“I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true.” Those were Wayne Ditchfield’s first words on being crowned Co-op Funeralcare Men’s Autumn Waterloo Champion for 2017.
Ditchfield, from Eccleston, defeated Preston’s Simon Coupe 21-15 to add the ultimate Waterloo title to the junior crown he won three times on the hallowed Blackpool green.
It was a clash of two gentleman gladiators, good friends and North Lancashire and Fylde team-mates for the most coveted title in crown green bowls.
Coupe was the favourite, having won the title twice before, but it was 2013 runner-up Ditchfield, the man nicknamed “The Beast”, who had played the best bowls of the week and continued his winning form in the final.
Coupe’s semi-final had gone to the wire, a 21-20 thriller against Liverpool’s Phil Lee which kept the spectators in the South Shore arena and watching ITV4’s coverage at home on the edge of their seats.
Ditchfield, a seasoned trophy-winner in the indoor and outdoor game, had to contend with heavy rain for his semi-final, in which he overcame Chris Brown, his Superbowl team-mate from Sheffield, 21-15.
In the final, Coupe won the toss and took the jack to his favourite pub corner but Ditchfield counted a one on the opening end.
Coupe hit back with one in the second to set the tone for the match as the scores were levelled at 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9.
But then The Beast, who now likes to refer to himself as ‘Fat Boy Slim’ after losing seven and a half stone, grasped the match by the throat.
Ditchfield played some outstanding bowls to open up a 15-9 lead as Coupe failed to take his own chances.
Coupe rallied to pick up one at the next end, then two more to close the gap to three.
However, another run by Ditchfield stretched that lead again to 20-12, and although Couple managed to add one more to his score there was no caging The Beast.
Delighted Ditchfield said: “I can’t thank the sponsors the Co-op Funeralcare and everyone involved who had supported me enough.
“I just knew I had to stay calm. Stan Frith (former champion) spoke to me before my semi-final and said that 20 never won a game.
“That made me think and really told me to try not to see the winning post until I was over it.
“It hurt when I lost in the final in 2013 and I didn’t want to lose again.”
Quarter-finals: Phil Lee (Liverpool) 21 Andy Thornton (Cumbria) 16, Ritchie Goddard (Shrewsbury) 19 Simon Coupe (Preston) 21, Chris Ward (Victoria Park) 13 Wayne Ditchfield (Eccleston) 21, Chris Brown (Sheffield) 21 Michael Leach (Blackpool) 15
Semi -finals: Lee 20 Coupe 21, Ditchfield 21 Brown 15
Final: Coupe 15 Ditchfield 21