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9 March 2020

In the last 3 years Herefordshire teams have been making an impact at national level with increasingly impressive performances in both the Inter County Championship and the National Championships. This upward trajectory has now culminated in a first ever national title being brought back to the county with the 2020 National Mixed Fours Championship, held in Solihull, being won by Kate Williams (Ross), Shirley Cox, John Mills (Woolhope) and Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel). Three of the four players had previously equalled the county’s best ever showing at the Nationals by reaching the 2018 semi-finals of this discipline but this time they went all the way to the title.

The Herefordshire four dominated their qualifying group, winning all 3 of their games to top the group and progress to the knockout stages which would prove to be tense and exciting throughout.  Their first 3 knockout rounds all resulted in tied matches which had to be decided by an extra end. First up were a Cheshire side who almost ended the run before it had begun - leading Herefordshire by 3 shots going into the last end before a 3 from Herefordshire forced the tie and the extra end which they won to progress. The situation was reversed in the next round as Herefordshire conceded a score of 3 to Dorset in the final end before again winning the resulting extra end. Herefordshire once again came from behind against a Hampshire team in the quarter finals to force the extra end and match their previous run to the semi-finals. Trailing again by 3 shots going into the last end in the semi-final against an Avon foursome, Herefordshire held their nerve superbly and scored 4 to win the game by a single shot and secure their place in the final. They started the final against North Yorkshire slowly and trailed 7-3 after 5 ends but the match was turned on its head by Herefordshire scoring a magnificent 7 in the 6th end to take a lead which they never surrendered, seeing the game out with a 12-10 victory to secure the county’s historic first ever national title.

This tremendous result comes at the end of a memorable season for Joe Loveys who now has a national title to sit alongside his record breaking five county championship successes. This win will also provide an extra boost to the Herefordshire players who compete in the 4 remaining Nationals disciplines in early April.

4 February 2020

Gorsley Chapel bowler Joe Loveys completed an unprecedented clean sweep of 5 county short mat bowls titles with success in the Mixed Fours discipline alongside Lea’s Merion Attwood and Shirley and Becci Cox of Woolhope. A field of 10 teams competed in this latest championship and Joe’s team won their round robin group before defeating a Weston team in their semi-final. The team who had to try and stop them in the final was made up of Claire Herbert (Ross), David Millington Jones & Peter Wright (Weston) and Jill Howells (Golden Valley) who had taken their place in the final after an extra end when their semi-final against a Ross team was tied. Despite a resilient performance there was no stopping Joe and his team who took a 12-7 victory and the title.

The same weekend saw the inaugural Over 55 Pairs county championship competition with the 15 teams competing safe in the knowledge that it would be over 30 years before Joe Loveys would be eligible to enter this discipline. At the quarter-final stage Fownhope and Weston were each represented by two teams but only one of those reached the semi-finals where the Weston team of David Millington Jones and Peter Wright had a narrow victory over Tony Vitale (Larruperz) and Ian Park (Ross) to move into the final. The other semi-final saw Sue Dix and Les Williams of Ross beat Pam Park (Ross) and Hazel Vitale (Larruperz) and the Ross pair then came back from an early deficit in the final to take the title by a narrow 10-8 margin.

12 January 2020

The recent County Triples Championship saw a young Herefordshire bowler capture his fourth county title of the season.

The tournament at Ross Bowling Club saw 15 teams competing initially in 4 round robin groups before the group winners progressed to the semi-finals. Two of the previous year’s Gorsley Chapel losing finalists, Dean Rudman & Joe Loveys, playing this year with Kate Williams of Ross, had to survive a scare and hold their nerve to take their place in their second successive final, recovering from an early 10-0 deficit in their semi-final to eventually squeeze past Ian Park, Rob George & Ian Roe (Ross) in the final end of the game. In the other semi-final the Woolhope team of Shirley Cox, Anthony Rogers and John Mills secured their final place with a more comfortable 11-5 victory over David Millington Jones, Peter Wright (Weston) & Jill Howells (Golden Valley). The final, whilst closely fought, saw the Gorsley / Ross team gradually ease ahead, leaving Woolhope chasing the match but unable to make up the deficit, eventually losing 10-5. The result gave Joe Loveys an incredible fourth concurrent county title, having already won the Singles, Pairs and Fours events earlier in the season.

The Herefordshire Premier county team finished their qualifying group of the National Inter County Championship competition extremely strongly. First, they secured a memorable victory in their first match of 2020 when they beat local rivals Gloucestershire 23-17. Not only was the victory secured in an away fixture but it is believed to be the first time that Herefordshire have ever beaten their neighbours in a Premier level county championship fixture either home or away. Herefordshire then followed this up with another memorable win, this time defeating the reigning ICC champions West Midlands 21-19 in their final qualification group match. Despite these results, and having secured at least one victory against every team in their five-team qualifying group, other results meant that Herefordshire finished in third place and missed out on a place in the main knockout section of the competition. They will, however, go into the consolation knockout section full of confidence.

