Jul 27 2012 by Mike WIlson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AYR Bowling Week, one of the leading open tournaments in the British calendar, is celebrating its 80th anniversary year.
Around 750 entries across the eight competitions with play in gents singles and pairs, ladies singles and pairs, mixed pairs, junior boys’ singles, junior girls’ singles and junior pairs.
Plays takes place at the Northfield bowling complex from Monday, July 30 to Saturday, August 4.
There will also be action at Craigie, Crooksmoss, Forehill, Kincaidston and Belmont, Peter Boyle and Seafield from Monday through to Wednesday.
The Ayr Bowling Week are again indebted to the support from their sponsors – South Ayrshire Council, Jack High Insurance, Martin and White Joiners, Taylor Bowls, Colin Wilson and MKD Sportswear.
The mixed pairs and junior pairs finals will take place at 12pm on Saturday, August 4 with all other finals at 2pm. The presentation of prizes is at Northfield around 5pm on the Saturday and will be conducted by Jimmy Agnew who, after many years, is stepping down from his role as tournament director.
There is also a special night at Northfield Bowling Club on Wednesday night from 8pm to late to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Ayr Bowling Week. There is entertainment provided and all are welcome to join Jimmy and the committee to celebrate another special milestone in its history.
MIXED PAIRS: the mixed pairs championship has again reached a new entry record with 152 pairs opening the Ayr tournament on Monday.
This year there is a group stage in the early rounds with a knockout phase from the last 32 round.
Defending champions David and Lily Kiltie (Port William) play in Group V at Northfield against four other pairings. Two former winners meet at Crooksmoss with Susan Kelly and John McColm (Stranraer) facing off against William and Elaine McKenzie (Cumnock) as well as pairs from Forehill, Darvel and Kilwinning.
GENTS SINGLES: Defending champion Alex Higgins (Stranraer) will start his defence of the title on Tuesday at Craigie from 9am.
Alex, who has also qualified to play in the Scottish national singles and has received an international trial this year, will not have it all his own way though as he faces new Ayrshire youth singles champion Andrew Weir (Prestwick) in his opening match.
The number two seed Paul Shields (Peter Boyle) also faces a tough opener against one of Ayrshire’s talented young players, Jordan Slaven (Tarbolton).
Other notable first round matches include Northfield champion Dougiec McKie against former pairs champion Jim Glen (Meikleriggs) and former champion Brian Fulton (Ayr) against veteran campaigner Wallace Craig (Hawkhill).
GENTS PAIRS: Stranraer Bowling Club are also the defending champions in the gents pairs with brothers Michael and David Kelly facing a tough opener against former pairs champion Les Fowler and his partner Jim Cross from Catrine. This match take place at Northfield on the Wednesday at 9am.
Last year’s finalist Gary Davies has a different partner this year in the form of his Castle Douglas clubmate and cousin Alan. They face a difficult opening encounter against experienced Ayr pairing Tom McLarty (Crooksmoss) and John Lindsay (Hawkhill).
Other notable games include former Ayrshire champions Ian McIlwraith (Girvan) and Willie Dunlop (unattached) against World Bowls chief executive Gary Smith (Linlithgow) and Bowls Scotland junior vice president Gordon Neil (Craigie); and Graham Cole (Calderbank) partnering his nephew Stuart Cole (KBBC) against Northfield’s Stephen Longair and Tommy Semple.
LADIES SINGLES: Claire Johnston (Auchinleck), fresh from the announcement of being selected to play the singles at the World Bowls Championships in November, will be hopeful of retaining her title. The number one seed opens against Adelaide Dalling (Peebles).
The ladies singles, as always, has notable internationalists in every section. Michelle Cooper (Blacklands), also selected to be in the World Bowls team, faces Amy McCulloch (Glenluce) in her first round match.
Anne Brown (Newton Park) is the top seed in section ‘B’ with Isabel McKnight (Cumnock the lead players in section ‘C’. Jean Sykes (Cumnock) will have her work cut out in her section with international class players such as Elaine McKenzie (Cumnock), Rose-ena Smillie (Ayr), Lorna Smith (Linlithgow), Susan Murray (Raploch) and Susan Kelly (Stranraer) all lying in wait.
LADIES PAIRS: Newton Park’s Anne Brown and Liz Campbell, who won the title in style last year, will open their challenge against former winner Annie Sproat (Stranraer WE) and her partner Lily Kiltie (Port William).
Another notable game in the same section sees Carole McMillan (Stranraer WE) and Morag Lamb (Creetown) play Mary Grier and Margaret Henderson (Galston). International team manager Betty Forsyth (Blantyre) teams up with former world champion Lorna Smith (Linlithgow) to face off against Nancy Warwick (Carnwath) and Liz Reid (Craigie).
Former champions Peggy Thomson and Sheila Hanlin (Castle Kennedy) open their challenge against Hannah Brown and Ann Murphy (Forehill).
JUNIOR TOURNAMENTS: the star of last year’s Ayr Bowling week will be back to defend his Junior Bowls singles title. Blair Davidson (Blacklands), who won many friends with his emotional style of play, will line up in section ‘H’ against Mark Conlan (Port William) and Daniel Gray (Maybole Memorial Park). Twenty-eight other players will hope to take the title away from Blair.
Dawn Anderson (KBBC) will bid to retain her junior girls’ singles title with under 25 Internationalist Carrie McLean (Cumnock) hoping to go one place better than last year’s final defeat. Dawn opens her challenge against Carrie on Wednesday at 9am in the first of five round robin matches.
The junior pairs will be hosted by Kincaidston and Belmont on Tuesday from 1pm. The 17 pairs are split into four sections will the top two from each section making it through to the quarter-finals.
Sixteen different clubs are represented in this competition which will no doubt be played to its usual high standard.