Northants in tied thriller with Hunts

One hundred ends of two-bowl triples and after 1200 bowls had been delivered over four rinks with 166 shots scored, there was nothing to choose between Hunts and Northants (pictured above) in this Derbyshire Trophy thriller at Huntingdon IBC.

Northants captain James Harford, making his 50th appearance for the county, had a chance to clinch it for his team with the last bowl of the match in his hand. But after opening a head in which he was three shots down to spring the jack, he had four feet to draw to for a decisive second shot but fractionally overplayed it.

His rink’s 21-19 win was enough to secure vital rink points but he was disappointed he was unable to snatch for Northants a share of the overall match points which were tied 9-9, the result of an 83-83 overall scoreline.

Said Harford: “I’m kicking myself that I was unable to draw in that last shot when we had the chance to win it overall but a tie is better than a defeat and we will look forward to our next match in the New Year with confidence.”

With Phil Afford featuring in Simon Law’s rink alongside lead Paul Dalliday and making an impressive Derbyshire debut, Northants held leads of 16-15, 33-30 and 55-47 after five, ten and 15 ends and with five ends to play led by four overall.

Roger Martin, returning to the side looked to have the beating of Lynsey Swannell’s trio but the Hunts man converted the last end to pinch three vital shots while Neil Wright’s rink, which trailed 1-12 at one stage, weren’t quite able to get the better of England international Lewis Baker.

Results (Northants names first):

Derbyshire Trophy (at Huntingdon IBC): Hunts 82 (9pts) Northants 82 (9). P Dalliday, P Afford, S Law beat J Hignett, P AcWhinney, R Elmore 21-17; H Shipp, N Wilkie, J Harford beat S Farrant, R Greenwood, R Jepson 21-19; B Martin, B Warters, N Wright lost to Lee Swannell, T Swannell, L Baker 20-24; J Holroyd, G Agger, R Martin lost to D Peak, R Stevens, Linsey Swannell 21-23

Northants Derbyshire Trophy squad named

Northants Bowling Federation begin their campaign to qualify for the final stages of the inter-county Derbyshire Trophy on Sunday December 4 when they play Hunts at the Huntingdon Indoor stadium (10am).

Sadly they will be without two of their key young players – Joe Randall and Stephen Harris – both of whom have been called up for the final England Under 25 trial at Northampton on the same day.

However, captain James Harford is quietly confident that his team – which includes Brian Martin and Howard Shipp, both of whom play their winter competitions out of the Huntingdon club – will have enough in their locker to cope with their local rivals, who also have Ed Elmore on duty at Northampton.

Though he hasn’t yet finalised his team, it will include England outdoor international Tris Morton (City of Ely) who won all his Derbyshire Trophy matches with Martin and Stamford’s Bob Warters in the last campaign.

The match will be played as four rinks over 25 ends of two-bowl triples.

Northants squad: (from) : H. Shipp, P. Dalliday, B.Martin, J.Holroyd, N.Wilkie, P.Afford, B. Warters, N. Wright, J. Harford, S.Law, T Morton, M. Dolby.

Dick Noble elected NBF deputy president


Dick Noble (68) has been elected deputy president of the Northants Bowling Federation. The West Ward BC bowler will succeed current president Tony Mace (Whittlesey Manor) in October 2018.

A bricklayer by trade, Noble has been a multi-county champion for the Northants Federation over many years, both indoors and outdoors, and has been a qualified level two bowls coach.

He returned to the county after a spell as bowls manager at a hotel on the Isle of Wight and is determined to encourage more youngsters to take up the game.

Northants are currently the national under 25 pairs champions but are unable to muster enough players to field a team in the Reg Wright inter-county championship.

“It would be great if we can re-establish a team in the Under 25 team competition and I will do all I can to make that happen, ” he said.

“I have always been a big supporter of the Federation and I am looking forward to serving the county as Tony’s deputy and putting something back into the game.”

