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Herefordshire

Short Mat Bowling Association

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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.


24 December 2017

At the halfway stage of the short mat bowls winter season there are clear leaders in each division. In Division 1 the defending champions, Woolhope A, have a 20-point lead at the top with Weston-under-Penyard A and Larruperz A leading the chase although their realistic ambition may already be the runners-up spot. The Lea have an 8-point gap to bridge to get off the bottom of the division although they do have a match in hand of those directly above them where there is a group of 6 teams only separated by 9 points.

Dewchurch Warriors have finished between 3rd and 5th place in each of the last 5 Division 2 seasons but they go into the second half of this season with an 11-point lead at the top. Weston-under-Penyard B and Gorsley Chapel are locked together trying to deny Dewchurch their long-awaited promotion spot and then there is a large gap to a clutch of 6 teams separated by a mere 3 points.

The first 3 county qualifying competitions for the National Championships took place last week and Ross club produced 2 of the 3 winners. The Singles discipline produced a thrilling final which went to an extra end after Woolhope’s Becci Cox narrowly failed to pick up the jack for victory in the final regulation end before Ross’s Shaun Jones won the extra end to secure a National Finals spot. The Ross team of Ian Park and Ian Roe followed up with a win in the Pairs discipline after an unbeaten run through the competition and a clinical performance in the final to once again consign a Woolhope team, this time John Mills and Anthony Rogers, to second place. In the inaugural Over-55s Pairs competition it was Aston Ingham, in the form of Terry Darrington and Rita Hancock, who took the automatic finals place, leaving Tony Vitale (Larruperz) and Ian Park (Ross), along with the runners-up in the other disciplines, awaiting the allocation of national finals places to find out whether they will contest the finals in April.


4 December 2017

The Pairs county competition saw a double success for the Aston Ingham club.

After the 24 teams had played in round robin groups the field split into two with the top 16 teams progressing to the main knockout competition and the remaining 8 teams contesting the Plate competition. By the semi-finals of the main competition, teams from 4 different clubs remained and semi-final wins over Fownhope and Llangarron respectively saw the Lea team of Merion Attwood and Colin Smith progress to play Terry Darrington and Rita Hancock (Aston Ingham) in the final. The final was a tight match but the Aston Ingham pair eventually ran out 11-9 winners. In the Plate competition, the semi-finals saw representatives of a further 4 clubs still in contention and last year’s winners, George Marshall (Ross) and David Millington Jones (Woolhope) progressed to a second consecutive final at the expense of St Martins. The other semi-final saw Dean Rudman and Terry Griffiths of Aston Ingham beat Larruperz and they went on to defeat the defending champions 9-7 in another close final.

The county teams have completed their Inter County Competition qualifying groups with mixed results. The Premier team completed their fixtures with a thumping 31-9 home victory over Oxfordshire to secure second place in their group behind Gloucestershire and progress to the main knockout competition in the New Year. The A team, meanwhile, had to settle for a place in their consolation competition as, despite winning 4 of their 6 matches, they still only managed to finish in 3rd place in their group behind Gloucestershire and Hampshire, both of whom they beat at home but suffered away defeats against which proved decisive in the final placings in a tightly contested group.

Both teams travel this coming weekend to compete in their respective ICC Rinks qualifying competitions; the Premier team competing in Daventry whilst the A team travel to Somerset.



20 November 2017

32 teams of short mat bowlers from Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and beyond gathered at Bromyard Leisure Centre for the 25th annual Macmillan Charity Fours tournament. Through a combination of entry fees, raffles, donations and cake & merchandise sales a magnificent total of £1,700 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, once again thanked the players for their generosity and the helpers for their efforts in putting the event together. Special thanks went to Rita Hancock and Herbie Renfield 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.

Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association Chairman Ian Park presented the trophy to the winning Larruperz team of Linda Lewis, Luke Rawlings, Hazel & Tony Vitale who won all of their games over the day, pipping the defending champions Ali & Ian Roe, Les Williams and Dave Watkins (Ross), who also won their four games, by 4 shots overall. A third team, from Ripple, also won their four games but were a further 8 shots adrift.


12 November 2017

The County Fours championship was held at Ross Bowling Club and Weston-under Penyard bowler Harold Aubrey reached his third county final of the season but was left still searching for his first title.

