Saturday, 12 November 2011

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ABOUT US: Abington Bowling Club is one of Northampton's sporting institutions. Based just south of Abington Park, we are in close proximity to the Old Northamptonians Sports Ground. Just a short way east of the town centre. We provide a competitive but welcoming environment for anyone who fancies taking up outdoor flat green bowls, the most popular form of bowls, and the most inclusive of all sports.


We also boast one of the biggest and most furbished clubhouses in the region, complete with lounge area, dining room and boardroom. We offer usage of any of these to interested parties. Click on 'Hire our Facilities' above to see what we can provide.
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LATEST NEWS:

11/9/2017

CLUB FINALS: FACES OLD AND NEW

BOTH THE men's and women's club championship finals were played on Sunday, September 10th. Amongst the drizzle were two intriguing confrontations between established Abington champions of years past, and newer members.

In the men's final, it went the way of the old guard in the most dramatic fashion, but it was precisely the opposite in the women's. Gill Crossley stands proud as Abington's ladies champion at the end of only her second full season as a member - and as a bowler, full stop. That alone would be praiseworthy, but to have also thrashed Lis Milburn, a former three-time champion, against whom she had already lost the handicap and 2-wood finals after last-minute loss of bottle, confirms it as a classic.

The 2-wood had been earlier on the same day. Two up going into the last end, Crossley had allowed nerves to get the better of her and gifted Milburn a brace despite not being within a yard herself. The extra end proved a similar story. She picked the right moment to learn her lesson though.

For the main event, there was a clear determination on Crossley's part to establish a lead large enough that the finish-line jitters wouldn't strike. And so it happened. Crossley bowled with even greater consistency and reached 20 shots while Milburn was mired on six. Again, there was a hint of nervousness, and Milburn picked up five shots in two ends, but the gap remained large enough for Crossley to regain resolution and put one on top of the jack to win the crown.

That lesson of giving yourself a safety net had already been borne out to some extent by the finish of the men's final. Again, it was between a multiple previous winner and a new member, albeit this time not from novice. Far from it. Phil Reeve's record at three previous clubs, Roade, Express and Kingsthorpe, and for the Northants county side, is an exemplary one. To reach the Abington final in his debut season, he'd attained a level of singles play not seen at this club in many years. And while waiting the entire season for news on an upcoming heart operation.

However, his final opponent was probably the last man he wanted to meet: all-time record club champion, Jonathan Brown. Whatever else is going on in his bowling life, Brown's focus on the Abington Club Singles remains strong, maintaining a winning ratio of (slightly more than) one every three seasons. This was his 14th in 37 years as an Abington member. A greater contrast to a new recruit can scarcely be found (even though not much separates them in age).

On this occasion, Brown came out of the traps flying, 8-1 up after just four ends, but then Reeve came alive, and it would ultimately prove to be a test of mettle for Brown, for whom ascending beyond 13 titles was partly a test on overcoming his superstition of that famously unlucky number. Reeve dominated the next portion of the match, taking the lead on the ninth end and gingerly extending it to the point where he only needed two more.

That Reeve didn't finish the job wasn't due to nervousness on his part, but instead another classic feature of singles play, the almost magical improvement that comes over many a losing player, when they realise they are potentially one end away from defeat. In response to this threat, Brown abandoned his weaker backhand, and began putting at least two woods on a sixpence each end. This forced Reeve to go on the extreme offensive. He remained strong enough to play some stunningly accurate drives, but he just couldn't prevent a torturous conceding of seven shots in four ends that saw Brown snatch glory from his grasp.

Brown's motivation for that final assault had extra motivation, beyond getting his name back on a trophy he has almost come to take ownership of. In doing so, he managed to succeed his own son Adam as club champion. And in addition, nobody had won the trophy in their first year at Abington since himself in 1981. It now looks like being a long time before that ever happens again.

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10/9/2017

HOPES FOR SILVERWARE FADE

ALTHOUGH it's been a season of success in many ways, Abington will end 2017 with few outright trophies. Two more slipped from our grasp recently. The women's County Top Club and the mens' Triples League Knockout Shield.