At its monthly meeting, the Federation heard that indoor competition entries had increased, chiefly due to the affiliation of the new Vanguard club, and that outdoor entries had stayed the same as the previous year, generating a total revenue of more than £4,200.

A race night will be held at Whittlesey Manor on March 10 to raise funds for the Federation and the opening match of the outdoor season will be between a Whittlesey Manor select team and the county’s Newton Trophy squad on May 6.

Indoor finals will be staged at Stamford IBC on March 19 and the outdoor finals at Wnittlesey Manor on July 23.

Rita Mace inducted as NWBF president

A former president of the national English Women’s Bowling Federation is now at the helm of the women’s county bowlers.

Rita Mace, whose husband Tony, is the men’s president, took over the reins from Joan Robinson. The couple celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in 2017, the same year that the Northants women bowlers clock up 60 years since the county federation inauguration. A celebration is planned

A Whittlesey Manor bowler, Rita received the chain of office at the annual meeting on Wednesday. City of Peterborough Jessica Phillips takes on the role of deputy – the first time someone from the club has held the post.

Members agreed at the meeting to dispense with the post of chairperson. These duties, as with the men’s Federation, will be carried out by the president or her deputy.

Other officers elected were secretary, Liz Barr, treasurer Christine Ford, competition secretary Janet Duffy, Donald Steward Trophy captain, Joan Robinson, Silver Vase captain Ann Cooper, committee, Doris Flowers and Valerie Du’Kett. The post of match secretary has still to be filled following the resignation of Norma Squires.

The newly elected president abnd her deputy will join the two captains, county secretary, competitions secretary & match secretary, to select teams for the county matches next summer. A pre season match is planned at Whittlesey Manor on Wednesday, May 10.

Vanguard BC joins the Federation


A NEW GROUP of bowlers have been accepted into the Northants Federation at the annual meeting in Peterborough this week, enabling them to play in county competitions both indoors and outdoors.

The Vanguard Bowls Club has adopted the Empingham BC green as its outdoor base and is the brainchild of former county secretary Mike Ramsden. It offers an opportunity to previously non-affiliated players to take part in both individual, mixed and team competitions without an attachment as full members of an outdoor club.

The club was accepted by a narrow majority, despite earlier concerns that it might undermine the spirit of the Federation by creating a fast track into competition bowls without the need to join an affiliated club with its own green.

However, the NBF management committee recommended its inclusion as it was keen to encourage any scheme which could initially introduce more bowlers into the federation family, bolster indoor competition entries among many who might never have experienced the code and who might eventually join a local outdoor club with its own green.

A precedent had been set some years ago in Derbyshire with the formation of the Phoenix club enabling crown green bowlers to compete in flat green competitions.

And in a bid to attract existing, non-affiliated clubs with their own greens, the Federation also agreed to invite some, at the discretion of the management committee, to take part in its Adams Cup competition – a summer knock-out tournament of three rinks of men’s or mixed two-bowl triples. The current holders are parkway BC who beat City of Peterborough in the final.

Retiring NBF president Bob Warters said that it had been ‘at times emotional’ and ‘a privilege’ to hold the office for the last two years during which time the county had won five national individual titles as well as the inter-county Adams Trophy premier team event and Victor Ludorum for the first time in its 82-year history.

He also paid tribute to the ‘tireless work’ of the management committee in support of the 17 member clubs.

“Without those prepared to work behind the scenes, we wouldn’t still be here,” he said handing over the President’s chain of office to his successor Tony Mace from Whittlesey Manor. (See picture above).

Among other new officials were Cliff Watson, former captain of the winning 2015 Adams Trophy team, who takes over the Newton Trophy squad from Brian Bassam.

Officers elected included: President Tony Mace; secretary Melvyn Beck; treasurer Les Sharp; fixture secretary Graham Agger; competition & results secretary Barry Lawrence; minutes Linda Toms; National delegate Alan Croxford; press officer Bob Warters; Adams captain Fred Richardson; Newton captain Cliff Watson; Derbyshire captain James Harford; CPO Neil Wright. BW

Bragging rights for the men in annual match

Northants Bowling Federation’s male bowlers retained bragging rights over their female counterparts by claiming another win in their annual clash under indoor surface conditions on Sunday, this time at Stamford IBC.