3 January 2020

At the half-way stage of the season the defending champions Woolhope A have put themselves in a strong position to defend their county short mat bowls league title. After being neck and neck with their habitual rivals Ross A across the early part of the season the situation swung in their favour as Ross A lost their last game before Christmas and then suffered a heavy 9-1 home defeat to Woolhope A in the first match of the new year. As a result, Woolhope A lead the division by 4 points having played one match fewer and are well placed to secure the club’s 16th consecutive title.

Newly promoted Fownhope are finding life difficult once again in the top division and, together with Langarron, are falling a little behind at the bottom of the division although they are still very much in touch.

Division 2 is, as usual in recent years, a much more open competition and at the halfway stage the top 4 teams are separated by only 4 points. Ross B head the division but only on shot difference from St Martins Hawks with St Martins Falcons 3 points further back, a single point ahead of Ledbury Swifts. The St Martins and Ledbury teams are all looking to reach the top division for the first time.

The county teams are reaching the climax of their Inter County Championship qualifying groups and the A team, in particular, have had a very strong season. The Premier team have had some very close results against both Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, along with two wins against Avon, but are realistically chasing only one qualifying place for the main knockout competition as the country’s top side, West Midlands, are dominating the group with convincing wins against all the other counties. The A team, however, are leading their qualifying group following convincing wins in all of their home matches. They have secured qualification for the main knockout stage and, barring a particularly bad result in their final match away to Worcestershire, should win their group.

18 December 2019

The Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association held its Singles and Pairs championships alongside each other for the first time in several years by using the Leominster Indoor Bowling Club venue which can accommodate more mats than alternative county venues and the day turned out be particularly successful for one county bowler.

The Singles competition saw the 24 entrants contest 6 round robin groups to secure a quarter final slot. Two of the group runners-up finished with identical records so had to play a sudden death one end decider to decide who would take the final place. John Mills of Woolhope held his nerve to pip Llangarron’s Terry Griffiths to that final knockout phase spot. Mills then won his quarter final but was defeated comprehensively by last season’s runner-up, Joe Loveys of Gorsley Chapel, at the semi-final stage. The other semi-final saw defending champion Ian Park of Ross defeat Woolhope’s Bryan Watkins to set up a repeat of the previous year’s final. The result was not to be a straight repeat, however, as Joe avenged that defeat with a 13-6 victory to take his second title in his third consecutive final.

Not satisfied with regaining the Singles title, Joe had also been going well in the Pairs championship with John Mills in defence of that title. From a field of 22 pairs playing in 4 round robin groups, the semi-finals were formed of each of the group winners. Joe & John won their group and progressed to their second consecutive final by defeating Lea’s Charlotte and Stephen Kite in their semi-final. The second semi-final was a very tight all-Ross affair which saw Kate Williams and Dave Watkins defeat Ian Roe and Ian Park in an extra end after the game had finished all square. The Ross pair could not prevent Joe and John retaining their title, however, and were defeated 9-6 in the final to give Joe his second title of a very successful day.

4 December 2019

Short Mat Bowlers from Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and beyond raised a magnificent £2,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support in the 27th running of their annual charity tournament which was held for the first time at Leominster Indoor Bowling Centre. The new venue attracted an increased field of 42 teams and at the end of the day no fewer than 6 teams had won all of their 4 games. The result was, therefore, decided on shot difference and it was a successful day for Gloucestershire teams as the Tewkesbury team of Pauline Schofield, Dave Moss, Rose & Derek Wilson prevailed by a single shot over Pauline Turner, Geoff Knight, Adrian Atrill & Bob Wood of Gloster Knights. Further back on shots were teams from Woolhope, Dolau, Whitton and Ross who had also won all of their games. Ian Park ran the event on the day and Pam Park and Pam Griffiths manned the refreshment stand. Peter Rowland of Macmillan organised the raffle with Richard Bemand providing umpiring support and Anthony Rogers and his helpers performing the hard work of transporting and setting up all of the mats.

6 November 2019

The first of this season’s County Championship competitions took place at Ross Bowling Club when 12 teams contested the County Fours.

After a round robin stage and a quarter final knockout the field was reduced to 4 teams. Ross had two teams through to the semi-finals. The Ross team skipped by Les Williams came up against a strong team skipped by Joe Loveys, and comprising two players each from the Gorsley Chapel and Woolhope clubs, who proved too strong and progressed to the final with a 10-6 victory. In the other semi-final Phil Jenkinson’s Ross side, comprising Sue Dix, Gwen Lambert and Bernard Glover, fought out a very low scoring match with Nic Lloyd’s Fownhope four but emerged with a hard won 6-2 victory to take their place in the final. The Gorsley / Woolhope side, however, proved too strong for the representatives of the host club and Joe’s side, containing Shirley Cox, Dean Rudman and Anthony Rogers, took the title with a 9-4 victory.

