THE Caribbean-like weather and searing sunshine have resulted in the ‘green’ at Fitz Park Bowling Club being hardened to such an extent that woods have been whizzing over the surface like cannon balls fired at Waterloo.
Donald Holme and his ground staff did not mow the green until Wednesday morning of this week for fear that one or two of the stronger arms in the club might send their woods as far as Threlkeld or Walla Crag, depending on which way the rinks were facing.
And there was a liberal application of water in a bid to restore greenery and prevent the surface from further scorching. So hot were conditions for the a club triples event on Tuesday that players took a drinks break and headed for the welcome shade of the fir tree next to the pavilion.
Club members normally complain about rainwater pooling on the green so it made a pleasant change for the protests to be all about the pace of the green, and the heat, the dust and the flies; although there were no flies on any of the competitors who have now reached the latter stages of club competitions.
Unfortunately, the pandemic was again rearing its ugly head this week as a number of playing members were ‘pinged’ and had to go into isolation because family or people they know or work with have caught Covid. And this played havoc with a county triples event scheduled for Wednesday evening and one or two other games in club and league competition.
Still, the world continues to spin (hopefully) on its axis and Keswick made further progress when they defeated Whitehaven B in the West Cumbria League last Friday evening. Peter Rainey, Phil Pridmore, Graham Harrower and Tom Prescott pulverized their opponents by a massive 39-8.
John Sewell, Adrian Gill, Keith Goldsmith and skip Dave Brannan prevailed by a more modest 23-12, while Keith Richardson, Alan Hind, Vic Emmerson and Mike Jackman won 31-10. The team faces a much sterner task this evening (Friday) when they travel to take on Whitehaven A.
In club competition the Green Championship is at the semi-final stage and Mike Davies won through at the expense of club president Cliff Harding and will now meet Graham Harrower who defeated Owen Cooper. John Sewell got the better of Colin Mason despite an astonishing fight back by the latter and will now play the winner of an outstanding tie between Alan Dalzell and Ryan Brannan.
Jean Barwise and Lynn Hazell will contest a semi-final in the Ladies Green after defeating Jill Preston and Hilary Horsfield respectively.
In the Over 60s Mixed Singles, Kevin Hadley will play Cliff Harding in one semi-final while Robin Phillips will meet the winner of the Keith Richardson v Mike Davies tie.
In the Mixed Pairs in the semi-finals are: Glenda Holme and Dave Brannan v Alan and Karen Hind; John Sewell and Di Massingham v Sid and Hilary Horsfield. The Presidents Prize semi-finals are: Cliff Harding v Dave Brannan; Ryan Brannan v Adrian Gill.
In the Tuesday Triples League, Glenda Holme, Adrian Gill, and Peter Tremble conquered Geeth Kumara, Steve Jones and Lynn Hazell 11-8; Chris Mills, Alan Dalzell and John Sewell defeated Mark Findlay, Christine Weightman and Sheila Sunderland 13-9; Kevin Hadley, Peter Bell, and Sean Mills bettered Dixon Barwise, Sue Tremble and Keith Richardson 14-9 after being 7-9 down going into the penultimate end; Jean Barwise, Brian Robinson and Di Massingham won 19-10 against Martin Ousby, Jill Preston and Mel Evans.
In last Thursday’s Triples league Kevin Hadley, Lynn Hazell and Mike Davies lost 18-4 to Christine Weightman, Sid Horsfield and John Thompson; joint league leaders Yvonne Davies, Sheila Sunderland and David Bragg overcame Di Massingham, Phil Pridmore and Keith Goldsmith 14-11; joint league leaders Keith Richardson, Donald Holme and Cliff Harding won 14-9 against Alan Hind, Adrian Gill and John Sewell; Peter Rainey, Phil Barnes and Vic Emmerson defeated Jill Preston, Hilary Horsfield and Mike Jackman 16-12.
THE wonderful setting that is the Fitz Park Bowling Club, Keswick, is the venue for a major tournament this Sunday when the club plays host to the prestigious Cumbria Bowling Association’s ‘Champion of Champions’ competition.
