Popular Tenby Bowling Club member John Roberts acheived one of his bowls dreams on Friday - winning Tenby’s coveted Gold Cup.
The 43-year-old carpenter carved out a 24-carat display of bowling at the Sutton Street green to lift one of the most sought-after cups in Welsh bowls.
He’s the 20th Tenby member to win the blue riband event in the 93 years since it was first contested.
Percy Howells Silver Bowl winner in 2005 - the first time he had entered the open week event - John has featured in no fewer than three Gold Cup semi-finals and two quarter-finals in the 12 years since then, but had never progressed to the final... until Friday.
And his maiden victory was achieved in fine style. The Welsh indoor and outdoor international produced a sparkling performance to beat open week stalwart David Weale (a family name synonymous with Welsh bowls), of Presteigne, 21-16 in a two-hour thrilling 19 end match.
It was a match worthy of the occasion, the ding-dong struggle keeping spectators on their toes.
“The Gold Cup win is ranked up there in my career highlights", said John.
“The feeling of winning the Gold Cup is like no other, as you know that you have played out of your skin to win it, such is the quality of the field, as well as the quality of players who have won it previously.
“The tournament is one of the most respected and prestigious, not just in Wales, but in the whole of the British Isles, so to rise to the top is just a fantastic feeling.
“Winning any open tournament is fantastic, but the Gold Cup is something really special.”
Special indeed. Not only did John collect a cash prize of £1,000, but, more importantly, his name will be written in gold on the Tenby Bowling Club honours board and his photograph will hang alongside other distinguished winners on the ‘wall of fame.’
Among those is John’s late father-in-law Ken Hewlings who was a shock Gold Cup winner in 1990 when he won his first ever singles competition so John’s victory was particularly poigiant for partner Ceris and mother-in-law Winifred.
For most of the week, John was in contention for the ‘dream double’.
He also enjoyed a successful run in the Silver Bowl and was one of three bowlers waking up hoping to achieve that elite accolade on finals day. Also in contention for the same glory were David Weale and Phil Lewis from Welshpool who were the only competitors out of over 70 unbeaten in the two competitions!
Sadly though John’s hopes of winning both were dashed by Open Week record holder and current Welsh singles champion and British Isles runner-up David Kingdon, of Kidwelly, who knocked him out of the Silver Bowl, on his way to claiming his 10th Tenby title, while David Weale eliminated Phil Lewis in both events.
Bowls is a funny old game as after knocking out the same person to reach the two finals himself, within hours David too discovered how cruel the sport is when after being dfeated in the Gold final, he was also beaten in the Silver Bowl by David Kingdon, 21-12.
One could not fail to feel sadness for the 58-year-old Powys County Council employee, who many describe as the best Welsh player never to have been capped with 16 Welsh titles and four British Isles crowns under his belt, who had played a colossal 14 games of bowls in six days!
Despite defeat, David, Silver Bowl winner in 1999, was full of praise for the tournament.
“Gold Cup was once again excellent,” he said afterwards. “It was a good social holiday with friends and great to meet old pals from Tenby. We were well looked after by the club and the tourament is well-organised. It’s a holiday with some bowls, but this year an awful lot of bowls! My aim is to reach the Thursday, and this year, doing well in both was very pleasing as you don’t expect to do well in both cups. I was very pleased how I played and was not disappointed to lose both finals as I had a great week on and off the green.”
Winner of the Silver Bowl for the fourth time and Gold victor on six occasions, David Kingdon, 48, added: “Winning the Silver Bowl this year means a lot to me as not only was it my 10th singles cup at Tenby, but I got to share my friend, John Roberts’s special moment winning the Gold Cup. Special mention too to David Weale on a fantastic week of bowls this year and of course Lynn Rafferty for all her hard work organising the event.”
The Five Arches Bowl, for bowlers eliminated of both main competitions, was won by Eliyr Lloyd, of Tick Tock, who defeated Tony Duckfield, of Swansea Vale, 21-13, in 20 ends.
Marker of the Gold Cup final was past club president Peter Hooper, while multiple Gold Cup and Silver Bowl winner Lee Williamson marked the Silver Bowl final and club member Tony Rose the Five Arches Bowl final.
Sponsored again by Molson Coors, company representative Claire Thompson was on hand to present the trophies, while tournament organiser, Lynn Rafferty, presented the prize-money.
