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 coveted trophy and pick up the winners’ cheque for £3,000. The festival numbers are heading in a positive direction with a bumper entry of 416 in the Men’s event – the highest we have seen for several years’ as it promises to be a fascinating week.

With most competitors starting off a +5 handicap, one of the previous winners John Bailey (Castlefields) appears on the first page of the draw as he starts off a +3 handicap, however Bailey should be able to navigate his way through the early rounds before facing some of the better-known names. In the other half of the page is Josh Mordue (Pudsey) who will be looking to claim his first Festival title.

On the second page local man Paul Dunn (Marown) has a tough early test as he faces Graham Hickey (Lower Hopton), whilst double winner and current holder James Wilcox (Crossgates) will he looking to create a bit of history and retain the trophy. Thongsbridge man and regular visitor Chris Kelly is in the draw, but rumoured not to be travelling, which could clear a path on the bottom half of the page for Billy Speed (Castlefields) to progress to the latter stages.

In the next section 1992 losing finalist Mike Telford (Knutsford) who lost out to Martin Bacon makes a long-awaited return. Ian Nicholson (Netherfield) is a three-time September winner, with all three wins picked up in the space of five years, the first title in 2004, then back to back in 2008 and 2009. Blackpool man Tommy King (Kirkham) who may still be celebrating Manchester City’s recent historic treble will be hoping for a good week on and off the green.

On page four local man Colin Kelly (Marown) is back in time from his tour of Canada as he looks to claim his second title, with his sole success arriving in 2008. Big hitter Chris Barton (Wirral) will be in the mix, whilst 1990 winner Kevan Shaw (Red Lion Whoughton) returns to our shores having not competed last year, he could well face 2018 Autumn Waterloo winner Jon Palmer (Castlefields) in the second round.

Moving onto the next page another familiar name features previous winner Geoff Telford (Knutsford), with his success in this competition arriving 26 years ago with victory in the final over Norman Fletcher – a legend of the game, as he faces local man Rob Monk (North Ramsey) in the first round. Recent South Yorkshire veterans merit winner Andrew Sorsby (Thongsbridge) looks well placed to go deep into the competition.

Another local man Matthew Quirk (Onchan) is on page six, he will be looking to go one step further than 2013, as he lost 18-21 to Marown’s Neil Withers in the final. The bottom half of the page looks open to anyone in good form, with James Higgins (Dronfield) featuring he will be keen to reach the latter stages,

September 2022 winner Stephen Glover (Liverpool CC) returns to the island for the first time since his success, he will be looking to have his name etched onto the June trophy. Two previous festival winners feature in the bottom half of the page as Neil Withers (Marown) plays Callum Wraight (Castlefields), with the latter carrying on where he left off last season picking up multiple titles in the UK. The winner of that tie could then face Dave McDermott (Tixall BC) with the winner undoubtably fancying their chances of a finals day appearance.

Regular visitor Mark Hughes better known as ‘Sparky’ will be another man from Crossgates looking to add his name to the Trophy, with his best effort to date reaching the final in 2017, only to lose out 16-21 to John Bailey. Former two-time winner (1999 & 2018) Martin Gilpin (Netherfield) could play 1998 winner David Jackson (Knutsford) in their second games should both men get through the first round.

On page nine 2016 winner Kez Smith (Crossgates) shouldn’t have too much trouble with his early round games, whilst September 2002 winner David Bradford (South Ramsey) could face previous winner Paul Bailey (Thongsbridge) as early as Wednesday morning.

On the next page Conor Chamberlain (Stretton Anglesey) features with 2019 winner Jack Dyson (Thongsbridge) in the bottom half there is a potential clash on Thursday afternoon in the last 32 with both players having to win four games to get to that stage.

Appearing on page 11 is September 2000 winner Andy Spragg (Chesterfield) who will be looking to be crowned the champion for a second time, whilst in the bottom half of the page Joseph Cranston is another Crossgates man will fancy his chances of reaching the latter stages.

South Ramsey’s Bob Clark who lost out in the semi-finals in September 2022 is rumoured to be missing out due to work commitments, whilst Ballaugh man Nigel Tebay (Ballaugh) will have his work cut out with June 2003 winner Matthew Gilmore (Castlefields). 32 years have passed since Onchan stalwart Phil Kerruish had his finest hour as he picked up the title in 1991.

On the last page Chris Mordue (Pudsey) will be hoping for his first win on Manx soil, he could face Ballaugh Dave ‘Dido’ Kelly on Wednesday morning, with another former winner Robby Fitzpatrick (Wirral) potentially awaiting the winner. Marown’s Peter Jones who relocated to the island last year faces former Merseyside teammate Danny Barwise (Tixall B.C.) in the first round, in what could be a great spectacle.

The Noble’s greens have improved considerably following the work that has gone onto all three greens over the winter, I am fully expecting visitors to be pleasantly surprised by the condition of the greens. 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!