HALIFAX BOWLER Graham Hickey announced his arrival back in the big time with victory in the final of the £2,000 Whitefield BC Open.
The Siddal player, who had a lengthy spell out of the game after winning successive Yorkshire Merit titles at Low Moor Harold, Bradford in 2005 and 2006, was the 40-1 outsider among 32 bowlers at the Bury club.
A top class field was headed by Gary Ellis, Wayne Ditchfield, Callum Wright and Simon Coupe in the chase for a £500 first prize.
Hickey beat Manchester’s Paul Dudley 21-16 in the final. He led 4-0 and 14-8 before being pegged back to 16-16 but ran out playing in his favoured corners of the green.
Hickey had opened with a 21-14 win over Sheffield’s Chris Kelly and then accounted for Matthew Gillies of Manchester by 21-12, Dave Higginbottom of Manchester by 21-19 and then Bill Speed of Wigan by 21-13 in the semi-final.
Nobody was more surprised than Hickey, who had a knee replacement in 2015, by his return to the upper echelons of the sport.
“I never thought I would be winning anything again from where I was,” said the 57-year-old, who hardly played for three years.
“I lost interest and only played once in a blue moon when teams were short,” he said.
“I started getting back into it and I have become keener but I am still only in the second team at Lower Hopton.”
Hickey is in the first team on a Wednesday night for Halifax League frontrunners Elland WMC, playing alongside former county colleagues Graeme Wilson and Robert Hitchen.
Ian Booth was a second Halifax area bowler in the last 32 at Whitefield. He beat Ben Stapleton 21-4 but then lost to Ditchfield by 21-10. Dudley beat Ditchfield 21-8 in the semi-final.