LAWN BOWLS ISLE OF MAN
In a season where the fine weather dominated proceedings and made it possible to play virtually every match in glorious sunshine it was good to see each of the leagues competitively contested right up to the end of the season. Whilst there were a few notable absentees from the starting ranks there were also a number of new members competing for the first time who managed to cause a few upsets along the way as the fixtures played out.
Premier Singles LeagueThe defending Champion, Mark McGreal, started as the clear favourite in this season where he had recently returned from competing at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. With the bookmakers placing Martin Paterson and Phil Smith likely to challenge for the title with top ladies Bernice McGreal and Janice Pilling not to be underestimated in the race for honours.
For much of the season it was Club President, Phil Watterson, who made much of the early running having thoughtfully played a number of his latter matches of the season in advance and racked up the points to set the pace. Similarly Pam Makin had a great run of victories at the start of the season taking a number of scalps along the way to match the pace of the President. The steady performance of Eric Maddocks, rolling back the years with some scintillating bowls showed that he was also in the hunt for the title from the outset. As the season unfolded and the form of the front runners began to emerge it became apparent that the main contenders had shortened to just a few. Whilst Mark McGreal had been imperious during the course of the season amassing a number of victories by some margin he was not immune to defeat and after losing to a reinvigorated David Quirk he followed this a couple of matches later with a loss to his mother Bernice, marking her birthday appearance with a fine performance and deserved victory. With just a couple of matches remaining the deciding fixture at the business end of the season came to the head to head between Mark and Eric. The match itself lived up to the expectation and billing of title decider with some fine displays by both players in an intriguing encounter that could have gone either way. In the end it was Mark who came out on top in a match that went down to the wire as he edged a win 13-10 to earn the vital 3 points required to retain the Singles League title with Eric finishing Runner Up. As the remaining fixtures in the league played out the results went the way of Bernice McGreal who claimed the 3rd place and bronze medal position just ahead of Phil Watterson.
Ladies Singles LeagueFollowing the instigation of the Ladies league in 2017, this year’s event saw 8 competitors battle it out for top honours. The early pace setter was Marcia Pearson making a sparkling start to her season in the Ladies competition which unfortunately she could not replicate in the mixed singles league. As the season developed there were a number of closely contested matches whereby it soon became clear that any one of 5 ladies had a chance of claiming the title. With so many close games the importance of shots difference in the final equation was likely to be a real deciding factor. Having showed her credentials as a formidable Champion throughout the season Janice Pilling found herself trailing both Bernice McGreal and Marcia Pearson with just 2 matches left having to win both fixtures or face handing the league to either of her opponents. In true form Janice managed a splendid 24-3 victory over Marcia which set up a finale with Bernice which she managed to edge 11-10 in a tense and enthralling battle which earned the requisite points to take the title. With just 5 points covering the top 5 positions it would have taken just 1 result to have been reversed for any of these ladies to have claimed the top spot.
Premier Pairs LeagueWith 10 teams contesting the Premier Pairs league this season there was always the chance that some surprise results and twists and turns would occur throughout the year and indeed there were!
Defending Champions Mark McGreal & Charlotte Dutton set out on a determined route to retain their title but it was Phil Addy & Phil Connolly that made the early running with a good spell of form at the start of the season closely followed by newcomers Martin Paterson & Kevin Quirk. By the halfway stage there were 6 teams in the hunt with just a few points between them and closely fought battles in virtually all matches. As the results unfolded perhaps Janice Pilling & Martin Atkinson could consider themselves the unluckiest of the pairings with a series of successive drawn matches that would not look out of place on a pools coupon having figured in 5 of the 7 drawn matches all season. This cost them dearly as just 1 point is awarded for a draw. With most matches now going to form and the title race looking to come down to a head to head battle there was that under-dog moment when the performance of Win and Barbara peaked during their encounter against Paterson & Quirk as they came out on top by the narrowest of margins 12-11. Just as Mark & Charlotte thought they had secured some breathing space they faced the family feud match against Bernice & Michael where going into the final end they were 3 ahead but Michael had other ideas to dent their title aspirations as they grabbed the necessary 3 shots to tie the game.
With just 1 match remaining in the season between the top 2 pairs it was fitting that the result would determine the league winner. As the September evenings drew to a close the match lived up to expectation with some of the best bowls of the season lighting up the gloom. Having forged an early lead Paterson & Quirk fell behind with a few ends to play and trailing by a single shot they needed to win the last end by taking at least 2 shots. As the President and his wife looked on intently it was Paterson who delivered the master bowls on the final end to take the 2 shots required and claim the title in a nail biting finale to the season.
Well done Martin & Kevin playing together in their first season.
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