The UK is still full of people who spend a lot of time helping others enjoy Tenpin bowling. One of them is Daniel Bonfield aka Basher Bonfield, a former YBC Junior through YAC to Adult and now almost Senior. At the turn of the millenium he took bowling online and created the UK’s first bowling media website called Badassbowling and in turn inspired this website “TalkTenpin” to be created in 2006. As recent as the pandemic, daniel was preparing for bowling re-opening and created the successful BTBA back to bowling tour and winning a BTBA award. Known for his sense of humour this would make for an interesting and funny interview…..
I have to start with a thank you on behalf of the sport for Badassbowling. I know you don’t like to talk about your successes but your dedication to that website has said a lot about you in the years since and your love for the sport. For those that don’t know, why did you start it?
Started badassbowling as a website in 2000 – The were a couple of reasons I started it up. GoTenpin was the bowling magazine of the time, but tournament news and results were often printed weeks/months after the event. And the results and scores would just be a basic list of the top 12 and the bowlers averages. All the humour and fun had slowly gone out of it. So I wanted to create a football like fanzine but for bowling. A place where bowlers could read a tournament report, full tournament results, and a place you could find entry forms, print them off and enter tournaments… none of this was available in 2000 ! I wanted badassbowling to be a place that could store all the results for a whole year… so if you wanted to know who won a ranking event in January you could just click a link and bosh there they all were. Also I kinda just wanted to learn more about websites… and thought a bowling website was a good idea, and when I get an idea I usual try and make it happen. Even if turns out be a bad idea, at least I know.
I really didn’t think anyone would visit the website or even find it funny – I Just did it for me really as I enjoyed doing it. But then I was at a tournament and I saw people had printed off some of the reports and were passing it around. They weren’t aware that I had written it. It was an article where I compared Jon Zadel’s head to that of a horse. The popularity of the site grew, especially on a Monday as I did my weekly upload on a Sunday night. It was weekly news, compared with the bowling magazine that was a once a month publication. Really my website was the beginning of the end of Go Tenpin, and it was then they should have embraced the internet. If they had it might still be around now.
Today we take things for granted and there’s an expectation that entry forms are easy to access, tournament squad lists are published, people know what lane pattern they are playing on. Scores are published as the tournament develops but just 20 years ago no one would have thought any of there were possible or even necessary. The speed in which technology and websites have evolved is amazing and a bit scary really. Back in the year 2000 in the “olden” days to enter a tournament you would fill in a paper entry form which you found perhaps in a pro shop, post it to the tournament manager with a cheque to cover the entry fee – then the tournament manager MIGHT email you back to tell you if you have been allocated the squad you wanted or they might ring you or even put confirmation in the post. Then you turn up figure out what the pattern was in your 5 minutes practice then bowl. If you were lucky the tournament manager would print off the scores and pin them to the wall… but more often than not they would announce what the cut score was, and if you weren’t in the cut you went home or to the bar… with no real idea where you had finished overall.
Despite all this, tournaments would still have 100 bowlers playing.
It seems now there is outrage if a lane graph isn’t publish and scores aren’t available to view online the day after the event.
Badassbowling as website no longer exists… everything the website used to do, is now possible on do on Social Media… so the badassbowling facebook group carries UK and world tenpin bowling news and occasionally a few Basher “opinion” pieces..
I want to put on record my thanks to Andy “the dolly” James for his Technical support throughout the life of badassbowling. The Dolly really helped me and hosted badassbowling – so thanks to him.
You are right about what we expect today and what we put up with in the past. Social media did change everything though and made websites a little more obsolete. You wrote some funny stuff in the early days, did anyone one take offence or did you manage to get away with it? Which items still make you laugh today?
I forgot to mention from question 1… the original idea was keep my identity secret and it would like a “banksy” type thing. with people guessing who was writing this stuff. But the guy who helped me set it up, set it under the domain name of dbonfield.co.uk… so that kinda ruined that idea. I did temporally upset a few yeah… and I’ll hold my hand up sometimes I overstepped the mark, but it was no real problem – they would usually ring me or email and I’ll ring them back and apologise and take down whatever had upset them. And there’s no real grudges held.. all water under the bridge, and there was never in malice in anything I wrote.
To be honest 99% of the time people took whatever I wrote the way it was meant to be taken, as a bit of light hearted fun or mickey taking. Most of the banter was aimed at people I knew quite well anyway, and I knew they could laugh at themselves.
I think I wouldn’t write now what I wrote then… and that’s because times have changed over the last 20 years and we’re more aware and we consider other people’s feelings and state of mind more. Perhaps we over think this…. Sometimes I may have written something that I thought was “close” to the mark… only to bump into that person the next week and for them to tell me they loved it and couldn’t stop laughing… and I’d think “phew that was a bit of luck”
One thing I loved doing and others seem to like was when I critiqued the carpet of the bowling centres I visited… young people reading this are probably thinking how could that ever be funny – but it was ! – different times !!
