It’s tough at the top! Your weekly bowls round-up
It’s a tough school, the Mirfield Bowls League. Yorkshire’s top level and arguably the best anywhere in the game, make sure you tune in each week to the Horbury & Ossett Community News for all the latest reports.
Finally. Finally, a balmy June evening with the sun on your back, even up the hill at Denby Grange in Overton. The perfect weather for this summer game. With most players in shorts (to be fair, Denby’s hardman Stephen ‘Licker’ Walker was wearing shorts in April’s sub-zero hailstorms!) it felt great to be back out doing what we love. Crossgates provided the next tough opposition for top-flight new boys, Denby Grange. ‘Gates captain Kez ‘Colonel Sanders’ Smith chose to go in with a very strong first four and the lads from behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken hut were finger licking good. With three winners from those first four Crossgates powered into the lead. Denby’s fightback just came up three chalks short. In an otherwise high-scoring match, weekend tournament champ Gaz Coates starred for Denby with 21-10. Jonny ‘The Big Eel’ Wilcox slithered in a 21-13 response to leave the Denby lads licking their wounds. Denby 5 Crossgates 7.
Yes, it’s tough at the top, but even tougher at the bottom when things aren’t going your way. Our other local club, Ossett Flying Horse, entertained new league leaders Lower Hopton ‘A’. Whilst there were quite a few close games on the night, all Fly have to show for it are two narrow victories from Adam Ward (21-19) and Danny Towning (21-20). Hopton ran riot, staking their claim as real title contenders. Pick of the Hopton bunch with an outstanding 21-5 was Graeme Wilson, one of the best ever crown green bowlers. Ossett Flying Horse 2 Lower Hopton ‘A’ 10. It’s the school of hard knocks right now for the Flying Horse. Hopton are simply flying.
Lower Hopton unusually have two teams in the top division, such is their strength in depth. Hopton ‘B’ are battling at the other end of a very competitive table and just fell short at home to a superb performance from Crosland Moor. There were big wins in both directions, the best Hopton ‘B’ card coming from experienced homester Ian Newby with 21-8, just pipping Paul ‘Ding’ Ingleby to take home the Hopton kitty money. In reply two 21-9s from Gary Siswick and Mike Sweeney would normally be good enough away from home to win some brass. Terry Brook is in top form for Crosland Moor, though, and his 21-7 topped the pile. Hopton ‘B’ 5 Crosland Moor 7.
Over in Pudsey another high-scoring contest between Littlemoor and visitors from South Yorkshire, Dearne Sports, ended in an 8-4 win for the home team. Whilst Littlemoor will rue their two 20-21 defeats, nearly all of the players on both sides got to within striking distance of victory in a tight affair. Marc Armitage produced Littlemoor’s best card of the night with 21-10. For Dearne South Yorkshire county star, Ross Meese, continued his good form to sweep up the Dearne kitty with a 21-13. The 8-4 result cements both clubs into mid-table safety, but a couple of results can make a big difference at this level.
Finally, the game that would have been Match of the Day (if, in an alternative universe, bowls were the new football) – Thongsbridge at home to Pudsey BC. With three or four clubs in the title race these games are crucial. Let’s go over to our pundits in the Holme Valley at the ‘Theatre of Custard Creams’….I mean ‘Theatre of Dreams’. In the studio on the bowls hut balcony the experts point out that it’s not just the proverbial six-pointer….more like a 24-pointer, Gary! The game itself was high scoring, with two well-matched teams and just 14 chalks in the aggregate in favour of the home side. It was a game of two halves in the battle of Doncaster lads, Mark Booth and Dave Poole. Pudsey’s Poole shot into the lead, but Booth’s swashbuckling recovery to win 21-16 kept the aggregate safe for Thongsbridge. Elsewhere Mark Bramall was in excellent form for the ‘Bridge, storming to the sweep with a 21-11. Former British champion Chris ‘T-Rex’ Mordue was outstanding again for Pudsey, his 21-11 pipping son Josh to the Pudsey prizemoney. There is consolation for Josh as he tops the league averages on 7 (the vidiprinter would say ‘SEVEN’) straight wins. Thongsbridge 9 Pudsey 3. Feeling they deserved more, ‘Top Club’ are no longer top of the league, but things change quickly in the Mirfield League. It’s tough at the top!
Standings after week 7:
Lower Hopton WMC ‘A’ 56
Thongsbridge C & BC 56
Pudsey BC 51
Crossgates BC 45
Crosland Moor 41
Dearne Sports 40
Denby Grange BC 36
Lower Hopton WMC 'B' 34
Ossett Flying Horse 20
In Division 3 Ossett C&AC batted back after a disappointing result last week. Three of the Ossett Cricket lads didn’t quite stay long enough at the crease, making an innings but just not quite getting over the line. The other seven managed successful knocks though against a good Cleckheaton Sports side, with Rob Dunford top bat on 21-6. Michael Rhodes hit the best road for Cleck with 21-17. 9-3 to Ossett Cricket keeps the lads from Dimple Wells tucked in behind the leaders.
Whilst Horbury WMC remain bottom of the table, things are looking up for the troop from Cluntergate. A 6-6 home draw against a very strong looking Shipley Club was a good effort, including three 21-13 cards from Paul Hawes, Andy Hoult and Gareth Gidman. Paul Kaye’s 21-7 response for Shipley was a blow for Horbury and Graeme Dytiche, then Chris Bedford also chipped in with big Shipley wins to seal the aggregate.
Thornhill top Division 4 after a resounding home win against Ossett Flying Horse ‘B’. 12-0 to the home side and a massive aggregate win to boot – it doesn’t get more convincing! Gary Mountain’s 21-4 was the pick of the Thornhill cards, but Martin Laycock, Brian Sweeney and Steve Wainwright weren’t far behind. For the Fly the experienced Graham Blenkinsop (who played for Fly’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams on the same night!) got closest to the all-important 21.
New boys Denby Grange ‘B’ still prop up the table after a 9-3 away defeat at Kirkheaton Con ‘B’. James Makepeace starred for Denby with 21-11. Jack Wareing’s stunning 21-2 for Kirkheaton took their kitty. They look a very strong second team, Kirkheaton, and I’d expect them to be challenging Thornhill for the title as the season hits its business end.
Entries are now open for the Mirfield Individual Merit, with qualifying rounds on Tuesday 29th June and finals day on Sunday 18th July. Closing date for entries is 15th June and – if you are Mirfield League registered – you can enter here! https://forms.gle/ExTaTYiCcAxeGasM8
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