The pressure’s on for the Highwaymen, Worcester’s top skittles team, who are preparing the defence of their British Men’s Skittles title next month. Victory in the finals in South Devon would add a fourth historic trophy to their haul and yet another page in the skittling record books.
When the Highwaymen won their third title last year, they were the first men’s team to do so in the history of the Gasket Guy British Skittles Championships. Their previous wins were in 2012 and 2013. A fourth victory in 2016 would make that record even more unbeatable.
This year, it’s a case of so far so good. The Highwaymen have cruised through the preliminary rounds without dropping a game and are odds-on favourites to win a fourth historic title. All eyes (and ears) will be on the team who play out of the Barbourne Ex Servicemen’s Club and are renown for their rousing singing during matches.
This year the team is being sponsored by local business, Baylis Vauxhall Worcester who are providing the team with smart new Polo shirts.
‘We are really delighted to support the Highwaymen,’ said David Williams company director. ‘They have shown great sportsmanship, ability to play brilliantly under pressure and they have now lifted that winning trophy an amazing three times. We wish them every success in winning a fourth title. They’ve done the City of Worcester proud.’
As well as new team shirts, the Highwaymen are boasting three new members among the ranks. First time player Cameron Pinches will be joining veterans Scott Evans and Stephen Ayres as the new faces in the team when they line up against the other 63 qualifying finalists in the men’s competition in Torquay.
Captain James Rushton is confident the new recruits will cope with the pressure.
‘We’ve had some cracking games in the knock out rounds and the team’s bonding well. We will always need that little bit of luck and we know that our hearts will be pounding as those first balls start to roll down the alley. But I think we can do it. It’s the most magical event and the atmosphere is indescribable.
‘It only gets better if you step up on that podium and receive the trophy. That’s when it’s off the scale.’
The Gasket Guy Championships are staged annually by Serious About Events based in Torquay and attract around 150 teams from all over the England, particularly the Midlands, South, South West and Wales.
During the competiton, nearly 500 matches will have been played and approximately 22,000 balls bowled in the men’s, ladies and mixed team events before the winners and runners-up are crowned.
Pictured holding the team shirt are Baylis director Dave Williams (left) and The Highwaymen team captain & Baylis Worcester salesman James Rushton along with the rest of the team and the impressive trophy collection they are hoping to add to.