Paxton runner-up in the Just World Indoor Bowls Singles Championship for the second time in three years...

FORMER Exeter postman Rob Paxton enhanced his already sky-high reputation at Potters Resort in Norfolk last weekend, but had to settle for the runners-up spot in the Just World Indoor Bowls Singles Championship for the second time in three years.

Being beaten by Blackpool’s Mark Dawes was no disgrace for the man who plays for Ilminster indoors and Crediton on grass, because Dawes had been outstanding all week, and fully deserved to come out on top.

But the way in which the 39-year-old Paxton was distracted by a loud cough from a spectator just as he delivered the last bowl of the match, when he was attempting a difficult match-saving delivery, left the world number six gutted.

When Paxton’s despairing drive just missed its target, and he scowled at the perpetrator, before making his feelings known to BBC TV presenter Rishi Persad in the usual post-match interview.

After expressing his opinion that there had been too many disturbances during the final, Paxton gained brownie points by admitting that the right man had won.

“Mark out-bowled me with his first two bowls, and I just hung in there with my third and fourth,” he said. “Mark has been the most consistent bowler on the portable rink from the start, and is a worthy champion,” he added. “It was just a disappointing way to bow out!”

At the post-match conference, Paxton revealed that the man with the cough had apologised to him after the game, and had asked him for a signed shirt. Not surprisingly, his response to the request is not on record!

Dawes, who kept calm throughout, and returned an 8-7, 6-8, 2-0 scorecard, seemed less troubled by noises in the crowd, perhaps because, as he explained, he started his bowls career on crown greens in Lancashire, where crowd noise is part of the culture.

The Lancastrian, who led superbly for Exonia’s Jamie Chestney in the Open Pairs less than a week before, is a chartered accountant with Daf Trucks in Preston, but looks much younger than his 35 years.

He told the press how, after he and Chestney won the World Pairs title, they had strolled into the Bowlers’ Bar at Potters to indulge in a small celebration. “The barman asked me for my ID, because he didn’t think I was old enough to drink alcohol,” he grinned.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.