"I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so." Horatio Nelson

Six Norfolk players in SMPT British Open

Introduction

Six Norfolk players were in action at York and District IBC competing in the SMPT Verde Mat Bowls British Open played on Saturday and Sunday. 32 groups made up of either five or six players were competing with the top two in each group qualifying for the knockout stages of the British Open on the Sunday. Players finishing in third and fourth spot in the groups played in the knock-out stage of the Plate competition and the remaining players played in the Shield knock-outs. A first prize of £500 was on offer for the eventual champion, £200 for the runner-up, £100 for third place and £50 for fourth place. The draw was kind to Mark Linsdell of Wymondham who played in Group 1. His Wymondham team-mate, Taylor Bowls sponsored Jack Pye, was less lucky being drawn in Group 21 which included Gareth Stanway, Grant Soller & Matt Dillon. John Jeffery of Wymondham was drawn in Group 25 that only included five players instead of six but they included Northern Ireland ace Mark Beattie and England’s Michael Ivings. The fourth Wymondham entry was Steve Easter who played in Group 29 and like Linsdell he would have been pleased with the draw which left him avoiding all of the big names. Norfolk’s other two entries were Hempnall’s Neil Davidson and Wortwell’s David Blundell who were both drawn in Group 27 and had to face the defending British Open champion Nigel Nicholls, Northern Ireland’s Joseph Beattie and England’s Danny Winmill. 

Group Stages

Two of Norfolk’s entries qualified for the main knockout stage of the British Open. Jack Pye won four games with his only defeat against Gareth Stanway, National Singles Champion in 2002, who won the group. Jack’s other wins included a 12-10 win against Grant Soller and a 13-9 win against Matt Dillon. John Jeffery’s opening game had seen him hold Irish ace Mark Beattie to a 10-10 draw and he clinched his place in the main competition knock-outs in style beating Michael Ivings 12-9. He will be pleased with a 16-7 win against Armin Stoll of Canada and his only defeat was against Northern Ireland’s William Parkinson. Three of Norfolk’s entries failed to finish in the top two of their groups but earned places in the Plate knock-outs. Mark Linsdell finished third in group 1 with a 12-5 defeat against Steven Durcan of Isle of Man in his last game costing him dearly. Steve Easter finished third in group 29 after winning three games and losing two. The 15-8 defeat against Mark Chittock of Essex proved fatal to Linsdell’s hopes of British Open glory. Neil Davidson finished fourth in group 27 with two wins and three defeats. He won his opening game by 20-7 against fellow Norfolk bowler David Blundell but defeats against defending champion Nigel Nicholls, Ireland’s Joseph Beattie and England’s Danny Winmill left him short of where he wanted to be. Norfolk’s other entry David Blundell found the strong group 29 just too hard on the day and lost all five of his games. This left him playing in the Shield knock-out section.

Knock-out Stages – British Open

In the main British Open knockout round Jack Pye had a comprehensive 14-5 win against England’s Keith Lackford but in a close and low scoring match against Tony Main in the next round Jack Pye lost by the narrow margin of 8-6. John Jeffery found himself facing another big name in the first knockout round, Stephen Williams of Wales, and Williams was in top form storming to a 15-4 win. Never-the-less John Jeffery will have learned from the class bowlers he has played in this tournament.   

Knock-out Stages – Plate Competition

Mark Linsdell won his first knockout round game by 12-3 against William Lenza of Scotland and followed that up with a 16-8 win against Northern Ireland bowler Uel Finlay to make it through to the last 16. That would prove to be the end of the road for Linsdell though as he lost 13-5 to England’s Harrison Sheen. Neil Davidson’s first knockout game saw him beat Malcolm Sheen 15-8 and a 9-7 win against William Parkinson of Northern Ireland got Davidson into the last 16. But just like Linsdell this proved to be as far as he would get as he went down by 16-9 to Stephen Bainbridge of Wales. Steve Easter beat Bernie Durcan of Northren Ireland 13-10 in his first knockout round but then lost 16-6 to another Irish bowler Tony Bell in the last 32 round.

Knock-out Stages – Shield Competition

After losing all his group games in the tough group 27 David Blundell got the taste of success back by beating Peter Woodley of Scotland 12-8 in his first Shield knockout game. A tight 11-10 win against Gavin Maxwell followed to take Blundell into the last sixteen and a game against Ireland’s Andrew Cockcroft which ended with the Irishman beating Blundell by 11-9.

Final Positions

British Open Final - Stephen Williams 10 – Benny Bass 9

Gareth Stanway (Bronze) Saul Featherstone 4th

Plate Final - Joe Beattie 13 v Grant Soller 8

Shield Final - Nigel Charles 11 v Rod Dawson 4