Both have taken pride of place in the Abington clubhouse in recent years, and with both teams strengthened since those triumphs, odds were good on a double repeat. However, in this instance, both were ended at the semi-final stage.

The ladies were removed from the reckoning by Higham Ferrers Town, losing three of the four disciplines. Only Diana Brown and Debbie Cadd on the pairs rink achieved the right result, with a convincing 25-11 stuffing of Jenny Dempsey and Viv Gaudyn.

With their teammates all struggling, it was a helpful margin. In this competition, aggregate shots are used to decide tied games. If only another rink could finish with a flourish, it might be enough. Lis Milburn pursued Helena Norman in the singles almost down to the wire, but was eventually beaten 17-21. It was the closest anyone would come to assisting Brown and Cadd's efforts.

Donna Williamson, Debbie Bradshaw and Barbara Astle lost their grip on the triples late on to lose by nine, while the fours, Judy Jones, Doreen McLaughlin, Gill Crossley and Pam Wills, were on the receiving end of an extraordinarily bountiful match which saw 55 shots in 21 ends! Only 22 of which went Abington's way.

Elsewhere, the other semi-final defeat has meant the sad requisition of an honour won only last year. Ultimately, West End A, smarting from another late fall in the league itself, were that bit more determined. Their famous gung-ho approach saw them through several tricky situations. At the very least the score was much closer than in either of the league fixtures this season, with only a few late salvos turning the screw in the away side's favour.

Bizarrely the only Abington rink not to be defeated, skipped by Tony O'Leary, had gone into the last three ends looking grateful to be propped up by the others. However, their incredible fightback, from 10 down to level, was enacted the other way elsewhere. Phil Reeve, John Freeman and captain Jonathan Brown all scored on the very last end (meaning Abington A took 12 in total at the climax), but it was no more than an outsized consolation. If this had been a league game, it would have returned only half a point. West End A had given another demonstration of the level Abington aspire to reach, and provided yet more proof that there is no opportunity to put your feet up against high-quality opponents.

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31/8/2017

OUR MEN AT LEAMINGTON

AS THE SUMMER months end, so too does the National Bowls Championships at Leamington Spa. This week, they were graced by two Abington players, in the men's 2-wood and senior singles.

Neither Adam Brown nor John Freeman made a huge impact on proceedings, though the latter did survive an extremely tense first match against Noel O'Shea of Middlesex in which he had to twice recover deficits of 0-5 and 9-15. Freeman's opponent deserved great credit for finding good form despite the handicap of bowling with set of woods that were totally unfamiliar to him, his own trusty set found to be out of date!

But our man also earned plaudits for his stamina and tenacity, taking the match to the absolute wire. Against the usual rub, both players form improved as the stakes were raised, shots changing hands regularly and the umpire being required more than once to measure with callipers. A good head of woods on the 27th end climaxed with Freeman - possibly holding though not entirely sure - drawing a pearler on top of the jack to make sure of shot. The Middlesex man tried to kill the end, but missed, and left to reflect on the cruelty of losing a game he had led throughout.

It was a thought that both Abingtonians were themselves left to chew over following their exits. Freeman's performance in the second round was a distinct improvement on the first, but luck had deserted him. Almost every time he plonked one on top of the jack, Worcestershire's Ronald Coleman took it straight off. And the Northamptonshire representative hung himself at the finish, giving Coleman a second shot with the score at 13-19.

Brown meanwhile was left faintly baffled after a swift exit from the 2-wood to Surrey's Matt White, despite common consent that he had been the better player, and despite having played the majority of successful conversion shots, usually guaranteed to give any bowler the psychological upper hand. This was one occasion however when the average drawn position was not translated to the scoreline. Nevertheless, though brief, it was a largely assured debut performance at a national level from Brown (who philosophically reflected that he wouldn't have reached this stage had he not wrenched a couple of guts with smash-and-grab wins in the qualifiers). It should hold him and the club in good stead for future attempts.

