2018 Northern Counties
Photos courtesy of Sam Solarfly, Matt Marsh Photography
A record breaking turnout of both athletes and fans descended on the Heywood Civic Centre as the Northern Counties just gets bigger and better. In true fashion for this locality, every man and woman who stepped onstage was treated to a warm welcome with the atmosphere being one of the best in our history.
Some incredible prospects picked up their finals invitations today, as we build up to an epic season finale in October.
The results were as follows:
1 – Santiago Saldana (Westhill)
2017 UK Finalist Santiago returned to the stage vastly improved over last season, with a notable overall increase in size and some progress in condition. Most significantly, he has matured and grown in confidence since his debut year and looked so comfortable onstage as he went about his work. A great prospect for the future.
1 – Aidan Scanlon (Manchester)
2 – Christopher Coles (Croydon)
3 – Kieran Sanderson (Huddersfield)
Three very capable Juniors took the stage next, with a very close fight for the first two places between Aidan and Christopher. Aidan was well balanced and hard with good separations. If he reproduces this package at the finals he will be one to watch. Christopher was equally as well built but just lost out on condition today and if he tightens up over the next 7 weeks is capable of turning the tables in a rematch. Kieran was tall, heavily muscled and with a nice structure but lacked the condition to challenge for a higher placing today. If he dials it in, it would be interesting to see how he compares again to the first two.
1 – Chris Chapman (Sheffield)
2 – Mark Newton (St Helens)
3 – Damon Solley (Leeds)
One of the hardest fought battles of the day took place next in a really evenly matched Masters class. Chris Chapman regained the title he took in 2016, pushed hard by the other two men. Although not quite at his best condition wise, his superior mass, balance and shape was enough to seal the win for him today. Mark Newton took runner up spot and was one of the hardest conditioned men in the entire contest! Rock hard all over and with scary detail in his legs, Mark is enjoying an incredible debut season. Damon Solley in third looked a little bigger and thicker than last season, but like last season seems to be saving his best condition for the finals where he once again be in the thick of battle and looking to secure a trophy spot.
1 – Michael Boyle (Bury)
2 – David Doig (Buxton)
3 – Mark Hesketh (West Kirby)
4 – Andy Anderson (Northwich)
A best ever Michael took the Grandmasters title in his lifetime best shape overall, improved in both size and condition with vastly superior presentation to ever before. David gave a strong challenge in second however, being thickly muscled all over and with his usual lively and engaging free posing display. If he could be a touch harder and drier for the finals, he could certainly give Michael and the other finalists something to think about. A close battle for the third place trophy saw Mark edge out a better than ever Andy. Mark returned after a long layoff with his usual well balanced and shaped physique which he displayed like a Pro. Unable to quite hit the condition he has previously on this occasion though, he had to fight hard for his placing against the biggest and leanest version of Andy we have seen on a UKDFBA stage over the last few years. At this rate of improvement it won’t be long before he finds his way up the placings.
Ladies Masters Figure
1 – Janine Bingham (Chorley)
2 – Maria Giordmaina (Stratford)
3 – Paula Cox (Chester)
4 – Nicola Shaw (Dumfries)
5 – Lisa Hendry (Horsham)
6 – Jayne Anderson (Northwich)
The Masters Figure class saw a hard fought three way battle for the top spot, which ended in a tie for first place. Janine was the sharpest of the three with a great taper and nice balance, although long term will benefit from more overall size. Maria pushed her hard and in terms of muscle development and structure boasted probably the best figure in the class, needing more condition for the finals. Paula was equally as impressive with a lovely shape and structure but not quite as lean as Janine or well developed as Maria. These three ladies now meet again at the final and things could be very different after another 7 weeks of prep time.
Nicola was in her best ever shape in fourth, and good enough for a top 3 placing at most other contests. It’s only a matter of time before she lands in the trophies and earns her own finals invite. Lisa and Jayne rounded out the class, both in great shape but needing more overall size to challenge the other ladies.
