Over 60’s Manx Championship Preview

Over 60’s Manx Championship Preview
The final stages of this years’ Over 60’s Manx Championship will be played to a conclusion at Ballaugh Bowling Club on Tuesday afternoon with action getting underway from 1pm. BCGBA dress code applies. Get yourself there for what promises to be a good afternoon of bowls. Think I will be taking a half day to watch things unfold.

Alec Taylor vs Mike Alexander

Alec was a good footballer in his younger days, who like his opponent has been on the bowls scene for quite some time now with Mike plying his trade in Division One in the night league for Onchan B, whilst Alec turns out for Peel C in Division Two having previously been an Onchan man.

In terms of head to head between this pair it is 2-1 to Alec, however Mike just pips it on chalks scored over the three games played. In terms of ranking position Mike edges it overall, is currently six places above his opponent in the Over 60’s merit.

Alec just can’t seem to let go of his football days, as he is often spotted kicking bowls that are half way across the green with the shout of ‘feet’ either encouraging him to give the bowl a good old welly or dummy the bowl completely and carry on walking as though nothing has happened.

Mike is a gentle giant behind closed doors with a passion unknown to many – that he holds the biggest collection of Care Bears on the Island, with his favourite being Grumpy Bear after a heavy defeat, with Good Luck Bear often not spoken to after a bad day on the green.

Bryan Corner vs Lee Dawson

Bryan is as keen as they come as he took up the game just five years ago having risen to 38th place in the Men’s rankings, he made the decision to cross over the Bridge from North Ramsey to South Ramsey a few years ago. Bryan loves nothing more than joining the ‘boys’ in Alan’s Café for a cup of tea in the morning as they put the world to rights with bowls being the hot topic of the day. His day will often consist of playing Over 60’s bowls, night league bowls, with lots of green time in between. It is very rare that I am up Ramsey and Bryan is not up having a roll. You can almost set your clock by him!

Bryan has an unknown number of vehicles, as I am sure he has a vehicle for every day of the week, instead of underpants of the day Bryan prefers a car of the day.

His opponent Lee or ‘Dawsy’ to most is a fellow club mate who has been around the block more than once, having started at Ballaugh, played for Peel for a good few years and more recently with South Ramsey C he appears to have got his mojo back having missed out on bowls for a good number of years due to family and work commitments. Dawsy has on the quiet won an open competition and was the ‘Collie slayer’ in qualifying, seeing off his much fancied club mate to reach finals day.

Dawsy for his sins is a die-hard Everton fan, has somewhat controversially decided to sport the official South Ramsey blue club shirt for Finals day rather than the hideous lime green shirt that his fellow C Team mates can still be seen in from Ramsey, when on the top of Snaefell in dense fog with a visibility range of two metres.

Steve Parker vs Dave McCabe

This is an interesting encounter with just four places separating these two in the Men’s rankings, with ‘Hooky’ Parker being the lower ranked of the two but interestingly with a 100%-win record over McCabe, with the pair having faced off three times. Both have been close in opens with McCabe losing out in the final of the Ken Williamson in 2019 and Parker reaching the final of the Over 60’s Manx Championship in 2018.

Steve can often be seen meditating around a bowling green in an attempt to keep his cool. Failing that Hooky will be creating a cloud of smoke, giving off a somewhat earthy smell as he frantically puffs on his shisha pipe throughout the day.

McCabe on the other hand will often be giving out dodgy tips to fellow bowlers on the horses ahead of a big race. I was struggling to put something in for Dave, but after a quick phone call we ironed things out with Dave giving me free rein to put whatever I wanted about him, however after hearing a story that went like this, I thought better of it… Dave was recently playing bowls at Fleetwood and there were a group of blokes sat behind Gill, who unknown to them was with Dave saying ‘That’s Dave McCabe from the Isle of Man, he’s not a bad player him’ as they went on to say ‘if he doesn’t beat you on the green, he will beat you off the green’. Gill held off asking Dave if he knew these guys at the time and only told Dave what had been said once they were well clear of the green. Given I actually like the ability to walk I will refrain on this one!

Kevin Quirk vs Dave ‘Barney’ Kelly

Never heard of these two before, but both have the potential to make good bowlers if they stick at the game. They are both new to the Over 60’s scene.

Joking aside this is a match-up between two of the games most successful players on the Isle of Man, with Barney’s success stretching back to the 1980’s, with five decades of winning pretty much everything there is to win in the game. Barney is the current holder of this title being undefeated in the Over 60’s Manx Championship to date, winning the title back to back in 2020 and 2021.

Kevin’s success has spanned four decades, no mean feat in itself, with two Manx Championships under his belt, one of which was won at Ronairco against Barney in the final in 2005. On his day Quirk is still one of the best perfect length bowlers on the Island, with the ability to pull out what can only be referred to as a ‘Kevin Quirk bowl’ – which to those who don’t know is to play the perfect bowl to beat what most would deem to be an unbeatable bowl.

Quirk or ‘Mad Dog’ as he is often referred to by his team mates is the ‘new born’ of the Over 60’s so to speak. This is Kevin’s first ‘bite’ at the Over 60’s Championship and he will be hoping that he does not bite off more than he can chew on Tuesday afternoon. Kevin has suddenly found himself with a lot more time on his hands having recently retired from the Post Office, so no doubt Rosemary has a list of things for Kevin to be getting on with at home. Speaking of the Post I am only mentioning this so you know who to blame if your Post is either turning up earlier or later than ever.

If Kevin is the new born then this would make Barney the toddler, which is a fitting description given his stature, even with his infamous Air Force 1’s being sported at greens all over the Island, they are now well travelled with trips abroad becoming a more common occurrence. I gave Barney a lot of stick in the last preview, so won’t go over old ground on this occasion.

Undoubtedly this is the tie of the round, with Kevin edging the head to head 2-1 in team competitions, although they will certainly have played each other a lot more in open competitions over the years, with the Manx Championship semi-final at Onchan in 2020 standing out, which Barney managed to get through 21-17. Whoever comes through this tie will certainly fancy their chances of going on to win the trophy.