However, there were some notable achievements by the women on the day, none more so than a second successive rink triumph by president Joan Robinson over her opposite number Bob Warters.

Paired with Jenny Harvey, Moira Holroyd and Margaret Bloxham they pummelled the Warters’ rink of Jack Corney, Mick Humphreys and current county under 25 singles champion Stephen Harris 28-15 with a display of outstanding drawing and conversion shots.

Said Warters: ” I would love to say it was a diplomatic defeat but it was far from that. The ladies outbowled us and thoroughly deserved their win.”

With some players misinterpreting the dress format and struggling to keep bowls on the green under the faster indoor conditions, the banter was free-flowing.

There were also a number of light-hearted moments including Paul Buckley, opting to wear his white waterproof trousers so as not to look out of place and Cliff Watson’s rink, cheerfully conceding a maximum ‘hot shot’ eight (through gritted teeth) on the fourth end against Christine Ford’s quartet of June Brennan, Jess Phillips and Margaret Andrews.

Fortunately for the victims, the incident almost went undetected. Almost but not quite!

President Warters completes his two-year term of office at the annual meeting of the Federation at Peterborough IBC October 19 (7.30pm) when he is succeeded by Whittlesey Manor’s Tony Mace, whose wife Rita joins him as NWBF president at the Women’s agm at the same venue on November 2.

The pair also celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2017.

All affiliated clubs (entitled to upto two delegate votes) are recommended to attend the NBF annual meeting.


Friendly (at Stamford IBC) : Northants Women’s Bowling Federation 75 Northants Bowling Federation 187.(NWBF names first): C Hunter, P Collicott, P Birch, S Moir lost to J Holroyd, F Richardson, M Duell, N Wright 12-32; J Brennan, J Phillips, M Andrews, C Ford lost to R Stevens, J Little, P Buckley, C Watson 15-26; L Barr, R Mace, C Warters, V Du’Kett lost to T Mace, D Ford, H Shipp, G Agger 4-42; J Harvey, J Robinson, M Bloxham, M Holroyd beat J Corney, M Humphreys, S Harris, B Warters 28-15; F Richardson, J Bourne, L Hext, S Craig lost to D Hudson, M Beck, B Lawrence, J Harford 12-32; K Browning, G King, M Linnell, P O’Brien lost M Ramsden, M Greaves, P Dalliday, S Law 6-38. BW

Praise for Northants from Nick Brett

The world’s top indoor bowler has praised the Northants Federation for its ability to ‘punch above its weight’ compared to other counties.

As guest of honour at the Federation’s annual luncheon, current world indoor singles champion Nick Brett, who lives in Yaxley but represents the Hunts Federation through his home club at Warboys, revealed that ahead of his invitation he had been doing some homework on Northants’ successes.

“Compared to some member counties, Northants is nowhere near one of the biggest but has won more than 100 national titles which is very impressive and shows the quality of bowlers you have. The county definitely punches above its weight in competitive bowls,” he said.

Among those celebrating national success were Blackstones youngsters Stephen Harris and Darren Middleton who captured the EBF Under 25 Open pairs at Skegness. Mick Duell (West Ward) also claimed the Veterans singles.

County presidents Bob Warters and Joan Robinson (supported by national president Daphne Meats) also congratulated Northants bowlers on their performances both on indoor and outdoor surfaces and agreed with Brett that the county, despite its comparatively small size in membership, is confident it can continue to produce champion bowlers.

Other highlights included Martyn Dolby reaching five indoor finals (winning three), Christine Ford reaching a total of seven finals (winning five) and Robinson winning two women’s indoor singles titles. Mother and daughter Val and Sarah Newson won the outdoor women’s pairs and mixed triples and Sarah also took the 4-bowl singles. Ketton won both the women’s two and three-bowl triples.