The event involves green championship victors from various clubs around the county and supporters will be guaranteed to see a high quality of play from some of the leading players in Cumbria, writes Keith Richardson.
If the weather is kind there is no better setting in the county for a bowls tournament and the green at Fitz Park is currently in tip-top condition while the beautiful surroundings of the upper park and distant fells are self-evident.
Eighteen players will take part and there are two preliminary round ties in which Paul Wallace of Silloth plays Huw Crosby, of the Croft, Cockermouth, and David Forster, of Workington, takes on Bernard Riley, of Penrith Friars.
The 1st round matches are as follows: C Richardson (Caldbeck) v Tom Prescott (Fitz Park); Stephen Green (Vulcans park, Workington) v Mike Jackman (Castle Park, Penrith); Peter Metcalfe (Appleby) v Joe Coulthard (Wigton Park); Nigel Watson (Brampton) v Ian Gallagher (Carlisle Subscription); Kevin Harrison (Aspatria) v Ryan Prince (Whitehaven); John Logan (Linton) v Kevin Johnston (Courtfield); Paul Barlow (Wigton) v Charlie McDonagh (Kirkbride).
The preliminary and some first round ties begin at 10am.
In events at Fitz Park this week, Dave Brannan and Colin Mason were off the pace in their national senior pairs county quarter-final tie against Huw Crosby and Malcolm Smitham, the Workington pair bowling with greater consistency.
Meanwhile, internal club competitions continue at Fitz Park. The Green Championship has reached the quarter final stage and the line up is as follows: Graham Harrower v Owen Cooper; Mike Davies v Cliff Harding; Alan Dalzell v Ryan Brannan; John Sewell v Colin Mason. Deadline for ties is July 24 with the semi-finals scheduled for August 14.
In the women’s Green title the competitions are: Sue Tremble v Grace Gill; Jean Barwise v Jill Preston; Hazel Horsfield v Lynn Hazel; Chris Howarth v Chris Mills.
Recent results (losers in brackets) in other club competitions are – Over 60’s mixed singles: Cliff Harding (Peter Redfearn); Robin Phillips (Donald Holme); Keith Richardson (Sean Mills); Mike Davies (Mike Cooper).
Mixed pairs: Glenda Holme and Dave Brannan (Martin Ousby and Christine Weightman); Alan and Karen Hind (Jean and Dixon Barwise); Adrian Gill, Grace Gill
(Sean and Chris Mills); John Sewell and Di Massingham (Phil Barnes and Sue Tremble); Sid and Hazel Horsfield (Cliff Harding and Caroline Forsyth).
President’s Prize: Phil Barnes (Keith Goldsmith), Vic Emmerson (Mike Cooper).
In this Tuesday afternoon’s club triples competition Jean Barwise, Hazel Horsfield and Vic Emmerson got the better of Dixon Barwise, Sue Tremble and Keith Richardson 22-9 after being 0-7 down; Shona Robinson, Chris Mills and John Sewell were narrow victors over Arian Gill, Glenda Holme and Peter Tremble 12-10; Steve Jones, Lynn Hazell and Keith Price defeated Betty Forsyth, Martin Ousby and Sid Horsfield 24-8; and in a pairs encounter Christine Weightman and Keith Goldsmith lost 24-8 to John Thompson an Sean Mills.
An update on the last two Thursday evening Triples league results will appear next week.
Unfortunately, last Friday evening’s opening West Cumbria League game had to be postponed because of the damp condition of the green. This was the first league game since the beginning of the pandemic and it was a great pity that the fixture was cancelled. However, all is not lost as the fixture will be rearranged for a date later in the season.
Three members of Fitz Park Bowling Club, Craig Phillips, Ryan Brannan and Vic Emmerson have been selected to represent Cumbria B in the Alsop Trophy against Lancashire at the Courtfield Club, Carlisle, this Saturday. The trio was due to play Durham at Houghton-le-Spring last weekend but the match was postponed due to a flooded green.
THE Fitz Park Bowling Club pair of Graham Harrower and Dave Brannan are through to the last 16 of the Cumbria Bowling Association’s Men’s Pairs Championship.
The duo are the only remaining players from the club to reach the latter stages of either the singles or the pairs competitions, with the triples and fours events still to come.
