Meet Reggae roller Robert Simpson – the Portsmouth bowls player who has been representing Jamaica in the Commonwealth Games

If there has been a soundtrack to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, then UB40’s Red Red Wine must be high-up on the playlist.

By Simon Carter
Friday, 5th August 2022, 8:08 am

The Brummie boppers have filled the ears of those watching on at the Games with their 1983 steelpan and rocksteady cover of Neil Diamond’s 1967 original.

But the legendary band aren’t the only Caribbean act in town.

Take a short train southeast of Birmingham towards Leamington Spa and you’ll find reggae roller Robert Simpson.

Robert Simpson, second right, has been representing Jamaica in the Commonwealth Games bowls tournament this week. Picture: Jamaica bowls Instagram

Simpson, from Portsmouth, is one of only two people – Mervyn Delano Edwards is the other - representing Jamaica at lawn bowls at the 2022 Games.

Jamaica is better known on the world stage for its sprinting prowess, rather than the slower pace of bowls. But Simpson is hopeful of getting sprint stars such as Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price out on the green.

‘Definitely, it’s a possibility,’ joked Simpson, who lost 21-4 to Fiji’s Semesa Naseruvati in the men’s singles yesterday, his final match of the Games.

‘I’ve been encouraging the Jamaicans to start it up, and they’re thinking about it. When people retire from sport, they’re thinking of taking it up.

Flashback - Robert Simpson lines up in a Waverley team group in 2013. Back (from left): Iain Mackenzie, Mark Hammond, Robert, Ron Adams, Barry Starks, Graham Guy, Tony Ingram, Olly Mew, Shaun O'Mara, Tom Payne. Front: Matt Marchant, Bill McCubbin, Alex Marchant, Gary Starks, Phil Drewball, Paul Cooke, Louis McCubbin.

‘We’ve got a four rinker over there now and we’re looking to build a new one and start getting young kids on it.

‘Bowls is a very sociable sport, everywhere you go people are always friendly.’

The sociable side is exactly how Simpson got into the sport, before he realised he had a bit of a knack.

‘I used to work as a chef and after work used to go down for a few beers and there was a bowling green there,’ he explained.

‘Just for a laugh, we used to have a game every night and then they started to ask would we like to join.

‘I did it for a laugh, because it was cheap beer and then it just led on from there.’

Simpson exited the singles at the group stage, but the Waverley Bowls Club player - he has competed for his club under the surname of Moran - is simply honoured to be representing the nation of his father.

‘It’s been brilliant – I should’ve done better but I haven’t, maybe next time,’ he reflected.

‘My dad passed away a few years ago but he would have been really proud.’

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