Gene Bardon

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GENE Bardon, who has died aged 71, was regarded as one of the county’s best ever crown-green bowlers.

Originally from Spen Valley and educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School, Mr Bardon was based in Huddersfield for many years, and at the summit of Yorkshire bowling for 30 years.

He played for Newsome WMC and Almondbury Cons and was the first player ever to make 100 appearances for Yorkshire after making his debut at Thrum Hall, Halifax, in July 1965.

Mr Bardon was regarded by many as not only one of the best bowlers in Huddersfield and Yorkshire but an all-time great among bowlers.

He took the Yorkshire Merit crown three times, twice while he was at Newsome and once with Almondbury Con.

Bowling was in the Bardon genes, he started playing at the age of eight helped and encouraged by his father Harry, also a county bowler who won the News of the World Handicap in his day.

Much of Mr Bardon’s knowledge was gained marking his father’s card and being in a position to learn his craft from many top bowlers such as Toommy Martin and Fred Ingham. He was playing in the Yorkshire Boys Merit when he was only 10.

During his career he won many major titles including the BBC2 Top Crown Masters and playing with Roy Nicholson, the BBC2 Top Crown Pairs at Blackpool’s Waterloo Hotel.

He lived at Honley when he played for Newsome – leaving for a time to live in Lancashire before returning to run Thurstonland Post Office.

Among the many scalps he collected along the way was that of Brian Duncan whom he beat in the final of the Jack Pearson Spectacular at Meltham.

He also won the Bass Olympia and the local Grand Slam of Huddersfield Merit, Huddersfield Champion of Champions and the Colne Valley Merit. Other notable victories were the Mirfield Merit, the Spen Valley Merit (when he was only 17), the West Riding Merit, and the Gambart Baines at Scarborough (aged 19).

He retired from county competition in 1993 and two years later he was installed at President of the Yorkshire Crown Green Bowling Association.

Away from bowling, Mr Bardon had a successful business career including a number of years at Thurstonland where he and wife Judith ran the village post office.

When he retired from working, he moved to live in Rutland to be near his family but even then became involved with the community helping with local post offices and being a regular attender at Oakham Methodist Church. He fought a long battle with cancer but stayed involved in church activities right up to his death.

He leaves a widow, Judith, two sons Simon and Julian, daughter Lindsay and six grandchildren.