Historic Hastings tournament ends with excellent finals

Men's singles winner John Ruff (left) and runner-up Jason Walter. Picture courtesy Bob Bogie
Men's singles winner John Ruff (left) and runner-up Jason Walter. Picture courtesy Bob Bogie

The 100th playing of the Hastings Annual Mixed Open Bowls Tournament drew to a close with some excellent finals.

The historic competition took place at White Rock Gardens throughout last week, with most of the finals held on Saturday.

Ladies' singles winner Roma Dalby (left) and runner-up Sue Norman. Picture courtesy Bob Bogie

Ladies' singles winner Roma Dalby (left) and runner-up Sue Norman. Picture courtesy Bob Bogie

The first final, the Gibbons Mannington Open Triples, was held on Friday evening as several of the participants were set to play in the National Championships at Royal Leamington Spa over the weekend.

The winners were Shaun Godfrey (Sidley Martlets BC), George Webster (White Rock BC) and Glen Newton (unattached), who beat a threesome from Spartan & Lakeside BC comprising Lee Dickson, Rob Morphett and Lee Heitzman 19-15. Although never headed, Godfrey’s team had to withstand a late flourish to take the title.

Saturday morning saw the Brickwall Hotel Ladies’ Pairs and Don Softley Men’s Pairs finals. In the ladies’ event, Sheila Brook and Joyce Cox (White Rock BC) were just too good for Anne Pryke and Carol Baxter (Northiam BC) and ran out 22-9 winners.

It was the second successive year that Pryke and Baxter have been runners-up, and they also reached the semi-finals in 2015. Perhaps 2018 will be their year.

The Rosemount BC duo of John Ruff and Terry Phillips defeated the tournament president Gordon Leggatt (White Rock BC) and Tim Orr (Mid-Surrey BC) 25-16 to clinch the men’s pairs.

A special mention must be made for Orr as he drove down from Wimbledon every day of the week (on one day he played twice) before returning home every evening. He played well all week, also losing to Ruff in the Croft Glass Men’s Singles semi-finals the previous day.

Saturday afternoon provided two magnificent finals. In the Kiley’s Karpets Ladies’ Singles decider, Roma Dalby (Spartan & Lakeside BC) held a big lead over Sue Norman (Sidley Martlets BC), but this was whittled away and with one end to go, the scores were level at 20-20.

With Norman holding, Dalby had to either dislodge her bowl or draw onto the jack with the very last bowl. She duly managed the former to win 22-20. Gripping stuff.

The men’s singles final was equally entertaining. Jason Walter (Spartan & Lakeside) at one stage held a good advantage over Ruff and was leading 20-18 at the start of the last end. Ruff somehow managed to gain three shots, however, to triumph 21-20 and claim a second title in a very good week.

Teams and individuals from far flung counties performed very creditably. Two teams from Holmesdale Bowling Club in Kent reached the semi-finals of the men’s pairs before falling to very strong opposition.

The tournament committee was delighted to welcome Paul Manton, a former member of Oxford City & County BC in the ‘60s and ‘70s who came down from London by train especially to watch the finals’ day.

His first visit to the event was as a youngster at the age of 10 and he participated in the tournament for the first time six years later, reaching the fourth round of the men’s singles. This was when the tournament ran for two weeks.

Other than some early rain on the Thursday morning, the tournament was blessed with fine weather for the whole week, although the strong winds made bowling difficult for some.

No tournament can survive without the help of volunteers and sponsors, and thanks go to principal sponsor, Croft Glass Ltd, as well as the Brickwall Hotel and Gibbons Mannington & Phipps.

Thanks also to the programme advertisers, the kitchen and bar staff who kept everyone well fed and contented, Hastings Borough Council for use of the facilities, idverde for the excellent upkeep of the greens, Sally for running the excellent daily raffle, as well as the markers and umpires who gave their time and expertise freely.

The biggest thanks must go to Simon Moore, the competition secretary, who ensured the tournament ran like clockwork, and was always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

* THE Charity Open Triples competition will take place at the White Rock greens on Sunday September 24.

The beneficiaries will be Hastings Furniture Service, the furniture re-use and training charity for Hastings & Rother, and the Anthony Nolan Trust, saving lives of people with blood cancer.

The closing date for entries is today (Friday) and forms are available from Gordon Leggatt on 01424 461803 or at hastingsbowlstournament.com

The tournament committee also needs support to run the bowls tournaments. Please contact the aforementioned telephone number for more details.