Locals Perform Well in BCGBA Champion of Champions

The BCGBA Champion of Champions Event returned to the bowls calendar for the first time in three years, with the last time it was held in 2019 the Men’s title was won by Manx Man Colin Kelly at the famous Waterloo Bowling Green in Blackpool at ‘The Wembley of Bowls’ which is sadly no longer. The Men’s competition was held on Saturday at Monk Sports & Social Club in Warrington.

Representing the Isle of Man was South Ramsey’s David Bradford, who qualified in July having won the Manx Championship for a second time. He had the unenviable task of facing Callum Wraight in the first round, with his opponent having qualified through winning the BCGBA Senior Individual Merit for the second time. In truth Wraight could have qualified for this event many times over having won over 20 competitions this season, this in itself showing the task ahead of Bradford.

The Manx Man was a last minute arrival to the venue, having difficulty getting a taxi to the bowling green that morning, however Bradford arrived with a minute to spare before going on in the first round of games. Settling into the game early Bradford opted for a longer length, with Wraight preferring a shorter mark. The game was keenly contested throughout with the score tied at 14-14, then 16-16 only for Bradford to take the initiative and go into a 19-17 lead and then 20-18 to maintain his two point lead, as Bradford made no mistake as he went on to seal a famous 21-18 victory.

In the Last 16 Bradford went on to play Alex Hassall – Midland Masters Merit winner. In this game Hassall become something of a one bowl wonder with 15 singles scored and just one double, while Bradford scored four doubles which was ultimately the difference in a keenly contested game as he went on to win 21-17 to progress to the next round.

At the quarter final stage Bradford was up against Andy Proctor winner of the BCGBA Jack & Jean Isherwood Championship, with Proctor a IOM June Festival winner in 1993 enjoying something of a renaissance of late, as he built up a 10-5 lead over the South Ramsey man, with Bradford doing nothing wrong. With Proctor renowned for his striking ability enjoying considerable success with four hits from four strikes in the early stages of the game. Bradford had to big deep to get back into the game and managed to turn the game around to go into the lead by four points at 16-12. Proctor responded with two singles and two doubles to lead 18-16, only for the pair to exchange singles over three ends to put the score at 18-19. On the next end Bradford was counting for one, however a great last bowl from Proctor somewhat unbelievably made two to win the game 21-18 to end the hopes of Bradford.

Andy Proctor (left) with David Bradford prior to their game.
Inset: One of Proctor’s distinctive bowls which he won the IOM June Festival with in 1993.
Photo: James McGurk

In the semi-finals Proctor faced Chris Kelly winner of The Sandal Classic, with the former having built up a huge lead over his opponent, Kelly fought back to see the game out with a 21-19 win to reach the final. The other semi-final had Lee Kington winner of the Warwick & Worcester Merit have his run ended by IOM June Festival winner James Wilcox.

The final went to the wire with Kelly edging home 21-20 against Wilcox to pick up his first Champion of Champions title.

Ladies Event

On Sunday it was the Ladies turn to impress at the same venue with two local representatives competing, with more South Ramsey players featuring as Elaine Moore – September Isle of Man Tourism Winner took to the green with daughter Jenny Moore – Ladies Manx Champion also qualifying.

Elaine battled well in her game with Emma Tobin (British Parks Merit Winner) before succumbing 18-21 in her first round tie.

Jenny had the tough task of facing one of the top UK bowlers in Alexis Lunn-Gadd (Yorkshire Merit Winner) with Jenny putting in a good performance to win her first round game 21-14, with the final score only telling half the story as Jenny trailed 1-9 before hitting top gear as Lunn-Gadd scored just five more points to Moore’s 20 points from end seven onwards.

In the second round Jenny made a much better start against North Derbyshire Merit winner Janice Wilson with a 21-4 victory, keeping her opponent to four singles throughout the game as she progressed to the next round.

In the quarter final the game was much more evenly contested with a tough battle with Christine Davies winner of the Blackpool Spring Festival. Jenny managed to build up a seven chalk lead over her opponent to sit just one point away from victory at 20-13, however Davies had other ideas fighting back well scoring five singles and a double to tie the score at 20-20. On the deciding end Davies was counting one for game, however Jenny knocked her opponents bowl off to seal a 21-20 win.

At the semi-final stage and in her fourth game of the day Jenny faced Lynsey Gorman winner of the Merseyside Merit and another well known bowler. The game was once again well contested with Gorman eventually going into a four point lead at 14-10 after 20 ends. Jenny hit back to lead 15-14, only for Gorman to recover her four point lead at 19-15. The game looked to be going to the wire and so it proved with Jenny picking up three singles, then conceded a single to trail by two points at 18-20. A good two from Jenny tied the game at 20-20. On the deciding end Gorman played a good first bowl to beat Jenny’s lead, with Moore taking the block off the green to save the game. On the next end Lynsey once again put up a good first bowl to beat Jenny’s lead, which went unbeaten as Jenny ended up on the wrong side of a 21-20 score in this round to narrowly miss out on the final.

In the other semi-final Shannon Kernick winner of the Norden Open Singles managed to see off Lorraine Hirst (Enid Blackburn Trophy winner) with a 21-11 win to reach the final.

In the final the less experienced Kernick, had a tough battle with Gorman, however Kernick prevailed 21-17 to seal the title with a solid performance.