June Festival Preview
The eagerly awaited Isle of Man June Festival takes place the week commencing 18th June with a good entry of over 340 in the Men’s competition.
On the first page of the draw former festival winner Gaz Lally (Crossgates) takes on Stewart Meddings (Royal Oak BC) in what should be a good game with both having expectations to go far in the competition. Former finalist Carl Fielding (Bradford Arms) will also be looking to make it to the latter stages, whilst Matthew Kelly-Walley (Stratton Anglesey) could face Billy Speed (Castlefields) in the second round. Local player and another former festival winner David Bradford will be looking to pick up his second title and first June win.
On the second page Ryan Clark (Thongsbridge) takes on Ian Sherbrooke (Wallasey) in the first round. Also on this page are current title holder James Wilcox (Crossgates) who starts off a handicap of two and Chris Mordue (Brighouse) who will be hoping to make it a memorable week.
On page three Joshua Mordue (Pudsey) will also be looking to have a good run, whilst regular visitor and serial winner Ian Nicholson (Kendal Vic) will be confident of another victory on Manx soil (or grass!) Another former winner Marown man Colin Kelly could well face Phil Lee (Wallasey) in what could be an entertaining game.
On the next page Andrew Spragg (Eastwood Park) will take on local Stevie Kelly (Peel) who will be looking to take a good scalp in his first game. If Martin Gilpin (Kendal Vic) and Nick White are able to navigate their way through their first game they could face each other in the second round. South Ramsey’s John Kennish the Islands most decorated player has his handicap back up to four, having been as low as scratch thanks to his September 2014 win, which was followed up in style with his June 2015 win despite giving most of his opponents a three start. Kennish will be confident of reaching the latter stages and would be a strong tip to make finals day.
On page five two players jump out with Richie Goddard (Castlefields) on the top half of the page and last year’s runner up Craig Gant (Thongsbridge) in the bottom half. Both players would need to win four games to face each other and if the festival has taught me anything it is that there is always plenty of shocks throughout the week, so neither player will be counting their chickens.
Looking at page six Andrew Duckett (Castlefields) will be hoping to have a good run with Brian Smith (Stratton Anglesey) standing firmly in his way with a potential second round face off.
Over to page seven and Nigel Hughes (Wirral) could face Conor Chamberlain (Stretton Anglesey) as early as Wednesday afternoon in the third round, whilst Kevan Shaw (Westhoughton RC) could play Carl Armitage (St Oswalds) in his second game with the winner potentially taking on Rob Fitzpatrick (Wallasey) in the next round.
On page eight Paul Morgan (Woodlands Park) winner of the September Festival in 1998 makes his long awaited return to the Island and faces Tommy King (Marton) who knows the Islands greens well with both players hoping to be on top of their game to ensure they make it through to the second round. Onchan man Kevin Quirk is finding form at the right time and will be hoping to pick up his first title after having gone close in previous years. Paul Bailey (Meersbrook) takes on Ian Hazlehurst (Wallasey) in his first round game, whilst Andrew Sorsby (Thongsbridge) will be keen to progress to the latter stages.
On page nine Marown captain Paul Dunn will be looking to take his league form into the festival, however he could have the tricky task of facing Kevin Nicholas (Gresford Colliery) in his second game. Chris Kelly (Thongsbridge) could have dodged a bullet in his second game with Danny Barwise (Wallasey) now rumoured to be unable to make it to the Island due to work commitments.
Page ten, this is littered with previous winners. Matt Gilmore (Wallasey) is the first of these and he could face Ben Gloag (Nursery Inn) in his third game which could make for great viewing, whilst Kez Smith (Crossgates) another former winner could face Jon Palmer (Castlefields) in his second game in what could be a fascinating battle. Jon Guess (Fairfield) could face Smith or Palmer in the next round should he find his way through two games. Neil Withers (Marown) is another of a handful of local players to have lifted the trophy and could face another former winner Alan Gilpin (Kendal Vic) in his third game, whilst Alan Belcher (Dukki Central) will be hoping to surpass his previous best in the competition to secure his first festival title.
On the final page Callum Wraight (Castlefields) is another regular visitor to the Island and will know full well that whilst it appears his half of the page is favourable, he will need to ensure he wins those games to make the eagerly anticipated Thursday afternoon, which never fails to throw out some classic encounters. Wraight will be a big favourite to reach the latter stages. On the other half of the page Jack Dyson (Thongsbridge) could face David Jackson (Knutsford) in Wednesday afternoon, whilst Mark Hughes (Crossgates) will be hoping to secure his first festival win having gone close previously.
Whilst I can’t guarantee the weather what should shine through, however, is the quality of the field and the week of bowls we have in store for us, with the Tourism, Men’s Doubles, Open Doubles, various flyers and consolation competitions there is plenty of bowls to be played & enjoyed for all.
Best of luck to all visitors and locals who are taking part throughout the week.