A late burst of scoring by Jeff Newson’s rink of Brian Martin and Joe Randall, enabled Northants to pluck 14 points from their crucial Derbyshire Trophy match at Wisbech against North Cambs and give the county a chance to earn a place in the final at Newark at the end of April.
Playing under the new four-rink format of two-bowl triples, several Northants players found the tricky, more sluggish playing surface alien to their respective home rinks of Stamford and Peterborough IBC but battled hard to acclimatise over the 25-end contest.
However, Stamford’s Stephen Harris leading in a new partnership with Peterborough’s Andrew Thurston and Simon Law quickly latched on to the pace and the trio ran away 36-12 winners to set up the victory, while the end rinks of Martyn Dolby and James Harford often struggled against the local knowledge of their respective home players and went down 15-23 and 16-27 respectively.
So it was left to the experienced Newson to tidy up the points transforming a 20-24 deficit after 20 ends by scoring 13 shots without reply in the final stages and earn Northants a 100-86 overall win, against a team who had previously taken all 18 points from Hunts, earlier victors over Northants.
With their final opponents Norfolk on February 15 (at Stamford) winning 17-1 at home to Hunts, it means a victory over their East Anglian rivals could earn Northants a place at Newark against the northern section winners, which include Durham, Derbyshire and Notts.
EBF Derbyshire Trophy: Northants 100 (14pts), North Cambs 86 (4). Northants names only: J Holroyd, B Warters, J Harford lost 16-27; B Martin, J Randall, J Newson won 33-24; S Harris, A Thurston, S Law won 36-12; N Wilkie, R Martin, M Dolby lost 15-23.
Northants Bowling Federation put themselves right back in contention to qualify for the Derbyshire Trophy national inter-county final by defeating Lincolnshire, the current holders of the title, by four shots in a thrilling encounter at Stamford IBC.
Northants had narrowly lost their opening match in the four-match southern section series of four two-bowls triples at Huntingdon and needed vital points against the defending champions to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for Newark in April under the 25-end format.
With little to separate the sides at halfway, Northants stretched to a 13-shot lead with each rink still with five ends to play. The rinks skipped by Martyn Dolby (partnered by Nick Wilkie and Roger Martin) and James Harford (John Holroyd & Bob Warters) rarely looked in trouble and were able to counteract the occasional inconsistency of the rink skipped by Simon Law against some excellent conversions by Boston’s Jonathan West.
But trailing by just nine shots, a last end four count against Harford and one against Dolby suddenly gave Lincs a glimmer of hope and it needed the experience of Jeff Newson to steady the ship, salvage a vital point with a tied match against Spalding-based former Peterborough football referee Maurice Elding and earn Northants an 88-84 shots win to secure 15 points.
Northants travel to Wisbech on January 25 for another key game against North Cambs before entertaining a Norfolk team, rumoured to include former world indoor singles champion Mervyn King, at Stamford on February 15.
Result (Northants names only)
Derbyshire Trophy: Northants Federation 88 (15 pts) Lincolnshire Federation 84 (5). J Holroyd, B Warters (both Stamford), J Harford (Peterborough) won 25-19, B Martin, J Randall, J Newson (all Peterborough) drew 20-20, N Wilkie (Peterborough), R Martin, M Dolby (both Stamford) won 27-16, H Shipp, A Thurston, S Law (all Peterborough) lost 15-28.
Indoor captain Howard Shipp has named the team that will represent Northants Bowling Federation when it entertains Lincolnshire Bowling Federation in the second series of 4-rink matches for the Derbyshire Trophy on Sunday at Stamford IBC (10am).
It shows a couple of changes from the team narrowly beaten by Hunts in the opening match.
John Holroyd, who recently put up a gallanat performance before losing to World No.1 Nicky Brett in the Spalding Open and Bob Warters will be joined by James Harford (Peterborough) in the two-bowl triples format. Martyn Dolby and Roger Martin will team up with Nick Wilkie, replacing Stephen Harris who is unavailable.
