Ladies county matchday 1

A dish best served cold?

In the final of last year’s competition, between Lancashire and Yorkshire, it was the red rose of Lancashire who claimed the honours. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold as in the first set of fixtures to decide this years champion it was the white rose who claimed the result.

Served cold it was as Yorkshire held the home game at one of the coldest greens in the country. Meltham Bowling Club is famed for being one the best venues but it also one of the coldest. As the icy wind blew in all that was missing was Kate Bush singing in a nightie about some fella she’s lost.

The game started as a close affair with Lancashire captain Mavis Hancock having a close battle with Julie Best and Alison Heys and Laura Consterdine reeling their opponents back affair conceding early leads. Although Laura and Alison fell just short  Mavis claimed a ’20’ win. Yorkshire will be proud of the play by Julie, Lorraine Hirst, Linda Gledhill and Karen Gant but Lancashire kept to within 18 after the first block.

However results from the Lancashire home venue, Ainsdale, proved to be devastating. The Yorkshire 4 of Nichole Farrar (13), Alexis Lunn-Gadd (9), Debbie Talbot (7) and Andrea Buckley (0) swept the white rose team into a 55 point lead at the Ainsdale green on the outskirts of Southport.

Lisa Daykin
Lisa Daykin

Although the rest of the Lancashire team battled to the end they couldn’t fully get to grips with the tricky Meltham green which was cut down to the bone. The Lancashire ladies were either close the heavier way or down to the quick corner but Yorkshire Ladies were close going both ways. Only Lisa Kerford, making her Lancashire debut, claimed another win for the red roses. Yorkshire debutant Lisa Daykin (9), wife of 2014 British Senior Merit winner Ashley Daykin, claimed the best win for white roses as they went on to win by 64 home and away.

First win for Merseyside

During the winter Wirral Ladies joined Merseyside County and now play under the Merseyside name. They celebrated this by claiming a very impressive win over North Lancs and Fylde. At the tricky Pensby green North Lancs gave a inspired showing to win by 3, with Joan France winning to 3, but what was vital was the last game and a 21-8 win for Merseyside’s Karen Smith representing the Tranmere club. It was the events at the North Lancs & Flyde home green that proved decisive.

The Goose Green venue seemed at first to be providing a good win for North Lancs. A pair of ‘9’ wins by Pat Conchie and Wendy Walton gave a good start but Gill Sheen replied impressively for the Merseysiders. The rest of the game was dominated by the visitors who won 6 of the remaining 8 games. Linda Howard provided the best win (9) as the visitors won by 5 to claim the overall aggregate 2 points.

In brief

My tip in group 1, Warwick & Worcester shared the games with North Shropshire but claimed a 29 point win on the aggregate. This was largely due to the Warwick home venue of Moor Lane proving to be a huge test for the North Shropshire visitors. Anne O’Loughlin was in dominant form at the Moor Lane venue and pipped Faye Montgomery to claim best winner. Although Donna Bennett led from the front at the North Shropshire home venue of Malpas it was the Warwick & Worcester ladies who were always in front.

The other game played in the group was a emphatic win for Cumbria who home and away against Staffordshire. Cumbria used the extremely tricky Lindal green to claim all but one of the games on the way to 109 point win. Sandra Wood and Jessica Wernham taking the plaudits An away win by 4 with Doreen Robinson and Gillian Balderstone leading from the front helped top the overall aggregate to 113.

Cheshire's Karen Galvin & Lesley Smith pictured after winning the 2011 BCGLBA Dorothy Pierce Memorial Pairs
Cheshire’s Karen Galvin & Lesley Smith pictured after winning the 2011 BCGLBA Dorothy Pierce Memorial Pairs

In Group 2 Wales swept aside the challenge of Cheshire claiming all the games at home, at Gresford Colliery, and had 7 winners away at Monk Sports in Warrington. Kelsey Morgan-Rowlands (5) was the best winner though Chris Hey and Andrea Muncey (both 6) ran her close. Although Karen Galvin showed her class for Cheshire it was the wins by Jane Jones and Abigail Wynn-Jones which proved decisive.

Away from the Roses battle in group 3, Mid-Chesire swept aside South Staffordshire. At the mid-Cheshire home venue, Red Lion in Frodsham, I must mention Joan Jackson, Tamsin Birkett and Sarah Johnson who provided a treble of 21-3 wins. A closer game in South Staffordshire are Amasal saw mid-Cheshire Gill Tench (2) provide the result which, although nearly cancelled out by Aimee Allcock, swung that result in the favour of the visitors.

Away from the Merseyside win against North Lancs, Group 4 saw a close game as Shropshire beat Greater Manchester by 18. Shropshire dominated from the start claiming 6 of the first 8 games with Sally Clee particularly impressive in the home game at Newport bowling club. Although the Manchester ladies responded impressively, with wins by Anne Burgess away and Sue Berry and Pat Roscoe in the home game at the Holt Arms, it was the Shropshire ladies who triumphed. It was Siobhan Harding who claimed the best win at home as the 8 winners out of 12 games proving to be decisive as both teams had 6 winners apiece in Manchester.

All in all the counties I tipped, or cursed, all won. Yorkshire, Wales, Shropshire and Warwick & Worcester overcame the curse (possibly only temporarily…) to claim wins.

The next set of matches take place on Sunday 15th May and the fixtures, team sheets and results for this and all the Ladies County matches are on the truly excellent Bowling Results website (link). Please note there are 4 groups of 5 counties so on each match day there will be 4 counties without a fixture. The winners of each group or section go through to the semi-finals.

Fixtures for match day 2 – Sunday 15th May
Group 1

Cumbria V North Shropshire
Warwick & Worcester V Burton & district

Group 2

North Warwickshire V Wales
Cheshire V North Midlands

Group 3

Mid Cheshire V Yorkshire
Lancashire V South Yorkshire

Group 4

Greater Manchester V Merseyside
North Lancs & Fylde V Dudley & District

Steve Davies

Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Merseyside champion in 2002 and Merseyside County President (2014-15) Steve has always been keen to promote the game especially through the broadcast of the game on TV or Internet. Steve set up the LIVE BOWLS YouTube channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine after consulting with respected figures in the game and journalism.