The County Premier team has made a good start to the Inter County Championship, winning home and away against Avon and suffering the narrowest of defeats in matches at home against Gloucestershire and away to Oxfordshire. Each of these latter two matches rested on an umpire’s measure on the last wood of the last end, Herefordshire losing out each time and losing each match 22-18. The A team have played only two matches in their group so far, suffering away defeats to Northamptonshire and Shropshire in a tough qualifying group.

16 September 2019

The county short mat bowls Summer League concluded with a new winner’s name on the trophy.

10 teams from 8 clubs competed in two qualifying groups, Swallows and Larks, for a place in the final and both divisions were close run affairs. Defending champions Ross Rockers fought out the Swallows division with their close rivals Woolhope 2 and qualified for the final with a slender 2-point advantage.  The Larks division proved even closer with Llangarron triumphing by a single point over Woolhope 1 to set up a repeat of the previous year’s final.

The final proved to be a complete reverse of 2018’s match as Llangarron outplayed Ross to avenge their previous defeat and win the trophy for the first time. A tight singles match saw Llangarron’s Mark Cinderey defeat Ian Park by a single shot but Llangarron’s Four defeated the Ross rink by a comfortable margin. In the second pair of matches Ross established early leads in both disciplines but Llangarron came back strongly to win the Triples by 9 shots and the Pairs by 2 shots and take a clean sweep of wins and the trophy.

No sooner was the summer business concluded than the winter season was underway and the county Premier team played an early first match, securing a 26-14 away victory against Avon to begin the new inter-county season on a positive note. The winter county league gets under way in October followed by the first county championship competitions.

12 June 2019

It is the end of an era for the Herefordshire SMBA with the retirement from the post of County Secretary of Sue Stannard, who has served in the post for the 20 years since the association was formed following its de-merger from joint county status with Gloucestershire. Over that time Sue, a member of Fownhope SMBC, has not only served as Secretary and Membership Secretary, a role she has agreed to retain for another year to ease the transition, but has provided wise counsel to a succession of HSMBA Chairmen, drawing on her long involvement in the running of the sport in the county. Sue also helped facilitate the county’s competitions for many years and has been the leading figure in the continuing success of the annual Macmillan Cancer Support charity fours event which has raised well in excess of £30,000 over its 25-year life. Alongside this Sue has had considerable bowling success for club and county as a multiple county champion, representing Herefordshire for many years in the ICC and at several National Championships in different disciplines.

In 2017 Sue’s achievements and contributions to the sport were recognised by the award of a Commendation for Services to Sport in the annual Herefordshire Sports Awards and she was this year awarded an Achievement Award by the HSMBA in recognition of her unmatched services to the association. Sue will be hugely missed when she finally steps down from the county committee but her many friends in the sport won’t begrudge her the opportunity to spend more time bowling, with her family and pursuing her other interests.

7 June 2019

Each summer the county teams of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire play a challenge match over two legs for the trophy named in memory of the former Gloucestershire captain Bill Mackie, who died in 2008. Gloucestershire have consistently proved themselves to be the stronger county and, coming into this year’s competition, had won all 9 of the previous matches.

This year’s contest appeared to be heading in a familiar direction when Gloucestershire won the first leg, played at Gloucester’s Churchdown Community Centre, by the comfortable margin of 26-14 with overall wins in 3 of the 4 disciplines. The return leg at Ross’s Larruperz Centre was to prove a complete contrast however as, despite the morning session being tied, Herefordshire produced a clean sweep of the Singles, Pairs and Triples in the afternoon which secured them the bonus points in those disciplines and left them needing a single point from the afternoon Fours, the only games still in play, to take the trophy for the first time. Gloucestershire, however, were in no mood to give up their trophy lightly and their two rinks dug in to secure the two victories which would bring the points score level across the two legs and enable Gloucestershire to retain the trophy by virtue of a better shots score across the match. Gloucestershire completed their perfect 10 wins but Herefordshire could be satisfied and frustrated in equal measure that they had come so close to wrenching the trophy from their rivals for the first time.

The winter short mat season was rounded off by the annual Presentation Evening at the Larruperz Centre. Over 100 bowlers attended for the presentation of awards for the league and cup competitions played over the preceding year in a ceremony compered by the Herefordshire Short Mat Bowls Association Chairman, Ian Park, ably assisted by his vice-chair Fran Jones. An excellent buffet supper was provided by the Larruperz Centre in conjunction with Fran, Sue Stannard and Heather Foulkes and awards presented included Woolhope SMBC’s 17th league title in only the competition’s 20th year; a record 4th County Singles win for Ian Park and a well-deserved Achievement Award for Sue Stannard who is standing down as County Secretary after serving for the first 20 years of the association’s existence. David Millington Jones organised the awards for the evening and Colin Boyse took the photographs which can be viewed on the association’s website at

1 April 2019

This season saw the 20th year of the Herefordshire County Short Mat Bowls Winter League, formed on the separation of the combined Herefordshire / Gloucestershire association in 1999. In that period of time the league has been dominated by one club, and this year was no exception as Woolhope A collected their club’s 17th league title in the league’s 20-year history.

It was a close-run thing this time round, however, as Ross A, chasing their first title since 2001, finished their matches early with a 29-point lead over their rivals, who had 3 matches remaining to make up the gap. Woolhope were equal to the challenge though and, in the manner of true champions, recorded 3 consecutive maximum point victories to take the title by a 4-point margin in the closest finish for many years. To cap a successful league season for the club, Woolhope B won the 2nd division title by a comfortable margin, losing only 1 match all season, from runners-up Fownhope, with both teams seeking to return to Division 1 at the first attempt following last season’s relegations.

The relegation battle in Division 1 also went to the wire with it looking for a long time as though both of last season’s promoted teams, Dewchurch Warriors and Gorsley Chapel, would face an immediate return to the second tier. Gorsley Chapel had other ideas, however, and recorded 3 wins in their final 4 matches to haul themselves above Llangarron who thus face relegation after 3 seasons in the top flight.

30 March 2019

The final short mat bowls competition of the season, the Bromyard Triples, was held on Sunday 24 March 2019 at the Larruperz Centre in Ross. The 16 teams, from 10 clubs, competed initially in 4 round robin groups of 4 teams before the group winners progressed to the knockout stage. Four different clubs were represented in the semi-finals, three of whom had previously won the trophy although only 2 of the individual players left in had previous wins to their credit. Both semi-finals resulted in clear wins with the Ross team of Rob George, Ian Roe & Ian Park defeating the Fownhope triple of Carole Rowland, Derek Griffiths & Peter Clark whilst Linda Lewis, Luke Rawlings and Tony Vitale of Larruperz overcame Weston’s Doug Knowler, Gill & Tim Rigden. The final was a much closer affair with the lead changing throughout the contest and the scores tied as the final end began. Larruperz established a good early position in the end but Ian Park forced the jack to the corner of the mat with his final wood, leaving Ross holding a match winning position, and Tony Vitale couldn’t produce the extraordinary shot which would have been required to retrieve the situation. A Ross team thus took the title for the third time in four years.

16 March 2019

The final of the annual Two Counties LEH Team of Ten competition saw Herefordshire’s most successful short mat bowls club, Woolhope, bidding to make it 3 titles in a row but they faced a strong Gloster Knights side who have dominated this season’s Gloucestershire league. The Knights were looking to return to winning ways in this competition after Woolhope’s recent run of success came in the wake of their own 3 consecutive titles.

The foundation for eventual victory was laid in the first session when Saul Featherstone of the Knights overcame Woolhope’s Anthony Rogers in a singles game which could have gone either way whilst Adrian Atrill and Jack Knight had a convincing win against Sandra Rogers and John Mills in the pairs to give the Gloucestershire side two wins and a 16 shot lead at the interval. After a refreshment break the second half was a much closer affair but Woolhope simply had too much to do. Despite never being behind, Steve Holdsworth’s triple never opened up a gap on the Woolhope team and, although they went into the last end level, they managed to secure the winning shot by a narrow margin. The Fours proved to be the closest that Woolhope came to a mat win and Graham Watkins’ four went into the last end with a two shot lead. When Ryan Knight came to play the final wood he was holding one shot but managed to turn in another of his team’s woods to secure a second shot, and a drawn game, which was only confirmed by the tightest of measures.

The match was played in the usual sporting and friendly spirit and it was apt that the draw had created the opportunity for the two strongest clubs across the two counties to pit their skills against each other in the final for only the second time.

12 March 2019

The County Mixed Fours competition, played at Ross Bowling Club, saw teams from the host club dominate.

For the second consecutive season the entry was 9 teams who played in 3 round robin groups before the group winners and the best overall runner-up progressed to the semi-finals. Three of the Ross team of Elaine & Rob George and Ian & Pam Park had appeared in the previous 3 finals and they made it 4 in a row by defeating the Weston team of Doug Knowler, Bob Constable, Fran Jones and Heather Foulkes 12-4 in their semi-final. The other semi-final saw the Lea team of June Smith, Janet Harris, Colin Smith and Merion Attwood lose 16-7 to Sue Dix, Kate Williams, Dave Watkins and Les Williams to set up an all Ross final. Both teams had progressed to the final by winning all of their matches but the final proved to be an unexpectedly one-sided contest with a score of 7 shots on the first end for Les Williams’ rink setting them up for a comprehensive victory, eventually resulting in a concession with the score standing at 11-2 in their favour and a 3rd win in this competition in 4 years for the Ross club, this time with the added bonus of the runners-up spot too.

6 March 2019

The two county teams in the national Inter County Championship competitions had mixed fortunes this season.

The Premier team had a disjointed qualification stage as a result of Gloucestershire’s difficulty in fulfilling their fixtures which led to one match remaining unplayed. Despite a strong start with an away win against Avon the return fixture was disappointingly lost followed by defeats in both matches against Oxfordshire. A comfortable win in the home match against Gloucestershire was not enough to prevent Avon finishing in second place in the group behind Oxfordshire so Herefordshire progressed to the Consolation knockout competition where they suffered defeat to West Sussex.

The A team once again played in a qualifying group with a strong Hampshire side who won all of their matches to comfortably win the group. The race for the runners-up spot was, however, a thrilling battle between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire who each defeated the fourth team in the group, Avon, both home and away. With Herefordshire having won the home match they travelled to Gloucester for the final group match needing 15 points from the 40 available to secure second place in the group and the result of a tense match depended on the outcome of the final game of the day which itself went down to the last end before Herefordshire secured the points they needed to snatch the runners-up spot by a single point from their opponents. In the knockout stage Herefordshire defeated Worcestershire in the first stage before falling to Buckinghamshire in the first ever match between the two counties.

8 February 2019

The County Pairs competition, played at Ross Bowling Club, was the latest short mat bowls county championship competition of the season.

For the second consecutive season the entry was 24 teams who played in 8 round robin groups leading to a main knockout competition and a plate competition. In the main competition, 5 different clubs were still represented at the semi-final stage from where the Larruperz pairing of Sheila Whittingham and Peter Wright, defeating 2015 finalists Gill & Tim Rigden of Weston, and John Mills (Woolhope) and Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel), defeating Ian Roe & Ian Park of Ross, progressed through to the final. The experience of Mills and Loveys came to the fore in the final where they won comfortably against the Larruperz pair who were both appearing in their first Pairs final.

The Plate competition saw a second successive victory for Dean Rudman of Gorsley Chapel, playing this year with Les Barlow, who defeated the Ross pair of Sue Dix and Pam Park in the final.

The county’s qualifying competitions for the National Finals have been completed and Herefordshire’s entries are dominated by players from the Woolhope and Ross clubs. John Mills (Woolhope) is again the most successful individual, qualifying in 4 disciplines, with Shirley & Becci Cox (Woolhope) and Shaun Jones & Ian Roe (Ross) all qualifying in 3 disciplines. The national finals take place in March and April and the county will be hoping to emulate its success in 2018 when two different teams reached the semi-final stage in the county’s best ever performance.

23 January 2019

The latest two county championship competitions were held at Ross Bowling Club and saw teams from four different clubs contest the finals.

First up was the Triples competition where 13 teams competed in 3 round robin groups to determine the semi-finalists. Teams from Lea, Gorsley Chapel and Woolhope won their respective groups with Ross taking the 4th spot as the best runners-up across the 3 groups. The first semi-final went down to the last end before the Gorsley Chapel trio of Les Barlow, Dean Rudman and Joe Loveys secured victory against Ross whilst Lea’s team of John Snow, Stephen Kite and Merion Attwood won the other semi-final with something to spare, leaving Woolhope with no option but to concede after 8 of the 10 ends. Lea continued their form into the final and, once again, won within regulation distance as they defeated Gorsley Chapel 9-3.

The Fours competition was played in a similar format with the 12 teams playing in 3 groups for semi-final places. Once again teams from 4 different clubs reached the semi-finals with a Ross team again falling one step short of the final, this time to the Fownhope team of Carole Rowland, Pam Griffiths, Sue & John Stannard who won a thrilling tie 7-6 on the last end. In the other semi-final Lea could not replicate their triples performance and fell 13-4 to the Weston-under-Penyard four of Gillian Gange, Doug Knowler, Sheila Clapson and Heather Foulkes. The final saw Weston prevail over Fownhope by 9-3 to take the title.

29 December 2018

At the half-way stage of the short mat bowls league season the reigning champions Woolhope A once again lead the way in Division 1. However, they could face their closest challenge for several years as Ross A are currently level on points with them at the top as they try to prevent the league title going to Woolhope for the 15th consecutive season. Woolhope and Ross have a 15-point lead over Larruperz A and Aston Ingham A who are also tied on points in 3rd and 4th place. At the bottom of the division Gorsley Chapel are finding life tough following their promotion last year, trailing Tarrington by 2 points with Dewchurch Warriors, tackling the top division for the first time, a further 4 points ahead. The next team up, Llangarron, will take some comfort from having played 7 of their first 9 matches away from home and will hope for some good home results in the second half to keep them clear of the danger of relegation.

