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:

20/6/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 12th-18th JUNE

ABINGTON WILL once again be represented in the latter stages of a county tournament, but this time nobody could have guessed who those individuals would be.

Rob Archer's triple of himself, Alan Coleman and Pat McAlwane was formed almost as a last-minute afterthought, all keen players with a decent record behind them, but none of them regular skips. However, here they stand - four rounds later - in their whites, another two potential successes away from qualifying for the national championships at Leamington Spa.

Admittedly, should that be the eventual outcome of this evening's and Thursday's bowling at Whyte Melville, it would have to be bracketed as a minor miracle. Few would have picked them to qualify from the group. In fact, there was more than one fellow Abington unit in there alongside them (all of whom they have had to vanquish in their run) who might have been regarded as at least marginal favourites in their head-to-heads.

Also, their passage was eased tremendously by their 4th round opponents, skipped by Ivan Wilson of Kingsthorpe. Wilson's shock win over the group's sole 'star' triple - comprising three of 2016's national fours champions - two nights earlier was the result of the competition so far.

Still, it signalled to our men that no matter the scale of the task in front of you, nothing can be taken for granted in this old, funny game. The hope is that the giant-killing stardust will have rubbed off on Archer's trio for their own date(s) with destiny this week. First up, Neil Corbyn of Wellingborough...

Little else proved to be of good cheer this week. Adam Brown, Jonathan Brown and Phil Reeve's new triple had their run swiftly curtailed by Alan Ashby and team-mates at West End on the Wednesday, and after just two rounds of the men's singles, Tony O'Leary is already the last Abington man standing. Mick Taylor's comfortable defeat to Kingsthorpe star Vernon Gearey was no surprise, though Phil Reeve will be disappointed to have exited early, even if Heyford's Michael Moulton is a tricky opponent himself.

McAlwane's week didn't go entirely to plan as he and Debbie Bradshaw bombed out of the county mixed pairs to Mr and Mrs Bodily of Whyte Melville. Solace was to be found in the mens' senior singles where - despite Alan Dunkley being stuffed 11-21 by Mark Turner - John Freeman and Phil Reeve both battled through. The latter's 21-18 win over former England international Mick Sharpe was a particular highlight of the week, especially as it extracted some small revenge for Sharpe ending Jonathan Brown and Dave Vernon's hopes in the national senior pairs for the third successive year.

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16/6/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 4

IT WAS a set of results which showcased how bizarre the format of the Northampton-area Monday league is. How can a team who won by one shot receive more points than a team who won by 47?

Such were the events on an typically extraordinary night in Division 2. Our very own Abington B were the side who achieved the curious feat of such a paltry reward - just four of the six points - for such a massive shot-aggregate. Nevertheless, it would be churlish to sniff at a win of any kind in a division this tight, and it was their first of the campaign, taking them out of the dropzone.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
4
3
0
1
280
217
17
Heyford
4
3
0
1
245
212
15.5
St. Crispin’s A
4
3
1
0
239
221
15.5
Kingsthorpe B
4
1
1
2
247
261
11
Harpole A
4
1
0
3
229
265
10.5
Abington B
4
2
0
2
248
246
10
Brackley
4
1
1
2
214
257
8.5
Roade
4
0
1
3
224
247
8

Failure on two rinks should at least guard against future complacency. No-one will be under any delusions that the side has 'cracked it' just yet. Not until a majority of rinks are winning regularly can we be said to have reached that point. To underline that point, Heyford took five points from Brackley despite only winning the game by one shot, and Crispin's A beat the top side, Daventry A, but still managed to slip DOWN a place in. It takes a truly unified effort to succeed in this league.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
4
4
0
0
323
167
22
Kingsthorpe A
4
2
1
1
261
211
16
Northampton Express A
4
2
1
1
239
213
15.5
Abington A
4
2
0
2
201
239
10
Whyte Melville A
4
1
0
3
195
232
9
Earls Barton
4
2
0
2
192
256
9
Bugbrooke
4
1
0
3
201
248
7.5
Desborough Town
4
1
0
3
223
269
7

Meanwhile, Abington A received another significant setback to their aspirations for at least mounting a title challenge. After West End's chastening demolition in the last fixture before the break, their return to action against Desborough was almost worse if anything, with the outpost club of the league still winless until they saw our lot coming. With the top three all stuffing their opponents out of sight (and West End again looking close to unstoppable, having already cracked the 300-shot barrier and left it for dust), a 1-5 loss for the As has suddenly put them on the precipice of the relegation zone rather than the summit. With Bugbrooke still reeling from West End's visit, a fixture at home to them next week now appears the ideal fixture to recharge the batteries.

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14/6/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 5th-11th JUNE

DESBOROUGH PAIR Katie Smith and Rebecca Wigfield served up the cold dish of revenge on Abington's Debbie Cadd and Lis Milburn this past week. A month back, our girls stunned the whole of Bowls Northants to knock out the England internationals en route to National Championship qualification in the fours. That result was emphatically overturned in the ladies pairs.

Having comfortably seen off Chris Cross of Byfield in the preceding round, Cadd and Milburn travelled to Kettering Lodge on the morning of Sunday 11th June hoping for a dazzling deja vu. However, this time the international quality of Smith and Wigfield made its presence felt, and quickly. The Abington duo found themselves 1-12 down before the gripping agent had faded on their woods.

To their immense credit though they rallied and cut the gap back to three with still more than half the game left. The second half though was mainly the Desborough pair's and they eased through to the last four, at 27-14, before going on, as they so often do, to book a place at the national finals in the afternoon, by a similar margin. Still, as far as we're concerned, it's only 1-1!