Different days for sure and changing again now in the UK as more string centres are installed. Do you think we will be all string on our shores or will enough freefall remain to play traditional. It’s the same sixty foot or slide and glide in reality but many have an issue and sometimes without even playing on them. Are you as shut out on String as you are on freefall?
Ah PINS ON STRINGS… or wires..
To answer your question… I’ve bowled on Strings a few times down at the Scareport – and personally I don’t think it helps me at all. My ball speed and rev rate is LOW ! and my ball meanders down the lane and goes through the pins like a wounded hedgehog – as Rob Thurlby once described it. Personally, I think for the best results on the strings you have to throw it quick and hit the pocket flatter than you would on the freefall. It’s my opinion strings and freefall are two different codes of the same game… like the two codes of Rugby, but some might say more like golf and crazy golf – whatever.
On the bigger subject on String bowling… I’m not against it per-se, but the whole point of a centre going strings is to cut costs, and once you start cutting costs then you can get into a cycle. Is a centre going to oil the lanes? and do the maintenance even a string machine will need. Are they going to buy and maintain an expensive lane machine – or will that be another cost they seem unnecessary? It’s just a watering down of a sport.
If string keeps a centre open and keeps people in jobs and bowling in leagues then great. And strings for a local tournament is fine. I don’t agree with National (ranking) and International tournaments being on string. In the future I’m sure will get to the point where perhaps there’s no option but to play these events in those centres. But I don’t think we are there yet. Even in this country.
Now we have the 2023 Nationals in a String Centre – which in my opinion is a wrong move. What sort message does that send out to our independent free fall centres that support the BTBA? – What’s the point of them sanctioning their lanes and holding sanctioned events and spending money on their bowling facilities if that’s not being rewarded.
I understand the 2023 Nationals is being sponsored by QubicAMF which great as long as that money is actually going into either the Prize Fund or reducing the cost to bowlers. Is the sponsorship part of the total package Qubica have agreed with the National Team. If it is, will any of it reach the Nationals. I suppose a bit of transparency is needed on this one. What is the total sponsorship packaging for the Nationals and how will that be spent – with this information it might an easier pill to swallow for bowlers.
Would have to agree with separate codes of the same game for sure and at the very least an (S) next to results, time will tell what the ratio of String to Freefall it will be in the future. As for Nationals on string, bold move for sure and a story we will probably need to come back to later. Is there a danger though that if String and Freefall had been separate World federations we might have seen something like the Golf split that’s happened if money had poured into String and players moved from one code to another?
I don’t know about any of that… International Politics isn’t really my forte to be honest… in fact I’m not what sure what my forte is… talking nonsense probably.
I would imagine the codes will fall under the one world organisation… and in the future there might two world championships…and two of every other major international championships. anything to make more money. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already, or it has. I’m really not that close to it. It seems to me from afar that the IBF is all about putting as many events on as possible as they act as revenue drivers for them. So in the future you’ll have a world singles championships, world teams, world bakers, and then all these championships again but on strings.
Back to UK bowling then and let’s just go right at it. Where are things right and where can work be done?
I tell what is good…
Tournaments – we have loads in this country which is amazing considering how people bemoan about the lack of centres willing to hold tournaments and the fact membership is only around 1500ish (I guess). If you wanted, I’m sure you can find something to bowl in nearly every weekend. Whether it be a small local event, a National Junior, Adult or Senior Event, a Handicap event, a scratch event played on house / challenge pattern or for the best bowlers there’s a sports pattern tour – I really think there’s something for everyone out there.
We have a fantastic base of willing volunteers who keep all of the above happening. People who give up their weekends to put these events on so all of you reading this can go and play the sport you love. And don’t forget these people probably come home from work open their laptops and work on these events in the weeks leading up to them. And when you’ve all gone home and are sitting there and eating you’re dinner watching Antiques Roadshow, these volunteers are there still working on the event, putting together a report, publishing the scores, getting the prize fund distributed, doing the BTBA Admin.
Coaching – We have Mark Heathorn and Andy Penny delivering a fantastic EBF coaching courses which I’ve kinda almost done. Simon Taylor putting together what I think and what I found were some useful video’s. And we have people who are now trained to coach and are out there actually coaching. A good set of young coaches as well. People who are going out their way to coach and train bowlers to be better and get more enjoyment out the game. People that are really passionate about the sport of bowling.
