THE Cheshire Senior Merit will be played a green in Northwich on Sunday and Castle member John Gurney knows how to win when it is.

He took the title of best bowler in the county when he prevailed in the final at Slow & Easy back in 1988.

On the two occasions since that the competition has been hosted by a club in the town, most recently at Owley Wood nine years ago, a contender from outside of the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association has triumphed.

One of those, Noel Burrows, will attempt to repeat the trick.

Gurney reached the semi-finals 12 months ago, securing a return to the British Individual Senior Merit where he made it to the last 32.

He will be one of four former champions from mid Cheshire in a 22-strong field at Winnington Park Recreation Club on Sunday when three places at next month’s ‘All England’ Championships – as it is referred to by bowlers – are up for grabs.

Ryan Sandham, of Lloyd Hotel in the Altrincham LV League, is his first opponent.

Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons), victor back in 2015, begins his latest bid against a familiar face in the form of Castle man Dave O’Brien.

Four-time Cheshire Senior Merit winner Jason Cornes (Castle) is paired with Matt Barnett from Good Companions in the Knutsford League, while teammate Matty Hamman takes on Knutsford Bowling Club’s Rob Winnington.

The others to come through a Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association qualifier are Castle duo Andy Hamman and Steve Morrey, who both have byes to the last 16.

Bob Whyatt, who plays for Packhorse in the Macclesfield and District League, blocks the former’s path to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile Morrey, who took the crown in 2014, faces Roberts Bakery Cup finalist Neal Ocego (Goshawk) at the same stage.

Play starts at 10.30am.

The Cheshire Junior Merit is scheduled to take place on an adjacent green at the same venue.


Cheshire County Bowling Association

Senior Merit

Sunday, June 23

At Winnington Park Recreation Club (from 10.30am)

First Round

Matt Barnett (Good Companions, Knutsford) v Jason Cornes (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

John Gurney (Castle, Mid Cheshire) v Ryan Sandham (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV)

Matty Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) v Rob Winnington (Knutsford BC, Knutsford)

Michael McDonnell (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV) v Barry Ellams (Red Lion, Frodsham)

Ben Phillips (Lloyd Hotel, Altrincham LV) v Daniel Richardson (Airbus, Chester)

Tom Vickers (Wharton Cons, Mid Cheshire) v Dave O’Brien (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Last 16

Barnett or Cornes v Phillips or Richardson

Gurney or Sandham v Vickers or O’Brien

Andy Hamman (Castle, Mid Cheshire) v Bob Whyatt (Packhorse, Macclesfield)

Matty Hamman or Winnington v McDonnell or Ellams

Lee Johnstone (Houldsworth, Stockport) v Tim Wilson (Red Lion, Frodsham)

Neal Ocego (Goshawk, Frodsham) v Steve Morrey (Castle, Mid Cheshire)

Mike Procter (Plough TRC, Macclesfield) v Noel Burrows (n/k, Stockport)

Tony Stevens (Poynton Sports, Stockport) v Dave Jackson (Railway, Knutsford)