Tamworth and Distict IBC hosted the BWBA’s MatchPlay Pairs weekend recently. Wheelchair bowlers can pair up with a partner of their choice – disabled or not. This format – a tried and tested one for the BWBA – highlights the fact that a wheelchair bowler can play on equal terms with other bowlers. Matches are the best of two sets along with a shoot-out if necessary.

Competitors travelled from as far as Devon in the South, Scotland in the North and many points in between to challenge for the trophies and the cash prizes. It was particularly good to see the return of Scotland’s Bob Martin to competitive play ‘south of the border’.

Darlington IBC’s John Appleton, a former BWBA No1 ranked wheelchair bowler, was enjoying an overdue and very welcome return to form leading for Tamworth IBC club member Bob Love. Both were bowling well and won all four of their group matches to take them into the final with effort to spare.

Their opponents there would be the current BWBA No1 ranked bowler Kevin Woolmore who teamed up with club-mate Kevin Jones from Ffrith IBC. They too were undefeated but did drop one set and share another on their way to the final against Appleton & Love.

Seeking an unprecedented third consecutive win were the local pairing of Ken Harrington & Norman Ardin. This year, it was not to be their turn. Their first target was to win their four group matches that could put them into the final. They started their defence well with a straight sets win over Plymouth pairing Keith Hammacott & Dave Willis and took their next match by drawing the final set against North Yorkshire’s Alan Cunningham & Owen Smithson.

They needed a tie-break to win their third match when up against Lancashire’s Mark Morris & Ken Willetts; but things did not go to plan in their final match. They lost in straight sets to Gloucester’s veteran George Ridgeon partnering the relative novice Mikki Serban. That loss would scupper their chances of making the final. They would have to settle for a third-place play-off. By chance, the draw had dictated that they would play Ridgeon & Serban in that third-place play-off.

With the group games completed the stage was for the finals. The Appleton & Love and Woolmore & Jones final was real treat. Two sets of nine ends with two woods each meant there was no margin for error from any of the players and so it turned out to be. Shots were exchanged on almost every end with players outdrawing each other, shot after shot. The honours were, however, taken by Appleton & Love with a high quality two sets to nil win, 11-5, 9-6. Tamworth IBC’s Mens’ President Alan Palmer presented the winners with the Tony Allen Trophy and their prize money.