Junior Bowling – Ok the number aren’t what they once were, but they have a great calendar of events and there are some really good YBC’s out there. One’s that spring to mind are Shipley and Lewisham, Coventry and of course the Dunstable Dragons. YBC’s that are structured properly and isn’t just about bunging a kid on a lane letting them bowl 3 games and see you next week. These YBCs have structured programs where if you just want to bowl and go you can, but if you want to get better, they offer you that chance through coaching and lane time and support. Youth bowling have just launched their sticker achievement books. The little kids love them! A really good initiative.
International Team – We didn’t have a great year in terms of medals and results. But I like the changes that have been put in place and it might take a while to see the rewards. I like that a team is being built not just for a year but for a couple of years and teams have training weekends and camps. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but its better then what went before
I tell you what is bad. In my opinion… for what it’s worth (nothing probably)
I felt that whole period while we were on lockdown with no one bowling, was the perfect opportunity to do a roots and branch review of the National Association, how it works, how it’s funded, what it’s priorities are and what it’s long term sustainability and growth strategy was going to be. And then come out of lockdown with a relaunch.
I think the levels of membership need to be reviewed. Long have I advocated a League, Tournament, International structure of membership.
I think the funding structure is upside down… all the money seems to be spent at the top of the pyramid with the elite bowlers and International teams. And very little at the grass roots of the game. There’s nothing spent on growing the sport from the bottom up, nothing spent on marketing bowling as a sport and increasing the awareness of bowling leagues and tournaments to attract new bowlers to the game. Not enough filtered down to local association level. I think it’s almost a waste of energy to convert lost members back to being members, instead it might be easier to attract completely new people to the game. Convert the social bowler into something more regular, like a league bowler who turns into a tournament bowler. The amount of times I speak to people and tell them I bowl and they say “oh I never knew there were leagues and tournaments”. If you can get the bottom layers of the pyramid right and grow the sport from the bottom up those at the top of pyramid can have everything they want in terms of funding and we get back to a stage where players aren’t personally out of pocket from playing for their country. It seems the funding pyramid of the English game has been the same for decades and all we’ve seen over those decades is membership numbers dwindle… surely at some stage you have to try something new, change the plan.
I’m sure the BTBA work with and have dialogue with the proprietor’s association. But we need that organisation to understand that a healthy governing body is actually in their interest. And if they aren’t interested, then forget them and work exclusively with independents – perhaps if the “chains” see the independent sector flourishing from a closer working relationship with the BTBA they might want piece of that action. And in the work with proprietors, I think there needs to be some way of converting “open” bowlers to affiliate members free of charge. And a perk of that “affiliate” membership is monthly emails notifying them of leagues and tournaments in their area, proshop deals on ball shoes bag starter kits – stuff like that. If you can get a small fraction of open bowlers signing up to be “affiliate” members, your then going to funding bodies with a much healthier membership number then say the 1500 we have now.
I mean I don’t know if these sorts of things are being looked at or worked on behind the scenes, they may very well be… and I’m aware not everyone would share my opinions on this, and that’s fine. We all have different opinions and ideas… and that’s cool. It’s what makes the world go round… well that and inertia formed by the planets creation. Just because you have different opinions as someone else it doesn’t make you right and them wrong – it just makes you different… and that’s fine.
I’ve tried to balance the good and bad..
You are bang on the money with this need to just grow the membership numbers, free and paid versions. You identify there the need to unlock other forms of funding and turn the pyramid upside down. Should Team England become separate from the BTBA and fund itself, thus leaving BTBA to concentrate on grass roots?
I don’t see why they should be separate, I’m not sure what that achieves if I’m honest, I’m probably not clever enough… The BTBA have people dedicated running Team England – they have an Elite sport director, team managers and coaches – I don’t see how it should be a distraction from growing the sport at grass roots. It should “be here’s your budget for Team England work within it” and they work with the BTBA commercial director to explore increasing their revenue. If that means we as a Nation don’t support all the International events then we need to make those difficult decisions.
I suppose that’s a simplified view – and it’s probably more complex than that.
And from my previous answer, perhaps I need to make myself clearer… I’m not saying the BTBA shouldn’t fund Team England at all… it’s just the current funding model is heavily weighted at the top of the game, and very little at grass roots to grow the sport. For instance, at the moment Team England are sponsored by QubicaAMF and all the money should go to Team England…. But then surely that frees up money to invest in grass roots, in marketing, in helping Local Associations drive membership. A big driver for membership at the association level is the county bowling program, if the BTBA can subsidise the Inter County Championships, local associations can make their trials cheaper, which hopefully will drive up participation – and lots of people join the BTBA for the specific reason of trying out for their County.
Let’s discuss grassroots a little then and how the association can grow this. Are other things like club bowling the way forward now and starting local?
