The sun shines on the Senior County

The 1st games of the 2018 BCGBA Senior County Championship saw some fantastic entertainment. 

One of the most anticipated games was between Lancashire and Warwick & Worcs. The venue were the famous The George Bowling Club in Birmingham and Garswood Hall Bowling Club in Ashton-in-Makerfield.

The Lancashire men had asked for the green not to be cut too short and were looking for the speed of the green to be similar to that of evening bowls leagues. The game was played in blisteringly hot conditions for probably the first time this year.

Ben Harris (foreground) playing John Crossley

One of the best young players in the game, Ben Harris of Great Barr BC, was playing Wigan green specialist and Westhoughton Sports player, John Crossley. Ben covers some miles in his games as he’s just about the quickest runner in the game and he dominated the early part of the game.

He gave John little chance as he used short marks to great effect. It could have so easily been a single figure away win but John saved game and launched a sensational comeback. In the last quarter of the game John doubled his score and led out at 20 across with a 16-inch lead. It wasn’t close enough though. 

Neil Bithell used his years of experience on the green to give Eliott McGuinness little chance. Chris Hook and Josh Hale, making his away team debut for W&W, had a battle which could have gone either way. Just the better green knowledge got Chris home. Tom Palmer (Kings Heath Park) was in sensational early form against Horwich’s Duncan Watkins. An early 8-break saw Tom in control and try as he might Duncan couldn’t get level.

After the first 4 games at each venue Lancashire led by 4 points and the middle block of games saw both home teams take control. 

Lancashire’s left-hander Ryan Semmens

Barry Simm, Paul Winrow and Ryan Semmens were in exceptional form for Lancashire. Barry in particular against Ryan Prosser used the green so well to give the highly respected Ryan little chance.

The closest match of the block saw Phil Clinton and David Higginbottom have a right battle. Phil was in control early on and kept the game to areas of the green he was happy on. David, son the late great Len and a great player in his own right, fought back as he could finally use the green to his benefit but Phil was able to claim a valuable away win.

In Birmingham the home team had started on a run of wins that would prove vital. The experienced Ant Bracken and the phenomenal Greg Smith led the way. 

With just 4 games at each venue it was Lancashire that led the way by 8 points. 

Warwick & Worcs Paul “Mr Angry” Hemming (The George BC)

A couple of decisive away wins for Peter Dunkley and Paul Hemming proved to be so important. They both put so much pressure on their opponents and kept their games to similar parts of the green. Also important was the battle Chris Bergin put in to get to double figures against Mark Britton. 

A mention must go out to Steve Darling, a fixture at the number 12 position for Warwick and Worcs who once again put a performance in on The George. Overall a close but deserved 11 point win for the midland men.

Also in this section was an expected close game between Greater Manchester and North Lancs and Fylde. Close it was not. a demolition took place at Springbank Bowling Club as a clean sweep for the home team and 86-point aggregate win. A close game at Leyland and Farington saw a demoralised North Lancs men claim a 12 point win. 

In Section 2 Merseyside recorded only the third ever 100 plus aggregate win over Shropshire. Th Shropshire men lost in the final last year but this years attempt came off the rails early. The Wheatsheaf green has seem some huge wins and this was another. Although Callum Wraight showed his class it was the Merseyside men who were roared home. Tex Allen and, man of the match, Matty Gartside claimed the best wins. It was still an impressive home win for the Shropshire men on the Bowling. Sam Millward and Michael Beer being the stars.

The closest game of the day was between Cheshire and North Midlands. Both teams dominated at home. Peter Smith for Cheshire and Darren Tring for North Mids. The games were shared and the aggregate was so nearly the same. North Mids just held on after leading by 5 points going into the last block.

Another close match in Section 3 saw Cumbria edge out Wales. Darren Naylor and Danny Rogers with decisive single figure wins and they will thank Matty Stewart for a great win away. Adam Penlington claiming the man of the match award at the sensational Lindal BC for Wales was another of the performances of the day.

It was an easier win for Yorkshire, in section 4, who played Staffordshire. After a good start by the Staffordshire men it was the Yorkshire away side who took the plaudits. The experienced Chris Mordue claiming a great win and the man of the match award as the Yorkshire men claimed an overall win by 50.

The other game in the section saw South Yorkshire claim a decisive win over Derbyshire. They claimed 17 of the games won both legs. Jon Sneddon (Malty BC) was so impressive away at Stretton BC. It was a procession of steady wins which enabled them to claim a 65 point overall win. 

The  next game are below and will be highly anticipated across the bowling world.

Fixtures for Sun Jun 3rd
Section 1 Greater Manchester V Warwick & Worcester
Section 1 North Lancs & Fylde V Lancashire
Section 2 Cheshire V Merseyside
Section 2 North Midlands V Shropshire
Section 3 Potteries & District V Wales
Section 3 Cumbria V Bye
Section 4 Derbyshire V Yorkshire
Section 4 SouthYorkshire V Staffordshire

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.