Skegness national finals:Day 5


Northants bowlers emulated their individual successes of last year by claiming two titles at the English Federation finals at Skegness on Saturday.

Darren Middleton (24,right above) and Stephen Harris (19) from the Blackstones club in Stamford captured the Under 25 Open pairs to add to the Veteran singles won by Mick Duell (West Ward , Peterborough) yesterday.

The pair were much the underdogs against a Nottinghamshire pairing of Will Marshall (Teversall) and Jack Emmerson (Bottesford) on the infamous and unforgiving rink 15 at the Suncastle greens.

But with lead Middleton finding his length on the trickier swinging hand and Harris showing composure under pressure belying his years at skip they took control by midway with a 12-5 lead. The Notts pair struck back in a purple patch to trail on 11-13 after 16 ends but picking up five shots in the next three ends, the Stamford youngsters were able to concede one on the 20th end to win 18-12.

It left Darren in tears but Stephen showing little emotion – more than can be said for his mum Tracey – even though officials later pointed out that he had filled in the wrong side of the card!

Overall a highly satisfying week for the Northants contingent with two winners and a further losing finalist in Harris in the Under 25 singles. The county also picked up a valuable point in their defence of the Victor Ludorum with Graham Jackson and Roger Martin reaching the senior pairs semi-finals.

Not so memorable for the NWBF, though Val Newson and Chris Morton reached the last four of the women’s pairs -losing on an extra end – and Joan Butcher helped put Whittlesey Town back on the competitive map reaching the semi-final of the champion of champions singles only to lose to the eventual winner. BW



Skegness national finals: Day 4


Mick Duell (above) from West Ward Bowls Club in Peterborough has successfully defended the English Bowling Federation Veterans Singles title at Skegness which Northants won last year.

Current county president Bob Warters won it in 2015 and Duell (68) was determined that the Ludlam Trophy wasn’t going to leave the county’s clutches without a fight.

And after seeing off the challenge of March Town’s Tony Harley (North Cambs) in the semi-final in a gripping encounter which went down to a 21-19 win, having been 15-17 behind, he came up against Dave Smith from Market Weighton, Humberside on yet another Suncastle rink that defied normal bowls bias performance.

But Duell, a retired office worker with the Anglia Regional Co-op, has valuable experience of tricky greens and rarely looked in trouble racing into a 16-7 lead. Smith fought back to 12-20 but Duell finally found the bowl to take him over the line.

” It has always been my ambition to win a county singles title, play for my county and win a national title and I have done it all in one season,” said Duell, who made his debut for the Newton Trophy side earlier in the season.

At the opposite end of the age scale, Stephen Harris (19) reached the Under 25 singles final, having beaten Daniel Moss (Suffolk) in the semi final 21-18.

The reward was to meet his sister Louise’s boyfriend Jonathan West (Lincs) in the final, one of many encounters on the green between the two talented youngsters.

But West always had the edge and after Harris staged a comeback from 11-16 to 16-18, finally conceded at 21-16.

Harris has a second chance to lift a title in the morning, when wet weather is scheduled to blow in. He and Blackstones clubmate Darren Middleton have reached the final of the Under 25 Open pairs having beaten North Cambs brothers Jake and Joe Gowler aged 17 and 20 respectively.

Middleton was outstanding, consistently drawing close to set up opportunities for his partner and will need similar accuracy tomorrow to overcome a tidy Nottingham pair who demolished Lincs favourites West and Ashley Caress 23-3.

Bowlers warmed to the 80 degree temperatures at the Suncastle greens but against 19-year old Christian Lowey (Northumberland) – who wasn’t born the last time he competed at Skegness – Peter Cox from Langtoft was always on the back foot in the two bowl singles.

And though he made a late rally, from 10-17 behind, he finally lost 17-21.

It was a similar tale for Louise Harris (18) in the women’s under 25 singles against Corriane Gray (18) from Humberside. She pulled back from 2-11 behind to take the lead at 18-17 but in the end short bowls cost her a chance to join her brother in a final.