The question remains as to whether any of Cadd and Milburn's male counterparts will be able to join them on the Leamington Spa greens in August. Lis' husband Peter remains a going concern in the men's triples, alongside Alan Mann and Chris Beck, surviving the first week thanks to a 23-15 shellacking of Byfield's Brian Haynes.

All the omens though are on their next opponents. If Rob Archer's triple - also featuring Pat McAlwane and Alan Coleman - make it past Milburn's they will have made it to the group final without playing someone from another club. Put your money on a 17-9 scoreline after a shaky start as well. Both of their previous victims went down by the same score and in the same manner. The second round triumph was particularly sweet for sealing the demise of a more-fancied trio, Colin Barnes, Dave Fage and Alan Dunkley.

It's Jonathan Brown's entry though that stands the best chance of going all the way - especially after John Freeman's men were, in their own words, 'out-skittled' at Daventry in a shock exit - though they've been given a tough ask at West End for their game this evening. Newly bolstered by Phil Reeve at skip, Brown's trio overcame another new setup from Express, skipped by West Haddon defector Chris Terry.

A bad week for Freeman was made even worse with the end of his county singles run as well, albeit at the hands of a former county champion, Richard Lemon beating him 21-16. Club champion Adam Brown didn't have the same crumb of comfort with a surprise loss by the same score to Bugbrooke's Dave Jones - though Jones' performance was indicative of one of the county's best overlooked talents.

Elsewhere, Allen Johnson emerged with credit after taking 14 shots off young county team regular Will Walker. Running one of Northamptonshire's most capable draw bowlers reasonably close is yet further evidence of a rapidly-developing knack from Johnson, a player who's only been bowling for the last couple of years.

However, we can finish with a genuine victory and not just a personal one, as Tony O'Leary underlined his recently-renewed claim to be Abington's form player of the moment, by steam-rollering Kevin Mawson of Kislingbury 21-3.

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11/6/2017

THE PROGRESSION ALLIANCE

ABINGTON'S A-SIDE for the Men's National Top Club made it through the first round proper, the night after both teams got past the opening stage of the Monday evening triples league knockout in unusual circumstances.

Victory over Roade in the former was no shock, but one was literally on the cards for a worryingly long time. Not until the second half did Abington settle into a rhythm, by which point they required a decent comeback to go through.

This was exacerbated when Alan Coleman was stunned by Ronnie Peacock in the 2-wood singles, his own fightback beginning perhaps a couple of ends too late. First point on the board, usually so crucial, to the underdogs. As that was being confirmed, only the triples were ahead in their game, and they were shortly to be pegged back to 5-5 after 10 ends.

It was a toss-up between the fours and pairs as to who would be more embarrassed by defeat. The former featured four county team players - past and present - and were 9-16 down at two-thirds distance. The latter were 1-9 down after six ends and 4-10 down after nine, and consisted of Colin Barnes and Alan Dunkley, our two new recruits... from Roade. Surely if anyone knew how to get a result on this green...

It was the introduction of Tony O'Leary to play the 4-wood singles that signified the beginning of the turnaround. Unlike the others, his result was never in doubt. He had reached double figures before conceding and only dropped consecutive ends on one occasion. Although starting after everybody else, he confirmed the first point.

The pairs were the first to take it as their cue for recovery. A run of nine shots on four ends swiftly turned their tie around, and a six on the 16th was effectively the killer blow. John Freeman's triple however beat them to the bar with a superb run of scoring ends taking it from five-all to 17-5. Abington could breathe calmly again.

Eventually even Phil Reeve's rink cottoned on and a couple of conversion shots likewise confirmed an even more profitable salvo - 15 shots in four ends. Class had told in the end, but if Abington A are to go even further, they cannot afford another lazy start, especially if their next opponents are Rugby BC, former winners of the entire tournament only a few years ago.

The previous evening's triples league knockout wins were at least less eventful by comparison, if only because there was very little actual bowls played. Abington B and Kislingbury B agreed to abandon their match after the 10th end - the minimum length required for a result - due to some unseasonably atrocious weather. At that point the away side held a slender lead of four, mainly thanks to Mick Hall's rink, who finished 11-4 in favour, so Abington B went into the 2nd round. They will be joined by their A-side compatriots - holders of the shield, lest we forget - who were given the night off completely after one too many Whyte Melville A players were ruled out of action. One suspects they were rather grateful when they looked out of the window at 6pm!

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5/6/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 29th MAY - 4th JUNE

SPRING BANK HOLIDAY week represents something of a 'rest period' for Bowls Northamptonshire, but the end of the beginning of the men's county singles always signals a minor flurry of activity.

Unfortunately, Abington representation in the tournament has been somewhat slashed after the 1st round, two of our players required to abandon their dream at the hands of fellow members. Club champion Adam Brown and county regular John Freeman lived up to their billing as favourites over Dave Fage and Alan Dunkley, but only by a fraction.

Only a further three Abington players joined them - and two others rewarded by the luck of the draw with a bye - in the second stage. And one of those has already made his exit! Rob Archer went from triumph to disaster in the space of a week. A narrow hard-fought defeat of Phil Manley from Cogenhoe was followed by a fightback against Chris Terry of Express that came just too late, taking his bow at 16-21.

Allen Johnson and Phil Reeve were the other Abington men to make it through, both of them representing Abington in this competition for the first time, and both winning by much more comfortable margins. Both though are keenly aware that sterner tests lie in wait than Wootton's Nick Hulatt and Heyford's Morris Freeman.