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27/8/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEKS 13 & 14

THE FINALE of the men's Monday evening triples league proved to be a major anti-climax for Abington, as both teams were defeated in their last two games.

The late collapse sadly cost the B-team a place in the top flight alongside their A-team brethren next year. Going into the final couple of matches, they led the chasing pack behind St. Crispin's, knowing that a win against the leaders may even have given them a sniff of winning Division 2 outright. Unfortunately, they only collected one and a half points from a possible 12, with Kingsthorpe B also beating them 1-5 in the decisive match.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
14
10
1
3
894
743
55
Daventry Town A
14
7
2
5
902
811
48
Heyford
14
7
2
5
889
838
45.5
Abington B
14
9
0
5
843
821
45
Kingsthorpe B
14
8
1
5
860
876
45
Brackley
14
7
2
5
855
808
43.5
Roade
14
4
2
8
812
871
32.5
Harpole A
14
1
0
13
678
965
21.5

Daventry A were the grateful recipients of Abington B's dropped ball and took it over the line with two thumping wins, ensuring that both of the sides who came down from the top flight in 2016 will return in 2018. In the end just one shot in the Kingsthorpe match, on Mick Hall's rink, prevented them from falling down into the bottom half of the table.

Likewise, the A-team salvaged fourth place in their division by a wafer-thin margin, after taking only three points against Express A and Kingsthorpe A. It matches the average position of the last few years, but on points they're a long way short of the top three, who they were expected to at least challenge this year.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
14
12
1
1
949
701
66
Northampton West End A
14
10
0
4
994
681
60
Northampton Express A
14
10
1
3
884
720
60
Abington A
14
6
0
8
814
859
37.5
Whyte Melville A
14
6
0
8
750
867
37
Earls Barton
14
4
1
9
703
942
27.5
Desborough Town
14
3
1
10
767
905
25
Bugbrooke
14
2
0
12
711
897
22

Our congratulations have to be extended once again to Kingsthorpe A, who claimed a sixth successive title after West End A sensationally lost at Earls Barton, just a couple of weeks after a 79-shot victory over the same opposition had made their claims on the title appear ironclad. The four points Barton gained from that upset, unquestionably the result of the season, proved vital, condemning Desborough to Division 2 - alongside Bugbrooke, who did at least get a second win on the board before their departure.

Reflecting on this ultimately disappointing campaign, the B-team will be mindful of the fact that despite their long run of results, the season began badly and now has ended similarly. The A-team's task for next year is to develop a sense of ruthlessness, so as to match the elite teams.

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13/8/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 12

THE SITUATION continues to improve for Abington in the Monday evening men's league. The B-side now stand potentially just one game away from promotion, having done almost everything to try and remove Brackley from the equation.

And in addition to a 5-1 win over a close rival, a little later came the news of a surprise loss for the only side above them, St. Crispin's. Who just happen to be the B-team's opponents for the 13th round. With the gap to first place now down to just half a point, a win will make the Bs' position almost unassailable.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
12
8
1
3
739
660
44
Abington B
12
9
0
3
746
679
43.5
Daventry Town A
12
5
2
5
773
718
39.5
Heyford
12
6
2
4
751
700
39.5
Brackley
12
7
1
5
752
684
38.5
Kingsthorpe B
12
6
1
5
725
768
35
Roade
12
4
1
7
685
735
30.5
Harpole A
12
1
0
11
596
823
19.5

The Brackley result confirms how the team has solidified over the course of the campaign, no longer relying on an isolated rink to win big. Dave Brawn and Mick Hall's rinks shared highest-win honours, even though the latter had been level with just three ends to go. Captain Mick Taylor continued his winning run despite a late wobble that brought the deficit down to just two. Four separate scores of three had helped establish their lead. Meanwhile, the one losing rink at least finished a little stronger than they started, quickly quelling any possibility of the points being shared.

