Bowlers face Waterloo as crown green action starts in Blackpool
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.