WITH his first child due next week, Steve Morrey says he timed perfectly a return to his best form by winning the Cheshire Senior Merit.

The Castle man captured the title for a second time following a 21-11 win against Lee Johnstone in the final at Winnington Rec on Sunday.

And with demands for his attention likely to be elsewhere in the short-term, he admitted relief to have reminded rivals what he is capable of.

“It’s a massive achievement,” he said.

“The baby is coming soon, and I’ve been thinking that would be me finished for competitions bowls.

“That probably motivated me though, because on the way here I realised I really wanted to win in case I don’t get another opportunity for a while.

“I have to be honest and say I’ve been struggling in the knockouts, maybe because I’ve had a lot on my mind, so I’m chuffed all those bad days made way for a good one.”

Morrey improved at every stage, producing his best performance against Johnstone.

Breaks of five and then four established a 9-2 lead before another, this time worth nine chalks, took him to the brink of victory at all but seven.

Johnstone, representing Houldsworth from the Stockport and District League, had stunned an in-form Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons) in the last four to make it through.

However he performed like a different player when he returned to the green.

Morrey said: “Lee struggled, which was strange because he’d played so well previously.


Northwich Guardian: Steve Morrey won the Cheshire Senior Merit for the first time at Coppenhall back in 2014, beating Robert Eaton in the finalSteve Morrey won the Cheshire Senior Merit for the first time at Coppenhall back in 2014, beating Robert Eaton in the final


“I lost the toss, giving him the jack, and he started on a mark that had brought him success earlier.

“I could have been in a lot of trouble, but he couldn’t get going and I got a nice break or two.

“Sometimes you can lose concentration when you get so far in front, but I always felt in control and would have had to throw it away.

“I only had one or two bad ends though.”

Morrey’s run started with a 21-18 victory against Neal Ocego, from Frodsham Red Lion, before he eliminated Dave Jackson (Railway Inn) by the same score in the last eight.

He ran into Noel Burrows at the semi-finals stage and appeared on course for a comfortable success after moving 19-14 in front.

The two-time former All England champion recovered to 19-across only to undo his good work with a poor lead after sending the block at the next end.

“I could have gone out at any time before the final,” said Morrey.

“They were all difficult matches against top-class opponents, but I kept finding one bowl to keep me in them that got me out of jail.

“I felt more stressed in the first game; that’s always the most difficult one in day-long competitions like this because you badly want to get through and get on a roll.

“Noel had me really worried though, and I maybe got a bit lucky.

“You need that though, and I knew by then I was playing well.”


Cheshire County Bowling Association

Senior Merit

Sunday, June 23

At Winnington Park Recreation Club

First Round

Matt Barnett (Good Companions, Knutsford) 21-17 Jason Cornes (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

John Gurney (Castle, Mid Cheshire) 7-21 Ryan Sandham (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV)

Matty Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) 16-21 Rob Winnington (Knutsford BC, Knutsford)

Michael McDonnell (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV) conceded to Barry Ellams (Red Lion, Frodsham)

Ben Phillips (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV) 21-11 Daniel Richardson (Airbus, Chester)

Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire) 21-8 Dave O’Brien (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Last 16

Matt Barnett (Good Companions, Knutsford) 16-21 Ben Phillips (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV)

Andy Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) 21-10 Bob Whyatt (Packhorse, Macclesfield)

Lee Johnstone (Houldsworth WMC, Stockport) 21-8 Tim Wilson (Red Lion, Frodsham)

Neal Ocego (Goshawk, Frodsham) 18-21 Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Mike Procter (Plough TRC, Macclesfield) 13-21 Noel Burrows (Waggon & Horses, Stockport)

Ryan Sandham (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV) 6-21 Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire)

Tony Stevens (Poynton Sports, Stockport) 17-21 Dave Jackson (Railway Inn, Knutsford)

Rob Winnington (Knutsford BC, Knutsford) 21-19 Barry Ellams (Red Lion, Frodsham)


Andy Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) 7-21 Noel Burrows (Waggon & Horses, Stockport)

Dave Jackson (Railway Inn, Knutsford) 18-21 Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire) 21-8 Dave Phillips (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV)

Rob Winnington (Knutsford BC, Knutsford) 19-21 Lee Johnstone (Houldsworth WMC, Stockport)


Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire) 21-19 Noel Burrows (Waggon & Horses, Stockport)

Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire) 12-21 Lee Johnstone (Houldsworth WMC, Stockport)


Lee Johnstone (Houldsworth WMC, Stockport) 11-21 Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire)