This week’s September Bowls Festival involves a host of top names all with their sights focussed on the trophy and the winner’s cheque for £3,200.
Stephen Glover is the current holder having won the event for the first time in 2022.
On the first page of the draw 2012 winner Dave Phillips (Lloyd Hotel) takes on Peel man Dean Kinley in his first-round game with the winner facing a tough second round game against Ryan Clark (Meersbrook BC) or Roger Morgan (Knutsford).
South Ramsey’s Bob Clark will be hoping to make his first final after losing out at the semi-final stage last September, but he may have to face five-time winner John Bailey (Castlefields) should both players navigate their way through the early rounds.
In the next section Peter Jones (Marown), now well settled into island life, could face Chris Kelly (Thongsbridge) who did not travel over in June, so he will be looking to get his name etched on the famous trophy for the first time.
Castlefield’s Callum Wraight plays his first festival in quite some time without having to give his opponents a start on the handicap. He could play fellow previous winner Graeme Wilson (AUE) in what would be the blockbuster game of the week on Thursday afternoon, but Wilson may have to get past Ian Nicholson (Netherfield) who is something of a September specialist.
The top half of page three is fairly open for anyone who may be in good form, with Peel man Dave ‘Barney’ Kelly and Jordan Cain (South Ramsey) the locals most likely to progress. Mark Hughes (Crossgates) may reach the latter stages, but the bottom half of the page does include 1997 winner Geoff Telford (Knutsford). Dan Petcher (Littleover) could have a game on his hands with David Halstead (Parkfield).
The next page sees Gwerydd Buckland (Bangor) making a return to the island having missed out for several years. Mike Heap (Garswood) could face June 2008 winner Colin Kelly (Marown) in the second round. The bottom half of the page could possibly see some tasty ties with Gareth Hughes (Castlefields), Paul Bailey (Meersbrook BC), Gareth Coates (Ackroyd Victoria) and Andy Spragg (Chesterfield) all featuring.
Page five sees another regular visitor Barry Booth (Netherfield) back in the Isle of Man. James Wilcox (Crossgates) has two June titles to his name and will be hoping for his first September title, but the top half of the page includes two previous winners in Robby Fitzpatrick (Wirral), and Carl Fielding (Castlefields).
A few of the names in the bottom half of the page will fancy their chances of getting through with Danny Barwise (Birchleigh St Mary’s) the standout name.
On the following page in the top half of the draw 1998 winner David Jackson (Knutsford) is the only previous victor, while in the bottom half of the page Richard Goddard (Castlefields) will fancy his chances of making the quarter-finals.
Page seven has three previous winners with current Manx champion Neil Withers (Marown), Martin Gilpin (Netherfield) and Gareth Lally (Crossgates), while also including Andrew Sorsby (Thongsbridge), Dennis Herbert (Castlefields) and Kevin Quirk (Onchan).
Another man making a return to our shores is Colin Scorah (Rothwell), famous for his multi-coloured bowls and his catchphrase ‘C’mon baby’ when coaxing his bowl to the jack!
The final page is littered with previous winners including David Bradford (South Ramsey), Kevan Shaw (Flixton Cricket) and Paul Morgan (Whitby BC) who won the September Festival in 1998 with a 21-17 success in the final over yours truly, Glynn Hargraves (South Ramsey).
Also included on the page are several bowlers who will fancy their chances with Paul Dunn (Marown), Jon Palmer (Castlefields), Matthew Kelly-Walley (Stretton Anglesey), Paul Kissock (Netherfield) and James Higgins (Sheffield) all featuring.
With six greens in use and several different competitions throughout the week, there is plenty of bowls for everyone, including the popular triples.
The weather is looking good so it will hopefully make for a great week of bowls.