Cheltenham-born junior international skip Andy Walters won the inaugural Avon Sports Maintenance West of England unified under-25 Champion of Champions singles championship at the Lake Grounds in Portishead on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Walters, who now lives in Broadway, Worcestershire, accounted for Herefordshire’s Shaun Jones 21-6 in the first round and reached the semi-finals with a hard-earned 21-15 win over Clevedon’s senior international Stef Branfield.
Devon’s Stacey Marsh made a brave show of it before Walters clinched a place in the final with a 21-13 victory and the Worcestershire star won the title with a 21-7 win over Ilminster’s Matt Hamilton.
Hamilton should not have been competing at all after losing to club-mate Louis Ridout in the Somerset final – but Ridout, who has been included in England’s squad for the world outdoor championships in Australia in November, was on national duty in the Midlands.
The event should have featured the men’s and women’s junior county champions of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Wiltshire and Warwickshire.
However, several counties failed to send contenders and sponsor Terry Phillips, of Avon Sports Maintenance, was disappointed that Dorset, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire were not represented.
Bath made history on Sunday when they completed a remarkable double in the finals of Somerset’s men’s and women’s inter-club championships – and became the first club to lift the Turnbull and Fear Cups in the same season.
While Bath’s men were always in charge against Bristol, winning on three of the four rinks, and by 82 shots to 66, the club’s ladies struggled to get on top of West Backwell, who led at first and won on two rinks out of three.
Joan Walmsley’s rink, who returned a 33-16 card against Yeovil in the morning semi- finals, were again on song, sweeping to a vital 33-10 win over Shirley Logan’s West Backwell rink, as Bath got home by six shots – 66-60.
In Bath men’s team there were many stand-out performers, but none better than Craig Doughty, who inspired his rink to a 28-15 win over a Bristol rink skipped by Jonny Lampard.
Perhaps the most remarkable game of the season took place on an end rink, alongside the hubbub of the Turnbull Cup final, where the fate of the Somerset women’s pairs championship was decided.
In a nutshell, Christine Pratten and Margaret Dyer, from Clevedon Promenade, defeated Clevedon’s Laura Holden and Stef Branfield 24-12, but the real story was in the incredible contrast in their ages.
Holden, a junior international, is not yet 20, and, while Branfield is a senior England player, she is only 22, but their opponents, who are sisters, are both octogenarians – so it was a case of forty years facing something in excess of 160.
Such an age-range could not possibly happen in any other sport and it was a bit extreme even for bowls, which lives up to Sport England’s old motto as the Sport for All.
A few weeks back, Branfield skipped a Clevedon triple to the county title, beating a Promenade trio skipped by the vastly experienced indoor international Dyer, but this time age triumphed over youth.
For Pratten, it was a very special moment, because, although her sister has won a shedload of honours, it was her (Pratten’s) first Somerset title.
“It was worth waiting for,” Pratten said. “On the day, I must admit we had the rub of the green – but I know the youngsters will live to fight another day.”
Box Ladies mounted their annual challenge for the national Top Club title at the weekend, when the final stages were once again held on the Victoria Park greens in Royal Leamington Spa.
Box’s bid for the Bausch & Lomb Trophy was short-lived – they suffered a 3-1 quarter- final defeat at the hands of the canny Cumbrians from Wigton, who went on to take the title.
Kayley Manns, from Yeovil, has been chosen as reserve for England’s under-18 team in the British Isles junior series in Stanley next month.
Simon Barnard, from Taunton, who had already done the double by winning the Somerset singles and pairs, made it three county titles when he steered Burnham-on-Sea’s Tom Shattock to a 16-15 victory over Matt Hamilton and Louis Ridout in the final of the under-25 two-wood pairs championship at Winscombe.
A potentially great season ended in disappointment for Westlecot’s 55-year-old star Mel Biggs, who not only lost 21-20 to Bill McCay, from Chippenham Town, in the Wiltshire singles final, but, with clubmate Mike Jackson, bit the dust in the pairs final, which Town’s Dave Godwin and Paul MacDonald won 16-15.
Biggs bit back and found consolation in the fours, skipping club-mates Ian Jefferies, Graham Hatherall and Jackson to a 23-12 win over a Spencer Moulton quartet skipped by Graham Shadwell.
Wootton Bassett trio James Nobbs, Neil Smith and Gary Morphet, still on cloud nine after bagging the runners-up spot in the national championships in Worthing, made no mistake in the triples final, subjecting Mike Richards, Hatherall and Jackson to a sound 23-6 beating.
Devon’s youngsters posted a big 115-67 win over an exceptionally young Somerset team, only four of whose players were over 18, when the last of the season’s under-25 inter-county fixtures was played at Queen Camel last week.
“We had two ten-year-olds – Taunton Deane’s Tommy Chilcott and Ollie Kemp, from Yeovil – in our side,” said Somerset’s Middleton Cup team manager Don Fowkes. “They did ever so well, and, with the help of Clevedon’s James Branfield, I see a bright future for the county.”
The summer season for competitors in the Somerset Bowls League came to an end with Ilminster A on top of the Premier Division thanks to a dramatic 53-52 (9-3) away win over Portishead Royal British Legion.
One rink up, one rink down, and the third rink tied: it could hardly have been tighter. Just a couple more shots to the Legion, and they would have won the match by the same 9-3 scoreline – and would have lifted the trophy.
Ilminster’s narrow victory was enough to consign their hosts to third place with Clevedon A sneaking in as runners- up, while Street A and Purnell A won promotion from Premier Two to take the places of Taunton A and Victoria A, who are relegated.
In last week’s column, Wrington were incorrectly shown as relegated from North Two of the Somerset League.
In fact, the four teams being relegated to North Three are Mark Moor, Bristol C, Chew Stoke B and Portishead.
Women’s national Bausch & Lomb Top Club Championship at Royal Leamington Spa – Quarter-finals: Wigton (Cumbria) bt Box (Wilts) 3-1; Didcot (Berks) bt March Town (Cambs) 4-0; Croydon (Surrey) bt Broadway (Worcs) 2-2 (77-75); Wellingborough (Northants). Bt Forest Oaks (Notts) 2.5-1.5. Semi-finals: Wigton bt Didcot 4-0; Croydon bt Wellingborough 3-1. Final: Wigton bt Croydon 2.5-1.5.
England team for the under-18 international series in Stanley (13/14 October): Ryan Atkins (Malvern Hills); Bernard ‘BJ’ Byles (Desborough, Maidenhead); Connor Cinato (Desborough, Northants); Noah Cummings (Darlington); Edward Elmore (City of Ely); Sarah Gove (City of Ely); Travis Meller (Isle of Wight); Matthew Ray (Hartlepool); Katherine Rednall (Ipswich); Lloyd Sabatini (Essex Co). Reserves: Laura Clarke (York) Kayley Manns (Yeovil).
Avon Sportsground Maintenance West of England Junior Championships at Portishead (September 15) – Last 16: Rhian Pollard (Cornwall) w/o Alex Wickham (Wilts) scr; Andy Walters (Worcs) v Shaun Jones (Herefs); Darren James (Devon) w/o Dan Ward (Warks) scr; Matt Hamilton (Somerset) bt Kate Williams (Herefs) 21-3; Amy Stanton (Worcs) bt David Iddles (Cornwall) 21-16. Quarter-finals: Stacey Marsh (Devon) bt Pollard 21-3; Walters bt Branfield 21-15; James w/o Charlie Harding (Wilts) scr; Hamilton bt Stanton 21-11. Semi-finals: Walters bt Marsh 21-13; Hamilton bt James 21-18. Final: Walters bt Hamilton 21-7.
Somerset County Championship Finals at Ashcombe (W-s-M) Men’s inter-club (Turnbull Cup):- Bath bt Bristol 82-66 – Rink scores (Bath names first): J Freeman, R Crouch, G Luker, D McGovern 19, J Ovens, R Johnson, M Smith, P Birmingham 12; C Feltham, D Taylor, D Lawrence, T Perkins 13, E Hopegood, A Forster, D Alder, N Yeoman 23; A Gilbert, R Cox, R Doughty, G Hall 22, D Churchill, C Tidcombe, K Rowdon, S Wiltshire 16; A Taylor, W Alexander, J Matthews, C Doughty 28, L Barnes, R Lampard, B Barry, J Lampard 15.
Women’s inter-club (Fear Cup):Bath bt West Backwell 66-60 – Rink scores (Bath first); S Crouch, S Muggleton, C Ball, J Walmsley 33, J Ratcliffe, V Ray, C B Wright, S Logan 10; C Elley, J Stafford, P Cox, C Shearing 12, J Jackson, P Topley, V Peckham, C Burgess 27; J Trotman, P Knee, C Symonds, J Staunton 21, K Keightley, S Claxton, S Meekcoms, J Light 23.
Women’s inter-club (Fear Plate) – Weston St Andrew’s bt Long Ashton 78-54 – Rink scores (St Andrew’s skips first): M Favis 31, D Macklin 18; A Campbell 20, C Burgess 19; M Pattenden 27, S Hall 17.
Women’s pairs: C Pratten & M Dyer (Clevedon Promenade) bt L Holden & S Branfield (Clevedon) 24-12.
At Winscombe, Men’s under-25 pairs: T Shattock (Burnham-on-Sea) & S Barnard (Taunton) bt M Hamilton & L Ridout (Ilminster) 16-15.
Dorset women’s county finals at Blandford Forum – Four-wood singles: J Leake (Poole Park) bt K Desmond (Greenhill) 21-0. Two-wood singles: M Crawford (Greenhill) bt W Hardy (Poole Park) 14-9. Pairs: J Leake & P Cresswell (Poole Park) bt C Sexton & M Wilson (Wimborne) 22-9. Triples: P Fordham, S Rowe, L Howard (Broadstone) bt D Towndrow, L Ritchie, M Ridd (Greenhill) 22-17. Fours: A Walford, W Hardy, J Leake, P Cresswell (Poole Park) bt S Burton, J Steele, E Males, F Yates (Blandford) 17-13. Benevolent triples: M Bishop, A Dennis, S Burton (Blandford) bt C Hann, J Steele, J Andrews (Blandford) 19-10. Unbadged singles: A Dennis (Blandford) bt H Dowling (Lyme Regis) 21-15. Coburn Trophy: E Walker (Gillingham) bt M Crawford (Greenhill) 14-9. Mixed Fours: F Wood, J Collier, J Andrews, S Clayton (Blandford) bt H Dowling, L Beadsley, C Barber and C Barber (Lyme Regis) 13-12. Edna Paisley inter-club trophy: Shaftesbury bt Melcombe Regis 40-33.
Wiltshire men’s county championships finals at Devizes – Singles: W McCay (Chippenham Town) bt M Biggs (Westlecot) 21-20. Pairs: D Godwin & P Macdonald (Chippenham Town) bt M Jackson & M Biggs (Westlecot) 16-15. Triples: J Nobbs, N Smith, G Morphet (Wootton Bassett) bt M Richards, G Hatherall, M Jackson (Westlecot) 23-6. Fours: I Jefferies, G Hatherall, M Jackson, M Biggs (Westlecot) bt T Keating, A Keirl, R Francis, G Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) 23-12. Under 25 singles: T Walkley (Wootton Bassett) bt A Wickham (Chippenham Town) 21-11. Champion of Champions singles: K Bailey (Holt) bt G Morphet (Wootton Bassett) 21-18. Two-wood singles: G Hatherall (Westlecot) bt R Francis (Spencer Moulton) 17-8. Unbadged singles: G Jackson (Westlecot) bt R Chalmers (Chippenham Town) 21-17. Over 60 triples: D Edmonds, H Jones, A Small (Wootton Bassett) bt B Reynolds, C Hicks, M Curtis (Malmesbury) 24-15. Tourist Trophy: Spencer Moulton bt Chippenham Town 48-39. Four fours league trophy: Holt bt Spencer Moulton 14-0. Greenkeepers’ Cup: K Carter (Highworth) bt B Coles (Wroughton) 21-10. Secretary & Treasurer Pairs: R Ellis & J Bull (Amesbury) bt A Fail & P Boyles (Purton) 19-10. Club Officers triples: D Gray, J Davis, W Simmonds (Holt) bt J Crowder, D Holland, M Lockey (Avon) 25-11. Mixed double rink: Spencer Moulton bt Avon 45-30.
Wiltshire women’s county championships finals at Devizes – Champion of Champions singles: L Kingston (Highworth) bt M Annetts (Salisbury) 21-17. Unbadged two-wood singles: M Hartley (Spencer Moulton) bt B Lilley (Devizes) 16-8. Benevolent triples: A Roberts-Phare, J Harris, F Mace (North Wilts) bt A Roberts, W Gaisford, M Alexander (Devizes) 13-10.
County matches – at Swindon Town Gardens: Wilts Women bt Wilts Men 138-106 (Women first): J Corbett 27, J Lucas 13; M Cottle 16, G Anetts 26; M Buckle 26, R Hindley 15; B Salter 29, B Merritt 17; S Burgess 20, M Salter 13; M Annetts 20, B Fredericks 22.
Under-25 match at Queen Camel: Devon bt Somerset 115-67 (Devon names first): T Bryant, J Webber, J Chapman, D Ferris 22, S Easterby, R Hooper, L Townsend, M Mattravers 20; N Slee, L Jones, S Harris, J Hampton 16, L Fisher, E Dando, E Bruce, A Poolman 20; A Clements, J Lenton, R Clements, W Stevens 28, J Groves, S Davis, B Francis, G Aldridge 13; L Crawford, M Slee, J Tinham, J Hoaen 23, T Chilcott, D Chilcott, L Hembrow, T Shattock 5; I Daniels, A Takle, S Boddy, A Milford 26, O Kemp, C Francis, T Adams, C Spurrey 9.
Co-operative Funeralcare Clevedon & District League Champion of Champions finals – Singles: D Gregory (P’head RBL) bt D Everett (Clevedon Prom) 21-15. Pairs: M Adams & T Ellis (Winscombe) bt T Birth & D Gregory (P’head RBL) 21-19.
Co-operative Funeralcare Clevedon & District Over-60 league – final standings: 1 Portishead RBL 120.5pts; 2 Clevedon 114; 3 Clevedon Prom 101.5; 4 Congresbury 90; 5 Nailsea 89.5; 6 Winscombe 66; 7 West Backwell 65; 9 Portishead 44; 10 Long Ashton 34.
Over-60 triples final: R Withey, P Davies, A Spencer (P’head RBL) bt G Lerway, T Hounslow, M Lockett (P’head) 20-9.