Local pair triumphant in open tournament

Tournament sponsor Alison Harwood from Optika presenting some of the prizes.

Tournament sponsor Alison Harwood from Optika presenting some of the prizes. - Credit: Archant

Victoria’s Carol Webb and Don Towie of the host club Clarence, won the mixed event at the 92nd Weston Men’s Open Bowls tournament.

A POIGNANT victory for Victoria’s Carol Webb in the mixed pairs was the local highlight of the 92nd Weston Men’s Open Bowls tournament, sponsored by Optika, which ended in brilliant sunshine at Clarence Park.

Webb is a former member of both ladies’ clubs at Clarence Park and her late father George Smith, a popular life member of Clarence, who died in 2010, was much in her thoughts as she and Don Towie, of the host club, won the title.

In a close final against Midlands’ pair Andy Townsend and Joan Butler, ex-Clarence president Towie, who was in superb form, won the match on a close measure with his final bowl, which just nudged one of his team’s woods to be nearer to the jack.

Webb said afterwards, “I can’t believe we’ve won. But I know that dad was watching.”

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Their success was the only victory for local players, with, as so often happens, powerful bowlers from the Worcester/Hereford/Gloucester area dominating the tournament

Tewkesbury haulage contractor Mike Ricketts won the singles title for the first time during a long day of finals. The 51-year-old, who is a member of Ledbury and plays Middleton Cup for Herefordshire, beat Worcester’s Gareth Burbridge by three shots in a high-quality final.

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Burbridge who had been a member of the champion triples team just a short time beforehand, wilted before the remorseless accuracy of Ricketts, whose control with his 50-year-old swinging Tyrolite woods, which he bought on eBay, was remarkable.

The Herefordshire player built up a big lead and looked set for a comfortable victory before Burbridge came back at him with a flurry of threes and a four. When the tall, slim Ricketts held match-shot on the 18th end, the short, stocky Burbridge just managed to nick it with his last wood and stay alive.

Two ends later, however, it was all over, as, with Burbridge holding shot, Ricketts trailed the jack with his last wood to win the match, then celebrated in style. It was his fifth Weston tournament triumph, the others having been in pairs, mixed pairs and triples.

Without much of a breather, Ricketts took to the green again, this time teaming up with Adie Burbridge against Colin Gazzard and Mike Cooper (Victoria) for the pairs final.

In the morning, the latter duo had battled to a one-shot semi-final victory over Gareth Burbridge and his Worcester clubmate Terry Drake. Drake was subbing for Gloucester City’s Doug Lewis, who was excluded under tournament rules because he had reached three semi-finals.

In the final, Gazzard and Cooper went into an early seven-shot lead. But, in a nip-and-tuck match, it looked all up for Gazzard and Cooper at 21-14 down. At 21-18 going into the last end, Cooper played a great first bowl to trail the jack for four and give his team game lie.

Burbridge tried three times to change the head but successive blockers from Cooper stopped him. His only option with the last wood was to play a positive bowl into the head through the smallest of gaps and he did it brilliantly to give his side two shots and the title by 23-18.

The final of the triples pitched Adie and Gareth Burbridge and Gloucester City’s Doug Lewis against Malcolm Dare, Ted Mangan and former Clarence club champion Barrie Forse, who is now at neighbours St Andrews.

Gareth Burbridge had been forced to drop out of the semi-final because of the three semis rule, Terry Drake replaced him, but was allowed back in the final because he had been knocked out of the pairs.

With Lewis and co 13-11 ahead, playing the 15th end, Forse made three attempts to dislodge a whole bundle of opposition woods around the jack, but missed each time, conceding a six. A few minutes later, it was all over, as Dare, Mangan and Forse conceded with three ends still to play.

Because of the involvement of so many of the same players in finals, the schedule had to be extended, with the presentation ceremony before the pairs final, which did not end until 9pm. But it was another very successful tournament, well supported both on and off the green.

The Stocker family, who are all members of Victoria, had a successful tournament. Father Mike and sons Nathan and Lee won the Sunday triples, Mike and Nathan reached the semi-final of the pairs, Nathan got to the mixed pairs quarter-finals with his girlfriend Tiffany Ellis, a first-year bowler, who is also an excellent footballer. Lee, who has been a bowler for only two months, was in the team who finished runners-up in the gala fours

Finals day results - singles semi-final: M Ricketts (Ledbury) w/o v T Duggan (Vines Park) scr. Final: Ricketts 21, G Burbridge (Worcester) 18.

Pairs semi-final: M Cooper/C Gazzard (Victoria) 20, G Burbridge/T Drake (Worcester) 19. Final: A Burbridge (Worcester)/M Ricketts (Ledbury) 23, Cooper/Gazzard 18.

Mixed pairs: D Towie (Clarence)/C Webb (Victoria) 18, A Townsend (Kineton)/J Butler (Barbourne) 17.

Triples: D Lewis (Gloucester City), A Burbridge, D Burbridge (Worcester) 21, M Dare (Torquay), T Mangan (Olveston), B Forse (St Andrews, Weston) 11.

Gala Fours – first place final: B Gravenall, R Turner, T Powell, D Morgan (Brotherhood) 21, L Stocker (Victoria), B Rossiter (Clarence), D Fairhurst (Victoria), J Fairhurst (Unatt) 13. Third/fourth place final: D Brunning, W Lloyd (Vines Park), S Gough, A Manning (Community) 26, I Phipps (Clarence), S Phelps (unatt), R Dodson, P Tubb (Clarence) 13.

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