Club bowling…I honestly don’t know enough about the model to understand it’s potential to be honest. I know in Bedfordshire we try and make our county team, like a “club” rather than a team that only plays 1 tournament a year. So we have a County team that play in the Midland Scratch league, we play challenge matches and we organise coaching for the bowlers – all the bowlers who play the County trials are part of the “club” and are eligible for selection and everything we bowl in is subsidised by the local association. And that’s created a kinda club feel, rather 5 bowlers thrown together for a 1 off tournament.
I used to bowl at Jardines (Aylesbury) and I think to bowl in the league you had to be part of a “club” and pay annual membership.
I just don’t know how a CLUB runs alongside the BTBA and how it helps the BTBA to be honest… I’m not saying it can’t, I just don’t have enough information to form a proper opinion.
What things do you feel could now be tried to grow the base more?
I’ve touched on a few things already…
And such a little question that can’t be answered fully as I’ll probably be here for ages.. These are only loose ideas. It’s easy to come up with ideas, the hard part is making them actually happen in the real world.
Marketing budget for social media – getting the idea of bowling as a sport and not just a social thing to do with friends or colleagues. I saw green bowling popping up all over my facebook feeds the other month, telling me to join a local club…
School league / competition program. It can be national, regional, or by county or town… organised by or with the help of the local association. I know from my time on the BTBA council this was discussed and was in the early stages of being planned out. Similarly they can do the same with local scouts/cubs/brownies/girl guides groups – local comps, expanding to regional, expanding to national competitions. I happen to walk in and witness the boy Brigade’s bowling championships which they organised themselves – they had more kids competing in that then the BTBA do with their own National Championship.
Also perhaps there’s a similar plan we can action with Unions, like the Transport union, Postal workers union, … they might have plenty of time on their hands if they aren’t working much over christmas !!
Let’s give the YBC’s some money so they don’t have to rely on their own internal fund raising and perhaps they can use it to offer free weeks to new bowlers. At Dunstable we have a great owner and manager who supports our YBC and a kid can have 4 free weeks at YBC to see if they like it. After they get a shirt and made to feel like a proper club member.
Let’s make sure our website is fit for purpose, so all the information is up to date, that we have databases where a visitor can put in a post code find a centre with sanctioned leagues along with contact email address or the contact details for local association secretary.
Glad you mention the Dunstable Dragons, you stepped back from running the successful BTBA Back to bowling tour to spend more time with the YBC and your own kids. I think I speak for many when I say people love your reports and looks a fun part of the sport to be around?
It was meant to be FUN… the plan was for me to sit at the back, relax and watch my kids bowl… then before I knew it I’m doing pre bowl warm ups, coaching courses, handing out score sheets and making sure the kids fill them in, and now I’m “chief sticker hander outer”!
So is it FUN for me ? Erm… it’s stressful to be honest and really frustrating. Just ask Leon Devlin who’s boy Harrison also bowls in our YBC… Kids despite them knowing we bowl and we’ve bowled for years – do you think they listen to us? – Course they don’t ! (Harrison is a great little bowler as well. There’s just the right mix of Leon and Bek’s in him – but trust me you know when the Leon bit is coming out !)
The most frustrating thing I’ve ever experienced in my life is when one of the little kids finally gets a spare, then on the next shot throws it down the gutter ! MAN THAT GRINDS MY GEARS ! I think it’s harder for parents who bowl to watch their kids bowl! – we just have remember they are only young, and they are probably better than we were when we were that age – and to hide our frustrations.
On the flip side it’s great when they do well and beat their PB or win a tournament. Taylor for instance practiced and trained really hard ahead of last year’s Nationals – then tournament day, it was amazing she played so well, all those practice sessions came together perfectly at the right time and she played amazing.
It was kinda natural for our Kids (Taylor and Harriet) to start bowling. They used to throw shots after we played in a tournament and we had to drag them out the bowl. We’ve never pushed them, we just asked them if they wanted to join the junior club and it was resounding YES… every week we ask if they’ve enjoyed it and if they want to go next week – every time it’s a YES.
YBC is brilliant it teaches kids so much – The bowling bit is almost secondary. They learn to listen, to concentrate, to win, to lose, to be part of a team, to support others, to interact with other kids and make friends. Oh and to play arcade games !
