South Ramsey A Secure Rayner Shield

The highlight of the men’s team calendar, the Rayner Shield final sponsored by Canada Life International was held at the Villa (Douglas Bowling Club) on Thursday evening between Peel A and South Ramsey A on a superb playing surface. The northern men who are currently top of the league started as favourites, with Peel being the current holders of the Shield. For the third year running both captains agreed to do the draw ahead of the night, this once again generated considerable interest with a fantastic crowd in attendance on a fine evening for bowls.

First off the green with a win for South Ramsey was David Bradford, who is enjoying a fine season built up a 12-4 lead over Tommy McMeiken. Bradford maintained the lead to win 21-12. Next off was veteran Chas Grills who caused a mini upset with his game finely poised at 17-17 against Peel captain Gary Smith, with Grills running out to record a 21-17 win to put South Ramsey 2-0 ahead on games.

The last two games from the first half went to the wire and gave Peel some real hope with Dave ‘Barney’ getting over the line against South Ramsey captain Glynn Hargraves, with Kelly recovering from falling behind several times in the game with the latter playing crucial reaching bowls throughout to stay in the game and to eventually win 21-20.

Within 15 seconds of the third game finishing the match was level at 2-2 on games with George Gadsby playing an unbelievable last bowl against James Teare with the latter fighting back from a 15-19 deficit and counting for two at 20-20. Gadsby played a perfect bowl to count for game and snatch a crucial 21-20 win.

The match appeared to be finely balanced, however hope soon faded for the western men with South Ramsey taking big leads in the final four games as Dave’ Dido’ Kelly took a 15-7 lead over Andy Kennish, whilst Dido’s son Stefan Kelly stormed into a 15-3 lead against Peter Greenlees with both father and son playing their renowned corner to crown and back marks brilliantly. Alan Moore and Stevie Kelly was the last match on with Moore quick out of the blocks taking a 9-0 lead.

With three games falling heavily in the Ramsey men’s favour there was a sense of lost hope for Peel, with the fifth game on the green between Peter Collister and Tom Kelly coming to a conclusion with the score at 20-18 to Collister who finished the game off by playing a brilliant length bowl for South Ramsey to lead 3-2.

With enough points on the board for South Ramsey it was a case of when the win would be officially secured, this came fairly quickly with Dido Kelly capping off a fine performance as he beat Andy Kennish 21-7 to secure the Rayner Shield win on the night and the clubs fifth win overall.

Dido’s son Stefan ensured the outright win on games as he kept his focus to see the game out with a superb 21-9 win over Greenlees to put the match score at 5-2.

The last game on the green between Alan Moore and Stevie Kelly became difficult, with both players knowing the match was over, however this didn’t stop the game from going to the wire with Kelly recovering from a 0-9 deficit to lead 17-12 and then 20-14, only for Moore to respond with three quick-fire doubles and was counting one for game only for Kelly to play a good last bowl to secure Peel’s third 21-20 win of the night.

The result cannot be argued with South Ramsey winning three games comfortably, whilst winning the other two games to 17 and 18, with all three of South Ramsey’s defeats being to 20 the northern men also won by 39 chalks (165-126).

The presentation was made by competition committee officer Steve Moore, who thanked Canada Life International for their continued sponsorship of the competition and Douglas Bowling club members for assisting throughout the evening. Association President John Ryder was then introduced to present the Rayner Shield to South Ramsey captain Glynn Hargraves who congratulated his team, offered commiserations to Peel, thanked their green keeper for preparing a superb surface and to everyone who had turned up to watch.

Photo: Arnie Withers