June Festival Preview
The eagerly awaited Isle of Man June Festival takes place the week commencing 17th June with a good entry of over 314 in the Men’s competition.
On the first page of the draw Andy Duckett (Crossgates) will be hoping to go far in the competition, he takes on the bookmaker Graham Hirst in the first round. Local man Geoff Collier (South Ramsey) who only took up the game last year has the unenviable task of taking on Ben Gloag (Grapes Hotel) for his first time competing in the festival, whilst 2017 winner James Wilcox (Crossgates) will be looking to go far with some tricky fixtures along the way.
On the second page Callum Wraight (Castlefields) will once again be one of the hot favourites to take the title and his first festival win, having won the majority of the games biggest prizes and ended his week last June on a high winning the PokerStars Invitation at South Ramsey. Should Matthew Quirk (Onchan) make it through his first game he could well face Wraight in the second round, whilst Gareth Herbert (George BC) has a tough game against Joshua Mordue (Crossgates). Ian Hazlehurst has once again been handed a tough first round game taking on the ‘Hoover’ Jack Dyson (Thongsbridge).
On page three another regular visitor Mark Hughes (Crossgates) will be hoping to break his duck in the main event with several of his team mates having taken the trophy over the past few years, whilst 1998 winner David Jackson (Knutsford) will be keen to take his second June title. Current holder Martin Gilpin (Kendal Vic) starts three points back due to his 2018 win and will need to make a good start in his games to ensure he doesn’t fall too far behind. Mel Byron (Duki Central) takes on local man Steve Parker (North Ramsey).
On the next page Gaz Lally (Crossgates) takes on Craig Shore (Burbage) in the first round, with local player David Bradford keen to reach the latter stages of the June festival having won the September title at the tender age of 17, however should he get through his first round game Bradford could have to face the likes of Barry Booth (Kendal Vic) and Ryan Clark (Thongsbridge) if he is to progress.
On page five Nick White (Thongsbridge) will fancy his chances of getting through the top half of his page, whilst Kevan Shaw (West Houghton) will be favourite to make the latter stages in the bottom half of the page, however Phil Kerruish (Onchan) may well be one of his opponents who will be confident of performing well against Shaw.
Looking at page six Chris Kelly (Thongsbridge) will once again be looking to reach the latter stages of the festival, will have to beat the likes of Nidge Hughes (Wirral) & Billy Speed (Castlefields) to make it to finals day on Friday.
Over to page seven September 2018 festival winner John Kennish (South Ramsey) is another man to start three points back on his opponents due to his recent success in the festival, will be hoping to find some form to take him through the week. A man in form is Paul Dunn (Marown) who is unbeaten in the league this season, having switched bowls over the winter Dunn will be hoping this is his year. A game everyone will want to watch is two of the games top players with both having won a number of the top competitions, John Bailey (Castlefields) could take on Chris Mordue (Pudsey) on Wednesday morning.
On page eight regular visitor to the Island Kevin Nicholas (Gresford Colliery) won’t be missed on the green with his yellow bowls. Another local in form is Jordan Cain (Onchan), who could face one of the games entertainers Michael Leach (Kirkham) who is fascinating to watch on the green, whilst 2012 winner Rob Fitzpatrick (Wirral) could face Andy Mailer (Thongsbridge) or Ian Nicholson (Kendal Vic) with Nicholson somewhat unbelievably having never won a June Festival with all his festival wins coming in September. Dan Jones (Castlefields) will be keen on making good progress having not visited the Island for a couple of years.
On page 9 it has been 19 years since local man Dave ‘Barney’ Kelly (Peel) took his only festival win beating Kev Shaw back in the ‘good old days’ when the finals used to be held on the Villa, whilst Craig Gant (Thongsbridge) could have a tasty second round game against Richie Goddard (Castlefields).
On the final page 2013 winner Neil Withers be looking to progress having recently lost in the final of the Big Smash, whilst Andrew Sorsby (Thongsbridge) could face off against Matthew Kelly-Walley (Stretton Anglesey) in the second round. 2016 June winner and recent Big Smash winner Kez Smith (Crossgates) could face big hitter Paul Bailey (Meersbrook), whilst another big hitter Chris Barton (Wirral) will be hoping for a good week.
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.