Team England 2022 Squad – we interview Jamie Bottomley
How did you get into bowling?
Not a lot of people know this, but I didn’t get into competitive bowling until I was 21 years old. I believe it was 1999.
At the time I was still working in Agriculture as my step father owns and runs a couple of farms in the North Dorset area, I got into this industry growing up. I was at the time doing seasonal work various farming contractors and the work had dried up. My girlfriend at the time applied at the then Megabowl at Tower Park Poole. She’d been there a couple of weeks and said they were looking for Bar staff and I might as well apply to tied me over until I can find something more suited to my skill set.
I still remember my first day walking up the stairs and hearing the hustle and bustle of a busy bowling centre. There was at the time 3 leagues there and there were a couple of good players who caught my eye. I remember one of them doing the slow wheel around the whole lane and I thought that was the coolest thing ever! As an employee at the bar I quickly got to know the league players and the girlfriend, and I soon joined the Monday night singles and doubles leagues.
My first bowling ball was an Ebonite Maxim drilled by Reece Parfitt down at the old and now closed Lakeside Superbowl Weymouth.
Who helped you improve over the years?
At Tower Park there was a YBC and the BTBA qualified coach there was a lady called Janice Lambell . Her and her Husband Dave were instrumental in starting me off on my bowling Journey. Many times, after league Janice would stay behind for 30 mins or so and give me some one and one time on the lanes at no cost.
She recommended I visit Keith “Blacky” Blackwell at Bittern Bowl Southampton who I visited and purchased my first reactive bowling ball an Ebonite Panther. Keith was really good with me as a beginner and steered me on the right track. I brought several balls from Keith before the bowl closed and Keith Moved his shop to Branksome, Poole.
I was still bowling mostly at Tower Park but when Keith sold his shop business to Steve Thornton, I got to know Steve and got more involved with the Bowling scene at Branksome.
I soon started having lessons with a certain Zara Giles and Stevie T drilling my Bowling Balls. I brought a second-hand AMF Cold Fusion from Stevie and soon achieved my first two 300 games at Tower Park on the old battered wooden lanes. Janice and Dave were still helping me out I was invited to play in a league with them at Branksome on a Wednesday night. Dave would donate several bowling balls that he didn’t get on with which was much appreciated.
I then got involved in the Dorset County team and then Part of the Powerplay Poole squad of Players. Including Mike Quarry, Robbie Tanner, Jon and Ben Zadel who I learned so much from also special mention to Chris Oates and Matty Chamberlain
Stevie, Zara and Jon Zadel were instrumental in bringing my game forwards as coaches and Stevie as well as being a great friend continues to help me to this day with Equipment and coaching
The biggest win you have had in singles is winning the 2014 Irish Open and joining a special list of champions. How special was this win?
Well it was totally unexpected for sure. I had drilled a couple of Rotogrip balls at the time before the event with a couple of pin down layouts which over the course of the event really matched up. As we all know at the Irish the scoring pace is high and you have to keep up. I manged to keep moving forward and got to the match play. A few close games with lower scoring pace including knocking out one of my bowling hero’s Tore Torgersen I found myself in the final verses Jason Agate. Ill tell you now the adrenaline for me was off the scale at the time and trying to keep my heart rate down was an immense experience. After an incredibly close match I picked up the win. The nicest thing was a lot of my bowling friends were there to see it and were all genuinely happy for me. Then speaking to my wife and an excited 3-year-old after the match I may have shed a tear or two!
Team play is where it is fair to say you have had the most success for your county. What is it about teams you like and what makes you a good team player?
At Poole over the years we’ve had a tremendous amount of talent and to initially break into the Dorset team, and as a regular is something I am proud of. However, the best part of our team is that we’ve all bowled together for years we all know each other’s games and we understand how to help each other overcome things to achieve great success. I have been part of several winning teams in the counties over several years, everyone understands you need to put the needs of the team first before your own. No one likes sitting on the bench or to be dropped (me included) but if the captain makes a call you need to go with the decision and hope to get back in and when you do make the most of it!
What was it like lacing up for Team England for the first time and back again do things feel different?
First experience was really good, Team was fantastic, John Wells (come back buddy bowling misses you!), Leon Devlin, Matt Miller, Matt Chamberlain, Adam Purnell and me. Triple crown at Bromborough. We picked up a haul of medals including personally 2 golds in the trios and team. It was a great weekend.
This time around a lot has changed in my life, nearly 4 years ago 2018 I had changed my job and started a new challenge with QubicaAMF. It was right for me at the time to take a break from competitive bowling, injuries had built up (don’t bowl injured folks) and for the first time in a long while I just wasn’t enjoying it. Too much expectation from myself to do well had put too much pressure on myself where it would mess with my own head. I had qualified that year too for Team England but turned down my place. I was ready for that break.
After a couple of years away so to speak and after the pandemic I bowled a few events last year and have got the bug back. After initially entering the Team England Trials in October as a good event to bowl with plenty of games on sport conditions at a great price with almost no expectation and to be honest, not a great deal of practice, I found myself in 4th place at the end and then selected to go the European Championships. I was over the moon with this and immediately accepted. It will be a great experience and an honour to wear the England shirt once again.
You obviously love the sport and cannot get enough of it as you work at QubicaAMF. As a sport bowler, how interesting has it been learning about the industry?
Going back over the years once in the industry its very hard to leave something you love. I have had a few jobs in bowling starting in a bar in a bowl, training up to be in centre management, The IT side of the business and the Mechanical side of it too. I’ve never been afraid of hard work and wanting to ‘get on’ with everything I have done.
