Below is a report by organiser Lynn Pritchatt for the 2019 Inaugural Battle of the Sexes Tournament.
2019 INAUGURAL BATTLE OF THE SEXES TOURNAMENT
SATURDAY 19TH OCTOBER AT BANK PARK PAVILION WARRINGTON
POST EVENT REPORT
The planning of the 2019 Inaugural Battle of the Sexes commenced back in March of this year when Chris Ashton suggested I make a visit to review the facilities at Bank Park Pavilion. I was met with a warm welcome by John Pownall and was immediately impressed with the set-up. Following a very productive meeting and agreement with Warrington Borough Council, the venue was decided. A unique Crown Green Bowling event would be staged on an equally unique playing surface.
The Battle of the Sexes was the brainchild of Andy Cairns and I was immediately sold on the idea as this would be a new and fresh event on the calendar. From the outset we wanted all BCGBA Counties to be represented and therefore the decision was made that the selection of each county’s male and female representative would be the individual county’s decision. In addition I felt it was important to include the British Parks Crown Green Bowling Association. This gave us a team of 17 Men and 17 Ladies. To get an even number it was decided to include a ‘wild card’ entry for both teams. In April I wrote to all BCGBA County Secretaries and the British Parks Crown Green Bowling Association to lay-out our ideas for the event. Each County was asked to nominate one male and one female player they would like to represent their county in the event.
As the weeks passed, I began receiving the nominations from each county. It was interesting to see that some counties were selecting individual merit champions, some were selecting young and up & coming talent and some selecting willing volunteers. As both teams began shaping up, it was clear to see that both teams were glittered with a combination of experience and youth. A fabulous way to showcase our great sport.
Team captains were selected by myself and both Debbie Whitworth and Darren Plenderleith were honoured to be asked to lead their respective teams.
Having successfully secured generous sponsorship through Tony Gatley of Grange Valley Amusements and a personal financial investment in the event made by myself, I wanted to ensure all players looked the part. I decided to ‘brand’ both teams and The Pink Ladies and Men in Black seemed natural names to use. I did look for pink kit for the ladies. However, I managed to secure an excellent clothing deal with Dave Jackson who was very keen to support our event. Eventually it was decided The Men in Black would wear black/grey and The Pink Ladies would wear red and black.
As the weeks passed, much of the organising work went on quietly behind the scenes, sprinkled with a couple of visits to Bank Park and almost daily email exchanges between John Pownall and myself. Player of the Match trophies were ordered along with commemorative medals for each player, both of which were sponsored by myself. My vision was to create an event programme that would not only make an excellent read but would also be a memento for players and spectators alike. Player profiles were gathered from all players, along with advertising material and a personal nod to Mel through the use of photographs. Promotion of the event in the months/weeks leading up to the day was of paramount importance and we used social media and conventional news methods to continually promote the event. I commissioned a graphic designer to produce our event logo to achieve my vision of creating a ‘brand’ for the event. The Warrington Guardian produced a fabulous article a couple of weeks ahead of the day and again in the week of the event.
After many months of hard work, the stage was set and we were ready to go. I have played our great game in front of large crowds and TV cameras but never before have I felt so nervous.
Saturday 19th October 2019 is finally here. A band of workers arrive at Bank Park before 8.00am to ensure all final touches are in place.
Players duly arrived in ample time to get their kit and change. Spectators begin to trickle through the gate and blue skies and a little sunshine hover above Bank Park.
My vision was to make each and every player feel a little special and a special event of this nature required a special opening in my view. At 9.55am Debbie Whitworth very proudly and enthusiastically led out The Pink Ladies to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. Quite appropriate song choice I think you will agree. Following this Darren Plenderleith led out his Men in Black to Will Smith’s ‘Men in Black’. A nice and quite effective touch in my view.