I hear some parents say they don’t want their kids to get into bowling as there’s no money in it… which is a bit mental. Who gets their kids to play a sport so that they can potentially one day be amazingly lucky and make a decent living from it. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to just to get into bowling? If it weren’t for bowling they wouldn’t even be here ! Alison and myself have made so many friends and great memories from being involved in the sport, so of course we would like our kids to experience some of that as well. Some of the kids I played YBC with I’m still mates with now … Richie revs, Secker Bag, that liability Wilson, Lobbers, Westy to name just a few (memories of finishing YBC at Harrow and driving over to the Airport at break neck speed to play the YAC tournaments – collecting “naughty points” and being “amber gamblers” down Rayners Lane, then me and Paul Carter usually battling it out in the step ladder throwing blue hammers).. there’s loads of people I’ve been friends with for over 30 years… and I’m still in touch with them and see them at tournaments, whereas I don’t see anyone I went to school with, apart from Lynchie (who used to bowl, after he came to YBC with me one week)
At Dunstable YBC – we call the youngsters the “Hatchlings” – they really are a great bunch, they are all so happy for each other when one them gets a spare or strike. I tell you all, one to watch is little Ava Richardson (Lorna Scotts niece) – she’s 9 and she’s just gone two handed and she’s really grasped it. Once she gets bigger and stronger we’re going to have a great player on our hands ! On a Saturday there’s always one of them getting upset at some point.. but come the end they are all mucking about together running about and pestering us parents for £1’s for the arcades. It’s really nice to see – kids bowling for the sheer enjoyment of just bowling and cheering just because the balls hit the pins !
Shout out to Dunstable bowls owner Olle for supporting the YBC and Steve and Tina Leighfield, Simon & Karen Herbert and Andy Penny, oh and of course Alison !
You touch on your own time in the sport and how it shapes, guides or draws you to people. What have been your greatest memories and proudest moments?
When it comes to bowling, I’ve got a photographic memory… whereas I regularly forget my kids’ names, how to drive, and where I live…. All the important stuff.
My first team mate – Sheldon Rees – Hemel Bowl – team name chatterbox’s
My first Tournament win – Hemel House Championships
First centre I ever visited other then Hemel – Harrow, Junior Nationals 1984… FA Cup final day – Watford lost to Everton.. gutted !
First 200 – 214 at Hemel
First 600 – Acocks Green in the Midlands Junior Classic
First 700 – Tottenham Bowl
My favourite tournament wins – and there’s been sooooo many !
YAC Masters at Fareham – I was the youngest in the field, the day before I got a X-Calibur drilled up – and my parents actually came and watched – it was a really good prize fund as well If I remember
The Under 24 British Open – winning cheque back then was a £1000, the next year I came 2nd to Barry Foley. I like him, he is a tough competitor and he’s my sort of bowler. Obviously I didn’t like losing to him !
Making the Adult Team England – finishing the ranking season in 10th. I didn’t really want to bowl in anything… and I was a selector at the time, and at our selectors meeting I told Chris Buck I weren’t really bothered about bowling in anything.. He wouldn’t have it and told me I was playing the triple crown whether I wanted to or not – I had earned the right and he wanted me in the team. I’m so glad he made me bowl, because though I didn’t play well (it was at Norwich – I never play well there) I really enjoyed the experience. So I’m grateful to Chris and Leslie (Miranda, the other selector at the time) for talking me into it.
Another tournament win that sticks in my mind… was winning the BTBA Tour Doubles with Glen Richardson. We won by about 600 pins… and I like bowling with Glen, mainly for his handicap ! he is so miserable when he bowls but there’s always good banter.
Oh another thing I was proud of winning was the “COMWAKE” league at Dunstable…Your probably thinking so what… but I’m proud of this, because my Grandad won the league with his team in 1974 – and had the trophy at his house.
Every time my County Bedfordshire make the county finals – Were not a team of superstars or regular tournament bowlers, but we regularly punch above our weight in the County Championships.
I was really proud of the Medals the England team won, when I was selector ! There was some tough calls, and people raise eyebrows at the choices, but then they go out there and prove you right.
I think I’ve been very lucky to bowl league and tournaments with some of best bowlers this country has produced… Chris Buck, Kirsten Penny, Zara Giles (and to a MUCH lesser extent, her husband Matt) Alan Fawcett, Syd Simmonds, Simon Brown, Richard Hood – oh and how can I forget my mate Jamie O’Dwyer – the richest part time lorry driver in the world.
I’ve bowled with loads of great bowlers to be honest… really good skittlers. I like to bowl with people who really believe in their own talent and in themselves, have that sort arrogance you need to be a winner…– they are low maintenance… they’re not seeking re-assurance after every shot, they don’t need it. But at the same time they don’t mind a bit banter, and basically they laugh at my rubbish jokes.
Yes you have shared the lanes with a few generations of great bowlers both local heroes and national ones. You mention a few there. Which were the best you bowled with and which ones purely for enjoyment and banter?