In the all-Peterborough rinks, Andrew Thurston, unavailable last time, joins Howard Shipp and Simon Law. Joe Randall replaces Wilkie to fit into the rink of Brian Martin and Jeff Newson.
Northants visit Wisbech to play North Cambs on January 25 and entertain a Norfolk side that could include former World indoor champion Mervyn King and his son Sam on February 15 at Stamford.
In a thrilling start to the new-look Derbyshire Trophy season, Northants Bowling Federation lost a nail-biting match against Hunts by just seven shots – the closing ends proving crucial in an 80-87 defeat.
Playing to the new four-rink two-bowl triples format, against a Hunts team returning to the event after a break of several years, Northants picked up only four of the 18 points available from two winning rinks.
But it might have been very different had a run of good form, not broken against them in the closing stages. For example, Jeff Newson's rink was coasting and holding five shots on the penultimate end when the Hunts skip smashed into the head with his last bowl and captured a solitary shot.
Elsewhere Simon Law's rink played steadily to hold sway at 18-15 with five of the 25 ends to play only for Hunts to rally and take the game 25-19.
Martyn Dolby's rink were never comfortable on an end rink and never recovered from dropping ten shots in three ends just after halfway, while John Holroyd's accurate leading was the keystone of Joe Randall's rink making a comeback from 13-16 at half way to claim a 27-21 triumph.
Sadly for Northants it wasn't quite enough to carry the day and Northants look to making a better impression when they entertain Lincolnshire at Stamford on January 11.
Result (Northants names only)
S Harris, R Martin, M Dolby lost 13-26; B Martin, N Wilkie, J Newson won 21-15; J Holroyd, B Warters, J Randall won 27-21; H Shipp, N Wright, S Law lost 19-25.
Northants Federation's Derbyshire Trophy captain Howard Shipp, has picked his first team of the season to contest the new style event.
Under the new rules for this English Bowling Federation indoor inter county team title, Northants kick-off their programme with an away match at Huntingdon IBC against the Hunts Federation on Sunday (December 7th, 10am).
Instead of three two-bowl triples rinks at home and three simultaneously away as in the past, Northants will only play four rinks away on this occasion but will host Lincs and Norfolk at Stamford IBC on January 11 and February 15, squeezing in a visit to Wisbech to play North Cambs on January 25.
Winners of the southern section will compete at Newark in April against the winner of the northern section featuring Notts, Derby, Durham and possibly Northumberland, still to make a decision about their inclusion.
Seven Peterborough IBC and five Stamford IBC bowlers will contest the first match with Stephen Harris, Roger Martin and Martyn Dolby representing Stamford while clubmates John Holroyd and Northants president Bob Warters join skip Joe Randall from Peterborugh IBC.
Completing the line-up are all-Peterborough rinks: Brian Martin, Nick Wilkie and Jeff Newson; Howard Shipp, Neil Wright and Simon Law.
Plans to involve more counties in the Reg Wright Under 25 outdoor team competition and the indoor Derbyshire Trophy have been agreed at the annual meeting of the English Bowling Federation in Grantham.
Meeting earlier in the season at the Federation national championships in Skegness, delegates, including those from Northants, agreed that the current competitions were unsustainable in their present form but that proposals should be submitted that would receive the support of the appropriate majority of the 13 counties affiliated to the Federation.
This was achieved when it was decided on Saturday to reduce the Under 25 competition from four two-bowl triples rinks, to three rinks, therefore encouraging Lincolnshire to re-join Notts and Derbyshire in the northern section.
Norfolk, Northants and Hunts would continue in the southern group.
It was also agreed that players would be eligible for the Reg Wright competition as long as they were still 25 when the championships were completed.
As for the Derbyshire Trophy, Nottinghamshire, Humberside and Derbyshire will now challenge the previously unopposed Durham for a place in the final from the northern section. Cleveland have until the end of November to commit to the event in 2014-15.
Hunts, Norfolk, Lincs, North Cambs and Northants will battle it out in a round-robin competition in the south.