Amongst the defeated the most impressive result was Peter Milburn's loss to Express star Chris Bland by only three shots, by some measure the closest we came to a notable scalp in this round. Alan Coleman performed admirably in plundering 13 from West End's latest acquisition, Middleton skip Darren Childs before succumbing.

John Higginbottom joined the likes of Phil Boseley and Adam Hawkings from previous weeks in barely making a dent to their opponents' esteem, scoring only six. Meanwhile Dave Vernon sadly found himself unable to fit his game against Byfield's Nolan Harrell into his packed life.

Should the losers be searching for solace, they only have to turn to Colin Barnes. Overcoming his heartbreaking exit to Paul Green the previous week (see previous entry) he smashed West End's Martin Walker, father of England star Jamie, into a figurative pulp, 21-6, in the National Senior Singles this week. Bowls is like that. There's always another game.

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29/5/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 22nd-28th MAY

ABINGTON WERE poised to toast another fantastic weekend but national championship qualification ultimately proved a hurdle (or two) too far for Jonathan Brown in the mens fours and Barbara Astle in the ladies triples.

It's been remarked on these pages recently how this club, for all the progress made in the last few years still lacks players cast in the state-of-the-art mould. Bowlers of absolute top-class quality. And this was what ultimately did for Brown's quartet of himself, son Adam, Colin Barnes and Alan Dunkley. All very good players and capable of at least matching most opponents on most days, but unlikely to destabilise a player of Neil Corbyn's calibre.

The Wellingborough skip's pinpoint accuracy was the catalyst for an ultimately one-sided semi-final on a sweltering early summer's evening at Kislingbury. In the early exchanges, the Abington men were a match for their opposition, even with a slight deficit in Middleton Cup regulars. After eight ends they were only one down at 6-7.

Once Corbyn had got going however, the resulting confidence boost amongst his team-mates sent the tie, and a place at Leamington, hurtling in their direction. Over the remainder of the game, our men could only manage one more shot. They conceded another 19 and were shaking hands with three ends to play.

One day soon, Abington will make that breakthrough and produce some more male national championship qualifiers, to match the stunning achievement of Debbie Cadd's four a couple of weeks back. Debbie Bradshaw was however prevented from making it a personal double in the ladies triples at the quarter-final stage.

Bradshaw was this time the middle woman of a unit also comprising Gill Crossley at lead and the aforementioned new member Astle as skip. They travelled to Wellingborough on Saturday 27th May to play a Desborough triple skipped by Margaret McGillivray. Like Brown's men they had the best of the early exchanges before becoming stuck on five. They were not bludgeoned to anything like the same degree but could not hold onto control of the jack for more than an end at a time, and the win only slipped further from their grasp.

Focus will soon turn to the men's triples and ladies pairs. But other competitions are constantly being squeezed in all around the schedule. Barnes and the Browns father and son were also in action in the county singles and family pairs respectively. Sadly, defeat in both set the seal on a bad weekend for the lot of them. The latter went down to their West End counterparts Iain and David Walker, while Barnes' gut was well and truly wrenched by Paul Green of Express, losing 20-21 having needed just one since Green had been mired on 12.

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HAPPIER NEWS from the Top Club tournament. The A-team comfortably flicked aside Heyford in their opening fixture and now contemplate another side they'll be expected to beat, Roade. The new Top Club 'B-team' weren't able to get past Express' assorted collection of stars but did nevertheless emerge with their heads held high. A two-shot swing in the 2-wood and pairs was all that was needed for a stunning upset. For further details, read the complete match report in the men's section.

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25/5/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 3

WE'RE ONLY a few weeks into the campaign, but you don't get long to make an impression in a league of just 14 games. And Abington's third fixtures assumed potentially vital status for wildly differing reasons.

Sadly, Abington A proved woefully inadequate on their trip to West End, conceding almost three times as many shots as they scored, and leaving the team back down in their usual position of fourth, close to bereft. The promise of a breakthrough result suddenly seeming extremely hollow. Suddenly, the gap to the dropzone is far closer than to the top of the table, but even if they're not good enough to challenge for the top honour, they're surely far too good to go down.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
3
3
0
0
240
124
16
Northampton Express A
3
1
1
1
176
173
10.5
Kingsthorpe A
3
1
1
1
186
176
10
Abington A
3
2
0
1
155
165
9
Earls Barton
3
2
0
1
157
181
9
Whyte Melville A
3
1
0
2
155
169
8
Bugbrooke
3
1
0
2
158
165
7.5
Desborough Town
3
0
0
3
149
223
2

Having said that, similar status was expected of the B-team in Division 2, and they'd found themselves bottom after two matches. Thankfully, the third went better. It may have been by only six shots, they may have still dropped two points, but victory over Roade did at least allow them to swap places at the foot of the table.

Elsewhere, St. Crispin's A began to live up to their status as the divisional favourites with a supreme display at Heyford, dislodging their hosts from second place, and Daventry A made use of the home advantage that comes with an horrifically heavy green to continue their near-perfect start. This is the standard that Abington B should be matching if they want to fight for more than mere survival this year.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
3
3
0
0
228
163
15
St. Crispin’s A
3
2
1
0
185
169
11.5
Heyford
3
2
0
1
189
157
10.5
Harpole A
3
1
0
2
188
177
8.5
Kingsthorpe B
3
1
0
2
181
203
8
Brackley
3
1
1
1
159
201
7.5
Abington B
3
1
0
2
160
205
6
Roade
3
0
0
3
166
181
5

Next week is what now seems an ideal bank holiday breather, and the Monday after that is reserved for the league's knockout tournament. This trophy is currently housed in our clubhouse of course. They may be a little dazed and confused right now, but our A-team remain a capable unit. Their defence of the shield begins at home to Whyte Melville A, conquered in the identical league fixture only last week.

