Fourteen years ago, a 13-year-old novice played his first game of bowls at the Auchinleck club in Ayrshire – and lost 47-1.
On Sunday, however, through the magic of television, millions watched him turn on an outstanding display to beat the hotly-tipped Paul Foster in the final of the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines WBT world indoor singles championship at the Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.
If 27-year-old Stewart Anderson’s rise has been meteoric, it has also been well-deserved – but his admission of that early humiliating defeat must give aspiring bowlers everywhere some hope.
Clearly the underdog in the final, Anderson outplayed the vastly-experienced four-time champion Foster, who was hoping to equal the record held by his close friend and rival Alex Marshall, who has won the title five times.
Indeed, it was only Foster’s experience and determination that kept him in the hunt, and gave him a chance of winning right up until the last bowl of the 18th end.
Foster salvaged a 10-10 tie in the first set, and, at 9-9 in the second, with only one end left to play, the large crowd gave the Scottish duo a rousing standing ovation.
On that last end, Anderson, whose drawing to the jack was sensational, held the shot until Foster delivered his last bowl. With no margin for error, Foster drew close, and waited to see if his bowl would topple in for shot – but it did not and Anderson took the title.
Earlier in the week, Bex Field, from Norwich, delighted the home crowd by lifting the World Bowls Tour Women’s Matchplay title, when she edged home against wily Channel Islander Ali Merrien 11-7, 8-10, 2-1 in the final.
A new face was seen on the portable rink last week, when Dan Bluett, who plays indoors and outdoors at the Westlecot club in Swindon, arrived to join the excellent team of markers and umpires on duty at the world championships.
Bluett, a 44-year-old computer programmer, is relatively new to the bowls scene as an umpire, but, having shown ability at an early stage, has been fast-tracked through to the sport’s highest level, and may be seen on our screens in the near future.
“I took up the sport in 2000, after getting divorced,” Bluett explains. “I really enjoy playing, but I would describe my standard as ‘good club level’, and I took up umpiring when I realised that I stood more chance of getting to Worthing as an umpire than as a player!”
With training from Gloucestershire’s Andy Ewens, he has already officiated at Worthing, and, after trialing in the international arena at Potters last week, his name has been added to the list of PBA/WBT Tour umpires.
The Stratton Churchway club, in Wiltshire, has received a grant of £50,000 from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund to enable it to upgrade facilities at the club and build new changing rooms.
The club’s successful application will also see the clubhouse being re-wired, new paving laid and improved access to the club. The grant will be supplemented by other funding from Stratton Parish Council (£2,150) and Swindon Sports Forum (£1,200), and the overall cost of the project will be £65,000.
Club chairperson Janet Willis said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding, which will enable us to upgrade the quality of our facilities that are available to our members and the community – and all from part of the 2012 Olympics’ legacy.”
While the professional side of the game provided great entertainment at Potters at the weekend, 32 of England’s best young players were parading their skills at the Bristol indoor club at the far end of South Liberty Lane.
North Wilts hopeful Wayne Snook went out in the first round of the men’s national under-25 championship, but Taunton Deane’s Kirsty Hembrow battled through to the semi-finals of the equivalent women’s event.
After a series of superb matches, the winners of the two championships were Ashley Clipston, from Alfreton, in Derbyshire, and Chloe Wordingham from the Rushden club in Northamptonshire.
Wordingham is only 15, while her opponent in the final, Sarah Gove, from the high-flying City of Ely club, that has produced players like Greg Harlow, Ellen Falkner and Nicky Brett, is only three years older.
Two changes have been announced to the 2013 international calendar that will affect any women hoping to play for their country this summer. The British women’s under- 25 international series has been moved from the Ballymena club in Northern Ireland to the leafy environs of Royal Leamington Spa, while the British women’s internationals will be played at the St Vincent club in Glasgow – not at the 2014 Commonwealth Games venue at Kelvingrove as had been planned.
Sad news from Gloucestershire, where three former county stalwarts – David Winters, Scott Thomlinson and Len Webb – have died.
Winters, who was 87, made a tremendous contribution to the running of the Association as Hon Treasurer from 1987 to 2006 and again in 2011 and played 142 matches for the County. His funeral took place at Gloucester crematorium on January 16.
Scott Thomlinson, who died in a London hospital following an operation, was County President in 1978 and National President in 1996. He played 151 County Matches.
There is to be a Service of Thanksgiving for his Life in Fairford Parish Church at a date to be arranged.
Last Thursday, Len Webb, who was 65, lost his battle with cancer. He was outdoor county president twice – in 1997 and 2005 – and indoor president in 2004/05, and played for Gloucestershire 228 times on carpet and on grass.
GCIBA secretary Derek Severs said yesterday: “Len’s life fell apart during 2008 when he was found guilty of falsely claiming £60,000 in disability benefits, while he was working as a pall bearer and taxi driver and regularly playing bowls.
“He was given an 18-month jail term suspended for two years and disappeared from the bowls scene completely, leaving his team-mates with enduring memories of the positive way in which he had played his bowls.”
Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines WBT world indoor bowls championship at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk – Open singles, Last 16: N Brett (Eng) bt P Bennett (NZ) 9-4, 7-3; S Anderson (Sco) bt S Allan (Sco) 7-6, 3-9, 2-1; J Price (Wal) bt C Craig (Ire) 8-5, 8-4; D Gourlay (Sco) bt A Marshall (Sco) 9-4, 12-1; P Foster (Sco) bt J Greenslade (Wal) 10-3, 10-4; M King (Eng) bt J Ross (Sco) 7-6, 4-14, 2-0; R Paxton (Eng) bt M Royal (Eng) 3-10, 8-7, 2-0; C Walker (Sco) bt R Pearse (Aus) 10-4, 2-8, 2-1. Quarter-finals: Anderson bt Brett 9-4, 6-7, 2-1; Gourlay bt Price 11-2, 12-4; Foster bt King 11-3, 9-5; Walker bt Paxton 7-6, 7-7. Semi-finals: Anderson bt Gourlay 5-5, 9-4; Foster bt Walker 7-5, 4-8, 2-0. Final: Anderson bt Foster 10-10, 10-9.
Women’s singles – Semi-finals: R Field (England) bt Kerry Packwood (Wales) 8-7, 8-7; A Merrien (Guernsey) bt Kelly Packwood (Wales) 7-6, 11-1. Final: Field bt Merrien 11-7, 8-10, 2-1.
EIBA national under-25 singles championships at Bristol, Men, First round: M Whyers (Spalding) bt D McVittie (Blackpool Newton Hall) 10-5, 12-6; D Morris (Wey Valley) bt S Moss (Falcon) 9-3, 7-7; M Nullmeyers (Barking) bt T Meller (IoW) 10-3, 8-3; S Whiting (Oyster) bt R Elmore (City of Ely) 9-8, 5-8, 2-0; A Clipston (Alfreton) bt W Snook (North Wilts) 8-6, 9-3; J Bird (Scarborough) bt B J Byles (Desborough, M) 11-4, 8-4; M Puckett (Moonfleet 2000) bt L Ridout (Torquay United) 10-7, 8-9, 2-1; R Atkins (Malvern Hills) bt W Willgress (Norfolk) 10-4, 6-7, 2-0. Quarter-finals: Morris bt Whyers 10-4, 3-10, 2-0; Whiting bt Nullmeyers 8-4, 4-9, 2-0; Clipston bt Bird 8-7, 6-8, 2-0; Atkins bt Puckett 9-4, 9-5. Semi-finals: Whiting bt Morris 8-5, 12-2; Clipston bt Atkins 10-2, 11-4. Final: Clipston bt Whiting 11-6, 10-8.
Women, First round: L Catchpole (Norfolk) bt E Ferguson (Mote Park) 7-4, 9-6; S Gove (City of Ely) bt P Dennis (Swale) 8-2, 2-9, 2-0; K Hembrow (Taunton Deane) bt K McCarthy (Egham) 10-6, 12-0; L Kuhler (Adur) bt Z Eagles (York) 3-11, 11-2, 2-0; C Wordingham (Rushden) bt H Felce (St Neots) 12-6, 9-2; A Stanton (Malvern Hills) bt H Arundel (Selby) 13-1, 3-6, 2-1; L Copeland (Hartlepool) bt R Carter (Norfolk) 9-7, 9-3; S Tolchard (Torquay United) bt H Mason (Nottingham) 9-4, 16-2. Quarter finals: Gove bt Catchpole 10-8, 10-5; Hembrow bt Kuhler 8-4, 7-5; Wordingham bt Stanton 8-7, 7-7; Tolchard bt Copeland 7-7, 11-4. Semi-finals: Gove bt Hembrow 7-10, 7-5, 2-0; Wordingham bt Tolchard 9-4, 9-7. Final: Wordingham bt Gove 8-9, 9-0, 2-0.
EIBA Warner Leisure Hotels Champion of Champions at Lakeside (Hayling Island), February 1-3 – Men, First round: N Smith (Westlecot) v A Webb (Riverain); D Rogers (Loddon Vale) v D Denison (Torquay United); T Meller (IoW) v R Sydney (White Oak); M Royal (Mid Suffolk) v W Willgress (Norfolk IBC); G Shadwell (Clarrie Dunbar) v A Binns (Croydon); M Orrey (Grantham) v L Barber (Bounds Green); R Robertson (Erewash) v N McKee (Kingsthorpe); G Skipp (Hartlepool) v G R Smith (Sunderland).
Women, First round: L Cutmore (Hornsea) v D Hankin (Egham); A Bowden (Bridport) v P Strong (Lincoln); R Bailey (Victory) v S Branfield Clevedon); P Kirk (Herga) v W King (Swale); S Tolchard (Torquay United) v K Hawes (Oxford & District); P Browne (The Parks) v J Roylance (North Walsham); K Rednall (Ipswich) v J Redfern (Rugby); M Oram (Northamppton) v B Lewis (Barwell).
County matches, at Ilminster: Ilminster bt Somerset under-25 59-50 – Rink scores (Ilminster skips first): B Sims 17, L Hembrow 25; K Hamilton 27, T Shattock 8; I Lightfoot 20, C Harrod 17. At Donyatt: Somerset Patrons bt Somerset 140-118 – Rink scores (Patrons’ skips first): R Scott 29, P Bissett 12; J Brown 22, R Soper 16; D Avery 33, B Bradford 13; G Lewis 13, J Capon 34; G Guest 30, R Pitts 16; B Chick 13, T Willis 27.
Warner Leisure Hotels Wessex League – Midland Region: Church Gresley bt Daventry 88-68 (16-0); Rugby bt Tamworth 87-78 (14-2); Solihull bt Nomads 90-68 (13-3).