PETE Illidge described 2017 as his best ever year on the green, but that hasn’t put him off trying to make this one even better.

A successful defence of a Cheshire Senior Merit title he claimed for the first time 12 months ago would be a perfect place to start.

The Wharton Cons member is one of seven men from the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association through to the finals at Woodland Hotel, in Ellesmere Port, on Sunday.

“I’m chuffed to have made it that far,” he told the Guardian.

“When you look at who put their name down from our league, then you realise how hard it is.

“Then you look at the draw and see it’s about to get tougher!”

Illidge turned 60 in April, but he is an example of a bowler improving with age.

A victory in the Roberts Bakery Cup final in 2016 was a catalyst, and success in the Cheshire Senior Merit 12 months later led to a debut at the prestigious British Senior Individual Merit – known by players as the ‘All England Championships’.

He played too in the Champion of Champions tournament at the Waterloo Hotel.

That form persuaded Cheshire to select him for their British Senior County Championship opener against North Midlands last month.

Illidge said: “I’ve felt a bit more pressure if I’m honest.

“People expect more from you when you’ve won a competition like the Cheshire Merit – suddenly they know your name.

“I haven’t changed my approach though, and I’ll try to play on Sunday like I did last year.

“I’ve never seen the green, and so I’ll turn up and think only about the first game.”

Lee Johnstone, a regular for the county team and a member at Houldsworth, is his first-round opponent.

Paul Craven awaits in the last 16.

Illidge said he looked again at the trophy this week, and studied the names of previous winners.

Some are in the 25-strong field on Sunday.

“A lot of good bowlers have won this competition,” he said.

“And a lot haven’t. I’m proud to be able to say I have.”


Cheshire County Bowling Association

Senior Merit

Sunday, June 24 (from 10.30am)

First Round

Andy Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) v Dave Rogerson (Altrincham LV)

Nathan Brown (Altrincham LV) v Daniel Nixon (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire)

Tommy Johnstone (Stockport & District) v Barry Ellams (Frodsham & District)

Dave Webster (Knutsford League) v Ian Smith (Chester & District)

Noel Burrows (Alderley & District) v Dave Read (Alderley & District)

Ben Phillips (Altrincham LV) v Glynn Cookson (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire)

Andy Rose (Ellesmere Port) v Rob Winnington (Knutsford League)

Jim Large (Frodsham & District) v Stephen Wilson (Macclesfield & District)

Pete Illidge (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire) v Lee Johnstone (Stockport & District)

Second Round

Hamman or Rogertson v Brown or Nixon

Tommy Johnstone or Ellams v Webster or Smith

Burrows or Read v Phillips or Cookson

Rose or Winnington v Large or Wilson

Illidge or Lee Johnstone v Paul Craven (Altrincham LV)

James Turner (Macclesfield & District) v John Gurney (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Anthony Pattin (Ellesmere Port) v Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Gerald Merry (Delamere, Mid Cheshire) v Jack Bushell (Knutsford League)