Full match reports can be found in the men's section.

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22/5/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 15th-21st MAY

THE MONTH of May is notorious in the game of outdoor bowls as the 'sticky' period of the season. Players are patiently waiting for the summer months and for nature's moisturising to cease. After which the greens should start to run a little faster again and the skill quotient rises to the fore again.

The difficulties and sufferings of playing during a wet part of the year has scuppered the hopes of many a good rink as it coincides with the early county competitions. Bowls Northamptonshire is one of several counties who are attempting to correct this as best they can by shifting the order in which the fours, triples and pairs are played.

That won't begin until 2018. However, one of Abington's rinks are harnessing their resolve against this to great effect. The foursome of Adam Brown, Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley and Jonathan Brown have overcome the first significant hurdle of the men's county fours, survived the second week to book a place in the quarter-finals, the first round to be played on a neutral green in whites.

Last week, we were toasting a miracle comeback at Bugbrooke to get through the first round. In the second round, they had to battle against the elements as well as their opponents from Daventry Town on an Abington surface that was about as heavy as even the most longstanding members could recall.

For the third round, there was a score to settle. Actually, there was two. Phil O'Dell of St. Crispin's had already dispatched Peter Milburn of this parish the previous week. Then, on the Wednesday of this week, he made John Freeman pay for his generous gesture of switching their tie from a flooded-out Crispin's, ending a three-year run of Freeman's rink reaching at least the last eight. A distinctly depressive hat-trick was not to be thankfully, as Brown's men turned in their most assured performance yet.

Last week, we were toasting the success of Abington's ladies reaching Leamington in the fours. Could their achievement be matched by the men? The draw is an open one, with several star names already out. Come to Kislingbury on Wednesday 24th and (hopefully) Friday 26th for an answer to that question.

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BROWN'S rink may be the only survivors in the men's fours (which also included a bizarre walkover given by Reg Jones to West End's Alan Ashby after new member Trevor Aston forgot to turn up!). However, also battling through to the coming week's play were the ladies triple of Gill Crossley, Debbie Bradshaw and new member Barbara Astle.

To reach the second round, they were faced with the difficult obstacle of Janet Ashby of West End, away from home. They won 14-9. Shades of the Debbie Cadd's national-champions-slaying fours run? By Saturday May 27th we'll know for sure.

But while Bradshaw keeps her hopes of double Leamington glory going, the rest of her rink (Diana Brown, Debbie Cadd and Lis Milburn) have landed back to Earth with a bump. To be more specific, the bumpy earth of Woodford-cum-Membris, where they were soundly beaten by Sue Collett, avenging Milburn and company's defeat of another Woodford trio in the prelim round.

Outside side of those continued runs, there's not been much to crow over. Phil Boseley's return to county singles play after a year's absences was swiftly ended by Mick Spear of Kingsthorpe 21-4. Both Adam Brown and Phil Reeve were taken out of the National Champion of Champions at the first attempt - albeit the former by only two shots to a previous winner of the entire competition, West End's England regular Jamie Walker (while the latter has the opportunity for revenge on St. Crispin's Gordon Currey in the Mason Cup later in the year).

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Lastly, Abington made a complete exit from the men's National Double Rinks championship, as both the B and C teams were wiped out on the morning of Sunday May 21st (pictured above), by Whyte Melville and Bugbrooke respectively. Despite this unfortunately early axing, it seems that the three-team experiment has a good chance of being retained for next season, having proved a closer reflection of the depth of interest and competitive spirit throughout the club.

A full report and scores can be found in the men's section of the website.

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18/5/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 2

A CURIOUS night for Abington on the 15th May, with the A-team successful and the B-team not, but both mindful of the opposite outcome.

In Division 1, Abington A won their first home game of the season, albeit with only half the team able to look back keenly on their contribution. Two thrashings partly chipped and scuffed by two limp losses. The A-side at least remain second in Division 1 and next week are presented with the best possible incentive (especially with the champions being beaten by the only side above ours and a shock defeat for Express at home to Earls Barton). Win at West End and go top.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
2
2
0
0
154
94
10
Abington A
2
2
0
0
125
79
9
Bugbrooke
2
1
0
1
115
105
7
Whyte Melville A
2
1
0
1
97
110
6
Kingsthorpe A
2
0
1
1
121
119
5
Northampton Express A
2
0
1
1
116
130
5
Earls Barton
2
1
0
1
98
123
5
Desborough Town
2
0
0
2
92
158
1

Conversely, the B-team lost at Daventry Town by what at first glance appears an unsettlingly comfortable margin, but this was merely the product of one disastrous rink. The other two narrow losses could be put down to exhaustion. Daventry made their home advantage count at the finish on one of the heaviest greens in the county, and went past Heyford to take top spot.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
2
2
0
0
144
116
10
Heyford
2
2
0
0
141
95
9
Harpole A
2
1
0
1
137
120
7
Kingsthorpe B
2
1
0
1
134
119
7
St. Crispin’s A
2
1
1
0
123
121
7
Roade
2
0
0
2
112
121
3
Brackley
2
0
1
1
102
150
3
Abington B
2
0
0
2
100
151
2

Even more unfortunately, Kingsthorpe B surged back into life after last week's Harpole humiliation, walloping Brackley 84-36. We could have seen the biggest win of the season already, and it put Abington B last. Still a long way to go though, and we all know things can change quickly in Division 2. Roade at home next week looks like the perfect medicine.

