Bowlers face Water­loo as crown green ac­tion starts in Black­pool

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - BOWLS By STEVE McHUGH sports­desk@men-news.co.uk @MENS­ports

THE fa­mous Water­loo Hand­i­cap spear­heads a feast of crown green bowl­ing in Black­pool over the next week.

Fi­nals of the event – again spon­sored by Co-op­er­a­tive Funer­al­care – are an an­nual mag­net for the sport’s en­thu­si­asts.

The ac­tion be­gins at the Water­loo Ho­tel to­mor­row, when the last-64 play­ers start to dream of lift­ing the most cov­eted ti­tle in the game.

They will all be eye­ing the last 32 on Mon­day, the last 16 on Tues­day and fi­nals day it­self for the last eight on Wed­nes­day (all 10am starts).

And the cli­max will again be tele­vised to a na­tional au­di­ence – with ITV4 cov­er­ing the ac­tion on the last two days.

Favourite at 5-1 to lift the crown for a sec­ond time in three years is 24-year-old Greg Smith, from Alvechurch near Birm­ing­ham.

Past dou­ble cham­pion Si­mon Coupe (Pre­ston) is a 6-1 shot, the ex­tro­vert Cal­lum Wraight from Shrewsbury is 7-1 and jointly quoted at 8-1 are Graeme Wil­son (Au­den­shaw) and Wayne Ditch­field (Ec­cle­ston).

Wil­son is widely re­garded along­side Gary El­lis, of White­field, as one of the best two play­ers in the cur­rent game.

But un­like five-time Water­loo cham­pion El­lis, who was knocked out in this year’s third round, Wil­son has yet to lift the ti­tle that all play­ers crave and he faces a tough last-64 clash with Chor­ley player Lee Heaton, who was Water­loo cham­pion in 1996.

Coupe also has a sticky look­ing last-64 as­sign­ment against his fel­low North Lan­cashire and Fylde county player James Grim­ston (Lytham), who reached fi­nals day last year.

The last-32 of the Man­ning Global Ladies Water­loo is on Sun­day (10am), when the field will be whit­tled down to the last two.

They will have their big day in the spot­light when the fi­nal is played dur­ing the af­ter­noon of the men’s fi­nals day.

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