FOR the first time since the beginning of the Covid pandemic two years ago and counting, the West Cumbria Bowls League is looking forward to its first full season starting this April.
The league made a tentative start last year when a shortened season, beginning in mid-summer, saw only half of the matches completed, writes Keith Richardson. Expectations are now high that 2022 will see the completion of a full season with each of the 10 teams meeting on a home and away basis, beginning on April 29 and concluding on August 26, all fixtures being played on Friday evenings.
Fitz Park Bowling Club, Keswick, finished third in the league last season and the eventual winners, Workington A, will be looking to defend their title with Whitehaven A expected to press hard.“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season,” says Craig Phillips, the long-standing captain of the Fitz Park team. “It will be great to get back to a full league programme and players everywhere will be keen to get back to some kind of normality.”
It has been around 30 years since Fitz Park won the title and Phillips is under no illusion as to the enormity of the task. “Every year it is our intention to go out and try to win the league,” he says. “But it will once again be a difficult task to try and break the stranglehold of Workington and Whitehaven. It all depends how we compete against the main contenders. We have beaten them in one-off encounters in the past and can do so again.“However, we need to show greater consistency against all the teams in the league.
It’s no good raising your game against a top team and then losing out against a side you might expect to beat the next time out. This has been our Achilles heel and something we need to work on.”Player numbers have markedly improved at Fitz Park over the last few seasons and many of those new players featured in West Cumbria League matches in 2021.
“Many of the new players proved they are more than capable of performing well in the league,” Phillips explained, “and this will give me a bigger headache when selecting sides for 2022. What I can say is that every side we put out will be the best available team at the time.”Phillips is also looking forward to being given the opportunity to represent the county in the Alsop Cup.“We won it last year and it was great to play for the county alongside fellow Fitz Park bowlers in Ryan Brannan, Mike Jackman, Graham Harrower and my brother, Robin.”Another Fitz Park bowler, Tom Prescott, was a member of the Middleton Cup team, effectively the county
A side, that was narrowly beaten at the semi-final stage of the competition at Leamington.But arguably the biggest success of the county season last year was that of the quartet from the Workington club, David Forster, James Park, Ian Williams and Stephen Cook who won the national fours at Leamington, showing once again that Cumbria (perhaps soon to be Cumberland yet again) is a breeding ground for some of the top players in the UK.
The 2022 fixtures for the West Cumbria Bowling League are as follows:
April 29 – Cleator Moor v Vulcan Park (Workington); Fitz Park (Keswick) v Workington B; Workington A v Whitehaven A; Whitehaven B v Cockermouth; Maryport v Seaton.
May 6 – Vulcan Park v Whitehaven B; Whitehaven A v Fitz Park; Seaton v Workington A; Workington B v Maryport; Cockermouth v Cleator Moor.
May 13 – Fitz Park v Seaton; Whitehaven B v Maryport; Cockermouth v Whitehaven A; Workington A v Vulcan Park; Cleator Moor v Workington B.
May 20 – Fitz park v Cleator Moor; Vulcan Park v Cockermouth; Whitehaven A v Seaton; Workington B v Whitehaven B; Maryport v Workington A.
May 27 – Whitehaven A v Vulcan Park; Maryport v Fitz Park; Workington A v Cleator Moor; Seaton v Whitehaven B; Cockermouth v Workington B.
June 3 – Workington B v Seaton; Vulcan Park v Fitz Park; Whitehaven B v Workington A; Cleator Moor v Whitehaven A; Cockermouth v Maryport.
June 10 – Seaton v Cleator Moor; Workington A v Cockermouth; Whitehaven A v Workington B; Fitz Park v Whitehaven B; Maryport v Vulcan Park.
June 17 – Whitehaven B v Cleator Moor; Maryport v Whitehaven A; Vulcan Park v Workington B; Workington A v Fitz Park; Cockermouth v Seaton.
June 24 – Whitehaven A v Whitehaven B; Workington B v Workington A; Fitz Park v Cockermouth; Seaton v Vulcan Park; Cleator Moor v Maryport.
Second half of season:
July 1 – Vulcan Park v Cleator Moor; Workington B v Fitz Park; Whitehaven A v Workington A; Cockermouth v Whitehaven B; Seaton v Maryport.
July 8 – Whitehaven B v Vulcan Park; Fitz Park v Whitehaven A; Workington A v Seaton; Maryport v Workington B; Cleator Moor v Cockermouth.
July 15 – Seaton v Fitz Park; Maryport v Whitehaven B; Whitehaven A v Cockermouth; Vulcan Park v Workington A; Workington B v Cleator Moor.
July 22 – Cleator Moor v Fitz Park; Cockermouth v Vulcan Park; Seaton v Whitehaven A; Whitehaven B v Workington B; Workington A v Maryport.
July 29 – Vulcan Park v Whitehaven A; Fitz Park v Maryport; Cleator Moor v Workington A; Whitehaven B v Seaton; Workington B v Cockermouth.
August 5 – Seaton v Workington B; Fitz Park v Vulcan Park; Workington A v Whitehaven B; Whitehaven A v Cleator Moor; Maryport v Cockermouth.
August 12 – Cleator Moor v Seaton; Cockermouth v Workington A; Workington B v Whitehaven A; Whitehaven B v Fitz Park; Vulcan Park v Maryport.
August 19 – Cleator Moor v Whitehaven B; Whitehaven A v Maryport; Workington B v Vulcan Park; Fitz Park v Workington A; Seaton v Cockermouth.
August 26 – Whitehaven B v Whitehaven A; Workington A v Workington B; Cockermouth v Fitz Park; Vulcan Park v Seaton; Maryport v Cleator Moor.