Full match reports can be found in the men's section.

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15/5/2017

GET OUT THE BUNTING!

WELL, THAT didn't take long. Barely a matter of weeks into the season and Abington Bowling Club can announce that a rink of our members have qualified for the National Championship finals at Leamington Spa!

The appearance of Diana Brown, Debbie Bradshaw, Lis Milburn and Debbie Cadd on the greens of Bowls England's HQ for the 2017 Women's National Fours will be an historic first in the club's history, as they'll become the first Abington players to represent Northamptonshire in a female national championship event. They will also be the first across the whole membership to do so in one of the major disciplines for 10 years, with only fleeting appearances in the junior singles and senior pairs since 2007 on our roll of honour.

Getting to this exalted point proved an extraordinary rite of passage. They had to overcome opponents with county and national honours in every game, without the benefit of home advantage at any point, and raise themselves wearily from an epic county championship quarter-final in the morning to also win the crucial semi that afternoon.

The latter stages took place at Roade, following a long slog of a game in the preceding round against Whyte Melville's Elaine Munton and Victoria Stevenson which only turned in Abington's favour long after the sun had set. They'd just knocked out regulars in the county team, but already the heat would be turned up another notch, against a rink from Desborough with a back-end of England internationals, Katie Smith and Rebecca Wigfield. Not only habitual national championship qualifiers, but also the reigning county champions. It would require a performance of utmost determination and skill to get through, and our girls - to coin a phrase - delivered.

Staggeringly, Cadd and company zoomed into a 12-3 lead in the first third of the game, and were probably deserving of even more, but against opponents of the highest calibre there was always going to be a more difficult period. And so it transpired with five of the next six ends going against them and their lead hacked down to one. From then on, it was suddenly a lot nervier, with few heads being built up and only single shots exchanged. That was until the last end when Abington dropped four...

Agonisingly, that forced a deciding extra end. So close to salvation, and they might just have thrown it away. But even within the despair came some small measure of relief, quite literally. A fifth potential shot for Desborough to snatch the win was adjudged out, and so Abington could at least take some small filip into the 22nd end. And they grasped it tight. Crowding the jack out, they simply thrashed their opponents over this condensed one-end affair and were through.

That was the epic, the contest that proved the making of them. The moment where Abington's players truly earned their worth and realised then exceeded their potential. But there was no time for celebrations. They had to get back on the green after only a light refreshment, get out there and tough it out all over again. And again, it would not far from easy.

To fully realise the dream of qualification, they would now have to knock out the rink of Hilary Sharpe from Kingsthorpe, another player of local repute. Again, the Abington rink started well, with five on the first four ends, but were immediately hit for five themselves on the sixth. Each rink then went on successive streaks of scoring ends, but Kingsthorpe's was longer and slightly more plentiful, putting Cadd and her team five down with the final third to play.

Whereupon, they did what all sportspeople dream of doing. They had learned enough from all the struggle that had come before to shrug off the last flimsy fragment of doubt and went into a kind of serenity. Those last seven ends proved the best in the bowling lives of all four players. The shots piled on and on. A further 12 in total putting them in the county final, and even more importantly, putting them in Leamington in August. The story doesn't end here, but it will do for now.

*ALL OF which could serve to make the story of the men's county fours opening rounds seem utterly dull by comparison, but there was one eyebrow-raiser from the first round. An incredible comeback from Jonathan Brown's rink (also featuring his son Adam, plus new members Colin Barnes and Alan Dunkley) against Mick Spruels of Bugbrooke. With only eight ends to go they were 14 shots down and almost fully accepting that it just wasn't to be their evening. Then they picked up an eight.

A full house. A hot shot. From nowhere. All the incentive they needed to keep the fight going. Yet it was still requiring of two more big scores to complete a most improbable victory, having dropped shot 14 times out of 21! Are their names on the trophy?

Other Abington rinks will still be hoping not, most immediately John Freeman's, who are in the same section of the draw and put together their own headline performance to defeat the rink of West End's Iain Walker, county champions themselves only two seasons ago. On a similar note, Reg Jones' rink will need to be on top form for the second round, with their opponents being Alan Ashby's rink, who made headlines on Bowls England's website for their progression, having conquered Dominic Graham's rink from Express, the quartet who went all the way to national championship glory last season.

It wasn't all glory sadly. Jones got through at the expense of Abington clubmates, skipped by Mick Taylor, while Pete Milburn's rink weren't able to make it another all-Abington affair against Freeman's quartet, losing narrowly to Phil O'Dell of St. Crispin's. And poor Adam Hawkings only managed one shot in from seven ends against Dave Jones of Bugbrooke, rapidly plummeting out of the county singles. But we can overlook all this right now.

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11/5/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 1

IT'S BACK! The ever-keenly contested Monday evening triples league never fails to entertain, and thanks to Abington's Alan Ward, the opening night felt pleasingly unfamiliar and unpredictable for all concerned.

This is the first year in which Ward, now fully ensconced as the league's secretary, has drawn the fixture list. Rather than obey the strict alphabetical order of years past, he has decided to mix up the running order, so Abington A would begin their campaign away for a change, and visa versa for Abington B.

