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Melksham now boasts the new men’s British skittles champions, the Wiltshire Wonders, who triumphed on Saturday 20th September in a late night thrilling final.
The team were on form right from the start of the finals, putting out the defending champions, hot favourites the Highwaymen from Worcester in the second round. Then followed a semi final clash with Bristol’s Nibs, who were the 2011 champions, before the Wonders claimed victory over the Heavitree Heroes from Exeter by a resounding 418 points to 336.
The victory over the Nibs was particularly sweet as the Wonders lost to them in the 2011 final. Until now, that runner-up result had been their best in British skittles history. It’s also the first time a team from Wiltshire has won the championships.
The team, who play out of Melksham Liberal Club, is very much a family affair. Team captain John Wiltshire plays alongside his brother Mark and father John.
The tournament, the Butcombe British Skittles Championship, began in April with a series of leagues and playoffs, and involved nearly 150 teams from all over the UK of which 64 qualified for Saturday’s finals. It is now being registered as the biggest skittles tournament in the world, with Guinness World Records.
By the time the final ball was thrown, 1,696 people had taken part in 472 matches over much of the country. More than a quarter of a million skittles were stuck up and then knocked down by over 130,000 balls.
And by the time the winners reached the podium, they had played the equivalent of nearly 30 days of skittles.
Rachel Bourke, co-director of the Shoot Out Club in Torquay who organise the competition said, “We know of no other skittles competition in the world that involves so many people. So a record will definitely be set and we hope confirmed soon by Guinness.”
Guy Newell, boss of Butcombe Brewery who were sponsoring the event for the first time, congratulated the Wiltshire Wonders on their victory. He said, “What a fantastic competition. Everyone at Butcombe Brewery has been impressed with the standard of play, sportsmanship and most importantly the sense of fun and enjoyment from these championships. We also note that the beer has gone down well too, proving beer and skittles really do go together.”
Pictured: The Wiltshire Wonders in their moment of triumph with captain John Wiltshire holding the trophy.