The ultimate prize in the pairs is The W Winship Trophy and Harrower and Brannan reached the last 16 virtue of two outstanding victories over strong pairings, the latest being a 19-13 win on Monday evening at Fitz Park over Huw Crosby and Malcolm Smythe, of the Workington club.
Brannan played superbly once again while Harrower’s confidence grew as Monday’s match progressed into the critical phase. However, there are no easy games in the latter stages of this competition and next week they face arguably their sternest challenge when they travel to Silloth to play a pairing led by the vastly experienced and highly successful Adam Hocking.
Home advantage, of course, also counts for a lot and the Fitz Park pairing will have to be at their very best if they are to reach the quarter-finals of this prestigious competition.
Keith Richardson and Kevin Hadley crashed out of the same competition with a heavy defeat at the Courtfield Club, Carlisle, also on Monday.
Following the Government announcement delaying the final easing of lockdown restrictions, the Eden Valley Bowls League has decided that it is not going to run the league for the remainder of this summer. This will come as a disappointment to many bowlers who were looking forward to renewing league competition against other clubs. Fitz Park Bowls Club has two teams in the league, competing on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings and plans may now be made by the club to plug the gap.
However, it is not all doom and gloom where local leagues are concerned because the West Cumbria League in which Fitz Park Bowling Club competes on Friday evenings, is going to start towards the end of this month, beginning on Friday, June 25.
Internal club competitions continue apace and at Keswick the following are the latest results with the vanquished in brackets.
Green Championship: Phil Barnes (Tom Prescott), Owen Cooper (Alan Hind), Colin Jackson (Keith Richardson), Alan Dalzell (Donald Holme) and Sean Mills (Dave Brannan).
Over 60s mixed singles: Cliff Harding (Sue Tremble), Keith Price (Dixon Barwise), Keith Goldsmith (Sid Horsfield), Donald Holme (Jill Preston).
Mixed Pairs: Colin Mason and Sheila Sunderland (Lyn and Anthony McCaffery), Mike and Yvonne Davies (Alan Dalzell and Christine Haworth).
President’s Prize: Dave Brannan (Owen Cooper), Ryan Brannan (Christine Weightman), Mike Cooper (Mike Davies), Sean Miller (Kevin Hadley), Colin Mason (Sean Mills) and Lynn Hazell (Donald Holme).
Pic: Ben Challis
ON ANY fine morning at the Fitz Park Bowling Club – when club volunteers gather for a cup of tea and a chat and to work on the green and surrounds – it is inevitable that passing visitors will pause to compliment those present on the Upper Park in which the club is situated.
The quaint club building, the green and the immediate vicinity, the wider parks, the trees, flowers and plant life, the River Greta and, of course, the marvellous Lake District setting with Walla Crag in the distance, all receive praise from visitors who have not seen the like in any of the places they have travelled from.
It is no exaggeration to say that Fitz Park, and especially the Upper Park, takes their breath away. And Wednesday of this week was no exception as bowls club volunteers Donald Holme and Colin Mason spent the time of day chatting to several visitors about the club and the park.
How fortunate we are – at a time when many sporting facilities and bowling greens elsewhere are being lost to cost cutting measures or a lack of interest – to have a thriving club and green in such a wonderful location.
This week and last, as internal club leagues draw to a close and in the run up to the start of the Eden Valley and West Cumbria Leagues later this month, the club has been engaged in county and club individual matches.
In the county doubles, the pairings of Graham Harrower / Dave Brannan and Keith Richardson / Keith Goldsmith are the only Fitz Park duos to reach the last 16 of the competition, while club president Cliff Harding was this week the only home player left in the last 16 of the singles and was due to play Chris Williams on Wednesday evening at Workington.
The match date for the pairs is next Monday evening and it is to be hoped that one, if not both, of the Fitz Park duos might reach the quarter-final stage.
Father and son met in the final of the Peter Towers Snr 2-ball competition on Saturday when Dave Brannan got the better of his lad, Ryan, 11-7. Twenty four players entered the competition.