Now for the bowling action. Play commenced at 10.00am with the doubles matches. Both team captains selected their pair’s partnerships and numbered the batting order for the doubles and singles matches. They exchanged through myself and I simply matched both teams up. The Pink Ladies pairings were definitely an excellent combination of experience and youth. The Men in Black had an interesting line up of pairs. The highly experienced Kevan Shaw paired up with the youngest competitor in the tournament in Yorkshire’s Aaron Brine. The young combination of Owen Jackson and Josh Hale, along with the entertaining combination of Barry Booth and Damian Morrison. In the early stages of the doubles matches it was evident that some of the players would take longer to adjust to the artificial surface than others. The reigning Ladies Waterloo Champion Lynsey Gorman and young Shropshire star Susie Lawson, who was very impressive in her doubles match, came the closest to securing a win for The Pink Ladies. Sadly they just ducked out losing 20-21 to Andrew Spragg and Paul Kelly. The Men in Black scooped up all 9 pairs winners and at the half-way point were leading by 81 shots 189 to 108.
The singles matches commenced immediately on conclusion of the final doubles match and the first four matches to take to the green were Phil Lee (Merseyside) vs Louise Ollerton (Greater Manchester), Ross Meese (South Yorkshire) vs Kellie Hill (Derbyshire), Aaron Brine (Yorkshire) vs Fern Beaumont (Yorkshire) and Josh Hale (W&W) vs Jenny Moore (IOM). The Pink Ladies needed to get off to a good start in the singles discipline. What would be the odds of both the Yorkshire competitors playing one another but that is the luck of the draw. Phil Lee had experienced the starting edge in his doubles match with partner and team captain Darren Plenderleith. He clearly fancied his chances up the same edge and Louise found herself up against some excellent play by Phil. Ross Meese was always dominant in his match and on this occasion Kellie was unable to find a way into the match. The all Yorkshire clash was very close with Fern Beaumont getting out of the starting blocks early and getting to a 15-9 lead against county colleague Aaron Brine. Aaron played excellent to work his way back into the game and securing a 21-19 win for The Men in Black. Jenny Moore (IOM) took an early lead against Josh Hale (W&W), Josh being the eventual victor with a 21-15 win.
The first winner for The Pink Ladies came in the shape of Cumbria’s Ellie Chandler who played excellent to narrowly defeat Staffordshire’s Darrell Handley. An excellent win for Ellie as Darrell has had an excellent 2019 season and has played consistently well this season. Cheshire’s representative and Warrington player Lee Johnstone demonstrated a little green knowledge with a 21-8 win over Sarah Edmondson (North Lancs & Fylde). The next winner for The Pink Ladies was Lancashire’s experienced Pat McGurk who enjoyed a close encounter with Barry Booth (Potteries) earning herself a 21-19 win. The next winner for The Pink Ladies came in the shape of Amanda Nicholas (Wales) who narrowly edged out British Parks representative David May 21-18 with some excellent play. The final singles match of the day saw The Pink Ladies Team Captain up against one of the game’s top tournament circuit players and the highly experienced Andrew Spragg (Derbyshire). In a close encounter throughout, the equally experienced South Yorkshire Ladies county star just got over the line with a 21-18 victory.
The score line in no way reflects the quality of play that was on display by all players. At the end of the day The Men in Black were deserved champions of the inaugural Battle of the Sexes. Above all the banter and camaraderie amongst all players was clearly evident and each and every game was played in the most professional spirit.
With both teams lined up surrounded by the magnificent Pritchatt-Evans trophy, a hand-crafted work of art made by Jeff Brown, the presentation of the Pritchatt-Evans trophy was made to winning Captain Darren Plenderleith by Cllr Maureen Creaghan, Deputy Mayor of Warrington Borough Council. Player of the Match for The Pink Ladies was awarded to Amanda Nicholas and Player of the Match for The Men in Black was awarded to the youngest competitor on the day Aaron Brine. A young man with a great attitude and an excellent future in the game.
The day’s action finished as it started with a very special touch. Mel’s granddaughter Isabelle, sporting the Pink Ladies kit and a red hat in the same style as worn by Grandad Mel, melted everyone’s hearts as she was introduced onto the green by myself, proceeded to tip her hat in acknowledgement and run into my arms. Isabelle did a superb job awarding each and every player their commemorative medal and a ‘pleased to meet you’ handshake. The closing words belonged to Isabelle as she said ‘thank you for coming to Grandad’s day’. At that point there may have been a few wet eyes. I know mine were.