Val Newson and Chris Morton, stepping in for Sarah Newson at the last minute had their chances against Northumberland in the women’s pairs semi-finals and led 13-9 with three ends to play. But their opponents pinched shots in successive ends and won it in overtime.

Finally there were high hopes for Graham Jackson and Roger Martin (City of Peterborough) in the senior pairs, won by Whittlesey Manor’s Roger Stevens and Tony Mace in 2015.

However, they were unable to re-discover their form earlier in the week and the Nottingham pair of Paul Cameron and Dave Wombell, mastered the green better to win 17-14. BW


Skegness national finals: Day 3

In defence of the veterans’ pairs won by Northants last year, Graham Jackson and Roger Martin (City of Peterborough) marched into the national semi-finals at Skegness on Thursday morning with a comprehensive defeat of Fred Field and John McIntosh from Huntingdon.

Jackson quickly got into his stride at lead and with Martin also finding the bowls to add to the counts they built up a 19-5 lead and their opponents finally conceded at 24-7 with ends in hand. The pair are chasing the title won by Whittlesey Manor’s Roger Stevens and Tony Mace.

Mick Duell (West Ward) is also looking to emulate the senior singles crown won by Bob Warters in 2015 and got off to a great start beating Suffolk legend Jimmy Summons.

But he had to be patient. With his appropriately coloured bowls in Northants orange he led 14-8 and 20-13 but the dogged Summons pegged him back in successive ends until at 20-20, Duell produced his match winner.

Sadly for the county there was no success in the four bowl singles for men or women.

Neil Wright had highly rated Jack Emmerson (Notts) on toast at 20-10 but couldn’t find the killer bowl to get him over the line and finally lost by the narrowest of margins.

Sarah Newson led 6-0 in the early stages but finally went down to R Lewis (Notts) 17-21. Similarly Howard Shipp got his nose in front of Notts’ Paul Fyles in the champion of champions two-bowl singles but couldn’t sustain the pressure and finally succumbed 16-21 over 29 ends.

Fyles had earlier put paid to the hopes of Parkway’s two bowl triple when he switched from skip to lead on the infamous rink 15. The Northants boys led 15-7 at one stage but when Fyles started finding his touch on the longer lengths, Notts battled back to lead by three going into the final end.

And with Northants holding three shots for a chance to force an extra end Ray Maskell stepped up to produce a final bowl which James Harford narrowly failed to remove.

Making his seventh appearance at the finals, Malcolm Squires was hoping that number would prove lucky but came up against Lincolnshire’s Richard White in devastating form, running out a comfortable winner.

Joan Butcher did Whittlesey Town BC proud again by overcoming Jackie Hearle (North Cambs) 21-17 over 33 ends of champion of champions singles. Within the hour she was straight back on to the green against Durham but went down 21-8.

Though Sheila Craig suffered a 21-12 defeat on rink three against Cleveland, Langtoft’s Peter Cox followed her onto the same rink and showed great skill in winning his match, also in the two bowl singles.

Against Notts’ Russell Pearce he was making his first appearance in more than 21 years, having been beaten in the first round in three previous qualifications. But using his favoured black Aero Groove bowls he quickly found his range and, ignoring the straight line curved his bowls on the opposite hand to win 21-8.

To round off a better afternoon for Northants, Blackstones’ Darren Middleton (24) and Stephen Harris (19) raced into a 19-1 lead against Durham in the Under 25 Open singles before their opponents began to get the measure of the tricky green.

Durham pulled back 15 shots but when the Northants youngsters both drew within inches on the 19th end it was game over and a Friday lunchtime semi-final against either Norfolk or North Cambs. Harris had earlier beaten Brian Henderson from Hartlepool 21-10 in the Under 25 singles.

Also on at 12.15 will be Graham Jackson and Roger Martin in the Veterans pairs against either North Cambs or Notts.

Morning semi-final singles starts are scheduled for Cox, Harris, and veteran Mick Duell, together with Val Newson and Chris Morton in the women’s pairs, replacing Sarah Newson who is committed elsewhere. BW

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