The A-team travelled to newly-promoted Earls Barton. The target was at least 5 points, and that was exactly what they came away with. Unfortunately, the B-side had a largely torrid time, with precisely the opposite outcome, a 1-5 defeat at home to Heyford.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
1
1
0
0
92
44
6
Abington A
1
1
0
0
64
39
5
Whyte Melville A
1
1
0
0
57
49
4
Kingsthorpe A
1
0
1
0
71
57
3
Northampton Express A
1
0
1
0
57
71
3
Bugbrooke
1
0
0
1
49
57
2
Earls Barton
1
0
0
1
39
64
1
Desborough Town
1
0
0
1
44
92
0

It's a fool's errand to analyse the tables at this stage, but in Division 1, West End A - undoubtedly still sore from the manner in which they blew the title last year - laid down a marker with an awesome destruction of Desborough - and away from home to boot. Almost every year, the old fixture lists had set them on an early collision course with Express A. This time, it was champions Kingsthorpe A who had that to cope with, and it was they who had to settle for a share of the points.

Abington A's next opponents, Whyte Melville A, also got off to a winning start, but the aim should be a similar result against them. Abington B meanwhile face up to being in a sticky situation already if they can't cope with the notoriously heavy Daventry Town green next week.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Harpole A
1
1
0
0
83
50
5
Heyford
1
1
0
0
71
41
5
Daventry Town A
1
1
0
0
64
57
5
Brackley
1
0
1
0
66
66
3
St. Crispin’s A
1
0
1
0
66
66
3
Roade
1
0
0
1
57
64
1
Abington B
1
0
0
1
41
71
1
Kingsthorpe B
1
0
0
1
50
83
1

Division 2 is always the hardest to predict so this first table may be a complete false dawn for everyone, but Heyford's confidence will certainly have been boosted having only narrowly missed out last year (and especially with favourites St. Crispin's A being held to a rare tie at Brackley). It's the new arrivals from Division 3, Harpole A, who have taken the early lead, but even though any 83-50 win counts as impressive, it was against the side who came up with them. All still to play for - thankfully for Abington B.

Full match reports can be found in the men's section.

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7/5/2017

NATIONAL DOUBLE RINKS PRELIMS:
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVES


ABINGTON'S MEN'S bold new line-up was given its first airing last week with the prelims of the National Double Rinks signalling the beginning of the major competitions.

A full report can be found in the men's section but in precis, the outcome was a comfortable win for the B-side over St. Crispin's with the A-team undone partly by the hard luck of the draw and mainly through the undoubted class of Kingsthorpe's star bowlers. Despite that setback though, there was more than enough to draw confidence from going forward. Both teams sent enthusiastic cheerleaders to the other game, and at least one of the two A-rinks had good reason to feel hard done by at the final result.

In Control: Dave Fage and Terry Brown assuredly directing their skips to victory as Abington B beat St. Crispin's 54-33

Losing the better team at the first hurdle is an early blow, but considering the quality of their opposition, one that can be easily mitigated. The new lineups all fit together a treat and the performances were overall very promising. There's still scope and reason to believe Abington can make an impact on this and other competitions down the line. After all, we haven't seen Abington 'C' in action yet!

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1/5/2017



*ABINGTON'S SATURDAY men's squad made the traditional pilgrimage to Earls Barton for the opening friendly of 2017, on Saturday April 29th. Two teams of 18 contested a six-triples affair which ended with three winning rinks apiece. Thankfully the aggregate shot score came out in Abington's favour. The side was bolstered by a handful of Northamptonshire county team regulars, and they were responsible for a couple of sizeable results.


As ever, the trip to Barton signifies the green flag of the new season proper. The ladies and men's Thursday teams also get underway this week, and it's only a matter of days before the serious stuff starts.

This week, the A and B teams of the men's national double rinks will travel to Kingsthorpe on May 4th and St. Crispin's on May 7th respectively for the preliminary round. And straight after that, the ladies county fours begins the county competitions. On the same night, Earls Barton will again host an Abington side - our A-team will be their first opponent in the men's Monday triples league, following Barton's promotion to Division 1. (The B-team kicking off in Division 2 back at base camp vs Heyford.) Hopefully with our new-look lineup we can expect a similar if not better, result.

Off to a winning start: Saturday captain Adam Hawkings
**IF ANY OF our members would like to play in this year's Northants VPs Harris Cup (an open fours tournament staged across several venues) on Wednesday 21st June, then make sure you get in touch with organiser Dave Williamson on (01604) 635012 before the closing date for entries on Wednesday 7th June. This is a competition which Abington played a significant role in establishing. Its first ever winners, back in 1966, were from our club and it will be yet another opportunity to show how and why we are defiantly bucking the trend of declining memberships.

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25/4/2017

THAT NEW SEASON SMELL

AND SO WE EMERGE, blinking and gasping, back onto the green, trying to rediscover that feeling in our arms. That imperceptible, innate, almost sub-conscious, knowledge of just how much force and muscle tension is required to propel the wood 27-and-three-quarter yards - give or take - from hand exactly onto jack.
Even the very best are not expected to settle into the groove straight away, but Abington's members receive one of the absolute best aids to performance with a superb playing surface. Greenkeeper Martin Trasler has once again bequeathed us a sublimely smooth patch of turf. No one need be a contender for World's Strongest Man to enjoy their play on the opening day.

'Our Day' continues to enjoy a stronger attendance every year and this time upwards of 40 male and female members were in the embrace of a warm, bright pre-summery afternoon, including five brand new faces. President Anita Petrucci's skippered one half of the turn-out against a side led by men's Saturday captain Adam Hawkings, but results do not matter just yet. All that counts on this day is the camaraderie and the anticipation for the months ahead, and on that score, Abington are emerging as champions every day.

TOP: The equipment shed is prised open and the dust blown off the scoreboards and bowl-gatherers.
ABOVE: The lights blink on again and the changing room is re-populated with all the essentials for the season ahead.
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17/4/2017

2017 SEASON AHOY!

HERE WE GO AGAIN. The new outdoor bowling season is imminent - and few clubs will be so keen as us to cast the first jack. With a sizeable increase in membership, in both the mens and womens sections, 2017 promises to be Abington's most intriguing in many years.