Recent results in club competitions are as follows (losers in brackets): Green Championship – Kevin Hadley (Vic Emmerson), Sid Horsfield (Steve Jones), Ryan Brannan (Philip Pridmore), Craig Phillips (Morgan Lowther), John Sewell (Robin Phillips), Mike Jackman (John Thompson).
Mens Pairs: Vic Emmerson and John Sewell (Ryan Brannan and Peter Redfearn).
Over 60s mixed singles: Mike Jackman (John Thompson), Keith Goldsmith (Sid Horsfield), Sean Mills (Lynn Hazell).
Mixed pairs: Mike and Yvonne Davies (Alan Dalzell and Chris Howarth).
Presidents Prize: Keith Goldsmith (Peter Redfearn), Phil Barnes (Morgan Lowther), Philip Pridmore (Alan Hind), Cliff Harding (Graham Harrower), Tom Prescott (Sid Horsfield), Dave Brannan (Jill Preston), Owen Cooper (Jean Barwise), Peter Bell (Steve Jones) and Sean Mills (Kevin Hadley).
IT’S all happening at Fitz Park Bowling Club with games coming thick and fast across all areas of competition and the social side of the club enjoying a much-needed boost in the sunshine and wonderful early summer setting of the upper park.
The green is benefitting enormously from the sudden upsurge of grass growth and the quality of the surface and playing conditions has improved as a result, writes Keith Richardson.
As club internal competitions on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings wind down they will soon be replaced, later this month, by the welcome return of the Eden Valley leagues (Tuesday afternoon and Thursday evening) and the West Cumbria League (Friday evening).
Meanwhile, a number of Fitz Park players continue to be involved in various county competitions and there was an excellent victory earlier this week, in the Men’s’ Pairs, for Dave Brannan and Graham Harrower as they defeated the highly fancied Silloth duo of Paul Wallace and Ryan Orchard 16-8. These games are played over 18 ends and the visitors conceded defeat with one end remaining.
Dave Brannan’s son, Ryan, a very good young bowler, has aspirations to rekindle his playing career this summer, but he and club colleague Colin Mason, came off second best in another men’s pairs encounter, on Tuesday evening, when they lost at Fitz Park to Dave Lee and Laurence Kelly, of the Carlisle Subscription Club.
It all started promisingly for the home duo and at one stage they were 9-0 ahead and looked poised for an easy passage to the next round before Lee and Kelly got their act together and edged their way back before leveling the match at 12-12. From then on in there was only one outcome as they went on to win 12-23.
Perhaps Brannan and Mason might have benefitted from a reversal of roles with Mason leading and his playing partner as skip?
Club President Cliff Harding and Caroline Forsyth had a trip to the seaside and Seascale for their county mixed pairs tie but went out with the tide to lose 16-9 to Henry Stewart and Christine Southward.
Vic Emmerson did not have a good week in county competitions. He was well beaten (21-6) by Ryan Prince, of Whitehaven, in the singles and then, in partnership with John Sewell, lost 19-9 to Adam Hocking and Lewis Parker, of Silloth, in the pairs.
In the national senior pairs, Robin Phillips and John Sewell lost heavily 28-5 to Ricky Gallagher and Terry Hullock, of Carlisle Subscription.
In club competitions, players made progress at the expense of those in brackets:
Green Championship – Mike Davies (Keith Goldsmith); Cliff Harding (Keith Price); Adrian Gill (Peter Redfearn).
Men’s’ pairs - Cliff Harding and Philip Pridmore (Alan Hind and Martin Ousby).
Over 60s mixed singles: Kevin Hadley (Jean Barwise); Alan Dalzell (Colin Jackson); Robin `Phillips (Colin Mason); John Sewell (Steve Jones).
Presidents Prize – Keith Richardson (John Sewell); Peter Bell (Steve Jones); Vic Emmerson (Grace Gill); Colin Mason (Alan Dalzell); Adrian Gill (Keith Price).
