The sublime and the ridiculous in men’s semi-finals

The two BCGBA Endsleigh Insurance County Championship semi-finals offered two contrasting games.

There have been two counties who have dominated the competition in the last decade and they faced each other to see who would progress into the final. Warwick & Worcester played Yorkshire on the fearsome Ye Old Knowle green no doubt anticipating another healthy home win but ended up giving 17 points away. to a brilliant Yorkshire team, inspired by man-of-the-match Jack Dyson, From the start they were in stunning form and took up the challenge of this famous green. After the first blocks at both venues Yorkshire had cruised into a lead of over 40 points, and they were never likely to surrender that advantage.

The other semi-final will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Lancashire have struggled to regain their success in this competition since the partition of the county in the early 1980’s. They faced Shropshire, the pre-season 3rd favourites, with the hope that having not used their best home green till this game (Garswood Hall) they had the chance to progress to their first final since er….. ages ago.

Unfortunately, a controversial sending-off of a player (for using what I think was an e-cigarette) made first block deficit of just over 20 points almost insurmountable. After this the game descended into slightly farcical scenes as the hugely respected referee had to deal with various complaints about improper clothing and very high emotions. Social Media pages have been awash with opinions about what went on.

The game seemed to be getting played in reasonably good spirits before it quite clearly wasn’t and although there is always some banter in these games, there was nothing that warned us of what was to come. I did like the shout of “don’t wear size 28 shorts when you’re a 34” although you had to be there. The reaction to the referee being left with no option but to send the player off was very emotive though I really didn’t see what other option the referee had even though it seemed to ruin the game as a spectacle.

If I think back to my county career, if I had come off the green after getting beat and then complained to my team manager or captain that my opponent had not let the jack stop before sending his bowl, then used an e-cigarette during the game then a couple of things would probably have happened. The first would that I would have got an apology off them for not noticing themselves then I would have got a right telling off for not objecting to it as much as I could. Now that I think of it the order would have been the other way around and I may not have played again. Even from other counties I can suggest numerous team managers who would have backed their players to the hilt and would raised merry hell on behalf of their team. Lancashire, commendably, backed their team as they should, even though they had a player who clearly broke the rules.

Even if the Shropshire officials did not see what was going on (I have no idea why they wouldn’t as it was stunningly obvious) the marker or their spectators must have. The home team supporters I was with certainly did. I’m not sure if the Shropshire officials were involved with what on but they should have been and should have raised their voices on behalf of their player.

To say there was that much white smoke people thought a new Pope was being elected would be an unfair exaggeration of what went on, and it is to the credit of the player concerned that he admitted to his error. After it the emotions were running high and news of potential clothing issues at both venues only led to further uncertainty of just what the hell was going on.

I can only presume the diminishing band of top-grade referees have been sent on BCGBA Trouser identification training, which may very well have included gusset guidance and long section on shorts, and I hope the referee can ignore the emotive stuff that went on and carry on with his impressive playing and refereeing career.

In the other games I’m sure there was some great bowls played but in all honesty I doubt they got noticed. Shropshire ended up winning the game at Garswood by more than their home leg at Sinclair Bowling Club and won the match by over 60 points. The final will be played on the first Sunday in September, hopefully it will be remembered for better reasons.


About Steve Davies 168 Articles
Throughout his bowling career Steve has always supported the admin side of the game as well as a keen player of the game. As a club secretary, association secretary, county delegate on the BCGBA (National Governing Body) Management Committee, Media Officer for the BCGBA, 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 which became the Bowls Observer channel and, through the LDBA, runs national competitions. Seeing an avenue to report on and promote the game Steve set up the Bowls Observer on-line magazine.