Of particular note was the decision, reached late last year, to field one further team in the men's national double rinks and Top Club tournaments. Abington's presence now extends to a C-team in the former and a B-team in the latter. 24 players in total, plus reserves, a very positive reflection on the club's renewed depth and competitive spirit.

Draws for these and the other county/national competitions can be found in the men's and women's sections. This page will also keep abreast of our players' progress in the mixed events. Full fixture lists for friendlies, and the ever-popular Northampton Area triples leagues, have also been posted. Club competitions will be drawn by the start of summer.

The season begins in earnest on Saturday, April 22nd with the 'Our Day' fixture marking the official re-opening of the green. Any member who makes themselves available is guaranteed a game. It's also an ideal occasion for potential recruits to come and see what this strange sport is all about. Prior to this is the big ABC prize draw the preceding evening, Friday the 21st. Good luck, and good bowling for the year ahead.

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19/12/2016

AGM NEWS - 2016 ENDS ON A POSITIVE NOTE WITH HISTORIC DECISION

THE 2016 Annual General Meeting proved an historic one for Abington Bowling Club with the election of the club's first female president, Anita Petrucci.


Standing unopposed, Mrs. Petrucci's elevation to the top job at Abington comes two years after serving a term as president of the Northamptonshire county bowling association women's section.

Her predecessor as club president, Chris Beck, can therefore settle into the new role of secretary. The second half of 2016 was a hectic time for Beck after the migration of long-time secretary Don Smith. He deserves a huge amount of credit for his tireless juggling of the two positions in the last few months, even as business at the club continued expanding rapidly.

Elsewhere there was little change to the committee, save for Pat Grant switching to Petrucci's previous role as ladies match captain, Steve Unwin emerging as the new men's Thursday match vice-captain and Allen Johnson to the (oft-vacant) position of assistant treasurer. The latter is particularly significant. Such enthusiasm from a new member - a bowling novice just 12 months ago, in fact - is symptomatic of the progression Abington BC has made since the outset of its tenth decade in 2013.

It wasn't so long ago that Abington AGMs were conducted under a cloud, tinged by an ever-more-depressing theme of managing decline. But the tide has now turned markedly in the other direction. After Dave Vernon personally drove through the revamping of the facilities as vice-president (a position he has been re-elected to for 2017, and so becomes effectively Abington's first 'men's section president'), and subsequently advertised them as a community hub during his presidency, profits have snowballed and continue to rise.

And as has been mentioned before, this isn't just swelling the coffers, but it's also having a positive effect regarding the club's raison d'etre. Next season will witness the largest acquisition of known playing talent in many years. Abington Bowling Club is now an attractive destination for bowlers and non-bowlers alike, and hopes to stand as a model example of how the sport of bowls can survive and thrive in the 21st century.

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03/10/2016

ABINGTON MIXED (AND ADDITIONAL) CLUB FINALS

FAREWELL THEN, to the 2016 outdoor bowls season. President's Day on Saturday 1st October brought the curtain down on a memorable year for Abington. In the preceding days, the last few remaining honours were decided.

Alan Coleman's name stood out as a multiple champion. The champion of champions to be more precise. Going into the last match, the situation was almost chillingly simple, Coleman would take the prize if he won. If Chris Beck won, the third man involved - Tony O'Leary - would be the overall champion.

The exact scoreline was an irrelevance but the eventual 21-6 mauling club president Beck received, being marginally greater than Tony O'Leary's defeat of the same opponent, meant Coleman's triumph seemed particularly definitive.


P
W
L
F
A
Alan Coleman
2
2
0
42
26
Tony O’Leary
2
1
1
41
28
Chris Beck
2
0
2
13
42

Shortly before this success, he was agreed by all parties to have been the decisive factor in his and Margaret Sidebottom's narrow success in the mixed pairs final. They had held a slim advantage through almost the entire match. Judy Jones & Mick Taylor were constantly on the verge of snatching glory, but every time they equalised, Coleman would respond with a terrific end. Most notably the regaining of a two-shot lead straight after dropping a three on the 16th end.

******

Neil Jenkinson and Dave Fage were the male winners of the mixed triples, helping their middle woman, Debbie Cadd claim the trophy named after her late father Joe Soanes. Over the course of 24 total ends they battled against three other hopeful set-ups from which an aggregate score was then calculated. They began in sharper mood than they finished, but by the time the final game came round, they'd already romped into such a big lead that they could adopt a more conservative approach.

The faded intensity of that final game allowed their last opponents, John Higginbottom and the husband/wife duo Jonathan & Diana Brown to take the runners-up spot, despite having lost the preceding two games. No-one was able to get near Jenkinson, Cadd and Fage for shot-scoring that day.

******

It was a similar story in the men's drawn pairs league, the relatively new competition that has helped fill up the 'hangover' month of September these past few years. The eventual winners, John Freeman's Wonky Mats, which also featured Harvey Fruish and Pat McAlwane, smashed their way through the opening few matches and then coasted to the finish line. Not that much ever runs smoothly with this league, the schedule once again featuring constant line-up changes, emergency substitutions, the occasional AWOL and all manner of chaos besides.