1 – Dale Spratt (Burton)
2 – Finn Macnamara (Chesterfield)
3 – Stuart Saunders (Grimsby)
4 – Scott Hughes (Newcastle Under Lyme)
5 – Andrew Vaughan (Llandudno)
One of the toughest Novice classes in UKDFBA history followed, won by Dale with incredible arm and leg development and great conditioning. He will be hard to match in any contest at this level and could be the man to beat at the finals. Finn and Stuart gave as good as they got however, both very impressive and not going down without a fight. Finn took runner up spot, barely recognisable from the young Junior who enjoyed his debut season with us 2 years ago. Bigger, still balanced and aesthetic and with incredible condition he had the edge over third placed Stuart who just could not match Finn for aesthetics today although he too was well built and hard as nails.
Scott was unlucky to land in such a high standard and end the day in fourth, and with a touch more condition would win most qualifiers. Andrew was big and cut with an impressive upper body, but took so long to get into his poses that he was very hard to judge accurately. If he overhauls his presentation and brings his legs up a touch he will be another future winner.
Also competing were Jack Ellis who needed to be harder, but cause nightmares in this class with the required condition. Lee Tulleth who is balanced and conditioned, but needs more size overall and Christopher Wilson who has the beginnings of a decent competitive physique and will be impressive as he adds more muscle and gets leaner.
1 – Karla Evans (Burscough)
2 – Fleur Harker (Euxton)
3 – Natasha Gelder (Morley)
4 – Aisha Abdulla (Cambridge)
Karla returned to the stage from her runner up spot at last years Caledonian vastly improved in terms of overall development and condition and took a clear win in this class. The finals await Karla now where she will surely be one of the pre contest favourites on this form. Fleur was very well shaped and presented, but without the overall size and condition needed to challenge the winner harder today. Natasha looked incredible, with a striking shape and great presentation. She was very closely matched with Fleur and missed taking the runner up spot by a very narrow margin. Aisha took fourth spot with a great development and presentation but needed to be harder.
1 – Sabrina Cawley-Brady (Manchester)
Sabrina returned to defend her title much improved from last year, even more muscular and with confidence and poise onstage which is testament to her growing experience. With a little more condition in the lower body, she will challenge hard at the finals.
Open Men, Lightweight
1 – Chris Paling (Loughborough) ** Overall Winner
2 – Scott Galton (Ringwood)
3 – Terry Holt (Bradford)
Chris also successfully defended his title took his second Northern Counties win on the trot with mind boggling condition all over his densely muscled physique which boasts particularly thickly muscled pecs, shoulders and arms. Chris went on to take the overall with a unanimous judges vote, winning the opportunity to experience his first taste of International competition at the Danish Open a few weeks after this contest.
Scott and Terry fought hard for second with very different physiques. Scott was compact and heavily muscled with his ever massive legs and calves but now matched with a denser upper body to bring his balance up. He was a little distance from his optimal condition, clearly holding a little back for the finals in 7 weeks. Terry on the other hand could barely have been any harder today. His condition was its best ever and he was leaps and bounds improved from his last appearance with a striated chest and really impressive side poses. However, he was very tall for a lightweight with comparatively slender legs and looked quite light in the rear poses. Scott edged the decision today but when Terry adds the quality mass needed to match his new found condition he will do some damage, presumably as a middleweight.
Open Men, Middleweight
1 – Rob Collie (Elgin) ** Best Poser
2 – Ryan Howells (Bristol)
Rob took the middleweights on his UKDFBA debut, in astonishing condition with incredible width, a classical shape and the best back development in the contest. His breath taking posing display matched his physique perfectly and earned him the Best Poser award for the contest.
Defending Champion Ryan could not quite match last years condition but is sure to be 100% for the finals where he could push Rob closer than he did today and possibly even turn the tables. Ryan clearly loves his time onstage and is impressively built with a show stopping front lat spread.
[Philip Brown was announced in first place on the day of the contest, but has since tested positive for banned substances and has now been disqualified from the contest, stripped of his title and banned from competing with the UKDFBA or any other WNBF affiliate.]
Open Men, Heavyweight
1 – Andrew Turner (Hartlepool)
2 – Chris Tyson (Rochdale)
3 – Pavel Matejec (Warrington)
The heavyweight class was taken by a debuting Andrew who was well balanced and hard as nails with impressive quads and delts in particular. Not the biggest heavyweight, but complete and conditioned enough to hold his own in any line up he was very impressive. Chris took runner up spot in his open class debut, taking 5 years away since his Novice season and putting the time to good use with some good overall improvements in muscle mass. A little harder over the next 7 weeks and his rematch with Andrew will be an interesting and fiercely fought one.
