HAT-TRICK OF WINS FOR ENGLAND IN ANNUAL HOME COUNTRIES BOWLS
East Kilbride IBC hosted this year’s annual Home Countries Wheelchair Bowls Championships in association with South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture Ltd and South Lanarkshire Disability Sport. The event was organised by the Scottish Wheelchair Bowls Association.
The event has successfully transformed itself into a tri-nations event since the unfortunate loss of participation from Northern Ireland a few years ago. Notwithstanding the continued disappointment at Northern Ireland’s absence, the three remaining Home Countries – England, Scotland and Wales – would fight it out for the Jamie Smith Memorial Trophy with Scotland and Wales trying to wrest it from England who had won it on the previous two occasions.
Teams are made up of ‘para’ and ‘tetra’ bowlers. Para bowlers play with conventional woods and play to the usual rules; whilst tetra bowlers play the same game but with smaller woods – just as skilful (arguably more so) but a scaled down version of the traditional game.
Played over two days there are match ups in singles, pairs and triples; two points for a win and the overall points total for each country determines the winner of the Championship.
The first session on Day One saw points being shared equally. Wales had two big singles wins with Gareth Stokes in the tetra class and Kevin Woolmore in the para class. The second session saw the English edge a little in front with three wins out of three. The highlights being a tetra singles win for Alan Care and para pairs win for Percy Powell who skipped for player/manager Ian Blackmore. That English lead was further consolidated in the final session of the day which had Scotland having two close wins – one in the tetra pairs against England by one shot and another single shot victory, this time in the para pairs over the Welsh. The standings at the end of Day One were: –
England 14 points
Scotland 10 points
Wales 10 points
Nothing in it really as England had played one match more than both their Celtic rivals, so their lead could disappear in one match.
Day Two could not have started better for the defending champions. They had targeted the two para triples matches (one each against the Scots and the Welsh) and won them both. Furthermore, the two Scots-Welsh match ups saw the points being shared, meaning that England’s lead was maintained.
The second session of this second day was to be crucial, particularly for the Welsh. They had three matches and lost them all. Many would have expected them to win the tetra pairs against the Scots but they dropped a count late on allowing the Scots to win by seven shots. In the para singles, England’s Tony Down beat Wales’ retired policeman Dave Powell and the Welsh also lost out, this time by one shot, in the para triples this time against the Scots. The talk on the bank was why had England not played their Captain, Paul Brown, in one of their two remaining singles in this session? Strategy? Insanity? No, the answer was more mundane – two of the English players were feeling unwell and needed to rest ahead of the final session.
The final session would be bitter sweet for England’s two Celtic opponents. Prior to the start of this session the points totals were as follows : England 24, Scotland 16 and Wales 14.
Only Scotland could now beat the ‘auld enemy’ and then they had to win all their matches and hope that England lost theirs; even then it might come down to shot difference so good wins were required by the Scots.
As it turned out that was not to happen because England won all three para pairs played in that session – one of them by a margin of twenty shots. England almost made it a clean sweep but Jane Blackburn lost by just two shots in the tetra singes to Scot, Andy Divers.
So the final scores were: –
England 30 points
Scotland 18 points
Wales 18 points
Common consensus was that no-one could recall such an emphatic win in the history of the Home Countries Championships with England winning fifteen of their twenty two matches and neither has the hat-trick of wins been done too.
The end-of-Championship celebration meal was held at the Strathclyde Hilton Hotel where the event organiser David Morgan thanked all who had helped to contribute to a great weekend of bowls, namely, South Lanarkshire Council, South Lanarkshire Disability Sport, East Kilbride IBC and its volunteer members, Verve (Wishaw) Autos, the Scottish Community Foundation, The Robertson Trust, East Kilbride Sports Council, Scotland’s shirt sponsors Scotwest Credit Union and the officers of the Scottish Wheelchair Bowlers Association. The Provost of South Lanarkshire Council, Russell Clearie MBE presented the prizes.
Ivan Prior Team Captain
Willie Sinclair Manager
Paul Brown Team Captain
Ian Blackmore Player / Manager
Kevin Woolmore Team Captain
Louella Davis Team Manager