New Season Gets Underway
The long awaited night league crown green bowls season starts on Monday 1st April with Division One champions South Ramsey A, who will have it all to do to retain their title with the news that the Islands undisputed number one player John Kennish is taking a break from night league bowls having won everything there is to at team level, with the loss further compounded by a couple of their top players due to be missing for stints throughout the season. With the loss of Kennish, this has given James Teare the opportunity to step up having improved each season that he has played since taking the game up in 2013 to prove there is a reward for putting the time in to the game.
South Ramsey B have signed Edward Carlyle from Onchan, who will be encouraged to be playing regular first division bowls, as they look to secure another season in the top division.
Marown A have no changes to report from their first team from last year, may well be favourites to win the league for the first time since 2013. Whilst Marown fell short by 21 points last season, they will no doubt feel that they can perform better individually and as a team, and will be in good spirits with a number of their players having recently returned from a bowling holiday in Cyprus.
Marown B who have a good blend of youth and experience will feel confident of retaining their top flight status once again, having done so fairly comfortably last season.
Onchan A look to have made a couple of signings, with Frank Watson joining from Peel A whilst Steve Parker is rumoured to be making the move from North Ramsey A, they will look to improve on last seasons points total.
Peel A have signed three time former Manx Champion Andy Kennish, who joins from Douglas having captained them last season, with Stevie Kelly taking on the captaincy for a second season.
Douglas A having lost their captain, appear to be largely unchanged. Former Manx Champion Gary Conwell is now entering his 40th season of league bowls with 25 of those on the Isle of Man.
2018 Division two winners Noble’s A will be hopeful of staying in the top division, provided they have managed to keep the same team as they had last season, with young Glenn Boland and newcomer Reginald Temporaza in their ranks with both keen to impress in the top flight.
Port St Mary A have signed Dave McCabe who has made the short move from Port Erin, which has allowed McCabe to continue to play bowls in division one, whilst my younger brother Glenn ‘Tango’ Hargraves is rumoured to be on the verge of making a bowls comeback after a number of years away from the game.
Castletown A have been struck a blow with the news that Mike Hargraves has taken the tough decision to stop playing bowls having played for Castletown A since 1974, with 17 year old Sam Clague believed to be taking the opportunity to step up into the A Team.
The B team will be confident of staying in division one having gained promotion last season and may look to give their A Team a run for their money as to who will be top dogs in the town. Rumour has it Bob Clark has returned to Castletown and will be playing in the B Team, with Nathan Cooil making a full comeback which is great to see. Nathan Hamilton has left Port St Mary after just one season to join up with Clark & Cooil.
Back to the north of the Island and North Ramsey A have a new captain in Allan Callow, who will no doubt hope the improvement in the green last season has continued over the winter to help their good home form.
In Division Two Port Erin A will be looking to bounce back from being relegated, with the club hoping to take over the maintenance of the bowling green shortly which will allow them the opportunity to have the green as they would like it, this may well encourage new members to join the club. Port Erin when running well can be a difficult green to play.
Ballaugh A & Finch Hill A are the only other A Teams in the men’s night league that don’t have an A Team in division one, with Ballaugh A the more likely of the two who could possibly go up, with their home form not in doubt, it is their results on their travels that will be key to mounting a serious challenge.
Douglas B who were relegated along with Port Erin A may find it a bit tougher to go straight back up to division one.
Division three champions Marown C, will be hopeful of continuing their season by season improvement by retaining their place in division two, whilst Ballaugh B may find it a bit tougher to stay up.
In Division three Noble’s have added a third men’s night league team, with Douglas D dropping out of the league having struggled to fill four teams for the majority of the 2018 season, whilst Port Erin B will be looking to make an immediate return to division two.
After a tough summer last season the Islands clubs can only hope their greens have wintered well following the work carried out in the Autumn to help get them into good condition for the 2019 season.
I hope everyone is looking forward to the new season and I look forward to seeing you around the greens.
World Club Championships
Following their success in winning the league for a third consecutive season, South Ramsey A once again have the opportunity to compete in the World Club Championships on Sunday 7th April, with the competition taking place at Spen Victoria Bowling Club where they take on Ecclestone (Merseyside). The competition involves 16 teams, is played over four consecutive weekends in a group of four teams on a straight knockout basis. The other two teams in the group are Newdigate (North Midlands) who will play Thurgoland (South Yorkshire). The winners from each game in the group then play off to qualify for the finals day on Sunday April 14th.