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Callum Wraight targeted by drunk spectators

Bowling News

There has been an unsavoury altercation in a major bowling tournament resulting in Callum Wraight, the BCGBA 2022 Merit Champion, being verbally abused and threatened by two spectators. This has resulted in a great number of postings on Facebook from people present and not present at this competition in Birmingham known as the George Masters.

I've just picked out two of the postings and reproduced them below without amendment or comment. The first is from Elliot McGuiness, the co-organiser of the tournament, and the second from Callum Wraight who was the focal point of most of the abuse.

Massive congratulations to Darren James Plenderleith who became the 2022 winner of the George Masters. Darren certainly did it the hard way coming through a very difficult bottom section of the draw and is a well-deserved winner after coming close on a few occasions to becoming Champion at the George.

Now I feel I need to address the elephant in the room regarding yesterday's competition. I have seen that a number of posts have been deleted and I did ask for the comments to be opened up so that I had the right to reply as the ‘co-organiser’ of the competition but unfortunately haven’t been afforded that luxury.

From an organisers perspective, yesterday was quite a challenging day on a number of fronts, firstly having to delay the start due to traffic on the M42 and then also due to issues with spectators which I will touch on.

Callum was playing Dave Semper in the first round and it was clear quite early on that there was quite an intoxicated spectator that was part of the Dave Semper fan club. Callum approached me four ends into the game to tell me that the spectator was consistently shouting as he went down to deliver his bowl and that if this continued he would not be able to continue in his game and would have to concede. Naturally, this isn’t something that I’d want to happen and not behaviour I would condone if it was intentional. I approached the spectator and told him that whilst I had no issue in him supporting Dave he shouldn’t be shouting whilst Callum is about to deliver, this is something I then monitored during the game whilst also running the green and I didn’t feel that the line was crossed in that aspect for the remainder of this game.

At the end of the game Callum was quite vociferous in his celebration and words were exchanged between him and said spectator. Callum was then threatened with physical violence which I agree is totally out of order and in retrospect at this point we should have asked the spectator to leave as this is something we can’t condone. Both our club chairman and club captain did approach the spectator and issued him a warning that if anything else were to happen he would be ejected from the premises and thankfully although still intoxicated I’m not aware of any further instances in that aspect.

Then during the final I overheard one of yesterday's competitors refer to Callum as a ‘fat Harry Chapman’. I don’t really know what to say on this one as I don’t know if the ‘fat’ or ‘Harry Chapman’ part is worse. Whilst again I don’t condone people referring to people's appearance around a bowling green, I felt this was probably a failed attempt at good humour. I’ve played and spectated in a number of top competitions around the country and have heard far worse. Whilst two wrongs don’t make a right I didn’t feel that on this occasion evicting said person was necessary.

All I’ll say is it’s a massive shame that this has overshadowed a good days bowling and for me the best competition in our area. We were blessed with a top quality field, good weather and a good crowd and it’s a shame that a few spectators have grabbed the limelight. I know Callum has suggested that yesterday will be his last visit to the George, which is a great shame as we want all of the best players to come down to the competition, however it will still run next year and I hope that no potential competitors for next year are put off by yesterdays events. That’s all from me, Winter well everyone!

If anyone is interested here are the results from the day of controversy. Scroll on down for Callum Wraight's very different version of what happened greenside.

A later response from Callum Wraight, The All-England Merit winner of 2022 and the winner of a number of competitions in Huddersfield this year.

Just one more post on this competition from me as I feel I need to cover a few matters that Elliot has touched upon.

Firstly, Before I mention anything about the bowls I must just say a massive well done to Darren Plenderleith on his victory, his achievement yesterday has been lost somewhat in some unsavoury events throughout the day and I must just say a big congratulations as I felt you were the best and most consistent player all day

Secondly, to the George I must touch upon the green as it’s always in superb condition whenever I go there, and I know yesterday I heard some of the homesters saying that it wasn’t that great but let me tell you most other greens would be crying out for a surface that good.

Thirdly, Elliot and all your helpers I must say a massive well done on running a big competition like that as 128s these days are not easy. Taking all the entries and collecting the money, along with the endless drop outs that all comps have to put up with then you do a great job in making all the qualifiers run so smoothly.

Finally onto yesterday, I feel I could almost write a book about the events but I will keep them as short as possible from my perspective as with all of the attention this has created I feel I must have my say on this matter.

Unfortunately I was subjected to endless bad shouts horrific personal abuse and really poorly timed shouts on point of delivery pretty much all the way through my first 2 games by just one specific member of the crowd who coincidentally has been named as Reiss Evans. Having never met or come across the young gentleman before it baffled me why he took such a disliking to me especially when I didn’t feel that I had antagonised him in any way. I made Elliot fully aware after just 3 ends that I wasn’t happy about this lads nature as he had proceeded to shout on all of my first 6 bowls I sent and abused me also in the process.

I know that Elliot did go and speak to him but the lad made no attempt to stop, in fact he just got worse and worse. Making several comments on my reseeding hair on top and constantly remarking how it was “hanging on for dear life”. At the end of the first game when I played the winning bowl I retaliated for the first and only time and told the lad to put some lemonade in his lager or to go and grab himself a coffee. He then several times offered me on to the car park where he said he would “smash my ****** face in”. I went over to my bag and put my woods away, was just about to walk to the bar to get Dave Semper a drink when my 4 year old daughter Olivia said, please daddy don’t go to the car park or else that man will smack you . That just hit home to me and probably where I should have left the premises but I felt I had a duty to carry on bowling having just knocked Dave out of the competition.

Unfortunately this is where my main complaint with the George as a club is, certainly not Elliot as an individual as it shouldn’t rest completely on his shoulders but in my opinion the long standing members - who there were plenty of around should have got together and evicted the gentleman IMMEDIATELY from the venue as surely the last thing they want as a club is for this individual to tarnish their club or competition ???

I carried on though putting up with more personal abuse about my size, shape, hair etc. Then ironically the gentleman was notified he had drawn me in a sweepstake so decided to give Scott Simpson some grief whom I was playing in the semi-final. However come the final this lad was in no fit state to talk and I was looking forward to tackling Darren for the honour of being George Masters champion.

Unfortunately we were no more than 6/7 ends into the final and I found a new member of the crowd (Dean Nicholls) who decided to give me some personal abuse about my size and shape, constantly referring to me as a “fat harry chapman” . Again this abuse went completely unpunished and part of me just felt like what was the point of being there. I carried on and gave Darren my best shot under difficult circumstances but he was just too good.

Reliable sources told me that these lads behaviour carried on afterwards inside the pub, surely the question there is why on earth were they still being served ?? Also having never met either of these gentlemen before I just wondered what I personally had done to upset either of you and warrant the personal abuse you gave me ??

I try my best to play this game to the best of my ability and always try to play the game in the right spirit, obviously wanting to win of course but making sure firstly I always show respect and manners towards my opponents is imperative to me. I have made a lot of friends in this sport and have hopefully brought some fun and happiness to others in the way in which I play the game. Thank you to many of you who have contacted me over the past 24 hours with support as it means a lot.

Kind regards Callum Wraight

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