 21-12 win.

Hinton was never troubled en route to the final, beating Taylor Miller of Warwick & Worcester 21-13, Ryan Price Williams from Wales 21-16, Merseyside’s Jamie Isaac 21-15 and Yorkshire’s Tom Hirst 21-14 in the last four.

In the final, both players exchanged the jack like a hot potato, before the more composed Sharples took command to be a worthy winner and champion.

Howarth, who has run the Furness Juniors for the last 24 years, was thrilled to present the magnificent trophy to one of his star players.