At the semi-final stage two Ross teams remained but both were defeated as Les Williams’ team lost out to Aston Ingham whilst Ian Park’s quartet were defeated by Weston. In the final the Aston Ingham four of Dean Rudman, Mike Conway, Terry Griffiths and Rita Hancock made a storming start, establishing an 8-0 lead in the first 3 ends before Gill & Tim Rigden and Betty & Harold Aubrey started their comeback. The Weston team won all of the remaining 5 ends but with a tight measure by the umpire determining the result of the 8th and final end they remained a tantalising one shot short, leaving Aston Ingham as champions by a slender 8-7 margin. The Aston Ingham skip, Rita Hancock, thus won her second consecutive Fours title, albeit with a completely different supporting team, and Harold will have to try again in the Pairs competition in a couple of weeks to find that elusive title to top off an otherwise very successful championships season.


7 November 2017

The County Triples Championship, won for the last 3 years by Ross teams, was contested by 12 teams and a 4th consecutive win was still a possibility until the semi-final stage when Les Williams’ Ross trio were defeated by John Mills, Shirley & Becci Cox from Woolhope. In the other semi-final, a victory for the Weston team of Fran Jones, Betty & Harold Aubrey over Tony Vitale’s Larruperz triple meant that Harold would contest his second county final in 8 days following his run to the singles final the previous week.

The final was a see-saw affair with Weston starting strongly and establishing a commanding 6 shot lead with 2 ends to play but scores of 4 and 2 brought Woolhope level and took the final into a tense tie-break end. Consistently accurate bowling took the jack gradually back towards the ditch and Harold seemed to have clinched the match with his pinpoint final wood but Becci delivered a stunning final wood of the match which crept around Harold’s to take the shot and the match for Woolhope, leaving Harold with his second runners-up spot in a week.

The County Premier team completed a double over Avon with a comfortable 28-12 win to consolidate second place in their inter county championship qualifying group and ensure that progression to the main competition knockout stages rests in their own hands with just the home match remaining against Oxfordshire, their rivals for the runners-up spot. The A team are also well placed to progress following a 24-16 home win against Hampshire to avenge their earlier away defeat and their fate will rest on the results of home and away matches against local rivals Gloucestershire.


21 October 2017

The first county championship discipline of the season, the Singles, has been played at Ross Bowling Club. 29 bowlers competed in round robin groups with the top two in each group proceeding to the knockout stages. By the semi-final stage, only one former winner, Anthony Rogers (Woolhope), survived and he lost in a close match to Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel) who thereby reached his first county singles final. In the other semi-final the highly experienced Harold Aubrey (Weston – under - Penyard) defeated another Woolhope player, John Mills, to reach his first singles final although he has won every other county championship discipline over the years.

In the final, which pitted youth against experience, the youngster Joe prevailed, matching Harold in the early stages of a tight contest before easing away towards the end of the match. Going into the last end with an important lead, Joe coolly trailed the jack into the ditch to make sure of his win, leaving Harold still searching for the singles win to complete his set of county titles.


11 October 2017

Both of the county teams currently sit in second place in their respective qualifying groups of the National Inter County Championship competition.

The Premier team started their campaign with a comfortable 26-14 away win at Avon, who have entered a team in the Premier competition for the first time in several years. The Herefordshire side then faced successive fixtures against their local rivals Gloucestershire who boast several England players in their strong squad. The home tie was the closest match between the two sides for several years and Gloucestershire ended up squeezing the narrowest possible 21-19 victory by securing the bonus points on the final discipline. The return match in Gloucester was also closely fought and, although Herefordshire won 7 of the 16 matches they conceded all but one of the 8 available bonus points so slipped to a 25-15 defeat. The strong performances in the two Gloucestershire matches will have left the team confident going into their remaining matches against Avon and Oxfordshire.

The ’A’ team also started with an away win at Avon which reached an exciting climax as the result rested on the last match being played. A Herefordshire win in that match saw them secure a 21-19 victory. They then travelled to Hampshire for their second match to face a team which they had not played for several years. Hampshire proved to be too strong in the Singles and Pairs disciplines, where they had concentrated their strongest players, and, despite stronger performances in the Triples and Fours, Herefordshire slipped to a 27-13 defeat but will be looking to bounce back when they play the reverse fixture at home in a couple of weeks.


23 August 2017

The county summer league season came to a conclusion with the Summer League Final at Upton Bishop. 10 teams played in two divisions across the summer with the two divisional winners, Woolhope 1 and The Lea, contesting the final. Woolhope, the defending champions, made a good start with a win and a draw in the two disciplines in the first session. Merion Attwood’s draw with John Mills in the singles proved, however, to be the highpoint for The Lea who, despite a strong start in the second session when they led in the early stages of both the pairs and triples, succumbed to the stronger side on the night. Woolhope ran out winners in both of the second session games to secure a 9-1 victory and take the trophy for the 3rd time in its short history.

