Melton bowler eager to go one better at national finals

Don Welch in action on his march to the national over 60s semi-finals in Melton three years ago EMN-160329-141455002
Don Welch in action on his march to the national over 60s semi-finals in Melton three years ago EMN-160329-141455002
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Evergreen bowler Don Welch is looking to go one better this weekend and earn himself a shot at a national title.

The Melton Indoor Bowls Club member travels to Nottingham tomorrow to take his place at the National Over 60s Indoor Bowls Finals.

The 74-year-old, from Rothley, faces Rick Gallagher (Cumbria) in the last 16 of the singles at 4pm.

He will go into the tournament in excellent form, having seen off former England international and multiple-national champion Mick Sharpe, from Northants, to reach the national finals.

“I was pleased with that - this kind of result really fires you up,” he said.

“The national finals is the big one for me - I get a buzz from it.

“You have got to go in with confidence; I can’t wait for it.”

It will be the third time Don has qualified for the nationals, having reached the quarter-finals at his first attempt, where he was beaten by Sharpe, and then the semi-finals three years ago at Melton.

He will go into this weekend’s tournament with unfinished business after that semi-final loss and eager to put things right.

He explained: “We started the match at 9am and it wasn’t warm, but I never adjusted my line to take account of that.

“I kept thinking I wasn’t putting the bowl on my normal line, but in fact it was slower .

“When it warms up, it runs a lot faster and swings more. I was a bit annoyed to fall into that trap.”

If Don is going to go one, or even two wins better this time around, it will be as much a test of stamina as concentration and skill.

The quarter-finals begin at 7pm, just three hours after the round of 16, with another quick turnaround for the semi-finals at 9.30am the following morning.

“I am going to take it game by game,” he added. “But you can’t help having it in the back of your mind that I got to the quarters the first time and then the semi-finals the last time.

“So you want to progress through the next round or two.

“I have got to shut my mind off and play each game as it comes. You can’t get carried away.”

Don’s hopes of a quiet week to prepare his game for the big test were not to be.

Instead he had a county triples semi-final for Melton on Tuesday with his good friend Chris Rodgers and Mel Bass, and a county singles final tonight (Thursday).

And despite the inevitable march of time, Don is still in big demand as another outdoor season approaches.

He has been asked to partner world top 16 indoor bowler Les Gillett on his return to outdoor action this summer, and has also been invited to county trials for the Middleton Cup squad.

“I was asked about seven or eight years ago to play outdoors for the county, but refused because I wanted a younger man to have a chance,” he said.

“But I’ve decided it’s time to give it one last blast.”