Pavel in third is huge and balanced, and has true star potential if he can master the condition he needs and get his tan right. Still young enough to be a junior but choosing to mix it with the big boys, Pavel is a true “rough diamond” and with the right guidance could be something special.
1 – Shaunagh O’Neill (Newark)
2 – Clare Hulme (Hyde)
3 – Nadine Stone (Newcastle)
4 – Samantha Hughes (Manchester)
5 – Claire Sands (Barwell)
Taking the bikini title in a 9 strong class was Shaunagh, who was lean and athletic with a great shape and discernible muscle development in great balance. Definitely one to watch at the finals. Defending champion Claire was improved from last year and looked great and it took a top class athlete in Shaunagh to stop her retaining her title. Nadine was tall with a great structure and shape, but needs a little more muscle and condition to push for a higher placing. Samantha looked superb, and just lost out on a top 3 spot on a tiebreaker. With some tweaks to her posing, especially from the back she could have leapt up the placings and possibly pushed the winner. Claire took the final placing spot, with her usual great structure and just needing to be a little harder.
Also competing were Neasha Bredin and Olivia Real who needed to be a little leaner to place higher today, and Carmela Allia and Samantha Clayton who need a little more size.
Mens Physique, Short
1 – Devere Payne (Manchester) ** Overall Winner
2 – Jason Magee (Manchester)
3 – Ambokile Bell (Manchester)
4 – Lee Bushell (Bury)
5 – Forhan Ahmed (Salford)
A really tough and talent rich class, with one of the best Physique competitors we’ve seen on our stages taking the title. Devere has made significant progress from his last UKDFBA appearance and hurtles towards the finals as one of the favourites with his near flawless and beautifully shaped upper body which just needs a fraction more conditioning. Such conditioning that runner up Jason has already mastered as he was lean and hard without being “shredded” and with great muscle fullness and development. He just didn’t have the aesthetic shape to topple the winner today, but very few would have. Ambokile in third was full and shapely, but needs harder condition whereas Lee in fourth was the exact opposite, nailing perfect conditioning for the class but requiring some time to develop more size and thickness. Forhan has a great shape and good development, but hurt himself badly in the comparisons by twisting too far to the front on his side shots, leaving the judges unable actually assess him from the side sufficiently to consider placing him higher.
Also competing were Sam Kelly who had a stunning shape and could have been inside the top three if he was harder. Sam Kelly, Chris Simpson, Sheldon Parker and Sam Richardson who generally needed to be bigger and harder and Derek Heenan who looked incredible and just missed the top 5 with his balanced and muscular physique. Derek, hearing impaired and with learning difficulties has overcome some considerable obstacles to make it to the stage and lit up the venue with his strong and positive personality.
Mens Physique, Tall
1 – James Watkinson (Bingley)
2 – Kurtis Jacques (Barry)
3 – Michael Parry (Whitchurch)
4 – James Reekie (Brechin)
5 – Sam Harvey (London)
James took the final class of the day, in his best condition to date and miles harder than the Caledonian, where he vowed to go away and come back with a bang. He did exactly as he promised and came here today determined not to be stopped. James looked a little tense in the back poses and needs to open up a little more. A lean and muscular Kurtis pushed him all the way, especially from the back where he held himself much better but in the end didn’t quite have the aesthetic appeal of the winner. Michael took a solid third with a balanced and lean physique which needed to be a little harder today. James took his second fourth place finish of the season, leaner and fuller than the Caledonian with potential for great success with a little more size and condition. Sam rounded out the top 5, lean and hard and now posing more comfortably which is making the world of difference to his onstage look.
Also competing were Gordon Telford, who looked just as impressive as at the Caledonian and with a touch more size and condition will jump the placings. Kudzai Chidziva needed to be a little harder, whereas Sam Parr, Thomas Glegg and Robert Meiklem need to add more size to make more of an impact.
And with the aforementioned Overall title going to Devere moments later, our record breaking Northern came to a close. It was a very special contest for the association in many ways, from an unprecedented level of athlete and audience support to the sad but reassuring test failure which, while never a nice thing to address reminds us all of the ethos of the association and gives confidence in our antidoping programme.
One qualifier to go, then on to the finals! See you in Rugby.