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2015 Festival of Bowls
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ECBA Carpet Bowls Festival 2014
Monday 12th to Friday 16th May 2014

This year saw a big increase in numbers over the previous running of the event with 55 Fours, 108 Pairs and nearly 150 Singles entered into the week's three competitions.

As in previous years the numbers entered into the Singles are such that the event has to be played on a straight knockout basis, and the big increase in numbers over last year meant that it was necessary to run a couple of sessions on Tuesday evening.

The first day's play saw the nearly 150 bowlers whittled down to a last 16 who played off on Wednesday afternoon, with the final two meeting on Thursday.

Despite the large numbers involved there was a familiar ring to some of the names who made it through to the last four, which goes to show that more often than not the cream rises to the top.

Both of last year's finalists made it through to the Semi Finals, but this time they met one another one stage earlier than they had 12 months ago. On that occasion Paul Cousins of Suffolk had toppled Sunderland's Martin Campbell, the winner for the 3 previous years, to take the title. And as might have been expected it was close.

The game was all square on end 2 at 1-1, after 4 ends it was 2-2, after 6 ends it was 4-4 and after 8 ends it was 5-5. So it all came down to the final end and this time around it went the way of Martin, who had the advantage of having last wood, who took a single shot and take the win 6-5 and make it to his 5th consecutive Singles final.

The other Semi saw seasoned veteran David Storey (Durham), of whom more later, coming up against newcomer Paul Harris (Hertfordshire). Ultimately this game all rested on the fate of the first end. Three shots is always a big haul in a Singles game and when it comes on the first end it puts a player in good stead for the rest of the game.

And that first end went the way of Paul, giving him a lead which he held on to up until the fifth end by which point David had fought back to drawn level, but he failed to maintain his momentum and Paul was back ahead on the next end. Taking a 2 shot advantage into the final end and having final wood Paul won the end and finished the 8-5 winner to take him into the final.

The final was another close affair, despite the gulf of experience between the two players.

Paul's start was a good one once more. This time it was 2 shots on the first end and it kept him in front until the 5th end when Martin was finally able to draw level at 3-3. One shot on the next saw Paul back in front but the 7th end saw Martin score 2 to take him into the lead of the game for the first time. But once again Paul was back in front as he answered with 2 shots of his own to lead 6-5 going into the last end.

Paul held a one shot advantage, but Martin would have last wood. And perhaps fittingly the game went to an extra end as Martin took the single shot that was necessary to take the game into extra time. And that end also went the way of Martin as well as he came home the winner 7-6 to take the title for the 4th time in 5 years.

Winner: Martin Campbell (Sunderland)

Runner Up: Paul Harris (Hertfordshire)

Semi-Finalists: David Storey (Durham) & Paul Cousins (Suffolk)

The 108 Pairs in competition this year were split up into groups of 4, giving everyone 3 games on Wednesday.

The 27 group winners progressed to the knockout stages, along with the 5 best runners-up who played off against one another on Thursday afternoon for the right to play in the final later on that day.

Down to the Semi Final stage and we were left with two Suffolk teams and one each from Durham and Essex.

Durham's David Storey and Aline Pearson took on Jim & Sally Goodrich from Suffolk, but far from being the close game that one might have expected the writing was very much on the wall very early on. David and Aline picked up a couple of shots on the first end, one one the second and another 2 on the next.

In fact it was 7 ends before Jim and Sally were able to get on the board, by which time their opponents had already amassed 11 shots. At 11-1 with 2 ends to go the game was already mathematically out of the Suffolk team's reach by this stage. One more end was played, which went David and Aline's way and at that stage an end was called to proceedings with an end still to play and the score standing at a resounding 13-1 in favour of the Durham pair.

The story of the other game was simliar, at least to begin with, if not exactly the same or quite so dramatic.

Eric & Carol Sainsbury (Essex) took the first end against Peter & Kay Masters (Suffolk), but the Masters were ahead on the next over the proceeding 4 ends built themselves a nice little 7-1 advantage. Not impossible to overcome, but it was a good buffer for the last 3 ends. And it was just as well they had it.

The Sainsbury's took one on the 7th end, but a 3 on the penultimate end brought them back to within 2 shots of the lead to at least give themselves a chance which they must have thought was out of their reach only a few minutes before. But it wasn't enough, the Masters held their nerve, took one and finished 8-5 winners to make the final.

Two wood Pairs is a very particular discipline, when played in it's 3 wood variation there is a little more margin for error, but with only 2 woods per player there is rarely room for error. And in a final any errors are likely to be punished. So it was on the very first end.

The Masters were off to a poor start and David and Aline took full advantage as they picked up all 4 shots. Unsurprisingly the Durham pair never let them back into the game and never let that initial 4 shot advantage slip. The best Peter and Kay could do was to hold the game steady and 5 ends in they were still only 6-2 down, but the next end put the seal on the game as they dropped another 3 to trail by 7 shots with only 3 ends remaining.

Players of the experience of David and Aline would not be expected to let such an advantage slip, and they didn't, the following 2 ends were shared but with only one end to go and 6 shots in arrears the maths were against the Suffolk pair and an end was called to the game.

Winners: David Story & Aline Pearson (Durham)

Runners Up: Kay & Peter Masters (Suffolk)

Semi Finalists: Jim & Sally Goodrich (Suffolk)

Semi Finalists: Carol & Eric Sainsbury (Essex)

Like the Pairs, the Rinks were put into groups of 4 to give each team 3 games, all of which were played on Tuesday morning.

From those groups the 14 winners and 2 best runners-up went through to play off on Thursday morning to get down to the finalists for the afternoon's play.

David Long's Cambridgeshire Four were off to a good start against Jenny Sanderson's Sunderland team in Semi Final stage, despite their opponents having the Singles champion amongst their number. They steadily chipped away at their opposition, taking each of the first 5 ends to lead 6-0. The Sunderland team were on the board on the next end, but it was only 2 shots, and the lead was restored to 5 on the next leaving Jenny's team with too much to do on the last end as they lost 7-3.

David Storey, who made all the Semi Finals this year, led his Durham team against Neil West from Suffolk. And while first blood went to the Suffolk team their opponents were in front on the next and 6-1 up at the half way point. The next couple of ends went to Neil's team to get it back to just 6-3 but that was as close as they got as they lost the last 2 ends to give David's team a 9-3 win.

The Cambridgeshire team were first out of the blocks in the final, taking a shot on each of the first 2 ends, but it was all square after another 2 ends, 2-2 at the mid-point of the game. The Durham team hit the lead on the next end and a run of 4 consecutive ends won saw them 5-2 up with 2 to go.

David Long's team stopped the rot not a moment too soon, taking a couple of shots to bring themselves back to just one behind as they entered the last end. But they could not get any closer as Durham took the last end to win 6-4 and give David Storey his second trophy of the day.

Winners: David Storey, Aline Pearson, Shirley & Peter Wood (Durham)

Runners Up: Carol & Bill Reeve and David & Margaret Long (Cambridgeshire)

Semi Finalists: Neil & Carol West and Joey & Jonathan Stones (Suffolk)

Semi Finalists: Jenny Sanderson, Eve Warren, Martin Campbell & Alan Howe (Sunderland)

We would like to thank everyone involved for a most enjoyable week, with a very high standard of bowling, all of which was played in the right spirit.

We are already looking forward to next year's event, bookings for which are already being taken. You can find more details here, along with the booking forms.

A list of the event's previous winners can be found here.

updated 17/05/14