The job with QubicaAMF is a great mix of most of the things I’ve just listed, and I enjoy it tremendously. I have learnt a great deal and almost every day I learn something new. How a centre comes together has really taught me a lot.
You are probably one of the closest International bowlers now to String machines and the changes to the way bowling is delivered. Is it frustrating to see negativity towards String when you know the reality the future will hold for them in the industry and as a sport?
I don’t get frustrated at all everyone’s got an opinion after all and some comments make me chuckle. However, like it or not String Machines will be the future of bowling both recreational and sport in the UK and eventually Europe Asia and North America. In a world obsessed with lowering operating costs String machines are a logical choice for any bowling business owner. The UK I believe it leading the way in string deployment with all the major chains are choosing string machines in any new centre they are opening and replacing freefall machines for string machines too. As a company QubicaAMF cannot make these machines fast enough, the demand we have seen is staggering.
In my opinion the playing surface or lane condition will make more of an impact to a bowling experience and scoring pace then the differences in free fall to strings 100%
The biggest threat in my opinion for sport bowlers going forward will be lane conditions. The general loss of mechanics going forward will dilute knowledge of leagues, maintenance of lane conditioning machines and lanes not being dressed at all. I hope this is not the case.
As a bowler myself I prefer a free fall pinspotter but were not exactly falling over ourselves with decent privately-owned centres, who want to run leagues and tournaments. We need some more Kim Johnsons and Jeff Taylors in the UK!
I can never see one of the major chains installing a free fall machine ever again and they won’t run tournaments at peak times when traditionally most tournaments want to be held unless bowlers pay premium prices and I can’t see that happening to be honest!
In the future, if the choice is there whether to bowl on strings or to not bowl, I’ll carry on for sure. The machine tech is improving all the time and the reliability is fantastic. Airport Bowl took the decision to change a few years ago and the feedback he have had from them has been extremely positive. They still have leagues and tournaments but also still have retained their knowledge and provide decent lane conditions for all.
It is a lot of travelling, and you are gaining invaluable experience about bowling on many levels, but do you walk out of the many installations just thinking, that looks sweet having seen an empty shell at the start of an install?
You should have pride in your work and all new centre projects we do, we are there at the start and at the handover to the customer. So, it’s very satisfying seeing the product in a once empty building. As a bowling geek there’s something special about every new centre we deliver!
Hard for you to answer as you work for QubicaAMF, but do you have a personal favourite product and as a company that innovates you will be one of the first to see new things before the rest of us. As a fan of bowling in general does this part of the job excite you?
Yes absolutely, when ever a new product is introduced its normally developed in secret and we only see little bits but its exciting nevertheless. Then we get the hands-on training of the new products too which is also cool.
I think my favourite so far must be Hyperbowling. Maybe not one for the bowling purists but as new exciting product this is one of the best and has won several awards internationally. Changes the way to play and the tech is second to none. Great fun for all ages. Works and looks fantastic at the same time.
Back to the hobby part again and what work will you do on your own game before the delayed European Men’s championships?
To put in as much time as possible on the lanes. In my job I’m not at home most of the time Monday to Friday so when I can practice, I will want to make the most of it and not just bowl. I just want to be sharp before I go plenty of spare practice and hopefully be in a good state mentally too.
What goals do you have for yourself on the lanes?
I always want to be competitive and to make good decisions, this doesn’t always happen mind and I have often payed the price. Not set my expectations too high, it’s kind of working out at the moment as compared to before. I do love to compete, so Ill keep playing events and Ill also soon knocking on the door to the seniors too.
Of all the players you have faced and bowled with, who impressed you?
It’s a hard question for sure. There is and has been so many fantastic bowlers that I’ve played with. I’ll pick a one internationally. I’d say Tore Torgesen . Always been a hero of mine since I first bowled and crossed with him at the London International when I first started playing events. Domestically Id have to say Steve Thornton. Absolute professional on and of the lanes practices hard and is meticulous with preparation and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Them seniors better watch out!
Other honourable mentions
Verity Crawley. She is a role model. Seen her grow up to where she is now. She works hard and fully deservers the success she is having.
From a leftie point of view. Hadley Morgan , underrated and has so much talent. Paul Moor, absolute killer who knows how to win and his and record speaks for itself.
Who would play Jamie Bottomley in your life story in a movie? I think Benedict Cumberbatch .
Ha ha what a boring movie! I don’t know about that one although a few people have said this! The mother in law said comedian John Bishop!
Finally, when you are not involved in bowling what things do you like to do?
On my hiatus from bowling I joined a local cricket team Wareham Cricket Club. Were only in lowly Division 4 in the Dorset league but I really loved playing the game that I liked to play at school. Schedule permitting, I hope to play again this year.
I have this geeky thing about rollercoasters, riding them first and foremost and how they work really fascinates me, so love a trip to Alton Towers or Thorpe Park with a bucket list of parks in the US that I would love to visit one day.
I don’t get a lot of other time to any thing else really. As you can imagine on my travels, I spend a lot of time in the car or in the air , so listening to music and various podcasts helps pass the time and Netflix if a godsend!
Other than that, my wonderful family and equally supportive wife takes up most of my time, but I wouldn’t have it another way.
Thank you Jamie!
We have invited all of the Adult Team England squad for 2022 to tell us a little more about themselves, and will publish them all weekly. You can read all of our athlete’s interviews on the Athlete Interviews page here..