I mean let’s be honest, there’s no argument who the greatest bowler this country has ever produced is… it’s Lee “Chatters” Chatfield… followed very closely by Dom Barrett ! – I mean the older generation will come up with lots of names of people who won this and that, and fair play to those that went before – But in my opinion there can be no debate – It’s Dom Barrett. And we take him for granted in this country. When I was younger I wrote to Jim’ll fix it asking to bowl with a PBA bowler – luckily for me Jim never did fix it for me ! phew. But we get the chance now to share a lane with a PBA legend in Dom and it’s a kinda no big deal.
The next two I think are obvious one from me. Chris Buck – what a competitor he was. I’ve seen him beat someone before a ball was even bowled, just by a little acidic comment here and there. For me, it was really tough seeing Chris get ill, but I saw him bowl his last 300 and that memory will stay with me. When he was manager at the Scareport, he always gave me some free lane time and always gave me plenty of advice… not all necessarily about bowling !
And this country has been blessed by the amazing quality of lady bowlers we’ve produced. I can rattle off 10 names right now, that if they picked up a ball and started bowling will probably get in the National team and could win an international medal within a year of being back into it. But because I’ve been friends with her since our early years, being both from Hertfordshire, it’s been an honour and quite scary to share a lane with Kirsten Penny. I just wish she would come back and bowl – but I totally get why her and the other ladies have put bowling on the back burner (I won’t say “given up” – these people never give up anything). How is KP going to get motivated to bowl league on a Monday night.. having won all that she’s won. And when you get to that level its hard to accept that unless you put the work in that you used to do, your levels aren’t there anymore. And these great bowlers are either all IN.. or they’re out. They don’t settle for half measures. It’s what made them great bowlers I suppose. These girls have all moved on with their life’s and on to the next challenge… whether that be successful careers, families or even involved in the governance of our game.
I love bowling with JOD (Jamie O’dwyer). He is the most lovely bloke, funny, and generous, and RICH ! He will talk to absolutely anyone, like he’s their best mate. And you say to him, “Jamie who was that ?” and he’ll go .. “no idea” – you’ve been talking to him for 45 minutes and you don’t know who he is ? – nah.
If I’m putting together a league team then first name on my list is Tyrone Duke – AKA as ICE MAN ! or the General Duke ! – ICE MAN has been bowling years, mainly down at Tolworth. But he is a fun guy and an international playboy and man of mystery. As he says himself.. if you need to someone to strike out in the 10th always bet on black !
Richie Lewis – he gets right on my nerves… but occasional he says something funny ! – his old man Dave Lewis was a character. What a lovely bloke he was. He invented Viagra ! When we were younger he used to ask if we were going out to the pub, and if we had no money, he’ll say “help yourself to £20 out the chocolate box” – and there was old fashioned chocolate tin stuffed full of cash.
But of course I love bowling with my girl Alison – though she hates bowling with me. She’s always tries her hardest and it’s not easy bowling when the kids have been up all night, you’ve had 2hrs sleep you feel run down and over whelmed by everything. She’s great to bowl with, she can dish out banter as well as take some herself. When the kids are older I’m really looking forward to us bowling together more and going on bowling trips.
Honestly, I bowled with so many characters, and with and against so many great bowlers. Even the kids coming through – Dan Harding, Austin Taylor, Ben Robinson, Jack Blyth, George Jagger I can speak to them and impart a few life lessons, tell em a few funny stories (they politely laugh, which is very kind of them) Also they teach me some stuff as well… I’m currently learning about drill rap ! … I recently was giving Brandon Rodgers my parenting advice… he looked even more nervous at the prospect of becoming a dad after I’ve finished talking to him.
The Basher has spanned the generations !
You must be senior age by now or dangerously close. Will you play much in the future or more local? One last go at playing for Team England maybe?
I got another 2 years to go until I’m a young gun coffin dodger. I have played 1 or 2 Resdev’s where the age is 45. I made the final this year at Mansfield – then got my ass kicked by the silver twirlers.
I’m looking forward to bowling some Resdev’s in 2023 in centres I’ve never been to before, like Barnsley and Altrincham – the Resdev’s are like the sports tour for old people! The patterns are quite hard and the field is full of legends, bowlers I got the upmost respect for, and it’s a good vibe… Thanks to Jack Smith for running them. It’s good to see his son Mark at the events as well… proper moaning Yorkshireman he is ! hahaha.
Playing SSL next year, maybe a few guest appearances in the MSL, I’m running a BTBA Tour event– But my main focus will be my King Of the Hill – Challenger series at Dunstable, where I have 5 events planned. Oh and also my successful South East County Challenge is back in 2023 – a bit smaller than in previous years, but looking forward to that !
Senior Team England… I doubt it… the problem is the old un’s are better me, and when they get too old the next crop coming through are also better than me – I think what I’m just saying is “I’m rubbish” A couple of things put me off… Unlike many seniors, I’ve still got really young kids (8 and 6), and young kids want to do stuff ! Not like teenagers who just want to hide in their bedrooms or be up to no good. Kids have ruined me physically ! – I swear they think I’m some sort of climbing frame… I’m telling ya, I’m all stiff and achy.
