June Festival Preview
The Isle of Man June Bowls Festival gets underway next week with a host of top names from across the game hoping to be the lucky winner who gets their name on the trophy and the winners cheque for £3,000. The event is being held for the first time since June 2019, with Jack Dyson the current holder looking to defend the title.
On the first page of the draw David Poole (Pudsey) makes a long awaited return to the island, hoping to go one better than in 2000 when he lost out in the final to Andrew Spragg, while Billy Speed is one of the stand out names in the top half of the page. Another familiar name is previous winner Geoff Telford (Budenbergs), with his success in this competition arriving 25 years ago with a victory in the final over Norman Fletcher one of the legends of the game, while Merseyside man Dave McDermott (Birchleigh St Marys) will be hoping for a good week.
In the next section is a former Ballacashtal Cup winner Charlie Roberts (Dukinfield Central) who takes on North Lancs & Fylde County man Ashleigh Woof (Parkfield) in the first round. Ben Gloag (Grapes Hotel) could face two previous winners as early as the third round with Martin Gilpin (Hale) taking on Paul Bailey (Thongsbridge) in what could be the game of the first round, with some potentially explosive ties on the Thursday afternoon should the top names get through with Gareth Herbert (Woodman) also appearing on the page.
Owen Jackson (Parkfield) is another name who hasn’t been over for some time, he will be hoping to get through to the latter stages, while Marown captain Paul Dunn could play previous Festival winner John Bailey (Llanrwst) in the third round.
On page four Dan Jones (Llanrwst) could face off against Matt Kelly-Walley (Stretton Anglesey) in the second round, while current holder Jack Dyson should be able to navigate his way through his half of the page to make the Thursday afternoon session to reach the last 32.
Kez Smith (Crossgates BC) is another man to have his name etched into the history books in this competition, he will have to get past the likes of Chris Bly (Hopwood) and Conor Chamberlain (Stretton Anglesey) just to reach the latter stages of the competition.
The absence of bowls has obviously attracted a host of previous winners back to our shores, with one of the top names in the game Graeme I Wilson (AEU) making a long awaited return since his defeat to Jack Hargreaves in the final in June 2011, as Wilson looks to add to his four Festival titles. In the top half of the draw Craig Shore (Eastwood Park), James Wilcox (Crossgates BC) who picked up the title in 2017 and Stuart Mort (Parkfield) could all clash in the early rounds, while on the bottom half of the page Richie Goddard (Llanrwst) could face off with 2010 winner Wayne Ditchfield (Kirkham) in the second round at Onchan, with the latter having a tricky first round fixture against 1996 winner Carl Armitage (St Oswalds). There are a further two previous winners on the page with Ian Nicholson (Hale), Colin Kelly (Marown) in the mix. Danny Barwise (Birchleigh St Marys) has the unenviable task of taking on the Marown man in the first round.
On page seven Robby Fitzpatrick (Hoylake Central) the winner in 2012 may have to face Merseyside man Peter Jones (Wirral) with the latter having just relocated to the Island. On the bottom half of the page South Ramsey’s Jordan Cain will be hoping for a good week, while Jon Guess (Fairfield) will be in the mix.
June 2013 winner Neil Withers (Marown) could clash with another previous winner as early as the second round with David Jackson (Knutsford) potentially awaiting, while the rest of the page contains no previous winners this could be the chance for a new name to be etched on the famous trophy.
The runner up from June 1990 Colin Price (Dukinfield Central) will be looking to enjoy his week with a good run, while September 2002 winner David Bradford will be looking to juggle work commitments to be able to participate this week. Chris Kelly (Thongsbridge) will be looking to pick up his first Festival title to become yet another man from his club to have picked up the coveted title, however he will have to see off the challenge of Tommy King (Kirkham) in the first round.
On page 10 Dave ‘Barney’ Kelly who won the title at the Villa in June 2000 with a 21-15 win over Kevan Shaw, could face Crossgates man Mark Hughes as early as the second round, while Lee Johnstone (St Oswalds) who is the son of one the top players in the game Tommy Johnstone, with Lee a good player in his own right he will be looking to go far, however there could be some tricky ties awaiting against some experienced bowlers just to reach the last 32 on Thursday afternoon.
Towards the bottom of the draw Andrew Spragg (Eastwood Park) winner in September 2000 and two-time runner up has to get past Joseph Cranston (Crossgates BC) to progress.
On the final page current holder of the September title Callum Wraight (Llanrwst) starts three points back on his opponents due to the handicap, with this unlikely to faze Wraight, as he looks to win back to back festivals having won his first Festival last year. Alan Gilpin (Hale) won the Festival 18 years ago, he may well clash with Nick White (Thongsbridge) in the second round, whilst Gareth Lally (Crossgates BC) will be looking to repeat his June 2015 success.
With a bumper entry of 374 in the Men’s event – the highest we have seen for a number of years along with a host of top names returning for the first time in a long time, it promises to be one of the best festivals for a long time.
With six greens in use and several different competitions throughout the week, there is plenty of bowls for everyone it will undoubtedly make for a great week of bowls. Have a great week!