Saturday 2nd September was a special day for the rebranded Lawn Bowls Isle of Man at Onchan Park. Not only was it the Championship Finals Day but prior to the competitions there was a visit from the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay making its way across the 81 nations en route to the Gold Coast for next year’s Games. The occasion was even more memorable as the Baton was carried through Onchan Park to the bowling club by two of its members Charlotte Dutton and Mark McGreal. Charlotte and Mark make up one half of the team which will represent the Island at the European Bowls Championships in Jersey later this month. After the obligatory photocall with Club Members and spectators the Queens Baton moved on to its next destination and the 2017 Championships got underway.

The Ladies Singles and Men’s Singles were played first, for the Ladies it was defending Champion, Bernice McGreal versus Janice Pilling whilst on the other side of the green father and son Clive and Mark McGreal faced each other in the much awaited showdown of the season. The dry, sometimes sunny day brought out a large number of club members and spectators, notable among the spectators were Alan and May Moore being members of the club for over 20 years with each having the honour or serving as a past Club President.

In the early stages of both Singles matches it was hard to pick the better player or a likely winner as both encounters were evenly matched, producing some excellent bowls for the appreciative audience. In the Ladies Singles you could not separate Bernice and Janice who had both scored 10 shots after the same number of ends and it wasn’t until the 14th end that Janice, competing in her first Championship, managed to overcome the challenge of the current holder and move ahead by winning the next four ends, however, Bernice’s experience came into play as she pulled back the deficit by winning the next three ends to level the score at 18 all after 20 ends. After just over 2 hours of bowling and tensions running high Bernice looked set to take the lead at a crucial moment however, Janice remained calm and produced 3 excellent bowls to claim an impressive victory at her first attempt by a margin of 21 shots to 18.

Meanwhile the Men’s final was also a nip and tuck affair with the score going one way and then the other up until the 11th end when Clive was able to string a few ends together and pull ahead and managed to maintain his advantage up to the 17th end leading with the score at 14 – 7. Mark then fought back taking the next 6 ends to lead by a score of 15 – 14. After trading a few shots over next couple of ends Clive scored a 3 to go ahead 20-17. Now with 28 ends played it was still anyone’s game and with Mark was laying shot but Clive having a very close second sat just behind the jack, playing a high risk shot of risk and reward Mark’s last bowl was just a little overweight attempting to make a count that could have won the match, however, the result did not go his way as he nudged the jack to Clive’s bowl to gift him the winning score of 21 – 17 to make it a successive hat trick of National Singles titles for Clive.

After a short break the Pairs Championship began with the Ladies Pairs being contested between previous winners Win Kewley & Pam Makin and newcomers, Marcia Pearson & Janice Pilling competing in their first National Pairs Championship Final. On the adjoining rink the Men’s Pairs final between Philip Watterson & Gary Lee and defending champions Clive & Mark McGreal was a repeat of last year’s final which the players recalled had been determined by the final bowl of the match. In both matches the first few ends were again a closely matched affair with spectators being able to appreciate some excellent bowling from both sets of players. In the Ladies Pairs the 5 shot lead built up by Win and Pam was skilfully being whittled away by Marcia and Janice until the experience of Win and Pam reasserted itself and they once again managed a comeback against the strong opposition to gradually edge ahead and deliver a match winning performance by 19 shots to 12.

The Men’s Pairs final was a similar tale with the production of excellent bowls from all four players throughout the match providing spectators with another entertaining afternoon. Whilst in command for much of the match the holders upped their performance in the last quarter of the game for the McGreal father and son duo to forge ahead to take the initiative from Philip and Gary, who had battled immensely all afternoon, to run out the winners of the National Pairs Title by a score line of 20 shots to 13. This being Mark’s third Pairs Title and Clive’s sixth in as many years.

The Committee would like to thank all competitors for providing the large number of Club Members and spectators with an enjoyable afternoon of excellent bowling skills in which to round off this season’s competitions. The Committee’s thanks also go to Eric Maddocks and Phil Smith for acting as markers and umpires for the finals together with those club members who were in charge of keeping the score cards and scoreboards. We would also like to thank all members who contributed to the buffet and family and friends who joined spectators to support the players.

Congratulations are also due to our merit league winners of the season with Mark McGreal remaining undefeated in the Premier Singles League, Pam Makin winner of the Ladies Singles league (Hamish Campbell Memorial trophy) and again Mark McGreal topping the Men’s Singles League.

Leave a Reply