A 3-3 draw was the result of the crunch game between Daventry A and Heyford. So both of them have lost out, but neither can be discounted with one of the top two set to drop points this week. The big news is the confirmation of Harpole A's immediate return to Division 3.

Over in the object of all their desires, the First Division, there was more good news for Abington as the A-side went back above Whyte Melville, following the latter's destruction at Kingsthorpe. Two caveats however. It was a most belaboured victory at Bugbrooke, with two points conceded and a winning shot margin considerably less than most others have managed over a side who are now almost confirmed to come last. And also, Abington A's final two matches are against Express A and Kingsthorpe A, so we'll need to see considerable sharpness throughout the side if we are to hang onto fourth. (West End A will certainly be hoping for that as well.)


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
12
10
1
1
803
595
56
Northampton West End A
12
9
0
3
854
588
52
Northampton Express A
12
9
1
2
738
628
50
Abington A
12
6
0
6
706
722
34.5
Whyte Melville A
12
5
0
7
651
714
32
Desborough Town
12
3
1
8
664
760
25
Earls Barton
12
3
1
8
597
816
22.5
Bugbrooke
12
1
0
11
585
775
16

Phil Reeve and Dave Vernon were the two skips who came up trumps this week. The latter was level with six ends to go before an extended salvo of nine in four ends (plus a tied end on the very last). Reeve's game saw an unconventional scoring pattern, with two prolonged spells of conceding ones and twos and a minority of big scores at the beginning and middle. Meanwhile, John Freeman's usually reliable record was dented by a man serving notice of his future intentions. Bugbrooke's Dave Jones completed a personal league double against the men he will be calling team-mates next year. Incredibly, Jones sealed his rink point on both occasions with a superb final bowl while a stackful down. Indications are that he'll be another solid addition to our playing unit.

*** WOULD THAT this upturn in fortunes extended to the ladies team in their Friday triples league as well. After three matches, promotion looked a decent bet, but the only win since then came in a game abandoned after 10 ends for poor weather. Even with one rearranged fixture to play, Abington are resigned to another year in the lower tier. Molly Atterbury and Lis Milburn have been two standout stars of the team, with a 100% winning record from four appearances each, and not always while on the same rink. Unfortunately, few others have been able to match that this season. Although 2nd place is not out of the question mathematically, 3rd looks to be the likely summit of their ambitions now.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kislingbury
8
6
0
2
235
219
20.5
Woodford-cum-Membris
7
4
0
3
214
199
16
Whyte Melville
6
3
0
3
183
145
14.5
Abington
7
3
0
4
193
186
13.5
Harpole
8
2
0
6
193
269
7.5

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11/8/2017

OUR LADIES AT LEAMINGTON

ABINGTON HAD NEVER figured in the women's national championships before, and they exited at the 2nd round. Yet 'if only...' seems an appropriate response, as their conquerors ended the week with the trophy in their hands.

On paper, this wasn't the closest the eventual champions came to defeat, but few opponents of Ann Halliday's Middlesex rink would have performed better. Certainly no-one scored more shots against them.

A curious quirk of Middlesex's run to ultimate glory was that they kept being dealt the same big challenge, how to deal with a rink buoyant with the joys of administering a thrashing in their previous round. And our rink began this demanding series. All four of Debbie Bradshaw, Diana Brown, Lis Milburn and Debbie Cadd were marvellous in their opening match as Bernadette Hill's rink from Bolton BC, Lancashire were simply carved open.

The front pair gave them a head start on most ends, and consequently the game overall. After a few ends, the back end's confidence had risen enough for them to match that consistency, and more importantly, play the crucial conversion shots with ease. Perhaps most crucial of all was Cadd's final wood on the 16th end, with which she drilled onto a Lancashire shot bowl and collected the jack taking it a few feet towards a collection of Northants woods for six.

That swiftly ended the only slightly sticky patch of the first game, and effectively killed the tie. Cadd and company eased towards an eventual 25-8 win, with two ends to spare. They had never been to Leamington before but they looked like they belonged.

As theirs was an early first round, they had to pack up, go home and return the following afternoon for their second game. In that time, the weather deteriorated, but their form didn't. As they bolted into a 9-2 lead after five ends, it seemed more of the same was due. A dropped four on the sixth end though confirmed that this foe wouldn't lay over quite so meekly. After 10 ends, that early lead had evaporated.

The second half became a cat-and-mouse chase as our girls fought to keep up the pace. There was time for one final twist though. Abington re-took the lead for Northants with two ends to go after yet more excellent conversion shots from Cadd. But neither she nor her teammates could repeat the feat on the last couple of ends and two dropped threes brought the axe down.

Despite that gutting blow, all four of them can return to Abington with their heads high. They represented their county with some high quality bowling and pushed the eventual winners nearer the exit than most. To get here in the first place, they had to defeat previous winners of the national tournament. They are Abington's first female qualifiers for the nationals, but one gets the feeling we won't have to wait long for more.

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6/8/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 11

IN THE LAST Monday league report, this page raised some serious questions about the ambition of our two sides, and awaited a "big response". The initial verdict is, they buried most of the immediate issues.

We have to begin with the B-team in Division 2, as they are involved in a pursuit of league glory whereas the As aren't (although the A-team is still hunting for silverware, as we shall see later). It has to be said though they are scraping by on the bare minimum required, and taking four points off bottom-placed stragglers Harpole might be considered a disappointing return.

Still, a win's a win, and no worse a result than any of the other sides managed. With Heyford beating Brackley and Crispin's A beating Daventry A by the same points margins, Abington B's result was enough to get them back into the second promotion spot. Once again, Peter Milburn and captain Mick Taylor were the star skips, both winning in double figures. However, with the two sides either of them still to play, they will need the whole team to perform over the next couple of weeks to capitalise on this position.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
11
8
1
2
687
599
42
Abington B
11
8
0
3
684
630
38.5
Brackley
11
7
1
4
703
622
37.5
Daventry Town A
11
5
1
5
698
643
36.5
Heyford
11
6
1
4
676
625
36.5
Kingsthorpe B
11
5
1
5
664
716
31
Roade
11
3
1
7
623
685
23.5
Harpole A
11
1
0
10
546
761
18.5

For once this year, it was the A-team who recorded the better result. It's perhaps undignified to toast a 6-0 win over a side in the relegation zone, but what was gratifying to witness was a complete team performance. Every rink and every player giving of their best all at the same time, as the top three sides manage so often (and indeed as West End A managed twice this week, including an eye-popping annihilation of Earls Barton in their rearranged match, in which they racked up a shot score of 103!).


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
11
9
0
2
807
520
51
Kingsthorpe A
11
9
1
1
716
556
50
Northampton Express A
11
8
1
2
670
581
45
Whyte Melville A
11
5
0
6
612
627
32
Abington A
11
5
0
6
648
668
30.5
Earls Barton
11
3
1
7
550
747
21.5
Desborough Town
11
2
1
8
595
713
20
Bugbrooke
11
1
0
10
531
717
14

We've had to wait too long to witness a similar mass attack from Abington A this year, but at least it arrived at this point in time. Two days after the Desborough demolition - crushing in its wake any suggestion of a shock demotion to Division 2 - Kingsthorpe A mosied into town for the quarter-final of the league's knockout tournament and were stunned by an Abington A side reinvigorated with determination, purpose and poise.

Given the extra quality of the opposition, this proved far from a thrashing, but in many respects it was an even finer performance. The perpetual champions were simply outclassed and the current holders of the shield progress to the last four again. Perform like this every week, and there is no limit to what this team can achieve. Next up, a potential mercy killing of Bugbrooke.

A match report of the knockout match can be found in the men's section.

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31/7/2017

LAST-END FINAL HEARTBREAK FOR LEAMINGTON-BOUND FOUR

THIS TIME next week, Abington will be represented in the women's national championships for the very first time. Unfortunately, Debbie Cadd's rink were a whisker away from travelling to Leamington Spa as county fours champions. 