MC for the presentation ceremony was club sponsorship organiser Lawrence Hourahane who said: “It’s been another great week of bowls here at Tenby Bowling Club, and we’ve a number of people to thank for all their help.
“The players, markers, umpires and visitors, of course, for joining us here and creating such a buzz here all week.
“The remarkable Lynn for running the tournament so smoothly once again.
“The green staff for all their hard work in all weathers looking after the green and the surrounds.
“The caterers who have done a magnificent job all week in keeping us all fed and watered - and in the process have also managed to raise over £800 for this year’s featured charity - MIND Cymru
“The bar staff upstairs for all their hard work and the person who supplies us with all our drinks - We’re also delighted to welcome Claire Thomson from Molson Coors who continue to very generously sponsor Gold Cup Week, and have done so for many years. Claire, we’re very grateful to you and Coors.”
For bowlers with a 2018 diary, next year’s Gold Cup starts on Sunday, July 29. Entry forms will be available in January.
Results were as follows:
Jonathan Hubbard 8 David Kingdon 21; Viv John 21 Colin Holmes 8; Jordan Hooper 20 Finley Williamson 21; Kevin James 21 Richard Cowling 6; Huw Nicholas 21 Mike Oliver 15; Hazel Retallick Scr v Jeff O’Keefe scr; Ashley Williams 20 David Weale 21; Mike Day 10 Ryan Edwards 21; Dai Newth 21 Maxine Mellerup; Paul Marks 21 Jo Shewry 1; Keith Michael 21 Matt Cuthbert 20; John Culley 21 Ian Davies 18; Dilwyn Jones 14 Henry Watkins 21; Paul Mason 21 Ben Cloake 11; Wayne Webster 12 Phil Lewis 21; Alex Western w/o Iestyn Williams scr; Shaun Peregrine 21 Tommy Nutt 7; Tony Duckfield 8 Jeff Morgan 21; Keith Evans 21 Andre Bann 16; Jordan Driscoll scr Dennis Hooper w/o; Paul Bancroft 21 Colin Jones 15; Sidney Butler scr Mike Duckfield w/o; Dale Gorman 21 Mike Jackson 14; John Roberts w/o John Smith scr; Steve Williams w/o James Criddle scr; Eilyr Lloyd 13 Marcus Smith 21; Jack Breen 21 Ashley Western 9; Phil Carpenter 21 Dion Peregrine 16; Andy Mellerup 9 Liam Price 21; Joe Richards 8 Russ Mellerup 21; Paul Diment 21 Ronan Breen 12; Mark Weiland 21 Mark Driscoll 11; Dai Spencer 21 Tony Rose 19; Katie Thomas 13 Cameron White 21; Tom Holmes 9 Jim Hoskins 21; Lee Williamson 12 Vaughan Williams 21.
Jeremy Watkins 14 Matthew Partridge 21; Colin Davies 13 Shane James 21; David Kingdon 21 Viv John 8; Finley Williamson 6 Kevin James 21; Huw Nicholas w/o; Dave Weale 21 Ryan Edwards 1; Dai Newth 13 Paul Marks 21; Keith Michael 21 John Culley 2; Henry Watkins 8 Paul Mason 21; Phil Lewis 21 Alex Western 3; Shaun Peregrine 16 Jeff Morgan 21; Keith Evans w/o Dennis Hooper scr; Paul Bancroft 21 Mike Duckfield 17; Dale Gorman 12 John Roberts 21; Steve Williams 21 Marcus Smith 11; Jack Breen 19 Phil Carpenter 21; Liam Price 21 Russ Mellerup 18; Paul Diment 21 Mark Weiland 5; Dai Spencer 21 Cameron White 14; Jim Hoskins 21 Vaughan Williams 17; Huw Nicholas 11 David Weale 21; David Kingdon 17 Kevin James 21; Shane James 21 Matthew Partridge 18;; Paul Marks 19 Keith Michael 21.
Kevin James 15 David Weale 21; Keith Michael 12 Paul Mason 21; Phil Lewis 21 Jeff Morgan 10; Keith Evans 16 Paul Bancroft 21; Jim Hoskins 10 Shane James 21; John Roberts 21 Steve Williams 12; Phil Carpenter 21 Liam Price 19; Paul Diment 21 Dai Spencer 5; David Weale 21 Paul Mason 15; Phil Lewis 21 Paul Bancroft 9; Paul Diment 21 Shane James 6.
