THE 31st annual Freeport Fleetwood Bowls Festival is under way – and local crown green aces made a fine start in the five-day bonanza.
Eight won through to the last 32 of the men’s singles on Thursday: Cleveleys duo Nick Hopwood and Joe Urmson, Fleetwood’s Paul Howarth, Ricky Cochrane (Kirkham), Ricky Hoyles (Freckleton) and the Blackpool trio of Paul Lee, Paul Wilson and Norman Fletcher, the former Talbot winner.
Also through are former winners Paul Hillam (Bradford), Mike Leach (Preston), Martin Gilpin (Hale) and Andy Cairns (Rossendale), who is bidding to win the title for a record third time. Defending champion Gary Ellis is absent due to a bereavement
In the ladies’ singles, eight former Waterloo or Talbot champions are in the last 32 and are fiercely competing for the £1,000 first prize and a place in the Champion of Champions at the Waterloo in October.
These include Sylvia Smith (St Helens), Jane Jolly (Preston), Julie Gardner (Greasby), Alma Cornthwaite (Preston), Katrina Earl (Sheffield) and last year’s runner-up Joyce Foxcroft (Hale).
June Patmore (Fleetwood), Diana Hunt (Knott End), Emma Williams (Preston) and Blackpool’s Pat Murphy and Amy Holcroft have also made it.
The festival continues with the traditional Fleetwood Shield tournament today.
Men’s last 32: M. Bower (Walkden) v B. Danford (Congleton), P. Howarth (Fleetwood) v V. O’Donnell (Blackburn), P. Leah (Ashton-under-Lyne) v S. Mort (Wigan), N. Hopwood (Cleveleys) v S. Rhodes (Shropshire), D. Walker (Swinton) v P. Hawker (High Peak). P. Lee (Blackpool) v A. Derby (Radcliffe), A. Cairns (Rossendale) v C. Wraight (Shrewsbury), J. Urmson (Cleveleys) v P. Wilson (Blackpool), P. Hillam (Bradford) v M. Leach (Preston), R. Cochrane (Kirkham) v S. Davies (Liverpool), C. Massey (Liverpool) v A. Wike (Huddersfield), J. Humphreys (Hyde) v D. Jackson (Macclesfield), G. Wilson (Audenshaw) v N. Shaw (Ashton-in-Makerfield), M. Gilpin (Hale) v C. MacDonald (Congleton), S. Ireson (St Helens) v A. Fargher (Prescot), R. Hoyles (Freckleton) v N. Fletcher (Blackpool).
Ladies’ last 32: L. McDonough (Haughton Green) v P. Murphy (Blackpool), C. Williams (Shropshire) V K. Earl (Sheffield), D. Hunt (Knott End) v P. Royds (Radcliffe), E. Massey (Liverpool) v S. Smith (St Helens), P. Robinson (Halifax) v D. Weaver (Whitchurch), J. Jolly (Preston) v M. Perkins (Wigan), J. Walker (Denton) v S. Barber (Wigan), A. Wood (Worksop) v M. Hancock (Burnley), J. Patmore (Fleetwood) v S. Speed (Wigan), A. Heaton (Wigan) v J. Jones (Little Neston), J. Broadhurst (Macclesfield) v A. Holcroft (Blackpool), J. Gardner (Greasby) v E. Pye (Preston), L. Rowland (Sheffield) v P. Bennett (Stockport), J. Foxcroft (Hale) v C. Wilson (Audenshaw), B. Helyar (Huddersfield) v A. Cornthwaite (Preston), M. Hughes (Cleckheaton) v E. Williams (Preston).