Over the summer months short mat bowls has been re-established at Bromyard Leisure Centre after a 10-year break. Following 6 weeks of taster sessions facilitated by county association members and Sports Partnership Hereford and Worcester, Halo Leisure have given short mat bowls a permanent slot at 10.30 to 12.00 on Wednesday mornings. The sessions are open on a pay-and-play basis to anyone in the Bromyard area or beyond who wishes to try out or take up this accessible, low impact sport and there is already a core of regular players. Equipment for new players is provided and players simply need to wear flat soled shoes.

Photo: Ian Park presents the Summer League Winner’s trophy to Woolhope


3 May 2017

The Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association, in conjunction with Sports Partnership Herefordshire and Worcestershire and Halo Leisure are running a series of drop-in sessions at Bromyard Leisure Centre in an attempt to resurrect the sport in the town after a ten-year absence. 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 already has a well-established club presence in Herefordshire, particularly in the South of the county.

As Jamie Harris, HSMBA Chairman, explains ‘Bromyard had a thriving short mat bowls club for around 15 years before a membership decline led to its demise in the 2006. Fortunately, the equipment was retained by the leisure centre, where the club was based, and everything is in place to try and re-ignite interest from local people’. Sue Bentley, Club and Community Development Officer at Sports Partnership Herefordshire and Worcestershire, recognises short mat bowls as a truly inclusive community activity, having recently been involved in the establishment of new playing groups in Ewyas Harold, Colwall and Holme Lacy. As Sue says ‘one of our main challenges is usually the sourcing and funding of the equipment but in this case the equipment is already here so the focus is on attracting participants from the local community who may be interested in trying the game out and hopefully establishing the momentum to sustain a regular playing group or fully fledged club’. Bromyard Leisure Centre has been no stranger to short mat bowls as it has hosted the association’s largest annual event, the 40 team Macmillan Charity Tournament, since its inception in the early 1990s and Jon McLaurin, Halo Manager, is supporting this initiative in an attempt to build on this foundation by re-establishing a regular bowling group at the centre.

The open sessions, facilitated by association members, are running at Bromyard Leisure Centre from 10.30 to 12.00 on Wednesday mornings until 7th June.

29 April 2017

The annual Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association presentation evening was held at the Larruperz Centre, Ross. Chairman Jamie Harris compered the event and the awards were presented by President Norman Allen to the year’s league and competition winners.

In a role reversal, the final award of the evening, the Llangarron Achievement Award, was presented by Jamie Harris to the retiring President Norman Allen, who has decided to step down after a long involvement with short mat bowling in the county. Norman was a member of the founding committee of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire SMBA when the sport was first formalised in the two counties in 1992. The two counties were strong enough to form separate associations in 1999 but links have remained strong over the years, thanks in no small part to a competition, the LEH Team of Ten Competition, which Norman established for clubs across both counties to contest annually and which he has sponsored ever since.

The full list of league, competition and award winners is as follows:

Burden Cup - Singles  Ian Park (Ross)

D&H Luther Cup – Pairs  Hazel & Tony Vitale (Larruperz)

Norman Davies Shield – Triples Ali & Ian Roe, Ian Park (Ross)

Mercian Cup – Fours Rod Dawson (Woolhope), Carole Rowland (Fownhope), Terry Darrington & Rita Hancock (Aston Ingham)

Townsend Shield – Mixed Fours  Elaine George, Ian Roe, Pam & Ian Park (Ross)

Summer League   Woolhope A

Winter League Division 1 Woolhope A

Winter League Division 2 Fownhope

Bromyard Challenge Cup – Triples Elaine George, Les Williams, David Watkins (Ross)

Macmillan Cancer Support Trophy - Fours Ali & Ian Roe, Les Williams, Dave Watkins (Ross)

Macmillan Cancer Support Junior Dominic Rogers (Woolhope)

Llangarron Achievement Award   Norman Allen (Fownhope)

LEH Two Counties Team of 10 Competition Woolhope

National Qualifier Winners Singles – John Mills (Woolhope)

  Pairs – Tony Vitale (Larruperz), Ian Park (Ross)

  Triples – Ali & Ian Roe, Ian Park (Ross)

  Fours – Dominic & Anthony Rogers (Woolhope), Ian Roe & Ian Park (Ross)

  Mixed Fours – Ali & Ian Roe, Pam & Ian Park (Ross)

  Under 18s – Dominic Rogers (Woolhope)


A full photo gallery for the evening can be seen on the Association’s website at www.hsmba.org.