The winners of the Tuesday afternoon club triples league and winners of the Ben Challis silver plate, were Peter Tremble, Hughie Burton, John Thompson, Sheila Sunderland and Colin Jackson. On the day, the winning team closed out their season with a 14-6 win over Keith Goldsmith, Mark Finlay and Geeth Kumara. In other final games in the competition Chris Howarth, Adrian Gill and Kevin Hadley defeated Sean Mills, Di Massingham and Martin Ousby 15-11; John Sewell, Harry Morter and Donald Holme overwhelmed Colin Mason, Christine Weightman, Hazel Horsfield and Alan Dalzell 24-4; Keith Price, Glenda Holme and Graham Harrower narrowly defeated Jean Barwise, Lynn Hazell and Keith Richardson 15-13.
In last Thursday’s Triples League results were as follows: Sid Horsfield, Colin Jackson and John Thompson got the better of Yvonne Davies, Christine Weightman and David Bragg 13-8; Karen Hind, Di Massingham and Keith Goldsmith lost 15-18 to Keith Richardson, Donald Holme and Sean Mills; Hazel Horsfield, Mark Finlay and Mike Jackman overcame Martin Ousby, Alan Hind and Adrian Gill 15-9; Kevin Hadley, Mike Robertson and Mike Davies won 17-8 against Peter Rainey, Keith Price and Vic Emmerson.
In Monday’s aggregate, Lynn Hazell, Caroline Forsyth and Keith Price lost 9-13 to Lynn McCaffery, Karen Hind and Peter Bell; Christine Weightman, Chris Howarth and Mark Finlay defeated Mel Evans, Alan McCaffery and Adrian Gill 21-8; Hughie Burton and Sid Horsfield took the game 18-7 against Betty Forsyth and Jill Preston while Steve Jones and Alan Hind lost 8-11 to Martin Ousby and Cliff Harding.
Finally this week, all club members were sorry to hear of the death earlier this week of long standing supporter and a very popular Keswick character, Alistair Corfield, who would have been 90 in August.
In recent seasons, Alistair – a former bowls player himself – was a daily visitor to the club and would support players and club events at every opportunity.
But the Fitz Park Bowling Club was far more than a sports location to Alistair. It was a social hub and played a massive part in his life, especially during lockdown when it gave him an all-important outlet. He was certainly not alone in that respect and Alistair supervised the essential voluntary work that went on in and around the club in those dark days.
There was nothing Alistair would like more – as he did right up until he was admitted to hospital last week – than to sit outside the bowls pavilion with friends and watch a match unfold in the sunshine and in the beautiful location that is the bowls green at Upper Fitz Park.
He will be sadly missed.
TAKING aside grip, weight, accuracy, bias, hand-eye coordination and natural ability, the delivery of a wood in flat green bowls should be a relatively straightforward affair. The player stands on the mat, takes aims and with a step forward, brings the arm through and, hey presto, the wood is propelled down the green, hopefully to rest against the jack.
If only it were that simple.
Players develop a style of delivery and its aftermath that is peculiar, quite literally in some instances, to themselves. There is no right or wrong method but the end result can often be fascinating and I am intrigued by the various styles and post delivery mannerisms of certain players at Fitz Park Bowling Club, writes Keith Richardson.
For example, there is the action that I like to describe as “the startled frog”. This is a technique being perfected by one Adrian Gill who has a dramatic follow through – not unlike that of a speed skater – which is then freeze-framed with arms outstretched and fingers spread-eagled, not unlike the webbing on a frog caught in mid leap.
There are also some pre-delivery movements from a couple of players which have clearly been copied from the stone dippers in the River Greta and which involve pretty vigorous and occasionally prolonged bobbing up and down on the mat before the wood is launched.
For the highly characteristic and perhaps involuntary gestures that follow a delivery, John “Thommo” Thompson is well known for his thigh slapping, the slapping of hand on trouser leg becoming increasingly frenzied as the wood homes in on the jack. Hughie Burton is apt to lean over sideways, not unlike the Tower of Pisa, as he follows the progress of the wood down the green.
Then there is Craig Phillips, captain of the club’s West Cumbria League team and a left-handed player whose delivery arm is always held high across the chest on the follow-through and who is also given to much finger-clicking as the wood approaches its target.
Several players like to run down the green after a wood, running straight on or, at other times, adopting a swerve or two. Players can also be very verbal and there is no more familiar shout than that of Dave Brannan as he exhorts a wood to “Bend! Bend!”
