King chases world bowls crown

Fakenham Gallow bowls hero Mervyn King is hoping for a mouth-watering local clash to kick off his chase for honours in next week's prestigious Potters Holidays World Indoor Bowls Championship at Hopton.

Fakenham Gallow bowls hero Mervyn King is hoping for a mouth-watering local clash to kick off his chase for honours in next week's prestigious Potters Holidays World Indoor Bowls Championship at Hopton.

King is on course for a clash against Acle qualifier Tim Stone - a player making his Potters debut, writes Chris Lakey.

“Tim's first match is against Andrew Howie from Australia,” said King. “Tim's a great player and I think there's every chance he could win against Andrew - so if we meet on January 14 it will be a good local game.”

King will be among the favourites, but Stone will have plenty of local backing as he prepares for his first look at the famous Potters carpet.

King beats him hands down when it comes to experience - he's recently returned from the Champion of Champions event at Bristol where he came third and is ranked seventh in the world - but with that comes added pressure.

“I always look forward to Potters because it's the most important competition of the season and also feels like my home turf, but I try not to go in with expectations too high,” he said.

Most Read

“I won the world open singles at Potters in 2006 so there is always that eagerness to perform well, but I believe that you have to take each game as it comes. I never like blowing my own trumpet, but as I said, I'm looking forward to playing on my home turf.”

As well as the open singles, Mervyn is also competing in the open pairs competition with his partner since 2004, Australian Kelvin Kerkow.

The pair won the competition in 2005, but reached only the quarter-finals last year.

“You don't need to alter your game when playing in a pairs competition, but when you're used to playing with a partner you get to know how each other plays,” King said.

“The key is to play your game and let your partner play his. With Kelvin I have always played lead; I play two bowls, the opposing team's lead plays two bowls and then Kelvin, as skip, steps in.”

So is King keeping his eye on any players in particular in the singles?

“It completely depends on the day, as the recent Champion of Champions event showed,” he said. “There was no clear winner and everybody was capable of beating everybody. Bowls is a great leveller which means that events like the World Indoor Bowls are always exciting.”

“I'm really looking forward to playing at Potters as there's nothing bigger than a world championship in any sport,” said Stone. “Also it's very close to home for me which makes it extra special. I've had huge support from players at my club at Acle and 80 or 90 of them are coming to support me.

“My aim is to win my first game so I can play Mervyn, which would be an achievement in itself.”

Stone, 31, who started in the sport when he was nine, has been playing in PBA qualifiers for four years and the Potters event will be his second rankings tournament.

“I guess there is added pressure playing locally as I don't want to disappoint the people who are coming to Potters especially to see me,” he added.

The action at Hopton begins on Monday, January 5 - and one of the leading men behind the event expects another spectacular start to the year's diary.

“The Potter family bring the 2009 World Indoor Championships to Potters Leisure Resort for the 11th consecutive year,” said Ken Fawcett, world tournament director of organisers World Bowls Tour (WBT).

“Here, the world's best professional players, both men and women, will compete in the superb surroundings for the world championship titles, the pinnacle of their professional bowling careers.

“The welcome given by the Potter family, their staff and the thousands of guests who come to watch some 83 matches over the three weeks of competition, is unrivalled in the sport of bowls.

“This support ensures that the players can lift their game, especially in the blue riband event, the world indoor singles championship, where live BBC TV coverage adds to the tension and excitement.

“The electric blue carpet on the unique portable rink is built in the massive international arena, with superb seating for more than 1,000 spectators.

“Cricket has Lord's, tennis has Wimbledon and World Bowls Tour is very proud to have Potters Leisure Resort as its home.”

As well as the singles competition the three-week bowls bonanza includes the mixed pairs matchplay competition, the open pairs and the ladies world matchplay.

Day tickets for the event start at £5 and can be ordered by calling 01502 730345.