Bowls: Bolt back from Commonwealth Games to clinch second Open Singles Circuit success

David Bolt won the Open Singles Circuit title at South Shields. Picture by Tim Richardson
David Bolt won the Open Singles Circuit title at South Shields. Picture by Tim Richardson

Silksworth’s David Bolt returned to the indoor game last weekend to clinch a second Open Singles Circuit success this season.

Fresh from his exploits at the Commonwealth Games, Bolt returned to the indoor format in spectacular style on home territory at South Shields.

A field of 61 players battled it out over two days, though, frustratingly for the organisers, there were several first round walkovers.

Bolt benefited from a walkover before beating club-mate Stevie Cairns 12-1, 11-2, and edging a hard-fought last-16 6-2, 6-5 win over South Shields’ Jaxon Mckenna.

Bolt then defeated Shields’ Neal Ridley 11-1, 5-3 winner before dispatching a fourth club-mate, Phil Dixon, 9-5, 8-2 to reach the final against Durham’s Malcolm Wright.

The Bolt juggernaut was never going to be derailed and a 14-3, 8-2 final triumph also sealed a top-32 ranking spot, guaranteeing a place in the Grand Finals weekend at Potters in November.

Former grand finals winner Gary Smith (Durham) saw his hopes of getting to Potters dealt a blow with a first round 2-1 tie-breaker loss to Shields’ Phil Dixon.

That defeat left Smith outside the top 32 and he has to trek to Ipswich this weekend to compete in the final event of the season. If Smith reaches the quarter-finals, then a top-32 spot, and qualification for Potters, should be secured.

South Shields have had a cracking season and it ended on a high as they secured promotion into the Inter-County League’s top flight.

Due to Shields’ green being unavailable, all four rinks were played at Durham, the home of opponents Dunelm.

However, Shields still cruised to a 10-0 win.

Keith Thompson steered Paul Hart, Joe Webster and Ray Gibb to a 23-9 victory over Colin Chapman, while Eric Weightman, Tony Giles, Keith Taylor and Arthur Harrison ran out 27-12 winners against Bill Canlon.

Michael Baker, Ian McDonald, Robert Hunter and Derek Wilson eased past E. Stafford 32-15.

The remaining rink of Michael Byrne, John Mills, Bill Upsall and Bob Cragg completed the whitewash with a 23-15 win over N. Spark. Overall, it finished 115-51 and the 10 points took Shields up as champions.

Final standings: South Shields 53, Great Aycliffe 45, Stanley 44, Dunelm 24, Ferryhill 21, Gateshead A 21, Shildon 1

The indoor season at Houghton came to an end with two more club finals.

Mal Baker and Brian Henderson beat defending champions Billy Roberts and Frankie Froud 19-12 in the men’s pairs.

There was more disappointment for Froud, who lost 18-17 in the mixed pairs, alongside Joan Baker, to the defending champions, Ellen Faith and Billy Piggott.

With one bowl to come, Froud was lying a match-winning five before a cracking Piggott runner cleared a couple out of the head.

The club’s AGM takes place today alongside the presentation of league and club competition winners.

Despite the chilly weather, the outdoor season gets underway today as the Storey Bowl starts the Sunderland & District season.

Holders Seaham Town head to Wearmouth, Pennywell host Houghton Town and Roker Park entertain Thompson Park.

The Earl Cup gets underway on Monday and it reverts to a two-division format.

Holders Silksworth have dominated the Earl Cup in recent years and will be looking to add to their six in eight record. They start at home to last season’s runners-up, Barnes West End.

Houghton Dairy Lane will be looking to put last season’s poor campaign behind them as they head to newly-promoted Hylton CW.

The other promoted side, Usworth, travel to Barnes Park and Roker Marine host Houghton Town, while Seaham Town entertain Hetton Workmen’s.

Houghton Dairy Lane will open their Swan Cup defence away to Roker Marine.

In the veterans’ Harold Howey League, holders Barnes West End will be looking for a third consecutive title as they start their defence away to Ryhope B.

Sadly, there has already been a league casualty as Dawdon have dropped out of the Storey Bowl and the Harold Howey Second Division.

The Bowls Development Alliance (BDA), with the support of Bowls Durham, will be holding a club afternoon session at Lyndhurst in Gateshead on Monday, May 12 (2-4pm).

Any club can attend where support and advice on coaching, club development, recruitment and funding will be available.

With the number of qualified bowls coaches in the region at an all-time low, the BDA are holding a Level 1 coaching course in the area at Gateshead Indoor BC.

The two-day course takes place on Sunday, June 24 and Sunday, July 22 (9am-5pm).

With many clubs struggling to attract new members, this is a cracking opportunity to take a step in the right direction.

Two club members can attend, with the course costing £130 each.

Clubs can also apply to Bowls England, who are offering a 50% bursary of the cost of the course.

Anyone interested can register via a link on the Bowls Durham website, where there is also the required forms to claim the Bowls England bursary.

Indoor bowls clubs’ equivalent to football’s FA Cup is the Denny Cup, and it was strange to see this season’s final competed by two clubs using their county names, Cumbria and Norfolk.

The formidable Cumbrians ran out impressive 81-48 winners over Norfolk, who have now been bridesmaids for a third time.

Since 2000, Cumbria have lifted the Denny an impressive seven times, taking their overall haul to nine.

In the semi-finals, Cumbria defeated Victory 82-69 and Norfolk beat Moonfleet 2000 70-63.

The ladies’ Yetton Trophy brought another title to the north as York secured a fifth Yetton title with a comprehensive 79-49 win over Torquay United.

The remaining national title will be decided today as Nottingham, Swale, Torquay United and Falcon battle it out at Dolphin IBC for the Top Club title.