Days like yesterday could not be staged without the support of some very generous people. I would like to thank Tony Gatley of Grange Valley Amusements for his generous sponsorship of the event. Tony is a much understated gentleman who works hard to support our sport and is very generous with his investment in the sport. I would like to thank John and Paul Pownall and the team at Bank Park Pavilion for their hard work and efforts over the last 8 months. I heard many compliments about the facility during the day and I do hope that Bank Park will be considered again for future events. I would like to thank all 36 players who took time out of their weekend to participate in this special first event of this nature. You have been a pleasure to work with and have provided me with information when asked. You are probably all thinking ‘thank goodness it is over so I won’t get any more emails/messages from Lynn’. I wouldn’t blame you! I would like to thank Steve Cook for his hard work in bringing drone technology into our sport. The picture quality was superb and I for one am looking forward to seeing the finished product. Steve has stood by me from our very first fundraising event, The Bowlathon, in October 2017 and stands firmly there supporting me still. I would like to thank Chris and Cathy Powell at Verite CM Ltd for another superbly designed event programme. I simply provide the content. The hard work is done by them and they do it as their sponsorship of these events. They are extremely generous people and I am very lucky to have them on my team. I hope those of you who have a programme will sit down with a cuppa during the winter months and have a good read. A big thank you to Rob Winnington who worked hard all day managing the green and ensuring the tournament ran smoothly and efficiently. I would like to thank the tremendous and generous supporters of the event which included Thomas Taylor Bowls via Graeme Wilson, Drakes Pride, Thurston’s Bowls & Snooker, Country Garden Roses, Walsall College and Jean Wanbon. A big thank you to Jean Wanbon and Irene Reardon who worked hard going round the green with raffle tickets. Jean very generously offered up a one week holiday accommodation in Tenerife. A fantastic prize which was won by Cheshire’s Katie Harrop. I would like to extend thanks to Mike Parsons, Sports Editor at the Warrington Guardian for his fantastic press releases in the lead-up to the event. I am sure the Warrington Guardian features helped to promote the event to the Warrington community. Thanks must also go to all spectators who joined us at Bank Park. Some travelled 5 minutes down the road, some travelled for 3 hours or more. I thank each and every one of you who made the effort to come along, even if only for a short time, to support the day. It is very much appreciated.
I would like to also give a special mention to Andy Cairns. The Battle of the Sexes was Andy’s creation and due to personal reasons was unable to attend yesterday. I am in personal contact with Andy but on behalf of the bowling community would just like to say to Andy you are in the thoughts and hearts of the bowling community at large.
Finally, in the last 12 months we have successfully launched the Evans Trophy North v South Team Challenge and the Battle of the Sexes. Each event will run bi-annually so there will be one major fundraising event on the bowling calendar each year. Neither event was completely perfect. There is always room for improvement and we are open to constructive feedback. I do it to put something back into a sport I have had the good fortune to take so much from. I do it to make people smile and bring some happiness to players and spectators. I do it out of sheer love of our sport. I do it to honour the uniqueness, reputation, respectability and legacy encompassed in a wonderful man called Mel Evans MBE. The raw pain and heartache is ever present. Days like yesterday are my focus now. To start the day with the players’ parade to very appropriate music and to end the day with Isabelle’s presentation to all players will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.
2020 sees the return of The Evans Trophy North v South Team Challenge, to be staged at St Georges Bowling Club in Telford, Shropshire on Saturday 29th August 2020. The North will be defending their title under the Presidency of Sir Stan Frith with the South hunting revenge under the Presidency of Shropshire legend Sir Tony Poole. The Battle of the Sexes will return again on 28th August 2021.
Funds raised yesterday totalled £1,318. This is a fantastic fundraising effort and I thank everyone who has donated for your generosity. Donations are still coming in. In a pledge to get to the £1500 mark, below is a PayPal link which will accept donations:-
All donations will be go to The Mel Evans MBE Foundation. Early in the New Year I plan to call a meeting of all the Trustees to discuss plans for the first 12 months now the Foundation has successfully secured charitable status with the Charities Commission.
I will shortly upload the event programme from yesterday so anyone can have a read who was unable to attend yesterday.
It only remains for me to wish you all a healthy and safe closed season. My attention now turns to the 2020 Evans Trophy.