Semi-finals: David Weale 21 Phil Lewis 18; John Roberts 21 Paul Diment 18.
Final: John Roberts 21 David Weale 16.
Percy Howells Silver Bowl
Keith Michael 21 Keith Evans 16; Tony Duckfield 8 Joe Richards 21; Mike Jackson 21 Shaun Peregrine 13; Henry Watkins 12 Katie Thomas 21; Jordan Hooper 12 Paul Diment 21; Iestyn Williams 21 Mike Day 5; Viv John 8 Vaughan Williams 21; James Criddle 21 Dilwyn Jones 2; Jim Hoskins 5 Russ Mellerup 21; Dai Newth 14 Mike Oliver 21; Jack Breen 21 Tony Rose 9; Richard Cowling 19 Dave Weale 21; Thomas Holmes 15 Cameron White 21; Dale Gorman 20 Ashley Williams 21; John Culley 21 Alex Western 18; Dennis Hooper scr Sid Butler scr; Paul Marks 21 Colin Holmes 4; Colin Jones 21 Jeff Morgan 12; Liam Price 21 Huw Nicholas 6; Dion Peregrine 21 Andy Mellerup 7; Phil Carpenter 21 Ashley Western 9; Phil Lewis 21 Eilyr Lloyd 6; Hazel Retallick scr Ben Cloake w/o; Dai Spencer 12 Jeremy Watkins 21; Finley Williamson w/o Jeff O’Keefe scr; Colin Davies 21 Mark Weiland 12; Ian Davies 7 David Kingdon 21; Mike Duckfield 18 Lee Williamson 21; Shane James 21 Wayne Webster 16; Andre Bann 20 Steve Williams 21; Marcus Smith 8 Mark Driscoll 21; Matthew Partridge 21 Ryan Edwards 7; John Roberts w/o Jordan Driscoll scr; Matt Cuthbert 21 Paul Mason 16; John Smith 20 Maxine Mellerup 21; Paul Bancroft 21 Jo Shewry 9.
Keith Michael 3 Joe Richards 21; Mike Jackson 12 Katie Thomas 21; Jonathan Hubbard scr Ronan Breen w/o; Tommy Nutt w/o Kevin James scr; Paul Diment 14 Iestyn Williams 14; Vaughan Williams 8 James Criddle 21; Russ Mellerup 21 Mike Oliver 10; Jack Breen 17 David Weale 21; John Culley w/o Dennis Hooper scr; Paul Marks 15 Colin Jones 21; Liam Price 21 Dion Peregrine 14; Cameron White 21 Ashley Williams 20; Phil Carpenter 18 Phil Lewis 21; Ben Cloake 15 Jeremy Watkins 21; Finley Williamson w/o Colin Davies scr; David Kingdon 21 Lee Williamson 17; Shane James 9 Steve Williams 21; Mark Driscoll 12 Matthew Partridge 21; John Roberts 21 Matt Cuthbert 7; Maxine Mellerup 13 Paul Bancroft 21; Tommy Nutt 4 Ronan Breen 21; Paul Diment 12 James Criddle 21; Joe Richards 21 Katie Thomas 14; Russ Meillerup 15 David Weale 21.
David Kingdon 21 Steve Williams 10; John Culley 12 Colin Jones 21; Jeremy Watkins 21 Finley Williamson 6; Liam Price 11 Phil Lewis 21; Joe Richards 21 James Criddle 15; David Weale 21 Cameron White 10; Paul Bancroft 21 Ronan Breen 17; Matthew Partridge 20 John Roberts 21; Jeremy Watkins 9 David Kingdon 21; Colin Jones 16 Phil Lewis 21; Joe Richards 20 David Weale 21; John Roberts 21 Paul Bancroft 7.
Semi-finals: David Weale 21 Phil Lewis 12; David Kingdon 21 John Roberts 15.
Final: David Kingdon 21 David Weale 12.
Five Arches Bowl
Henry Watkins 14 Tony Duckfield 21; Eilyr Lloyd 21 Alex Western 6; Colin Holmes 13 Dilwyn Jones 21; Ashley Western 17 Wayne Webster 21.
Semi-finals: Dilwyn Jones 5 Tony Duckfield 21; Wayne Webster 20 Eilyr Lloyd 21.
Final: Eilyr Lloyd 21 Tony Duckfield 13.