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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.