The top of Division 2 has a similar look to the first division with Woolhope B leading Ross B by 5 points. These two teams have a match in hand over the chasing teams as they play each other in the first fixture of the New Year and that match will be important in determining who leads the way into the second half of the season and how much advantage either will have over Fownhope, currently in third place a further 3 points behind, and Ledbury a further 3 points back.

Meanwhile the two county teams have had differing fortunes in the inter county championship. The Premier team have a match left to play in their qualifying group but trail second placed Avon by 21 points and seem destined to move through to the consolation knockout competition. The A team, however, have qualified for the main knockout segment of their competition by the narrowest of margins, garnering the 15 points that they needed against Gloucestershire in their final match to finish a single point ahead of their rivals in second place. Fortunes were reversed in the national double rink competition with the Premier team qualifying for the finals from a qualifying group containing Cheshire and Kent whilst the A team failed to qualify, losing all of the matches in their group.

7 December 2018

The first of this season’s county championships to be played was the Singles competition which was contested by 24 entrants at Ross Bowling Club. In a format played over 2 days the initial round robin groups reduced the field to 16 before a second round of group games left 16 players to contest the knockout stages.

By the semi-final stage the three most recent winners of the title were still in contention. Defending champion Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel) defeated the 2016 champion John Jillings (Woolhope) in his semi-final whilst 3-time winner Ian Park (Ross) defeated his club mate Ian Roe in a repeat of the 2017 final. The final saw Ian Park take an early lead which he never relinquished despite Joe’s best efforts and Ian was able to hold the lead throughout the match to secure a record fourth title.

Meanwhile two Herefordshire players represented England in the recent British Isles Championships. Becci Cox and John Mills of the Woolhope club represented England ‘A’ in the championships held in Cardiff. Becci played in a Triple and, although the team lost their 3 matches, two of these were only decided in the last end of tight matches. John played in a successful Fours team which came runners-up in their competition, only losing out to Ireland by a single shot having finished level on points after their 3 matches. Other Herefordshire players representing England this season are Kate Williams (Ross) in the England Ladies squad and Dominic Rogers (Woolhope) in the England Under 21 squad.

28 November 2018

An increased entry level of 36 teams, comprising almost 150 short mat bowlers from Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and beyond, assembled at Bromyard Leisure Centre for the 26th annual Macmillan Cancer Support Charity Fours tournament. Through a combination of entry fees, raffles, donations and refreshment & merchandise sales a record total of in excess of £2,000 was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support over the course of the day. Peter Rowland of Macmillan Herefordshire, who has been involved with this tournament from its inception and once again ran a hugely successful raffle, expressed his gratitude to the players for their generosity and the helpers for their efforts in putting the event together. Special thanks were extended to Ian Park and Elaine George for organising and running the day; umpire Richard Bemand; Sue Stannard and Madge Daines for looking after the refreshments stall; and Anthony Rogers and his team of helpers for transporting and laying the mats.

On the playing side it was a Ross team who came out on top for the 3rd time in 6 years with Bernard Glover, Elaine & Rob George and Ian Park winning all of their games over the day. They pipped the Lea team of June Smith, Janet Harris, Mary Gardner and Colin Smith, who were the only other team to win all 4 of their matches, by virtue of a better overall shot difference. The trophy was presented by HSMBA Secretary Sue Stannard who, along with Peter Rowland, has been involved in the running of this tournament since its inception. Dominic Rogers of Woolhope won the award for best placed junior bowler.

9 August 2018

As another short mat bowling season dawns a new club is flourishing in Burghill.

At the beginning of the year community members expressed a desire to try short mat bowling in the village so a series of taster sessions was set up in conjunction with the Copse Leisure Trust, the charity set up to promote recreational and leisure activities in the parish, and the Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association.  The HSMBA sourced the necessary equipment and 5 of its members helped to facilitate the sessions which lasted for an initial 6-week period.  With 25 people attending the first session and subsequent sessions regularly attracting an attendance of 15-20 it was clear there was an appetite for the sport and the taster sessions led seamlessly into a regular activity.  As the new club established itself the HSMBA assisted the group in the sourcing of its own equipment and the Copse Leisure Trust provided the necessary financial support from a grant received from the Co-op Local Community Fund.   The club now bowls regularly on a Tuesday afternoon and welcomes new members or those who just want to try the game out.  