Also Team England is pressure… I bowl for enjoyment. You got to be dedicated and train and work with a coach and get 48 million balls drilled up… or at least 3 purple hammers. You got to treat the sport and position in the team with respect and do it properly… you can’t just rock up with a spare ball that’s been plugged with blu tac!
So perhaps not playing but maybe managing them one day would be better.
I’m really hopeful for the success of the senior team in the upcoming European Championships think it’s a really good team – the only bowler I don’t know is Paul Cosgrove, but I see his results on the ISBT tour. Who would have thought Stevie T and Colin are seniors now… where’s the time gone… As long as Stevie T takes his two blue dots and Colin his AMF Sumo I’m sure they are going to win a medal. And big respect to Gordon Humphries… that guy puts some miles in and it’s great to see him rewarded with a place in the team. And the ladies are getting stronger. The ever present Angie Brown, then Gaye, and Carole and of course my favourite Janice Hodge ! – Love Jan.. especially when she disciplines me with her wrist strap !
Now there is a thought, Daniel Bonfield Senior Team England manager, maybe even a fly on the wall documentary😆Seriously though Daniel, you have proved over the years, whatever you put your mind on, you make it a success and put the time in to deliver things people enjoy. It’s not too late to go on a reality show and become proper famous?
I would love to do gogglebox with my mum Shazbot…. My mum and dad (Fatman) proper crack me up. My mum’s maternal instincts kinda stopped when I was about 3…and my dad is an old hippie who is one of these intellectual and really clever people but has zero street smarts…a deep thinker. He will be thinking about the design of Germanys WW2 Panzer T34 tank and not realise his arm is on fire ! or something like that. Also he’s as middle class as they come… and he often tries to pretend he is a working class socialist… and fails miserably. But since they’ve come back to the UK after living in Portugal for years, they have been amazing in looking after the kids whilst me and Alison go off bowling. It often means them getting up at the “crack of sparrows” and buying happy meals ! – I’m very grateful. And the girls love their Grandpa… and Nanny Shazbot, or Nanny Wine as they call her ! – They actually call my Dad “Grandead” coz he’s always asleep !
I’m going to go a bit deep here… I am actually quite a shy and anxious person. And I never look to be centre of attention, honestly. It just always happens… And I don’t mean it to. I think to myself I’ll go bowling get my boots on and bowl and go home… but before I know it, I’m running it out, mugging people off and bowling in just my pants, or doing karaoke in the bar at Nottingham – or something stupid like that.
I think being in a bowl gives me a load of self-confidence, kinda like my happy place…. It must be like that for lots of other bowlers, it’s the place they feel most comfortable in. Like walking in their home centre or any bowl is like putting on a pair of comfy slippers.
Just like Cheers, where everyone knows your name. I’d normally be wrapping up an interview by now but it’s world cup time ain’t it so extra time and probably penalties for not editing all this more😆. You have a great sense of humour that at many times has seen you in Facebook jail. Have you ever thought of taking some of this comedy gold of yours and trying to write comedy and gets paid?
Do you know I actually love writing… I mean I’m no good at it. If I was at school these days I’d have the full set of label’s stuck on me… dyslexic, AC/CD or what whatever it’s called, Hyper Active, Attention deficit … I probably have the full set. But when I write… it all comes to me so fast I can’t keep up… I can’t type the thoughts as they come out my head quick enough… I sometimes wake up in the night and an idea will pop into my head and I can’t concentrate on anything until I’ve written it down or done something with that idea.
Also I don’t think people understand what a bowling nerd I am… I look at scores on lane talk for a handicap doubles league at Lincoln. I don’t even know any of the bowlers, but there I am, looking at someone called “chris” shooting a 242 on lane 18 on Tuesday at Lincoln. I’m like the saddest person in the world. The other thing I waste a lot of time on is “championship manager” game. I’m actually on a year long ban… as it was taking over my life. But January 1st 2023 that bad boy is being loaded back up ! And Alison will have to put up with me swearing at the laptop as my championship manager team lose 1-0 to Barnet !
Oh and the other thing I have a “thing” for is … is bowling balls ! and Brunswick Viz-a-balls ! – I love them. We’re buying a new house just because we don’t have any more room for bowling balls… so I’m spending 550K on a house to use a ball park ! mental.
You must be next for the Watford managers job, Outside of bowling, is there much of that besides the day job?
