David Becomes Goliath with Manx Championship Victory

 David ‘Drof’ Bradford (Onchan) etched his name into the record books as he beat Trevor Quayle (Port St Mary) 21-15 to win the Canada Life International Manx Championship. The final was a breath taking conclusion to an enthralling two days action with both players playing their part.

Bradford, who is fast becoming a colossus of the local game, added the coveted trophy to his ever increasing collection and despite being only Thirty years old will be relieved to have got this monkey off his back, as many past greats have failed to get their hands on the illusive holy grail of Manx bowls.

In the final, despite an even start, Bradford eventually moved through the gears quicker surging into a 16-8 lead over Quayle, who had played like a champion all day. Just when it looked like he might be running away with it his opponent dug deep, and using all his resolve mounted a spirited fight back. It was not to be for Trevor, and after seeing one of his best leads beaten at 20-15 adrift; he saw his second bowl go through a seemingly impossible gap to fall just short of his own quest for glory.

Whilst Bradford deserves all the plaudits and accolades afforded to him, spare a thought for Quayle who was at times equally brilliant over the course of the weekend. He started finals day in ruthless form with a 21-8 win over Mike Hargraves (Castletown) before turning on the style to eliminate eight times champion John Kennish (South Ramsey) in the quarter finals and followed this up with a hard fought 21-18 win over double champion Glynn Hargraves (Onchan) to book his final berth.

In my mind Trevor has been one of the most underrated players in the local game over the past few years, and this final appearance comes as no shock to me, and I by no means think it will be the last time we see him vying for silverware on the big stage. As they say in bowls ‘next end lad’ and I expect to see Trevor straight back in and gunning for glory the next time he steps onto the green.

Our champion had a trickier start to the day, however, and trailed 16-19 to former champion Neil Withers (Marown). With the scores finely poised at 19-19, and Neil lying in two for game his luck changed as a strike he sent flicked off the short wood to cut his opponent down to one and save game. It didn’t stop there and with him lying one next end to go to all but across his opponent went all out for the win with a questionable full blooded strike at his bowl, and in the process took his own wood off the green to see Bradford through by the narrowest of margins.

It takes a champion to come through at seemingly impossible odds and Bradford is a true champion. In the quarter finals he was too hot to handle for Alan Moore (South Ramsey) running away to a 21-9 win before meeting a battling Ewan Cooil (Port St Mary) in the semi-finals who made him work all the way to get over the line at 21-16. Cooil can also be pleased with his weekends work and he played some great bowls, none more so than beating home greener Paul Kelly (Douglas) 21-10 in the quarters.

With an entry of over 60 players for the first time in a good few years there were many highlights of the weekend but two players who shone for me were Michael Collister (Port St Mary) and Mervin Sayle (Finch Hill).

Despite his tender age Collister has struggled in the past few seasons, since winning the Clague Kermeen Trophy, and his performance was a real return to form and he should be very proud of his efforts. He not only qualified for finals days but made it to the quarter finals where he pushed Glynn Hargraves all the way 21-20.
Sayle, who is now playing in division one, showed his true pedigree with the upset of day one eliminating two time champion Kevin Quirk (Onchan) 21-9 with a devastating display.

At the conclusion of the competition IOMCCGBA President Phil Kerruish thanked Douglas for hosting the competition and Canada Life International for their continued support and sponsorship of the event, but the day belonged to Bradford.

It is the end to what has been a long wait for him after he sprung to the fore in 2002 by becoming the youngest ever winner of an Isle of Man Bowls Festival, at the tender age of seventeen. Since then he has emerged as true talent with the potential to reach the highest level, not only on our shores but also in the UK. Now he has a title under his belt the only question I have left to ask is how many more will he add?

His win qualifies him for the British Senior Merit and the famous Champion of Champions competition and with the Island team now represented at Senior County Level I know he will turn a few heads on every green he steps on. Well done Drof, this is your moment lad and you deserve to enjoy every second of it.