Ian Park, HSMBA Chairman, noted that this is another success story in the establishment of new clubs in the county, adding to the recent example of the Golden Valley club who were established less than 3 years ago but recently entered a team in the county summer league for the first time and now have a membership waiting list, having capped their membership at 30 in recognition of the practical limitations of their venue. The HSMBA are on hand to help other groups seeking to try out and, hopefully, establish short mat bowling in their community and can provide advice, equipment and the facilitation of sessions.

Short mat bowls, which is played on a 45’ long mat, is an adaptation of the outdoor bowls game for play in an indoor, community hall type environment and has a well-established club presence in Herefordshire, particularly in the South of the county. Further information and contact details can be found on the association’s website at

9 May 2018

Following on from the county’s best ever showing in the National Championships there was further evidence of the county’s increasing ability to compete at a national level when two of the county’s club teams put in their best ever performances in the National Club Championships. Woolhope and Ross each had a team in the 16 club finals held in Torquay and both teams competed in round robin groups with some of the country’s top club teams, most of them boasting several England team players. Despite some satisfying victories neither team managed to qualify for the main knockout competition and both entered the plate competition. After wins in the quarter finals the two teams met at the semi-final stage and, in a reversal of this season’s general fortunes, county league and cup winners Woolhope found their rivals in good form and Ross won all disciplines to progress to the plate final. The final proved to be a tight affair against a Somerset club but, despite winning 2 of the 4 disciplines, Ross were squeezed out by a mere 2 shots overall in a thrilling finale. Both teams had just cause to be well satisfied with their weekend’s bowling and enhanced the county’s reputation in the sport significantly.

The curtain came down on the short mat bowls season with the county association’s annual Presentation Evening held at the Larruperz Centre in Ross. Presided over by county chairman Ian Park, just under 100 members saw presentations made to winners of the county’s various leagues and competitions as well as a special Achievement Award made to Ross’s Les Williams who has stepped down as secretary and captain of the Ross Short Mat team after a 25-year term during which he also served on the county committee for several years and represented club and county at all levels. The trophies had been organised, also for the final time before stepping down, by Terry Darrington and members were served a sumptuous buffet supper, provided by the Larruperz team, by Sue Stannard, Rita Hancock, Heather Foulkes and Fran Jones.

Competition winners were as follows:

County Singles    Joe Loveys

County Pairs    Terry Darrington & Rita Hancock

County Triples    John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox

County Fours    Dean Rudman, Mike Conway, Terry Griffiths, Rita Hancock

County Mixed Fours   Shirley & Becci Cox, Anthony & Dominic Rogers

National Qualifier Singles  Shaun Jones

National Qualifier Pairs   Ian Roe & Ian Park

National Qualifier Triples  Ian Roe, Pam & Ian Park

National Qualifier Fours  Mike Conway, Mark Cinderey, David Millington Jones, Anthony Rogers

National Qualifier Mixed Fours  Dominic Rogers, John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox

National Qualifier Under 18  Dominic Rogers

National Qualifier Over 55 Pairs  Terry Darrington & Rita Hancock

Winter League Division 1  Woolhope A

Winter League Division 2  Gorsley Chapel

Summer League    Woolhope 1

Bromyard Trophy Club Triples  Aston Ingham – Mike Conway, Terry Darrington, Rita Hancock

Macmillan Cancer Support Trophy Linda Lewis, Luke Rawlings, Hazel & Tony Vitale

HSMBA Achievement Award  Les Williams

LEH Team of Ten Two Counties Trophy Woolhope

23 April 2018

The 2018 English Short Mat Bowls National Championships proved to be Herefordshire’s most successful ever as the county’s previous best performance was matched not just once but twice in a matter of days.

The Mixed Four of Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel), John Mills and Shirley & Becci Cox (Woolhope) started the ball rolling with the county’s first appearance in a national semi-final since 2003 when Pam & Neil Kellett, in the Pairs, had been the first county bowlers to reach that stage. Not satisfied with this one fine performance, John Mills then paired up with Shaun Jones (Ross) to repeat the feat by reaching the Pairs semi-finals later that week. Then, to round off the week’s performances, Mark Cinderey (Llangarron), David Millington Jones and Phil & Anthony Rogers (Woolhope) reached the quarter-finals of the Fours with Kate Williams (Ross), John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox also qualifying from their round robin group before falling in the round of 32. Taken together these results represent a step forward for the county’s bowlers with recent championships having seen teams from the county struggle to qualify from their round robin phase groups or, when qualifying, fail to get beyond the first knockout round of the competition. This progression hopefully bodes well for a Herefordshire national finalist, or even national title winner, in the coming years.