Matches will be played as four two-bowl triples rinks at one venue at home or away in alternate seasons, similar to current outdoor Adams-and Newton inter-county outdoor competitions.
Northants start their campaign away to Hunts on December 7 followed by Lincs at Stamford on January 11, North Cambs away on January 25 and Norfolk at Stamford on February 15.
Other highlights from the annual meeting included the decision to amalgamate the EBF and EWBF annual meetings. In future counties would be represented by two delegates from the women’s federation and two from the men.
A motion from Northants that Durham Centenary Trophy section finals be played on a neutral green – Parkway lost in 2014 at Cleethorpes – failed to receive a seconder.
Robert Robson (Durham) succeeds Bernie Millard (Suffolk) as national president while Ken Barnes (Northumberland) becomes deputy and Paul Bennett (North Cambs) Junior Deputy President.
Eric Clarke (North Cambs) and Alex Manson (Norfolk) were appointed life members.
Ketton bowler Bob Warters will serve for two years as President of the Northants Bowling Federation, to which his club is affiliated.
He took up the duties this week after a year as deputy to City of Peterborough BC's Malcolm Squires.
Bob follows in the footsteps of his late parents who were both Federation administrators for many years. Percy and Betty Warters served as national presidents of the English Bowling Federation in 1977 and 1979 respectively. Betty was also President of both the Northants Women's Bowling Federation and the Hunts Women's Bowling Association.
Accepting the position at the annual meeting of the NBF Bob (66) said: " It is a great honour and privilege to take on the duties of President. I know both my parents would be proud and hopefully we have further generations of the family coming through as bowlers. Indeed both our two grandchildren are showing promise, aged 11 and nine."
A former winner of the NBF triples, he is currently holder of the Lincolnshire Indoor Bowling Association Senior singles through his affiliation with Stamford IBC, where he serves on the management committee.
At the meeting in Peterborough, the Federation agreed not to pursue a motion to introduce tailored shorts for play in county competitions but supported a plan to reduce the Derbyshire Trophy inter county indoor competition to four rinks at one venue home or away in alternate years, instead of three rinks at home and three away simultaneously.
It was also agreed, in a further bid to attract more counties into the competition, to support a motion to reduce the number of rinks in the under 25 outdoor inter-county competition from four to three and to allow players to compete as long as they are under 25 on the last day of the national championships.
Richard Montgomery was awarded life membership of the Federation, having served as competition secretary for more than a decade. He will be succeeded by Barry Lawrence.
Officers re-elected included: Mike Ramsden (secretary), Les Sharp (treasurer), Alan Croxford (EBF delegate), Graham Agger (match secretary) Cliff Watson (Adams captain), Howard Shipp (Derbyshire captain).
New captain of the Newton team is Brian Bassam, while Malcolm Squires(City of Peterborough) and Paul Bailey (Blackstones) were elected to the committee.
Applications for tickets for the Northants Bowling Federation annual luncheon and awards presentations on Sunday September 21 (noon for 12.30) are now closed, having reached the 100 threshold..
If members have not applied or notified the organisers and want to be included, they will have to join a waiting list in case ticket-holders subseqently withdraw.
Ticket application form were circulated initially in March, through affiliated club secretaries and then immediately after the county outdoor finals in July with a deadline of August 29. Spaces at the event to be held at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough are strictly limited.
Hosted by county presidents Malcolm Squires and Valerie Du'Kett, the luncheon will be honoured by the attendance of English Federation National presidents Bernie Millard and Margaret Thorpe and their respective partners, with entertainment provided by magicians Learoyd and Le Clue.
Said county deputy president, Bob Warters: " We have been delighted by the response for tickets. We are sorry if some members miss out on the occasion but the event has been widely publicised in handbooks, on club noticeboards, on emails, on websites and in the press and we feel more than enough time has been given to apply.
"We are hopeful the event will provide a suitable climax to the indoor and outdoor seasons with appropriate trophy presentations and be a fitting tribute to the outstanding efforts of our respective presidents, who complete their duties in October."