22 March 2017

The final county short mat bowls tournament of the season, the Bromyard Triples Club Challenge, was won by the Ross team of Elaine George, Les Williams and Dave Watkins making it 3 wins in 4 years for the Ross club.

The field of 16 teams from 9 different clubs played in 4 round robin qualifying groups to earn a place in the quarter finals where three clubs - Larruperz, Lea and Ross - were represented by two teams each. Both Ross teams made it through to the semi-finals where they were joined by Weston-under-Penyard and Woolhope. Whilst the Weston team of Fran Jones, Betty & Harold Aubrey despatched one Ross team, Woolhope ran the eventual winners very close, losing out by a single shot in a very tight game. The final was equally close, again being decided by a single shot in Ross’s favour, and the result meant that Dave Watkins and Les Williams each reached 5 individual wins in this tournament, bettering the previous mark of 4 wins which they shared with Sandra & Anthony Rogers of Woolhope.


16 March 2017

It was a good week for Woolhope Short Mat Bowls Club as they secured two titles.

The Woolhope A team wrapped up the county league Division 1 title with a convincing away victory against their nearest challengers, Ross A. This left them requiring only 2 points from their final two matches which they comfortably achieved in their next home match. This is Woolhope A’s 14th Division 1 title in the last 16 years (and one of the ones they missed was won by the club’s B team) as they continue their dominance of the county league.

Woolhope then followed this up by winning the LEH Trophy, the knockout cup competition contested by clubs across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The final at Upton Bishop Millennium Hall was an all Herefordshire affair contested between Woolhope and Ross, the county’s two most successful clubs this season. The first session saw Woolhope’s Anthony Rogers defeat Ian Park by 8 shots in the singles but the overall lead at the break was only 4 shots due to Elaine George and Ian Roe earning a 4-shot victory for Ross in the pairs. A sumptuous buffet supper was then served to players and spectators courtesy of the efforts of Rita Hancock and Sue Stannard before play resumed for the final two disciplines. Woolhope’s victory was assured with a resounding 13 shot win by their triple of Dominic Rogers, Shirley & Becci Cox. The fours contest was a tight affair with Charlie Cox’s four edging the win with 2 shots on the final end to give Woolhope their third discipline win out of four and seal a deserved overall victory by 19 shots. The tournament sponsor, Norman Allen, presented the trophies and thanked all of the organisers and helpers for their efforts.


27 February 2017

As the short mat bowls winter season heads towards its conclusion the defending champions, Woolhope A, are maintaining a commanding lead over second placed Ross A and look odds on to retain their title. Ross themselves have a healthy lead over the rest of the division and it seems unlikely that they will be challenged for the runners-up spot. Newly promoted Escley have struggled in the top division and a return to the second tier is inevitable whilst Gorsley Chapel A, after their first two seasons in the top flight, are reliant on other teams finishing the season badly if they are to avoid occupying the second relegation spot. The race to top Division 2 is a very tight affair with Fownhope currently holding an 8-point lead over Ross B although Ross have a match in hand over the leaders. Whilst the champions are likely to come from these two teams, Dewchurch Warriors and Weston-under-Penyard B lie just behind and could slip into a promotion spot if either of the leaders should falter in their final matches.

Both of the county teams were eliminated from the Inter County Championship at the preliminary knock-out stage. The Premier side lost 24-16 to Essex whilst the ‘A’ team went down 25-15 to Kent. Both teams had good early sessions in their matches but faltered later in the day and the ‘A’ team were particularly disappointed with their defeat after a very strong qualifying campaign.

A stalwart of the county game was recognised at the recent Herefordshire Sports Awards. Sue Stannard, a member of the Fownhope club since 1997, was Highly Commended in the Services to Sport category of the awards which were presented in a ceremony at Hereford Shire Hall. Sue has played club and county bowls for many years and served for 6 years on the Fownhope committee and she is familiar to players around the county in her role as County Secretary, a post she has held since the formation of the county association in 1999. Not only has she fulfilled that demanding office, but for the majority of that period she has also been County Membership Secretary. She has also regularly helped other committee members run the county competitions and organise other events, most notably the annual Macmillan Cancer Support charity tournament which Sue has been involved with since its inception and which has raised well in excess of £25,000 for the charity. This award is well-deserved recognition of her invaluable contribution to short mat bowls in Herefordshire.