D-day for the mens county

Sunday 3rd July is the day when the Endsleigh Insurance county championship semi-final line up will be decided. After weeks of what should be unusually wet weather (more usual than unusual these days) the final group games take place. Who will be the 2016 champions? Well that is still open to debate as ten counties will be optimistic of progressing.

Group 1

Leaders Shropshire play Greater Manchester with a two point and an aggregate lead of sixty eight. They know that they can decide their own fate. A win and there is nothing the second place team in group, South Yorkshire, can do.

Shropshire play their home game on Bowring BC and travel to Springbank BC for the away leg. South Yorkshire play Potteries on Millhouses Park and travel to the famous Congleton Railway for the away leg.

Group 2

This is a straight shoot out between North Lancs and Fylde and Merseyside. Both teams are level on points but North Lancs have an aggregate lead of fifty seven. Whoever wins the game goes through.

I’m obviously backing the Merseyside men and a withdrawal from the declared North Lancs team could prove to be vital. Both counties are using tough greens for this vital fixture. Merseyside are using the famous British Plate green and North Lancs are using Leyland and Farrington Social Club.  For me the games to watch are at British Plate with the Merseyside first four of Andy Hayes, Kevin Kearns, Danny Barwise and Anthony Gartside go up against Stuart Mort, Andy Cairns, Wayne Ditchfield and Tommy King.

The other group game is between Derbyshire and Isle of Man.Belvedere BC is the home venue for the Derbyshire game and the Derbyshire away team will have an early start on their way to Castletown BC.

Group 3

This is another winner take all contest between Yorkshire and Wales. Yorkshire have a huge lead on the aggregate but that will count for nothing if Wales win the game. Yorkshire have been successful in the Supplementary Championship in the last couple of seasons so will be hopeful of transferring those performances to the county championship.

Wales are using Bradley Park BC in Wrexham and Yorkshire are using Rastrick BC and although you would probably make Yorkshire favourites a Wales win in the year of their BCGBA Presidency will not surprise me.

Group 4

The group of the reigning champions and favourites, Warwick and Worcester, is so wide open you couldn’t predict the result. North Midlands, Warwick and Worcester, Staffordshire and Cumbria all have a win to their names.

North Midlands lead the group with a healthy aggregate and will see themselves as favourites against Warwick and Worcester due to the use of Coundon BC for their home game. Moor Lane is the venue for the Warwick and Worcester home game as the reigning champions seek fifth consecutive championship.

Cumbria and Staffordshire will have something to say on the outcome of the group. Both counties know a good win could put them in the semi-finals. Staffordshire face a long journey to North Scale BC on Walney Island.

What will be the make up of the semi’s? To be honest I haven’t a clue but I hope one of the four teams have a load of scouser’s in it….

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.