THE 2014 Ron Thomas Memorial pairs ran from Sunday, July 20 to Sunday, July 27 at Barry Athletic bowls club and it proved to be one of the most exciting ones in its 18 year history with a shock pairing becoming the new champions of this prestigious tournament.

With 46 pairs entering and a lot of notable past and present Welsh internationals featuring in the tournament it promised to be one that offered quality viewing on a slick, quick surface and it didn’t disappoint! The week started with a notable upset when the reigning champions, Mike Ackland and Chris Blake of Dinas Powys were defeated 18-17 by husband and wife combination Emma & Matthew Woodcock in a nip and tuck game of bowls. This appeared to set the theme throughout as the underdog kept on barking all week as 4 time winners, and former British Isles pairs champions, Glyn Thomas and Robert Horgan were dumped out at the last 16 stage and many people’s favourites for the crown, 21 year old Jarrad Breen and welsh international Skip, Jason Greenslade losing in the quarter finals by 1 shot to Merthyr duo Mark Jones and Craig Maycock.

This result meant the two giant slayers were pitched together for the first semi-final as Jones and Maycock went up against the Woodcocks. Unfortunately, for the Merthyr combination it appeared their good fortune had run out as they were comprehensively beaten 26-11 with three ends spare.

The other semi-final featured Dinas Powys pairing, and 2012 runners up, Dave Vowles and Andrew Harvey who found themselves up against former welsh singles winner Steve Jackson and the only home player remaining, Ben Parrish. This time the Dinas boys were unable to reach another final as they lost out in a game where they never held the lead, losing 21-13 in the process.

This meant that the final contained four players that had never won the tournament before and new names would be added onto the trophy, alongside many famous names on the bowls circuit. The Woodcocks were also looking to become only the second mixed pairing to win the trophy in its history. Ironically the last mixed pairing to win it was Matthew’s mother and father, Linda and Arty Woodcock in 2005.

So with the script written it was time to see if the fate would come into production in a game played in tough, windy conditions. The Woodcock’s got off to a superb start to lead 14-6 after 12 ends but Jackson and Parrish fought their way back with two singles and a count of four shots over the next three ends to be 14-12 down after 15 ends. Two more tight ends brought the score to 15-14 in Emma and Matthew’s favour but it seemed like Jackson and Parrish were starting to get a foothold of the game.

But the 18th end appeared to be the deciding factor of this game as Jackson and Parrish played a poor end and the Woodcocks capitalised to pick up a scrappy count of five shots and put them back in a commanding lead of 20-14 with three ends to play. This was followed by two nervy ends which the husband and wife duo managed to get the best of to win 22-14 and become worthy 2014 Ron Thomas memorial Pairs champions.

Barry Athletic bowls club would like to place on record it’s thanks to the joint sponsors of the tournament, BTI Limited and Watkins & Gunn Solicitors and its organiser Mike Vaughan who worked tirelessly throughout the week to make it the great success that it was.

If anybody is interested in taking up the game of bowls then please feel free to ring either Club chairman Geoff Whittaker on 07779069401 or come along during the evenings to Barry Athletic bowls club (situated in between the Cricket and Tennis clubs) and try your hand. With our members ranging from ages 10-84 and containing both male and female members, we really are a club that caters for everybody.