Thanks to Graeme Wilson, whose mates with a season ticket holder who can’t always go – I’ve taken Taylor to a couple of Watford matches… which were cracking games. 4-1 win against Man Utd and 3-2 loss to QPR where we had a 90th minute goal ruled out. In my opinion going to a live game of football is the best ! seriously nothing beats it. When your team gets a good win, it leaves you buzzing for the rest of the week. Taylor absolutely loved going as well ! She’s not quite a proper Hornet yet – but you never ever forget the first live football match you see.
I do have non bowling friends !.. Basically I have a real tight group of mates that I grew up with on the dirty rough as old boots council estate in Hemel… We all went to primary school with each other, then they all went to nearest secondary school, I got sent to a posh school and my parents moved to a nice area of Hemel – it does have nice area’s !!. But I kept true to my roots… and because we have all known each other since we were 4, it means they are “no hassle mates” – ones where you don’t have to make any effort with and when you meet up you fall straight back into the usual banter from minute one. I could write a book on what went on back on that council estate…. Imagine an episode of Shameless but directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Alison and I, do a lot with the kids… love a Sunday walk ! – I think we try and give them opportunity to see and try lots of new things – so they can find what their passion in life will be – like me with bowling… but at the moment, their main thing is BOWLING ! – so I’m kinda wasting my money on them a bit – which makes me livid.
I also love gambling ! Saturday is Football gambling day… and I love a 5p bet ! .. Honestly I put £5 in my account at the start of the football season and that will just about last for the season, then in the summer I’m on horses with more 5p bets.
One of my biggest hobbies is basically winding up Alison ! – I love it ! then she snaps which makes me laugh to the point where I’m on a verge of an asthma attack.. I would probably say winding her up is my biggest pleasure in life and now Taylor and Harriet are starting to get involved in the wind ups as well. Obviously the by product of this is Alison is on a verge of nervous breakdown… but you know she get counselling. So it’s all good yeah.
I don’t really watch telly… people say that to perhaps make them sound all worldly and intellectual – obviously I’m neither of those things. I just think it’s a waste of time when I could I be working on bowling stuff… and I do love working on bowling stuff.
Of course it can be frustrating. And not everything that happens at the BTBA I agree with – as this interview highlights. But that’s no need to fall out with anyone. And everyone involved is it for the right reasons. Everyone one on the that National council has a passion for the game and they all work very hard and are trying to give something back to it. So we all have a common goal.
I’ve worked for the two of the biggest retailers in the country. In fact my current employer is one the biggest retailers in the world. The over ridding message both companies instil on it’s employee is all about the customer, thinking and putting them first and at the forefront of every decision they make – In my opinion a BTBA Member is a “customer” of the BTBA. And I think that sort of philosophy sometimes get lost.
What was the question again ? – hahaha.
One more question that I tend to end with. Why should people try ten pin bowling?
Why should people get into bowling…. Good question… Sort of question the BTBA should be answering in a Facebook marketing sponsored ad campaign perhaps ?
It’s cheaper to bowl in a league then it is to bowl as an open play bowler
One the most unique aspects of bowling league – we call it a USP in the old retail trade (Unique Selling Point) is unlike other sports the points you win during a season is converted to prize money at the end of the season. That don’t happen playing football, or Darts or Rugby or Tiddlywinks… whatever it might be. You still pay weekly subs in these sports – but you don’t get anything back in terms of prize money.
You get out the house and you meet new people – most of them are friendly !
I think that you can bowl in a team and whilst bowling in a team you can also rate your own individual performance by your scores… I suppose it has clear “measurables” of your own performance. And then you can use those measurables to stive for self-improvement.
With the handicapping system in bowling it allows beginners to bowl and beat bowlers that have higher averages. People are often scared to make the jump from regular open bowling to league bowling because they think they aren’t good enough… I explain how a bowlers handicap works and how that allows them to compete. And they won’t be out of their depth, and they will be welcomed by the other bowlers.
I think from total beginner to a 160/170 can be achieved quite quickly… then the next stage 170/190ish… takes time and patience… then 200+ takes more development – but all that can be achieved as we now have coaches who can help teach and guide a new bowler. They aren’t just left to get on with it themselves.
Bowling is a complex game… and no matter how long you’ve been bowling you’re still learning. I mean after my ETB coaching course it really opened my eyes to just how complex the game is. And like I said earlier I pick up little things all the time, just talking to young guns out there.
Bowling is one massive dysfunctional family really ! – there’s bowlers I’ve known since they were little tots in their prams… like the Evie and Elyse Giddens… and now they are 7ft and bowling for England. Ray and Richie Teece… little peewee’s in the Airport YBC.. now ones a PBA winner and the other is European Tour winner and a fantastic bowler.
And if nothing else… going bowling gives the car a good run out, and allows you to turn the heating off for a couple of hours ! – so pays for itself just on that.