Also featuring Debbie Bradshaw, Diana Brown and Lis Milburn, the rink travelled to Wellingborough for the final game of the county tournament on Saturday 29th July. They were already history makers, but hopes were high they could make it even more special.

Those hopes looked to have been obliterated before the gripping agent had even dried on their woods. Their Burton Latimer opponents, skipped by Sharon Hall were all more experienced at this level of bowls and took advantage immediately, scoring six on the first end.

However, our girls have overcome the odds every step of the way this season. Getting the bad end out of the way straightaway actually allowed them to settle down. Over the next few ends they matched their opponents' scoring rate, keeping the deficit manageable until the seventh, at which point they clicked into turbo. Cadd and her charges could barely miss during the middle period, putting together a run of 13 shots from just half as many ends. If they could just maintain that scoring rate for a few ends more, the trophy was surely theirs.

Unfortunately, as the headline will already have told you, that didn't quite happen. Not for want of good bowling, as Abington took second wood for six successive ends, but eventually the dam burst. An exceptional head of woods from Hall's rink on the 20th end, and some slightly wayward attacking shots from the Abington players, reversed the scoreline going into the last.

Despite some more good play from Burton, Abington were ready to respond this time, and Cadd had a much more inviting head to bowl at with her last of the game. Sadly, she wasn't quite able to trail the jack far enough to bring a third Abington wood into the count, and the extra end hopes were gone, along with the championship. Still, Cadd and teammates could walk away having given yet another star rink a close game, proving that when the date of destiny arrives next week, they will be ready. Abington's players will make their Leamington bows in an early 1st round game on the afternoon of Monday August 7th, with further rounds (hopefully) on the Tuesday and - dare we say it? - Wednesday. We'd love to see you there.

*THERE WAS only one other piece of Abington news from the county comps this week, but it was a biggie. Adam Hawkings, Mick Taylor and Dave Fage reached the final of the Northants Executive Triples - despite the absence of their name player for the crucial 'whites' stage.

Even before departing for a holiday, Jonathan Brown graciously decided that he would not insert himself back into the lineup even if they got through last week's play. So it will be the Saturday captain, a member of the selection committee and the bar chairman who will represent the Abington boardroom's honour in the final of this curious competition, a mixed event to which entry is only open for club administrators.

Fage is a previous two-time winner of the Exec (alongside Brown), and was particularly impressive upon this promotion to skip. The quarter-final proved a reasonably comfortable win over Sue Graham-Hole's trio from St. Crispin's, in which they established an early 9-0 lead and maintained the deficit until the concluding handshake.

The semi-final two days later was a much more nerve-wrangling affair. In many ways it was a reversal of the ladies fours final. Fage's men trailed throughout but never stopped fighting. The last end saw a few exchanges of match point, but Taylor's final bowl could not be beaten. Abington had emphatically snatched a place in the final for the first time in seven years.

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31/7/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEKS 9 & 10

AS THE CAMPAIGN enters the home straight, it would be nice to report that Abington are on course to achieve their Monday night targets, but the last two round of fixtures have not gone well.

The B-team are still handily placed, but last week's shock defeat at Roade has set them back slightly. Perhaps there was a slight hangover from the previous week. Sitting second in Division 2, they produced a win over then-table toppers Daventry - only to find they'd DROPPED a place! Not only was the margin of the Daventry win not quite enough to get in front of them, but St. Crispin's trumped both of them with a win over - you guessed it - Roade.

Until that news came through the season had been a steady progression upwards. It was the first time since the second round that the Bs had come away from a game lower in the table than beforehand, and after one of their best results! Sadly it was followed by the same happening again after one of the season's worst results.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
10
7
1
2
629
547
38
Brackley
10
7
1
3
651
568
35.5
Daventry Town A
10
5
1
4
646
585
34.5
Abington B
10
7
0
3
623
577
34.5
Heyford
10
5
1
4
622
573
32.5
Kingsthorpe B
10
4
1
5
599
652
27
Roade
10
3
1
6
559
620
21.5
Harpole A
10
1
0
9
493
700
16.5

All around them has descended into the usual 2nd Division chaos. Early season pace setters Daventry A and Heyford have also endured a torrid couple of weeks. This has allowed Brackley to suddenly emerge from the lower half and assume the second promotion spot, after taking 11 and a half of the 12 points available from their ninth and tenth fixtures. Just when you think this division is settling down...

So with four matches to play, it's between any two of five, with just three points separating 2nd from 5th and the new leaders out in front by only the same margin (and don't entirely discount Kingsthorpe B in 6th either). Abington B have given themselves a little extra work to do but they have an immediate chance to make a big gain with this evening's fixture at Harpole.

In theory, Abington A should be saying the same thing about this week's visit of Desborough, though it's never clear which side they'll bring with them. In any case, they didn't need many of their star players last time to beat our boys. Little has gone right since that result, and the last couple of weeks especially have suggested a squad growing complacent about their place in Division 1.

For sure, it would only have taken a handful of extra shots to earn a win at Whyte Melville and a second point from last week's West End game, but the fact remains that they didn't get them. (Plus, some individual rink results of late have been hideous for a supposed 1st Division side.) And now, what was supposed to be an title challenge has almost decayed into a bona fide relegation battle. This is especially frustrating when you see how competitive it has got between the top three, knowing that the squad has enough ability to be on their coat-tails at the very least.

It most definitely will be about avoiding the drop if Desborough are allowed to make it a double tonight. Here's awaiting the big response.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
10
8
1
1
637
505
45
Northampton Express A
10
7
1
2
611
527
41
Northampton West End A
9
7
0
2
640
449
40
Whyte Melville A
10
5
0
5
558
568
30
Abington A
10
4
0
6
565
627
24.5
Earls Barton
9
3
1
5
474
565
20.5
Desborough Town
10
2
1
7
554
630
20
Bugbrooke
10
1
0
9
485
653
13

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24/7/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 17th-23rd JULY

THE BUNTING IS BACK OUT! Just as we were beginning to prepare our 'better luck next year' messages, two of our men have confirmed their presence at the National Championships at Leamington Spa in August.

Following on from last week's update concerning Adam Brown's passage to the latter stages of the Northamptonshire 2-wood singles, he continued his run all the way to the final. Just.

West End was the venue, and Brown, as Abington players seem to do too often, found it difficult to get into his usual rhythm on the tricky surface. As such, two games he might have been expected to win anyway (despite not having qualified for a nationals before) became a supreme test of concentration and determination.

His quarter-final victim was Dan Trasler of the home club, who had performed brilliantly to reach this stage in only his second year of bowling. In fact, he so nearly made himself the headline act of the night, recovering from an iffy start to take the game to Brown all the way to the final end. Neither player was showing their best by that stage, Brown taking the decisive shot with a bowl over a yard away.

If that was underwhelming though, at least the climax of the crucial semi-final, against Desborough's Carl Wigfield, was anything but. Arguably, Brown should never have found himself requiring at least five of his six (possible) remaining woods to count. But it's amazing what brings the best out of people. It was only in this desperate position that Brown suddenly started playing like he can, peppering the jack to take no less than five shots and claim an extra end.

Wigfield may have committed a cardinal error here. Having won the toss, he gave the mat and jack away. This is the usual thing to do, but in 2-wood the advantage of last bowl is significantly lower than usual. Better to take the chance of putting it on your favoured length and bowling a stonker. That's what Brown had done to force the extra end in the first place, and it was what he did to qualify for his first national championships.

His presence at Leamington Spa will also be a little piece of Abington history. Our first male player to earn a National Championship badge since their tournaments departed from Worthing and joined the women's in central Warwickshire. The club's first men's qualifier in a major competition since Adam Hawkings reached the Junior Singles in his debut year, back in 2008.

However, he won't be the only Abington man on the hallowed turf. John Freeman will be joining him in the Senior Singles. It's the first year he has been eligible for the competition and after a comfortable victory over Higham Ferrers' Steve Norman left him last man standing in the Northamptonshire section, he declared "I should have gone in this years ago!"

Indeed, one gets the feeling the senior tournaments will become a favourite of Abington's over the next few years, as an exalted generation of our membership settle into the transition from middle aged to elderly. Last year, Tony O'Leary got to the senior pairs finals and now Freeman is just five more wins away from becoming national old man's champion. The challenge recommences on Saturday 26th August.

For Brown meanwhile, Tuesday 28th August is the first date of destiny, with hopefully another to follow. Although members will have to juggle other club and work commitments, we hope as many as possible are able to get down the M45 and support our boys as they take on the (rest of) the country's finest.

*AFTER THEIR QUALIFICATION, Brown and Freeman resolved to do all they could to allow several of their clubmates to share in the glory. Unfortunately, despite a tireless effort from all concerned, the A-team's run in the men's National Top Club was ended one round ahead of the area final, at Avenue BC in Coventry on the evening of Saturday 22nd.

It was always going to be an uphill battle from the moment it was confirmed that two of the regulars would be absent for an away game at an unfamiliar club, against a side with no fewer than six Middleton Cup bowlers, one of whom has recently won a hat-trick of county singles titles. (Our best wishes especially to Phil Reeve as his heart adjusts to the addition of stents and he now patiently waits for the operating date.)

And all that was before the rain came. Never heavy, but constant miserable drizzle. It was sad to make our exit on such a night. However, many thanks must be extended to Avenue for looking after our boys with a nice spread - and hopefully teaching them a few bowling lessons as well.

A full match report can be found in the men's section.

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18/7/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 10th-16th JULY

CLUB MEN'S champion Adam Brown made home advantage pay in the county 2-wood singles. He was one of eight survivors from the opening rounds day, the southern half of which was staged this year at Abington on Sunday 16th July.

The tournament resumes this coming Friday the 21st, with the quarters and semis at Northampton West End. Brown reached this stage after more than a combined two and a half hours of play. He was one of only two competitors to battle through four rounds, having been asked to begin at the prelim stage, and the only one from the southern leg who did so.

Brown's clubmate Dave Fage nearly proved equal to that challenge, but he sadly wilted with the chequered flag in sight. If Fage had also made it through to whites, then it would have guaranteed an Abington semi-finalist. Instead, Brown's next opponent is West End's new young bowler Dan Trasler.

His youngest opponent on Sunday proved his most difficult. Express' Tom Wellburn had seemed to be going in a similar direction to Tim Dawkins and Paul Green but raised his game superbly over the last five ends. It was a surreal situation for Brown, whose withered away even though his own performance remained strong. A superb jack trail from Wellburn left Brown match down in a game he had stood on the precipice of winning for several ends.

By the belly of his last bowl, he squeaked that one last vital shot just in time, a display of impressive nerve that may hold him in good stead later on in the competition. In comparison, his group final against Abington's own Phil Reeve, his toughest opponent on paper, was a breeze. Reeve had preceded that with a win over Rob Archer, Abington guaranteed a quarter-finalist even with two rounds to finish. Archer had previously notched up one of the day's most impressive results with an extra end win over Express star Chris Bland.

Seven more of our men also competed, but only Adam Hawkings got through his first game before joining John Freeman on the list of scalps claimed convincingly by Kingsthorpe's Ben Sharpe.

For Brown, progression to the latter stages of a county singles competition was an effective balm after a surprise early exit from the Mason Champion of Champions to Whyte Melville's Mark Courtney. It so nearly did similarly for Reeve, but instead it was one of a trio of disappointments for our new man, alongside similarly decisive losses in the national senior singles and pairs. At least in the latter he was able to share the pain with his good friend Freeman rather than take it all from him, as happened in the former.

*** IT'S TO BE another busy week of wining and dining the Bowls Northants elite. Abington stages the county mixed pairs QFs and male junior pairs final on Wednesday, July 19th. The winner of the latter receives a place at the National Championships at Leamington. Hope to see you there ourselves.
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