The 101st Bournemouth Open Bowls Tournament finished on Saturday, and was a great success.
As is custom the Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Derek Borthwick, cast the first wood of the Bournemouth Open Bowls Tournament based this year at Argyle Bowls Club.
The Mayor and Mayoress were welcomed by Argyll Bowls Club President, and one of the sponsors Rob Radwell of Bowlaway.
The Competitors contested the preliminary and early rounds of the Tournament at ten different Bowls Clubs across the Borough, culminating in the Semi-Finals and Finals which were staged at Argyll.
Apart from a few heavy downpours the Tournament Director Mike Squires had few problems in keeping to the schedule.
There was almost £5,000 prize money on offer with £1,000 going to the winner of the Blue Riband event, the Men’s Singles, which had attracted eight former Champions who, between them had won the title ten times.
The Final was contested between last year’s Champion Michael Hutley (Boscombe Cliff), who is domiciled in Norway, and local bowler Lee Croad (Ringwood).
Hutley made the brighter start and took an early 3-0 lead, which after six ends had been stretched to a 6-4 advantage. Croad then picked up three shots and took control. Both combatants produced some wonderful shots but the Ringwood bowler seemed to have an answer every time Hutley threatened to strike back. However, by the fifteenth end Croad held Championship point at 20-8. Hutley reached double figures but that was to be his last throw of the dice as Croad picked up the shot and the Single Champions Crown to add to his 2012 and 2017 successes in the Triples Competition. Champion Lee Croad was presented with the Melbourne Cup and a cheque for £1,000 by the Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Derek Borthwick. Runner up Michael Hutley received a cheque for £500 from Rob Radwell of Bowlaway.
In both Semi finals Croad and Hutley had relatively comfortable wins over Rob Honeywell (Kings B.C. Torquay) (21-16), and Wayne Willgress (Norfolk B.C.) (21-10) respectively. The Quarter Finals were the more challenging for both of the finalists. Croad had to recover from a 17-13 deficit against Neil Collett (Merthyr West End) finally winning 21-18. Whereas Hutley was losing 17-10 against Callum Sharp (Old Dean) but fought back to win 21-10.
In the Pairs Competition Rob Honeywell (Kings, Torquay) and Richard Avent ((New Plymouth) faced the duo of Malcolm Jacobs (Uxbridge) and the flamboyant Leigh James (Potton B.C. Bedfordshire). The West Country pair was always in control. They led 11-3 after ten ends. This quickly became 24-11 and after eighteen ends Jacobs and James conceded the match and the Pairs Title to Honeywell and Avent to add to their success in the 2015 Triples event.
Rob Honeywell and Richard Avent were presented with the Ernest Dean Challenge Cup and a cheque for £400. Runners up Leigh James and Malcolm Jacobs received a cheque for £200.
In the Semi-finals Honeywell and Avent had a comfortable 23-4 victory over the Godalming and Farncombe pair Peter Brown and Alex Neil. Jacobs and James survived a much tougher encounter against the Cumbrian pairing and Tournament regulars Rick Gallagher and Peck Orchard. James and Jacobs took an early 10-3 lead but the Cumbrians fought back and only succumbed on the last end when clever defensive play saw James and Jacobs through to the Final.
The Triples Final was contested between the Old Dean B.C. trio of Mark Edmundson, Tony Clawson and Chris Dick and Nick Revell (Salisbury), Andy McIntyre and David Leighfield (West Witney). The Old Dean trio led from start to finish but the margin was always within three shots. On the last end the Surrey held match winning shot, but try as he did Revell could not dislodge the shot to leave Edmundson, Clawson and Dick as Triple Champions. The victorious trio were presented with the Ivor Rose Bowl and a cheque for £270 by the Mayor of Bournemouth. The gallant losers received a cheque for £150.
With the previous three years’ Champions Sue Dillon and Rick Gallagher being knocked out in the Third Round the way was clear for new names to be inscribed on the Mixed Pairs trophy. Locals Lyn Howard (Broadstone-Wessex) and Jim Garner (Poole Park) lined up against the husband and wife pairing of Paul and Steph Elgar. The Elgars were quickly out of the blocks and took a 4-0 lead. Then Howard and Garner found the line and weight and by the fourteenth end had forged ahead 25-9. The Elgars picked up two shots but after losing the sixteenth end shook hands and conceded the match and the Mixed Pairs title to the locals.
In the Semi-final Jenny Cutler stood in for Lyn Howard who was unwell at the time, and it was Jenny and Jim Garner who were sent up to receive the James King Challenge Vase and a cheque for £200 from the Mayor of Bournemouth. The runners-up received prize money of £100.
In the Ladies Singles final last year’s winner Jennie Cooper (Pelhams) lined up to defend her title against Mandy Bland (Gloucester City Bowls Club). Cooper made the better start and by the eighth end had established a 13-3 lead. Then Mandy claimed the jack after picking up two shots and changed the mat setting. This paid off and the Gloucester bowler won the next six ends to take a 14-13 lead. The local bowler then recouped to take the next three ends but Bland hit back with a four shot pick-up to go 18-17 up. Then under immense pressure Cooper held her composure to pick up four singles, the last being the coup-de-grace to take the Singles title for a second successive year. Jenny was presented with the Carne-Stephenson Trophy and a cheque for £200 by the Mayor of Bournemouth. The gallant runner-up Mandy Bland received a cheque for £100.
To progress to the Final Jennie had a replay of last year’s final when coming up against another local bowler Sue Dadson (Southbourne). This game was worthy of being a final as Cooper left it late to pick up two shots to take a 21-20 victory over a valiant opponent.
In her Semi-final Mandy had a comfortable 21-3 win over local bowler Mo Bunford (Knyveton Gardens).
In the Ladies Pairs Final Amy O’Toole and Gill Rice (Old Dean), faced local bowlers Joan Shaw and Jill Evans (Broadstone-Wessex). After losing the two opening ends the Old Dean Girls won the next eight ends to establish a 16-4 lead. The Wessex Girls picked up only four more shots on the run in leaving O’Toole and Gill Rice comfortable 23-10 winners of the Pairs title. Amy O’Toole and Gill Rice were presented with the Moordown Bowl and a cheque for £150.00. The runners-up received a cheque for £80.
The Ladies Triples Final was a local affair. Gill Head (Highcliffe), Sue Dillon and Linda Johnson (Swanmore) lined up against the Boscombe Cliff trio of Lorraine Shirley, Adrienne Turgel and Irene Richman. The Cliff trio got off to a flying start and were 12-5 up after eleven ends. Then the rains came down and play was suspended. After play resumed it became a game of two halves as Linda Johnson’s triple adapted better to the conditions and won all of the remaining ends to claim a 16-12 victory and the Triples Title. Gill Head, Sue Dillon and Linda Johnson were presented with the Alan Tavener Vase and a cheque for £75. The runners up received a cheque for £30.
After the presentations the Argyll President Tony Gerry thanked the Mayor, the Competitors, the Umpires, the Markers, the Greenkeepers, and Club Stewards and in particular the back room boy and Tournament Director Mike Squire. Mike Squires announced that he will be standing down from organising the Tournament after this year’s event and was presented with a special gift by Bowlaway Managing Director Rob Radwell.