Lancaster set for the McDade Roberts Invitation

Chris Brown receiving his award from Phil McDade
Dave Clarkson – McDade Roberts Invitation Organiser

One of the most anticipated competitions on the tournament circuit is next Saturday’s McDade Roberts Invitation 32 at the Skerton Liberal Club in Lancaster. This has proved over the years that it is a competition that bowlers and spectators will travel to be part of.

The competition is run by Dave Clarkson who has once again assembled a top class field to provide a day of top quality bowls. Since 2008 McDade Roberts, one of the most successful Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors in the North-West, have supported the event and they have now become the main sponsor. Please have a look at their website:

Lancaster is one of the oldest populated areas in the country with an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 the area, with the River Lune gently leading to the Morecambe estuary, was the site for a Roman garrison which became part of a 13th century castle which stands today. The House of Lancaster is a branch of the English Royal Family and in the 15th century the Red Rose triumphed in a war with the House of York over control of the throne of England. It is an area steeped in history and in 2007 bowling history was made with this competition. In truth 2007 doesn’t seem all that long ago but on Saturday Dave will be congratulating his twelfth champion!

The Lancaster area was not seen as a place the best players in the game visited so Dave Clarkson thought he’d do something about it. The original venue was the Station Hotel Bowling Club at Caton, nr Lancaster. As well as being a regular on the competition circuit Dave was a bowling and committee member there and he conceived the competition to bring to best to Lancaster and give the bowling world a chance to see the best the local area against them.

Danny Barwise – 2007 champion

In Dave words “he wanted to end the notion of the area as a bowling back-water”. The prize-fund of £1540 was generated from six sponsors, programme’s hand-made, and Liverpool’s Danny Barwise beat Blackpool’s Mike Fleming in the final.

The green and pleasant country-side, which feeds the River Lune, sees regular rainfall and it all seemed to fall on the day of the 2008 event. It was held again in Caton and it was one of the wettest days on record. The event was won by Brian Duncan beating Andy Cairns in the final. Dave’s attempt to use squeegees to clear the green was stopped by Mike Leach as the experienced players were showing their wet-weather skills. Brian, thought by those that know to be the best to ever play the game, was superb all day and gave an exhibition in lifting and cobbing.


Brian Duncan

The 2009 saw the first event win for Kendal’s Martin Gilpin who also became the last winner at the Station Hotel. The green was not the best for spectators and in 2010 Dave moved the competition to his new club at Lune Road. On a glorious day Noel Burrows played superb all day to beat Wayne Ditchfield in the final. By then a new big main sponsor was on-board in Tony Street Builders and the prize money was £2350.

In 2011 Lune Road was again the venue as Richie Goddard beat Tommy Johnstone with his last bowl to record a 21-20 win. Much to Dave’s annoyance as he had backed Tommy! In 2012 good weather again and late entrant Peter Consterdine beat Wayne Ditchfield in the final. The following year the rained returned and wet-weather specialist Phil Lee became the second Liverpool winner as won the comp on a very wet Lune Road.

The 2014 event, the last on Lune Rd, was a good day for Cumbria’s Martin Gilpin and Ian Nicholson. It was Martin who beat his close friend in the final to his record his second title.


Wayne Ditchfield

In 2015 Skerton Liberal Club became the home for this competition as major problems with the green at Lune Road gave Dave little option but to seek another venue. What an inspired choice it proved to be as the club is first class for viewing with the crowd right on top of the bowlers and the organisation is first class. The venue can cope with the weather and can provide areas to watch the action but also shelter from the elements. Please visit their website:

The green is built over an orchard and the club is one of the largest in the area with over 1000 members. The bowlers also liked the new venue (well most of them). The first winner on the new venue was Wayne Ditchfield beating Graeme Wilson in a brilliant final. The competition continued to grow and attract new sponsors.

2018 champion Chris Brown receiving his award from Phil McDade

The 2016 event had a prize-fund of £3500 and was won by first timer Jack Dyson. An even bigger prize-fund (£3700) the following year and this finely tuned competition was won by Chris Brown beating Mike Tunstall to 21-17 in a great final as Mike just missed out finishing off the Liverpool hat-trick.

From humble beginnings 2007 this competition has grown into one of the biggest invitation competitions in the game. As Dave is quick to remind everyone the ideas behind it remain the same.

• The competition was set up to bring the best bowlers to Lancaster to show their quality and to promote our game locally by giving home bowlers a chance to play on a big arena against the best.
• To promote various local clubs and their facilities (it was always planned to move the event around our area). To offer value for money to our many sponsors through hospitality and top quality advertising.
• To raise money for local charities in the process.
• To run as professional an event as possible.
• To look after the bowlers with top prize money and good facilities and If at all possible to have continuity with the field.

To support the charity aspect of the competition Dave organised, for 6 years, Sportsman’s Dinners. These were a great success and had fantastic support from the bowlers. The speakers included jockey Andrew Thornton, Football’s Norman Hunter and to top them all, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. Dave organised charity auctions, raffles and fundraising all night. Over the years over £5000 was raised for MNDA and £15000 for a disabled children’s charity called Unique Kidz & Co. Another Sportsman’s dinner is planned for next year.

Dave wanted the event to be not just a competitive sweep but a gathering of friends each August. Many of the field that started in 2007 are still with playing, including Dave Scott, Danny Barwise and Mike Tunstall. It is a friendly comp which Dave hopes the bowlers enjoy coming to each year.

Dave is not resting on his laurels and has a number of plans for the future. A huge help has come in the way of increased sponsorship from McDade Roberts who have now taken on the role of main sponsors. They have been supporting the competition since 2008 and Phil McDade, one of the Directors, has been at every event and presented most of the prizes. The next goal is to get the prize money up to £4000, and this is getting close thanks to the eighteen sponsors, and bring back the fore-mentioned charity evening.

“It’s been a long road since I placed that first jack on the green in August 2007. I have had up and downs and learnt an awful lot. I would like to think we get better year on year. The proof of that will be at about 7pm next Saturday”. 

Dave Clarkson – Organiser

The full draw for the £3700 McDade Roberts Invitation 32 held at the Skerton Liberal Club Lune Street Lancaster LA1 2AJ on Saturday 1th August is:
Danny Barwise (16-1) v Christopher Mordue (12-1)
Tony Hunter* (40-1) v Matty Stewart** (20-1)
Mark Burdett (33-1) v Ian Nicholson (10-1)
Ashley Daykin (12-1) v Richie Goddard (25-1)
James Grimston (25-1) v Matty Gilmore (12-1)
Jack Hargreaves (20-1) v Phil Lee (20-1)
James Dennison*(40-1) v Darren Plenderleith (10-1)
Mike Tunstall (20-1) v Joshua Mordue (25-1)
Billy Speed (25-1) v Tommy Johnstone (14-1)
Andy Thornton (20-1) v Dave Scott (40-1)
David Liley (33-1) v Christopher Brown (12-1)
Wayne Ditchfield (5-1 fav) v Martin Gilpin (16-1)
Stuart Mort (40-1) v John Bailey (10-1)
Simon Coupe (6-1) v David McDermott ( 40-1)
Carl Armitage (40-1) v Kevan Shaw (20-1)
Tim Houghton (33-1) v Lee Heaton (25-1)
*Local Qualifier ** Kendal Super 32 Qualifier

About Steve Davies 171 Articles
Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game as well as a keen player of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Media Officer for the BCGBA, 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 which became the Bowls Observer channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report on and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine.