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Somerset stalwart Martin makes writing his main aim

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 12, 2012

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Author Mike Martin is retiring from his position as General Secretary of the unified Somerset Bowls Association – in order to concentrate on his burgeoning career as a writer.

“I’ve been playing bowls for a long time, and have been involved in the administration of the sport for more than 30 years, and I have just had enough,” said Martin after he had skipped Yeovil to victory in the Somerset men’s fours championship.

“I’m giving up bowls altogether, which means I will not be playing at all,” he added. “For the present, I will simply continue as President of the Yeovil Bowls and Squash Club.

“Bowls can be such a tie, and I find that I no longer get any enjoyment from the admin, and little fun from playing. I’ve been thinking of giving up for the past couple of years. Rest assured, I will find plenty to occupy my time.”

Under his pen-name of Michael Marr, the burly 64-year-old, who was born in Weston-super-Mare has had two novels published – Baber’s Apple and Three Jumper – and a whimsical collection of his poems and other writings, called “A Bag of Bowls”, is available from Amazon as a Kindle product.

County competitions secretary Dawn Barnaby confessed she was bitterly disappointed when Martin announced his retirement: “Mike was a tower of strength during the recent unification process. He will be very difficult to replace,” she said.

Recently awarded Life Membership of the SBA, Martin’s firm leadership will be missed in the corridors of power. He served as Somerset’s competitions secretary for many years, and, as League secretary, was responsible for the introduction of the county league in 1999.

But he was also a nifty performer on the green, having represented Somerset in the Middleton Cup ‘on and off’ between 2003 and 2011. He also reached five county finals, thus qualifying for the national championships at Worthing on five occasions.

“I suppose I should be delighted that I finished off my career by skipping a Yeovil club four to the county title last week,” he said. “I cannot envisage capping it for a playing achievement.”

As mentioned above, Mike Martin skipped Yeovil to victory against the favourites from Ilminster in the Somerset fours championship when the county finals were held at his home green last week.

But it was Taunton’s 24-year-old star Simon Barnard who stole the show by doing the double, winning the singles title and, with clubmate James Avery, the pairs.

In the women’s events, Clevedon’s Stef Branfield won the singles and under 25 singles, as well as the triples titles – and could boost her haul to four titles if, with clubmate Laura Holden, she can win the pairs at Portishead on Sunday.

With Clevedon’s two clubs pretty well monopolising finals day in the women’s events, Branfield beat clubmate Lyn Palmer in the singles final, and skipped mum Jackie Branfield and Holden to a win over Margaret Dyer’s Promenade trio in the triples final.

Branfield accounted for Holden in the under 25 singles final, while a Clevedon quartet skipped by Lyn Palmer defeated Dyer’s team in the fours final.

Spectators who make their way to the Lake Grounds on Sunday are in for a rare treat – not only are former national junior champions Holden and Branfield taking on Promenade sisters Chris Pratten and Margaret Dyer in the pairs final, but Bath are facing Bristol in the final of the men’s Turnbull Cup.

History, of a kind, was made at Yeovil, when the county’s ‘Open’ singles was won by Mike Rae, from Street: It was the third year that this new event has been played, but the first time that it has been won by someone of the male gender.

An extra end was required in the mixed pairs final before Fosseway’s Celia Sobey and Tony Cooper got the verdict against Bloomfield duo Lyn Newport and Kevin Jones.

Bath’s Craig Doughty surprised Ilminster’s Louis Ridout, beating him, 15-9, in the men’s two-wood singles final, while Kirsty Hembrow, from Taunton Deane, overwhelmed Clevedon Prom’s Lois Greeves, 19-7, in the equivalent women’s event.

Ilminster’s Louis Ridout set off for Glasgow with a spring in his step at the weekend, hoping to help England to victory in the British men’s under 25 international series – but he came back with nothing to show for his efforts.

England took what looked like winning leads against Ireland and Scotland in their first two matches, but were disappointingly overhauled – and they suffered another defeat at the hands of Wales, who won the title for the first time for ten years.

Skipping a rink at this level for the first time, Ridout found it hard going, losing 22-12 to Ireland, and 23-12 against Wales, but did manage a creditable 19-19 tie in the game against Scotland.

The Box club are among the favourites to win the national women’s Bausch & Lomb Top Club title at Royal Leamington Spa this weekend, but they face a tough test in Saturday’s quarter finals, when they meet top Cumbrian side, Wigton.

Their confidence was boosted last weekend, when they recorded a good 3-1 win over Chippenham Town and retained their Bowls Wiltshire Top Ten title.

The Box club, situated right at the heart of the village in the picturesque Bybrook Valley, has qualified for the national quarter finals four times in five years, finishing fifth in 2008, and third in 2010 and 2011.

“We only have 19 women members, so it is a bit surprising that we have done so well,” said club secretary Jean Collier, who is also a key member of the team. “But we have a strong competitive spirit, and are happy to fly the flag for Wiltshire.”

Three years ago the club received a visit from the Duchess of Cornwall, who, after opening the new pavilion, bravely rose to the challenge of putting a few bowls up the green – and actually performed quite creditably.

This Saturday, a brand-new inter-county event at Portishead blazes a trail for the West of England’s top youngsters in an exciting event sponsored by leading green-keeping firm Avon Sportsground Maintenance.

The under 25 champions of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, who make up the West region will be doing battle for the inaugural West of England Champion of Champions title. Also on Saturday, the Clarence club in Weston-super-Mare are hosting a six-rink team from Friends of English Bowling to acknowledge the club’s achievement in being award the national Club of the Year title in 2011.

British men’s under 25 international series at Uddingston (Glasgow) Ireland bt England 120-102 – Rink scores (Ire skips first): @A Duncan 23, S Tolchard 27; G Kelly 23, R Catton 14; S Colvin 22, L Ridout 12; S Cavan 14, W Willgress 15; R Allen 14, T Morton 21; S Leonard 24, A Walters 13. Wales bt Scotland 118-114 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): P Taylor 26, C Logan 15; J Skinner 20, D Miller 22; A Hopkins 17, K Anderson 21; M Thomas 22, G Sloan 16; D Davies 18, K Wallace 24; R Owen 15, M Kelsey 16. Scotland bt England 126-114 – Rink scores (Scot skips first): K Wallace 17, T Morton 24; M Kelsey 26, A Walters 16; C Logan 22, S Tolchard 15; D Miller 19, R Catton 21; K Anderson 19, L Ridout 19; G Sloan 23, W Willgress 19. Wales bt Ireland 131-104 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): D Davies 30, R Allen 22; R Owen 23, S Leonard 15; P Taylor 19, A Duncan 13; J Skinner 16, G Kelly 24; A Hopkins 20, S Colvin 17. Wales bt England 127-119 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): A Hopkins 23, L Ridout 12; M Thomas 28, W Willgress 17; D Davies 24, T Morton 22; R Owen 16, J Walker 20; P Taylor 14, S Tolchard 26; J Skinner 22, R Catton 22. Scotland bt Ireland 149-108 – Rink scores (Scot skips first): K Anderson 32, S Colvin 24; G Sloan 25, S Cavan 11; K Wallace 22, R Allen 24; M Kelsey 24, S Leonard 17 C Logan 25, A Duncan 18; D Miller 21, G Kelly 14. Final standings: 1 Wales 6pts (+39 shots); 2 Scotland 4pts (+49); 3 Ireland 2pts (-50); 4 England 0pts (-22).

Women’s national Baush & Lomb Top Club championship at Royal Leamington Spa (15/16 Sept) – Draw for quarter-finals: @Box (Wilts) v Wigton (Cumbria); March Town (Cambs) v Didcot (Berks); Croydon (Surrey) v Broadway (Worcs); Forest Oaks (Notts) v Wellingborough (Northants). Box team to play Wigton:- Singles: Janet Hardie. Pairs: Karen Funnell & Alex Jacobs. Triples: Lolly Braddon, Jean Collier, Sue Cooke. Fours: Molly Manning, Judy Selbie, Sue Dix, Carol Grenfell. Reserves: Joyce Funnell, Sandra Richardson, Ruby Houston.

Avon Sportsground Maintenance West of England junior championships at Portishead (15 September) – Draw: @Alex Wickham (Wilts) v Rhian Pollard (Cornwall); Stacey Marsh (Devon) v A N Other (tba); Andrew Walters (Worcs) v Shaun Jones (Herefs); Stef Branfield (Somerset) v A N Other (tba); Daniel Ward (Warks) v Darren James (Devon); Charlie Harding (Wilts) v A N Other (tba); Matt Hamilton (Somerset) v Kate Williams (Herefs); Amy Stanton (Worcs) v David Iddles (Cornwall).

Somerset county finals at Yeovil, Women – Four-wood singles: @S Branfield (Clevedon) bt L Palmer (Clevedon) 21-9. Two-wood singles: K Hembrow (Taunton Deane) bt L Greeves (Promenade) 19-7. Under 25 Singles: S Branfield (Clevedon) bt L Holden (Clevedon) 21-10. Pairs: L Holden & S Branfield (Clevedon) v C Pratten & M Dyer (Promenade) to be played at Ashcombe on 16 September. Triples: J Branfield, L Holden, S Branfield (Clevedon) bt A Johnstone, S Walker, M Dyer (Promenade) 24-13. Fours: P Hussey, A Ford, S Bird, L Palmer (Clevedon) bt A Johnstone, S Farndon, C Pratten, M Dyer (Promenade) 19-8. Under 25 pairs: B McMillan (Clarence) & K Holmes (Yeovil) bt K Manns (Yeovil) & K Hembrow (Taunton Deane) 20-11. Unbadged singles: V Buick (Clarence) bt L Newport (Fosseway) 21-5. Benevolent triples: A Ward, J Binding, EWilliams (Wessex) bt M Husband, V Buller, S Every (Williton) 22-8. Top Ten (Southey Trophy): Ilminster bt Clevedon 2-2 (71-70) – Ilminster names first: Singles – A Watkins 21, L Holden 13; Pairs – M Woodland & H Sims 14, S Short & S Branfield 24; Triples – H Collins, N Pugh, C Davies 10, P Hussey, S Bird, J Branfield 19; Fours – S Crouch, R Grout, M Mitchell, J Checketts 26, A Ford, M Foster, J Drewitt, L Palmer 14.

Men – Four-wood singles: @S Barnard (Taunton) bt P Mattravers (Ilminster) 21-15. Two-wood singles: C Doughty (Bath) bt L Ridout (Ilminster) 15-9. Under 25 singles: L Ridout (Ilminster) bt M Hamilton (Ilminster) 21-9. Pairs: S Barnard & J Avery (Taunton) bt M Hamilton & N Kunc (Ilminster) 18-11. Triples: R Williams, S Salter, T Salter (Street) bt P Cowley, J Davis, M Clutterbuck (Castle Cary) 17-11. Fours: R Ross, R Dyer, B Colvin, M Martin (Yeovil) bt M Hamilton, S Turner, N Kunc, L Ridout (Ilminster) 25-18. Under 25 pairs: T Shattock (Burnham-on-Sea) & Simon Barnard (Taunton) v M Hamilton & L Ridout (Ilminster) (to be played at Winscombe on 11 September – 1830hrs – finish around 2100hrs). Unbadged singles: P Villis (St Andrews) bt T Priddle (Purnell) 21-12.

Mixed Open singles:@ M Rae (Street) bt P Mattravers (Ilminster) 21-18. Secretaries singles: J Ferguson (North Petherton) bt M Adams (Winscombe) 21-14. Mixed pairs: C Sobey & T Cooper (Fosseway) bt L Newport & K Jones (Bloomfield) 21-20 (aee).

Bowls Wiltshire women’s Top Ten championship final at Devizes: @ Box bt Chippenham Town 3-1 (Box names first):- Singles: J Hardie lost to I Button 4-21. Pairs: K Funnell & A Jacobs bt D Toms & B Land 22-14. Triples: L Braddon, J Collier, S Cooke bt C & V Lucas, B Shepheard 20-11. Fours: M Manning, J Warren, S Dix, C Grenfell bt R Caddick, P Simmonds, J Boden, Y Sabin 23-12.

Somerset Bowls League final positions – Premier 1: @1 Ilminster A 86pts; 2 Clevedon A 83; 3 Portishead RBL A 80; 4 Bristol A 73; 5 Bath A 66; 6 Watchet A 57; 7 Yeovil A 56; 8 Banwell A 55; 9 Bloomfield A 45; 10 Taunton A 33; 11 Victoria A 26. Relegated to Premier 2: Taunton A; Victoria A.

Premier 2: 1 Street A 92pts; 2 Purnell A 88; 3 Clevedon Promenade A 57; 4 Weston (Bath) A 56; 5 Knowle A 56; 6 Nailsea A 49; 7 Chew Stoke A 49; 8 North Petherton A 44; 9 Wyrral Park A 27; 10 Minehead A 22. Promoted: Street A; Purnell A. Relegated: Wyrral Park A; Minehead A.

East 1: 1 Bath B 90pts; 2 Knowle B 84; 3 Norwest A 81; 4 Stothert & Pitt A 70; 5 Frome Park A 66; 6 Alexandra A 50; 7 Fosseway 49; 8 Keynsham A 49; 9 Purnell B 43; 10 City of Wells 33; 11 Imperial A 30. Promoted to Premier 2: Bath B. Relegated: City of Wells; Imperial A. East 2: 1 Frome Selwood 122pts; 2 Paulton 108; 3 Bloomfield B 102; 4 Weston (Bath) B 92; 5 Keynsham B 78; 6 Alexandra B 73; 7 Sydney Gardens 66; 8 Prattens 60; 9 Bath C 56; 10 Norwest B 53; 11 Bloomfield C 51; 12 Frome Park B 32; 13 Weston (Bath) C 25. Promoted: Frome Selwood; Paulton; Bloomfield B. Relegated: Frome Park; Weston (Bath) C. East 3: 1 Knowle C 104pts; 2 Purnell C 74; 3 Imperial B 60; 4 Stothert & Pitt B 44; 5 Norwest C 31; 6 Keynsham C 27. Promoted: Knowle C; Purnell C.

North 1: 1 Clarence A 92pts; 2 Bristol B 78; 3 West Backwell 78; 4 Congresbury A 76; 5 Portishead RBL B 61; 6 Winscombe A 61; 7 Isle of Wedmore A 58; 8 Burnham-on-Sea A 58; 9 Clevedon B 45; 10 Ashcombe A 44; 11 Banwell B 3. Promoted to Premier 2: Clarence A. Relegated: Ashcombe A; Banwell B. North 2: 1 St Andrew’s A 123pts; 2 Yatton A 101; 3 Winscombe B 92; 4 Yatton B 88; 5 Victoria B 80; 6 Portishead RBL C 71; 7 Ashcombe B 65; 8 Isle of Wedmore B 65; 9 Wrington 60; 10 Mark Moor 56; 11 Bristol C 52; 12 Chew Stoke B 39. Promoted: St Andrew’s A; Yatton A; Winscombe B. Relegated: Wrington; Mark Moor; Bristol C; Chew Stoke B. North 3: 1 St Andrew’s B 85pts; 2 Nailsea B 76; 3 Burnham-on-Sea B 72; 4 Clevedon Promenade B 65; 5 Victoria C 65; 6 Clarence B 63; 7 Congresbury B 46; 8 Clevedon Promenade C 25; 9 Ashcombe C 24; 10 Victoria D 19. Promoted: St Andrew’s B; Nailsea B; Burnham-on-Sea B.

South West 1: 1 Bridgwater A 99pts; 2 Taunton Deane A 97; 3 Yeovil B 95; 4 Williton 89; 5 Ilminster B 89; 6 Westland Sports A 67; 7 Crewkerne 60; 8 Wellington A 58; 9 Bridgwater B 37; 10 North Petherton B 35; 11 Taunton Deane B 31; 12 Yeovil C 29. Promoted to Premier 2: Bridgwater A. Relegated: North Petherton B; Taunton Deane B; Yeovil C. South West 2: 1 Watchet B 93pts; 2 Taunton B 91; 3 Bridgwater Victoria Park 87; 4 Eastover Park 76; 5 Wellington B 69; 6 Street B 64; 7 Taunton C 61; 8 Wyrral Park B 59; 9 Ilminster C 49; 10 Yeovil D 49; 11 Minehead B 47; 12 Westland Sports B 11. Promoted: Watchet B; Taunton B; Bridgwater Victoria Park.

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