Nail-biting finale to historic tournament

The 104th annual Hastings Open Bowls Tournament came to a nail-biting conclusion in front of an appreciative audience on Saturday afternoon.

The Hastings Open Bowls Tournament winners proudly show off their trophies at White Rock Gardens
The Hastings Open Bowls Tournament winners proudly show off their trophies at White Rock Gardens

The results of most of the competitions at White Rock Gardens were in doubt right to the final end and, as usual, play was to a very high standard.

Although the week-long tournament wasn’t blessed with good weather on any of the first four days, only on the Thursday were the games held up as a result of the morning deluge.

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Such was the quality of the greens, however, and particular thanks must go to Shaun, his squad of groundskeepers and the Landscape Group, that the delay was quickly made up. Friday and Saturday then produced fine and sunny conditions for the semi-finals and finals.

With enhanced prizes for the ladies’ singles and entries in all events on the increase, it reversed the trend of the previous three years and it is to be hoped this will be a barometer for the future. The atmosphere of the tournament was extremely good and special mention must go to the 11 bowlers from Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire who came determined to make a week of it and certainly did.

One moment stands out when three of their members lost out in the semi-finals of the triples, the remainder rose in unison and generously applauded the victors.

In the Croft Glass Ladies’ Singles, Corinne Wheatley (Fairlight BC) beat last year’s winner Joyce Cox (White Rock BC) 21-18. A further prize to the best non-local lady, other than the winner, went to Val Estcourt, also from Fairlight BC.

The Croft Glass Men’s Singles was the one exception to the otherwise tight finishes when Colin Nutton (White Rock BC) got the better of John Ruff (Rosemount BC) 21-5.

In the Gibbons, Mannington & Phipps Ladies’ Pairs, Sue Norman and Jenny Deeprose (Sidley Martlets BC) finally overcame Sandra Page and Lorraine Milburn (White Rock) 19-17 on the very last end.

A similar story occurred in the Men’s Pairs, sponsored by Don Softley, where Nutton and Alec Martin (White Rock) just edged out Trevor Logan (White Rock) and his partner Brian Priestley, all the way from St George’s BC from Morpeth in Northumberland, 22-19.

The lead in the Brickwall Hotel Open Triples swung both ways, but eventually John Sallows, Harold Startup and skip Dave Ward (Hastings BC) overcame Joyce Cox, Sally Robertson and Pat Warner (White Rock) 23-18.

The tournament would not have been the success it was without the assistance of its sponsors, programme advertisers, the many people who donated prizes for the raffle and all the background staff who worked so hard, particularly Cllr Maureen Charlesworth, who ran the daily raffle.

Next up is the Charity Triples event on Sunday September 27. Organisers are looking for a high number of competitors for the benefit of the chosen charity, Dragonflies, a counselling service for the young.

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