Ellis wins Royle Classic

I would like to thank Matt Dwyer and the Royle Bowling Club in Rochdale for producing the following excellent report. It is without doubt that this is one of the most professionally run competitions on the circuit and I wish all clubs followed their example.

That’s enough from me I’ll leave the rest to Matt.

Royle Bowling Club in Rochdale
Royle Bowling Club in Rochdale

On behalf of everyone at the Royle Bowling club I would like to extend a warm welcome to the 2016 Royle Summer Classic. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the competition entries flood in, all records were smashed this year with all 64 spaces being snapped up within 48 hours. I cannot thank you all enough for supporting the competition, if someone had told me 10 years ago there would be a competition at the Royle worth nearly £2000 in prize money attracting some of the top names in the game, I would have thought they were daft! None of this would be possible without the continuing support of our incredible sponsors who step up year on year and provide the levels of prize money which makes the Royle Summer Classic a sought after prize. Our principle sponsors this year is Thwaites/ Marstons who have agreed to extend their sponsorship for the coming years, thanks to Bob Dow for working with us on this. For those who have been coming to Mount St for some time will doubtless find the surrounds unrecognisable, inside the perimeter we now have a wonderful safe area to watch bowls and outside the new housing estate gives a new character. I was worried that the houses may make the green look smaller hemmed in, in reality I think it is possibly the opposite. Thanks to all of this go to Barrett Homes, although their sponsorship has now finished we will never forget their role in the development of this club. The surrounds are one thing, however without a decent playing surface we couldn’t even dream of running a competition. It is always great to receive compliments about the condition of the green, this just wouldn’t be possible without our greenkeeping team led by the amazing grass genius himself… Dave Hanson! We are also thankful to our local sponsors and especially to Grant Sharrocks of Rochdale Glass and Glazing who is helping us for the first time. Unfortunately at the time of writing (April) we do not have a finals night shirt sponsor, but we will work to try and have this in place before the big day! This can be done for £250 which includes shirts complete with logos for all the players on finals night and a sign to be placed around the green for a minimum of 3 years (which includes the cost of the sign). The shirts alone can be sponsored for £150. Running the competition is always a team effort, from Scott McHugh who has helped completely redesign the look of the programme and is the lowest paid editor in the country and I couldn’t begin to try and count the number of colour double sided sheets Brent Stuart has printed for the cause. Last but not least I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the players, spectators, markers, measurers and the bar staff. Without you, the Classic wouldn’t happen.

After several weeks of rain the weather gods seemed to be on the right page as the Finals Night of the Royle Summer Classic was played out in dry conditions. The green looked absolutely immaculate and bordering on perfection, the same words can certainly be used to describe the performances on the night by the new champion Gary Ellis who beat Chris Haynes in a terrific top quality final. It was a masterclass of bowling from the Whitefield legend. Fresh from picking up the Greater Manchester merits Gary looked fresh as he took to the green against two time winner Gareth Gwilliam. Gwilliam himself had been well backed and had seen his odds plummet from 5/1 to 3/1 as many had thought 5/1 was just too high. You often hear the words “bookies don’t often get it wrong”, on this occasion there was a feeling amongst the greenside punters that the bookies may be open to a stinging. The old adage proved correct and the bookie was the winner on the heats though as Ellis mastered a display of composure and class to edge it 21-17.

Elsewhere Bacup’s Aaron Harrison proved his undoubted ability in a terrific performance against former winner Matt Gillies. Neil Simpson and Chris Haynes wasn’t much of a contest as Haynes established an early lead and didn’t look like surrendering it. Shipley man Simpson rallied but the 10 break mid game effectively ended the his chances. Haynes was impressive and had been throughout. In the battle of Rochdale reigning champion Andy Lowe was defeated by senior statesman Peter Fielding.

In the semi final Harrison need have no complaints about his performance, despite losing out 21-13 to Ellis, he played very well, but his opponent was just too hot to handle. All the key components of his game were right on song. Gary looked a champion elect all night, All of the players on the evening played well, lead well and beat good bowls but Ellis absolutely excelled in his striking. He barely missed during all three games, this was key in this semi. For a run of around 3-4 ends Harrison had lay 2 great bowls but didn’t force a change to the scorecard as Ellis killed the end with deadly accuracy.

In the other semi final Chris Haynes beat Peter Fielding 21-15 in a match which had been largely tit for tat with both players performing well and treating the sizable crowd to some excellent bowling. There were perhaps two key runs in the match where the George and Dragon man Haynes put Fielding on the back foot with breaks of four and six,the latter being enough to close the game out.

The final was another match high on quality with some simply fabulous bowling, after sixteen ends the match remained firmly tied at 10-10 and six ends later at 14-14 however Ellis is a player who has a habit of finding a spell within games where he is just unplayable where opponents feel they are playing well, feel in the game but find the scoreboard tells a different story. At 14-14 is was very much game on, however Ellis took to a mark across the middle of the green and played one great bowl after another and notched seven unanswered points to run out 21-14 to take home the Royle Trophy. This had by no means been a one way final as Haynes had played his part and proven that whilst green knowledge is important, simply playing excellent bowls can carry you a long way on the Royle. He will surely be back next year and will be a definite force to be reckoned with.

Quarter Final
Matt Gillies 16-21 Aaron Harrison, Gary Ellis 21-18 Gareth Gwilliam, Neil Simpson 11-21 Chris Haynes, Peter Fielding 21-13 Andy Lowe.

Semi Final
Harrison 13-21 Ellis ,Haynes 21-15 Fielding

Final
Ellis 21-14 Haynes

A huge thank you to everyone involved in pulling together to make this years Royle Classic a success.

Matt Dwyer

Steve Davies

Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Merseyside champion in 2002 and Merseyside County President (2014-15) Steve has always been keen to promote the game especially through the broadcast of the game on TV or Internet. Steve set up the LIVE BOWLS YouTube channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine after consulting with respected figures in the game and journalism.