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Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Cumberland wrestling round-up

by Roger Robson

Cumberland wrestling
I have been very lucky to oversee the development and growth of many young wrestlers, and the current crop of stars are no exception.

Nine years ago, at the end of my book on Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, a photograph under the heading 'The Future, stars of the present and future champions' shows two tiny wrestlers in full wrestling gear looking very seriously at the camera.

That prediction has long ago been fulfilled, and Richard Dixon of Lessonhall and John Harrington of Bewaldeth, who both work at home on the farm, added more honours to their name last week.

They received CWWA trophies at the Presentation Dinner in the Auctioneer, Carlisle where wrestlers and fans had gathered from all over Cumbria and Northumberland.

Richard Dixon's year started well when he won the 11 stone Championship at Killington Sports in early June.

Later in the year he took the 11 stone Grasmere Championship also. His main rival was his friend and relative, John Harrington, who was fleetingly 11 stone after clipping time around Langhom Common Riding.

The two of them battled it out at 11.5 stone all season.

One week, such as at Silloth Vintage Rally, Harrington would be completely the boss, and then the following week Dixon would be throwing Harrington high, wide and handsome at Patterdale.

Dixon was usually at a half stone disadvantage, but in the end that became an advantage as he accumulated points from 11 stone events.

He began the season well, and then got better, a worthy winner of the CWWA Lightweights trophy.

John Harrington won the Middleweights Trophy with his consistent skilful performance.

The Breton wrestlers, for all their flair, must have wondered what they had to do to beat him.

Like Richard Dixon he won at the big occasions like Ambleside and Grasmere, but for much of the season something was missing… a championship.

In some years he has been a triple champion, but somehow they had slipped away from him, until that glorious climax of the Grass Season at Alwinton when he felled Richard Dixon in the final of the 12 stones to regain the World Championship.

Harrington's strength and style means that he is competitive when wrestling bigger men, and he also travels well, so once again he was the winner of the CWWA All Weights trophy for the season.

For a few years the dominant female wrestler has been Tracy Hodgson but this year that mantle fell to her younger sister Hannah Hodgson of Dentdale, who is fourteen years of age and a pupil at Settlebeck School.

When we were struggling to find funds to stage the European Championships in Carlisle in 1999, he gave us £2,000 with no strings attached

Roger Robson recalls the generosity of the late Brooks Mileson

Her keenness has taken her to wrestle in Brittany in February and all over the North during the main season, and includes a win in the Female Under 15 Years at Grasmere.

The youngest category was also the closest, with only one point separating the winner, James Hayhurst of Natland, from the runner-up Joe Hale of Rothbury.

James, who trains at Kendal Academy was well chauffeured by his grandad Peter and won throughout the region.

In the end the difference between the two contenders came down to the likes of Stanhope Show where the two met in the final and Hayhurst came off best.

Hayhurst, who goes to Dallam School, is also brilliant at motor trialling, coming fifth in the Nationals for his age.

He competes as far afield as the Isle of Man and Wales, negotiating rocks and ramps and riverbeds on his trial bike.

Most successful of all at the dinner was Joe Thompson of Alston, for he won three trophies.

His father, another Peter, takes him wherever there is wrestling, and we have seen him developing in skill and character.

Best of all for him was the win at Eskdale Show, when he battled his way to win the under-15 years championship against bigger opposition.

Tellingly before that event he felt the need of some specialised coaching, and went to Alan Jones for some intensive work in the fortnight before the championship, which may have made all the difference.

At Eskdale he then went on to win the Under 18 Years despite even greater weight disadvantage.

His success in the older age-group was repeated often enough in the season to bring him the CWWA Under 18s trophy too.

The third trophy? That was a small cup awarded to the Wrestlers' Wrestler, voted on by the active wrestlers present at the dinner.

It may not be hall-marked silver, but maybe it is the most valuable trophy of all.

On a final note, Brooks Mileson, the late former Gretna Football Club owner, who died recently, only came into our wrestling world once.

When we were struggling to find funds to stage the European Championships in Carlisle in 1999, he gave us £2,000 with no strings attached, which made all the difference.

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