It very rarely does.
The latest round of club matches included all of the above and it was fitting therefore that Craig Phillips should win the club’s ‘Swing Jack’ competition at the weekend, defeating Vic Emmerson 11-7 in the final. To reach the final, Phillips had beaten Tom Prescott 11-9 while Emmerson got the better of Alan Hind 11-2.
The competition was very enjoyable and produced some surprise results. The club’s youngest player, Grace Gill, reached the quarter-final and defeated John Thompson 11-7 en route. Sue Tremble lost by only a single shot (11-10) to eventual finalist Emmerson after being one up going into the decisive end.
Colin Mason and Dave Brannan revisited their Friday night ‘friendly’ rivalry with the latter winning 11-10 after a major tussle that lasted 18 ends. Similarly, John Sewell pushed competition winner Phillips all the way 11-10 after being 9-10 up. And Brannan and Prescott were involved in another close encounter that the latter took 11-10.
Club players are now involved in county matches and Adrian Gill overcame the challenge of Bob Grindley from Longtown by 21-7.
In last Thursday evening’s triples league results were as follows: Hazel Horsfield, Mark Findlay and Mike Jackman defeated Colin Jackson, Colin Mason and Sid Horsfield 13-12; Dave Brannan, Philip Pridmore and Karen Hind tied 13-13 with John Sewell, Martin Ousby and Alan Hind; David Bragg, Adrian Gill, and Sheila Sunderland overcame Peter Rainey, Keith Price and Vic Emmerson 16-12; and finally, Kevin Hadley, Lynn Hazell and Mike Robertson lost 14-18 to Keith Richardson, Sue Tremble and Sean Mills.
In the aggregate, Adrian Gill, Cliff Harding and Christine Weightman got the better of Steve Jones, Colin Mason and Velma Bottomley 20-7; Keith Price and Sheila Sunderland lost 9-13 to Mark Findlay and Peter Bell; Caroline Forsyth, Hughie Burton and Mel Evans were narrowly beaten 7-9 by Martin Ousby, Sid Horsfield and Lynn Hazell.
Bright warm sunshine greeted players for this week’s Tuesday afternoon triples league games when Colin Jackson, Hughie Burton and John Thompson cemented their place as clear leaders in the competition with a 20-14 win over Colin Mason, Christine Weightman and Hazel Horsfield.
Keith Price, Glenda Holme and Graham Harrower hammered Jean Barwise, Mark Findlay and Geeth Kumara 26-6 while John Sewell, Christine Mills and Harry Morter defeated Vic Emmerson, Adrian Gill and Kevin Hadley 17-12.
In the closest encounter of the afternoon Sean Mills, Di Massingham and Martin Ousby got the better of Keith Richardson, Sue Tremble and Peter Redfearn 17-15.
Win, lose or draw, the afternoon ended with a pleasant hour or so of socializing in the sunshine and with the bar, at long last, well and truly officially open!
IN THE game of flat green bowls, players can just as easily have an off day as they are likely, on another occasion, to perform brilliantly or just so-so. And all the players will have experienced one or other of those outcomes when the poor weather relented to allow Fitz Park Bowling Club to continue with its Tuesday afternoon triples competition.
The unsettled weather put paid to last week’s event and also led to the cancellation of a club competition organized for last Saturday and which will now take place this weekend, writes Keith Richardson.
While the make up of teams competing in the triples has been complicated a little of late due to non-availability and players from other teams, themselves substitutes for their own squad, standing in as late replacements, this has not affected the overall enjoyment of the event.
And Upper Fitz Park was once again a glorious picture of red and amber shirts as club players went head to head in the triples and the team represented on Tuesday by Peter (“Bomber”) Tremble, Sheila Sunderland and John Thompson went top of the tree with a 22-10 victory over Di Massingham, Martin Ousby and Tom Prescott. “Bomber’s Raiders”, for want of a better title (cue Dambuster music) now lead the league and are the only unbeaten team in the competition.
Keswick Cricket Club’s Sri Lankan professional Geeth Kumara made his return to bowls and was thrown in at the deep end on his opening game when he was asked to skip a trio also including Jean Barwise and Hughie Burton. They made a moderate start, being 10-0 down at one stage, but recovered sufficiently to lose only 17-10 against the experienced triumvirate of John Sewell, Donald Holme and Colin Mason.
Keith Price, Glenda Holme and Adrian Gill defeated Christine Weightman, Hazel Horsfield and Alan Dalzell 15-9 and the same score was recorded by Sue Tremble, Kevin Hadley and Vic Emmerson in getting the better of Dixon Barwise, Lynn Hazell and Keith Richardson.
In Monday’s aggregate competition, Keith Price, Alan Hind and Sheila Sunderland defeated a two-player team of Adrian Gill and Jill Preston 11-4. Lynn Hazell and Sid Horsfield won 17-12 against Hughie Burton and Christine Weightman while Cliff Harding, Colin Mason and Karen Hind were comfortable winners by 20-2 over Caroline Harding, Mel Evans and Mark Findlay.
And finally this week, competition organizer Derek Massingham – who badly damaged a shoulder in a fall from his mountain bike last year – has now had surgery to resolve the problem and we wish him well in his recovery and a speedy return to competitive bowls. Not least because his wife Di says she is already weary of running around after him!
to the Eden Valley League. Harry Morter might feel relieved at that information.
SEASONED bowler Harry Morter will readily tell you of the time, just a few summers ago now, when he almost ‘died’ of hypothermia while playing for Fitz Park Bowling Club at Lazonby’s picturesque green in the depths of the Eden Valley. It was one of those ‘summer’ days when the temperature suddenly drops alarmingly to something approaching zero and the rain sweeps horizontally over the ground, driven on by a gale force wind.
The usually scenic Pennines across the valley could not be seen, the cloud line was down to ground level. And most of the players, with the exception of those few in waterproof whites, were all soaked to the skin. Ah yes, I remember it well. Keith Price resorted to wearing a bear mat over his head, little good that that did. While Harry, a decade or so older than his team mates, was frozen to the core and his fingers were so cold and painful that he could not actually grip the wood.
The experience scars him to this day; so much so that he declines to play in evening games, preferring the white hot ‘heat’ of the afternoons. So he was probably relieved that this week’s Tuesday afternoon triples league had to be postponed because of a flooded green at Fitz Park. Not only that, conditions were cold, wet, windy and generally miserable and the following blue-sky morning the fells were covered in snow and car window screens white with frost.
What bizarre weather we are experiencing. Little wonder I have not seen a single swallow. But there was bowls last Sunday afternoon when a jumble triples competition attracted 24 players to Fitz Park. The event was won by the one and only David (“Bulldog”) Bragg by single point on 29 followed by joint runners-up Christine Mills and club president Cliff Harding, both on 28. In third place was Keith Goldsmith, recently returned to Keswick from the Isle of Skye.
One part of the competition was memorable in that Betty Forsyth, Hazel Horsfield and Colin Mason were five down to Sue Tremble, Christine Mills and skip Tom Prescott going into the last end when they got an unlikely six shots to emerge 8/7 winners – high fives all round! In last Thursday’s triples league the results were as follows: John Thompson, Christine Weightman and Colin Mason (14 shots) Peter Rainey, Keith Price and Vic Emmerson (10); Mark Findlay, Di Massingham and Mike Jackman (16) Karen Kind, Philip Pridmore and Dave Brannan (14); Sheila Sunderland, David Bragg and Ryan Brannan (16) Sue Tremble, Cliff Harding and Sean Mills (10). The club is holding a Swing Jack two wood singles competition this Saturday afternoon from 2pm.
On the wider league stage, it would appear that the West Cumbria (Friday night) League is probably going to make a start in late June, but there is no news yet of any similar developments with regard to the Eden Valley League. Harry Morter might feel relieved at that information.
For more seasons now than he probably cares to remember, Robin Phillips has been the leading light as a player at Fitz Park Bowling Club, Keswick.
And despite his prolonged absence from the club as a player due to the lockdown restrictions and work commitments, Robin celebrated his return to club – and his 60th birthday – this week with a hard fought draw in the Tuesday afternoon Triples League.
And it was as if he had never been away. His very first wood almost nestled against the jack and he then gave a virtuoso performance that makes him the sort of player who can always conjure something out of nothing. The phrase “it never leaves you” could never have been so apt, writes Keith Richardson.
Robin had no intention of playing on Tuesday and had come along simply to spectate.
But the non-appearance of a couple of players meant that he was press-ganged into action at the last minute.
Robin last bowled a wood in anger on September 20, 2019 when he and fellow players from Fitz Park won the prestigious Eden Valley League Day competition held at Appleby. Robin has been the club champion at Fitz Park no fewer than 17 times in a record-breaking sequence that stretches from 1987 to 2018.
And I would not be in the least surprised if his name was yet again to appear on the notice board anytime soon for he is still, clearly, a formidable opponent.
As freezing rain swept across the ground during the afternoon and reminded Harry Morter of the day he was almost frozen solid at Lazonby, bowlers braved the conditions after being lulled into a false sense of security by day after day and week after week of almost continual sunshine.
But then what could you expect? This was the day that Keswick Cricket Club’s Sri Lankan professional Geeth Kumara – also a member of the bowls club when he is not playing or coaching cricket – came out of quarantine. So it was bound to rain, and it did.
Two teams share top spot in the Tuesday Triples League, both undefeated after two games. Sean Mills, Martin Ousby and Di Massingham lead the way with a better shot difference (plus 21) after they overcame Alan Dalzell, Colin Mason and Christine Weightman by the considerable margin of 21-7.
Also unbeaten after two successive wins are Colin Jackson, Hughie Burton and John Thompson (shot difference of plus 11) who got the better of John Sewell, Christine Mills and a hypothermic Harry Morter 16-6.
There was a convincing win also, 24-7, for Vic Emmerson, Adrian Gill and Kevin Hadley over Keith Price, Colin Glover and Glenda Holme. And finally in the triples Robin Phillips, Derek Massingham and Mark Finlay came back from the ‘dead’ – a 12-7 deficit going into the last of the 15 ends – to square the match after an end defining shot from Phillips was built on by Findlay to rescue what seemed a lost cause.
On the receiving end were Tom Prescott, Lynn Hazell and your bowls correspondent.
Opening games in the Thursday evening triples were played last week when Karen Hind, Phillip Pridmore and skip Dave Brannan actually conceded eight shots on one notorious – for them at least – end and only narrowly failed in a remarkable fight back against Peter Rainey, Phil Barnes and Vic Emmerson. The final score was 16-17.
In other results from the Thursday Triples: Colin Mason, Colin Jackson and Christine Weightman lost 12-20 to John Sewell, Adrian Gill and Alan Hind; David Bragg, Yvonne Davies and Grace Gill were defeated 13-17 by Mike Davies, Kevin Hadley and Lynn Hazell – the eventual victors were losing 12-2 after six ends; league leaders by a shot difference of plus 20, Sue Tremble, Donald Holme and Keith Richardson got the better of Sheila Sunderland, Keith Price and Derek Massingham 26-6.
In Monday’s Aggregate event, Adrian Gill, Jill Preston and Mel Evans lost 8-9 to Velma Bottomley, Cliff Harding and Keith Price; Martin Ousby, Sheila Sunderland and Hughie Burton went down 3-14 to Caroline Harding, Colin Mason and Alan Hind; Christine Weightman, Christine Howarth, and Karen Hind won 12-9 against Colin Glover, Lynn MacCaffery and Mark Findlay.
And finally this week, the flowers on the magnolia tree adjacent to the top corner of the bowls green are now past their best after fighting back courageously against some unseasonal frost, but the Upper Park in general is now looking an absolute picture with various blossoms and foliage providing an amazing display. Not to mention the red and amber of the bowling club playing strips.
And there was a great deal of interest this week by the creation of a sculpture of an owl into the trunk of what was, in a former life, a Blue Atlas Cedar.
All this, of course, has nothing to do with bowls as a sport, except its relevance to the immediate and wonderful environment in which the Fitz Park Bowling Club operates and in which it takes great pride.