September Festival Preview
The Isle of Man September 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. Callum Wraight is the current holder having won the event for the first time in 2021, the first festival held since the pandemic
On the first page of the draw this is fairly open with a few names standing out with Gareth Hughes (Castlefields) and Stewart Meddings (Royal Oak BC) both regular visitors who will be hoping for a good week, while locally June 2013 winner Neil Withers (Marown) has a tricky tie against the wily Mike Davies (Our Lady’s). Andy Kennish (Onchan) who has returned to form over the past few years could go far.
In the next section Danny Barwise (Birchley St Mary’s) could face Jon Palmer (Kings Heath Park) a past winner of the Autumn Waterloo or a previous festival runner up Matthew Quirk (Onchan) in the third round. The page is then littered with previous winners Ian Nicholson (Netherfield) a three time September winner, Matt Gilmore June 2003 winner (Wirral) is up against John Bailey (Castlefields) who picked up the title in September 2017 and 2019, while Gareth Lally (Crossgates) David Bradford (South Ramsey) both have their names etched on the famous trophy. Lee Johnstone (St Oswalds) completes the page as he looks to emulate his parents, who have both enjoyed considerable success on the Island.
South Ramsey’s Bob Clark will fancy his chances of navigating his way through the early rounds to make Thursday afternoon, however there are several hurdles he will need to get over to reach the Last 32. Jon Guess (Fairfield) could face September 2021 runner up Paul Bailey (Meersbrook) in the third round with the latter a previous two-time winner having won in June 2005 and September 2007. Martin Gilpin (Netherfield) is another winner of both festivals with 19 years passing between his first win in 1999 and second in 2018.
On page four there a couple of tasty first round fixtures as Richie Goddard (Castlefields) is up against Peel man Dave ‘Barney’ Kelly, while Paul Kissock (Netherfield) returns to our shores as he faces Daniel Petcher (Littleover).
In the next group South Ramsey’s Peter Collister who won the June Festival and Tourism Competitions in the same week in 1983 takes on Matty Stewart (Netherfield), while local player Nigel Tebay (Ballaugh) could be in for a shock as he takes on one of the greatest players to have picked up a bowl in Graeme Wilson (AEU) who will be looking to pick up his fifth Isle of Man Festival win. Marown man Peter Jones can now be considered a local having settled well into Island life over the past few months, he will be hoping for a good week.
Page six sees the current holder of the title Callum Wraight (Castlefields) two further back on the handicap due to his previous success, there a few obstacles in his way as he looks to win back to back September Festivals. One of the obstacles in his way is Alan Gilpin (Netherfield), son of Martin who picked up his title in 2004. June 2012 winner Robby Fitzpatrick (Hoylake) just sneaks into the bottom half of the page, as he faces James Higgins (Sheffield), with the winner potentially facing Marown captain Paul Dunn in the next round.
On page seven Craig Richardson (Castlefields) needs to get through two games to make the Last 32 on Thursday afternoon which is always a highlight of the week, with the tie of the page undoubtedly being John Kennish (South Ramsey) a five-time winner who looks to be making a long awaited return as he is pitted against Chris Barton (Wirral) in what could a blockbuster of a game if both players are firing on all cylinders. In the bottom half of the page Gareth Coates (Akroydon Victoria) has to get past South Ramsey’s James Teare in his first round fixture, while regular visitor Andy Mailer (Thongsbridge) is always a tricky opponent to get past.
On the final page it is good to see Barry Booth (Netherfield) in the draw, while June 2008 winner Marown man Colin Kelly has his last chance of qualifying for the Champion of Champions competition he won in 2019 and has held since due to the competition not being played for the past two seasons. Winning the September Festival is the last opportunity to stand a chance of qualifying should he wish to defend the title, with this event on the reserve list for qualifying.
With six greens in use and several different competitions throughout the week, there is plenty of bowls for everyone, which includes the return of the Triples competition, it will undoubtedly make for a great week of bowls. Bring your umbrella with the weather looking to be unpredictable. That said, have a great week!