LAST week, Steve Curbishley used the Guardian Cup final as an excuse to take a break from decorating at home.

“I’ll have a little roll during my breaks,” he said.

He even sneaked around the corner from his house to a nearby green for a practice session on Sunday morning before having a cooked breakfast.

The 45-year-old wanted to leave as little as possible to chance, and he was the outstanding performer at Winsford Conservative Club on Sunday afternoon.

He adjusted better to an unforgiving green, saving his best performance until last when recording a 21-8 victory against Simon Jones in the final.

The Tarporley man sent both of his woods into the gutter after winning the toss and sending the jack first and his opponent from Castle punished him in ruthless fashion.

Curbishley led 7-0 before his rival could trouble the scorers.

As he handled the silver trophy afterwards, there was an obvious question to a first-time winner.

“Where does this rank for me?” he said.

“In terms of solo success, right up there. Yeah, definitely.

“I haven’t won a big singles competition in this neck of the woods even though I’ve played for teams this way for the past 10 years or so.

“Just looking at the list of previous winners engraved on the cup makes me feel pretty made up to think my name will be joining theirs on there.”

And yet he confessed to feeling unsettled before the start.

That was in part because Neal Ocego, his first foe, has been one of the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association’s most consistent performers during the current campaign.

Indeed, there was nothing to choose between the friends in the first-half of their encounter.

Curbishley said: “I’ll be honest; before going on, I was nervous.

“But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel that way before the final of a big competition like this.

“Knowing I was playing Neal, who is a good bowler in decent form and also a mate of mine, made it that bit harder.”

He went on to prevail 21-13.

A break of five during the early stages of a semi-finals encounter with Paul Farrington established control and an 11-4 lead.

The Middlewich bowler stirred though, taking the next three ends, before a run of seven took Curbishley to all-but eight.

He lost concentration, if only fleetingly, before closing out a 21-11 triumph.

A scorching start to the final knocked Jones off course, and he never looked likely to recover from 10-3 down at halfway.

“I had to stay focused,” added Curbishley.

“He threatened to start clawing back a few chalks, like Paul had done, and I just thought about taking my time on the mat and not rushing.

“I could have got myself in trouble, and agitated, if I let him back in.”

And to celebrate?

A man who confessed to playing only once a week – for the defending champions in the top-flight – left sharply to...try and win another competition in Stockport.

“I won’t have time to party,” he added.

“It’ll be dressing gown, slippers and an early night. That’s if I don’t fall asleep in the armchair.”