The county winter leagues came to a conclusion with a familiar scenario as Woolhope A collected their 15th Division 1 title in 17 years by a comfortable margin from Ross A who had to settle for the runners-up spot for the 11th time in 13 years. The Woolhope club have now garnered the ‘triple’ of Summer League, Winter League and LEH Club Knockout Trophy for the second consecutive year as they continue to dominate short mat bowls in the county. Llangarron, finishing in third place, recorded their highest ever league finish whilst at the bottom the battle for the relegation places came down to the wire with three teams in the bottom four separated by a single point. Fownhope fell a mere ½ point short of lifting themselves out of the second relegation place. Gorsley Chapel secured an immediate promotion back to Division 1, following last season’s relegation, as they held off the challenge of Dewchurch Warriors, who had led the division for large parts of the season, to win Division 2. Dewchurch had to settle for the runners-up spot but this still represented their highest ever finish and the prospect of playing in Division 1 for the first time.

27 March 2018

The final county short mat bowls competition of the season was won by Aston Ingham as they secured the Bromyard Triples Trophy for the first time.

This annual tournament, which has been running since 1999 when it was based at Bromyard Leisure Centre, is now hosted by the Larruperz Centre in Ross where 16 teams representing short mat bowls clubs from around the county compete in 4 round robin groups before the group winners progress to the knockout stages.

Only one previously winning club, Larruperz, remained in the competition at the semi-final stage and their team of Lorraine Pearce, June Pearce and Tony Vitale progressed to the final by defeating St Martins, who were competing in the competition for the first time having only joined the county leagues two years ago. The other semi-final saw the Aston Ingham trio of Mike Conway, Terry Darrington and Rita Hancock progress at the expense of Gorsley Chapel in a tight match.

In the final Aston Ingham overwhelmed their Larruperz opponents to win the trophy for the first time and become only the 6th different club to win the competition in its 20 year history.

16 March 2018

Woolhope have made it two consecutive victories in the LEH Trophy, the knockout cup competition contested by short mat bowls clubs across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The final at Upton Bishop Millennium Hall was a repeat of last year’s all Herefordshire affair contested between Woolhope and Ross with both sides having tasted semi-final success against Gloucestershire opposition. Woolhope’s semi-final against Westbury-on-Severn had proved to be a comfortable victory for the Herefordshire side but Ross had encountered much more of a battle, defeating Longhope by a slender 2 shot margin across the two-legged match.

The first session of the final saw Ross get off to a good start with the Singles being won by Ross’s Ian Park by 5 shots against Anthony Rogers and a very tight Pairs match ending in a draw. A splendid buffet supper was then served to players and spectators courtesy of the efforts of Rita Hancock before play resumed for the final two disciplines. Becci Cox’s Woolhope Triple started strongly and established a good lead in their game whilst Ross, skipped by Les Williams, were going well in the Fours. The second half of the session saw something of a reversal as Ross closed the gap in the Triples to only 4 shots by the end of the game, leaving the match result resting on the Fours which was the last game to finish. Ross held a slender overall lead with 2 ends to go but Dominic Rogers’ team ended the game strongly to give Woolhope wins in both second session disciplines and an overall 4 shot match victory. This victory meant that Woolhope achieved their 5th win in the competition, matching Ross’s overall record of victories.

The tournament sponsor, Norman Allen, presented the trophies and thanked all of the organisers and helpers for their efforts.

16 January 2018

The final county championship of the season, the Mixed Fours, saw 9 teams competing initially in round robin groups for places in the semi-finals. Ross still had two teams in at the semi-final stage, including the defending champions Elaine George, Ian Roe, Pam & Ian Park who were looking for a third consecutive title and overcame Tim Rigden’s Weston team in a close match to secure their place in the final. The other Ross team, skipped by Les Williams, fell to the Woolhope team of Shirley & Becci Cox, Anthony & Dominic Rogers. The final saw Ross establish an early lead before Woolhope settled and gradually played their way back into the match which became very tight. Woolhope had established a 2 shot lead going into the last end and then ditched the jack to make Ross’s task even more difficult. Although Ross managed to get the shot back they couldn’t get the second shot needed to take the match into an extra end and Woolhope took the title on a day when they had been dominant throughout.

The remaining qualification competitions for the National Championships saw Herefordshire’s places filled for the Triples, Fours and Mixed Fours disciplines. In the Triples the competition winners Ian Roe, Pam & Ian Park (Ross) will be joined in the finals by the Woolhope team of John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox. The Fours was won by Mike Conway (Aston Ingham), Mark Cinderey (Llangarron), David Millington Jones and Anthony Rogers (Woolhope) and the second place went to Kate Williams (Ross), John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox. The county had a single place in the Mixed Fours and that was secured by Dominic Rogers, John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox. Dominic Rogers will also represent the county in the Under-18s competition. Special mention goes to John Mills who qualified in 4 of the 6 senior disciplines.