However, this looseness of structure has become part of its charm in a way. No other competition at Abington so perfectly encapsulates the joy of bowls - and indeed sports and games as a whole - at its purest and most lovable. Playing foremost for playing's sake. As it should always be.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Wonky Mats
7
5
1
1
102
73
118
Dead Woods
7
5
0
2
100
78
103
Massive Wickers
7
5
0
2
93
89
103
Yard Shorts
7
3
0
4
94
96
82
Illegal Jacks
7
3
0
4
84
95
81
Desperate Measures
7
2
1
4
94
88
78
Firing Leads
7
2
0
5
92
112
69
Wrong Biases
7
2
0
5
86
114
66

******

Abington BC - Additional Club Champions 2016

Men's Champion of Champions - Alan Coleman
Mixed Pairs - Alan Coleman & Margaret Sidebottom
Mixed Triples - Neil Jenkinson, Debbie Cadd & Dave Fage
Men's Drawn Pairs League - John Freeman, Harvey Fruish & Pat McAlwane

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29/9/2016

ABINGTON MENS CLUB FINALS

IT'S SAFE to say, the men's champion of champions competition will have a different look to it next season.

In yet another indication of Abington's renewed vigour, the club honours were divided between some (as of yet) unusual suspects, but expect to see more from all the names featured next season. In fact, for the first time in over a decade the Club Cup final was featured two uncrowned contenders. Namely, Adam Brown and Mick Taylor - a straight battle between the runners-up of the two previous years.

Beforehand, the young man Brown would have been considered the favourite, having been a regular face in the county team for the last four years and in the Middleton Cup for the last two, but he had still yet to fulfil his potential in singles competition. Meanwhile, Taylor could point to a number of notable scalps of former champions across the last three years.

The early exchanges betrayed both players nerves, nip and tuck until they both reached eight, whereupon Brown suddenly made good on his status. A four put him 12-8 up, and sparked a barrage of good scores - save for requiring a killed end to prevent Taylor picking up a full house and equalising - to leave him within touching distance at 18-11. Taylor would not roll over though and the latter stages once again became a scrappy, bitty affair with neither player combining backhand and forehand or winning their own jacks.

Still, Brown inched ever closer, but Taylor suddenly managed a three of his own, putting him also potentially within one end of winning it. By that point Brown only needed one more shot. Failure would have been disastrous. His fine form on the backhand going towards the clubhouse proved to be the decisive factor. A clear majority of his shots were gained on those ends - including the 21st, the championship-winner. He had finally come good on his promise, and joined his father Jonathan as an Abington singles champion.

Success in the 2016 Club Cup is his inaugural solo honour, but if anyone could pick a trophy to win as their first, it would be this. Deep commiserations must be expressed to Taylor who but for the Brown family - Jonathan having beaten him two years ago - would be celebrating an extraordinary two Club Cups in three seasons. A terrific 'what if?' for a player who wouldn't usually be considered amongst the very front rank at Abington - fine servant of the club though he is - and must be wondering if he will get the chance again. He can at least console himself that his performance here was a major step-up from his disappointing 2014 final showing. No-one surely will write him off for next year's contest.

******

That's even bearing in mind next year's congested field, with at least two new players added to the reckoning who will be capable of going all the way. Returning to this year though and that new strength in depth is already displaying itself. Adam Brown may have picked out the ultimate debut honour, but Allen Johnson and Colin Barnes will not be displeased to have emerged with silverware after just one season as members.

The former is a particularly extraordinary story. There is the mitigating circumstance that the Handicap is designed with diversity of winners in mind, but it is still rarely claimed by a man who began the season still technically a bowling novice. And especially not by a bowling novice who found himself 11-19 down to a former club champion.

Johnson must go down as the most improved player of 2016. Let's not forget this was his first full, competitive year of bowls, and he is already beginning to show decent touches. And on top of that a little bit of determination and stamina as well. Dave Vernon - who only had to concede three shots at the beginning of the game - was the poor unfortunate on the receiving end of Johnson's late surge to improbably glory. He had seemed destined to win a trophy he last claimed two years ago ever since the semi-final draw was confirmed, but just as he seemed to take on the appearance of the cat who got the cream, he fell face first into the bowl and emerged blinded.

Barnes meanwhile had to stage a comeback of his own to take the Veterans Cup out of Dave Fage's hands. In a literally epic contest that may well have broken all Abington records, the two battled it out on the green for five sets that lasted a total of three-and-a-half hours! One can only wonder how long it would have taken had three of the sets finished closer than 7-2!

Two of those were claimed by Fage who dominated the early stages. Even though Barnes came back to win the second set, he rarely managed two successive scoring ends. After three sets the combined shot score was 19-11 in Fage's favour, and not long after he'd claimed two scores of three to put him just one more from victory. But here his gameplan began to falter.

Barnes held firm to snatch the fourth set, and Fage only continued to tire. He could not work himself up again for the deciding set and this time it was Barnes who romped home 7-2. The former Roade player has laid down a marker for next year of never having joined a club and failed to become their champion at some point. Having taken on Dave Fage at his own long-winded game and won, who would bet against him grinding out some bigger triumphs in the years ahead?

******

Not that the old guard are going to slink away anytime soon. The 2-wood final was a straight fight between everyone's favourite double act, Bellies & Fluff, AKA Tony O'Leary & John Freeman, who either side of that joined forces to play both the pairs and triples finals. The latter of those (in which they were joined by longstanding compadre Terry Brown) was lost to the Alan Mann/Chris Beck/Peter Milburn trio, a bad run during the middle period, in which the deficit more than doubled to 10 shots, proving unbridgeable.

Their personal duel was a surprisingly comfortable win for O'Leary who withstood only the most fleeting of blows to his armoury, winning 21-10. Then again, O'Leary truly is the man supreme in the 2-wood format. This was the FOURTH consecutive occasion he has claimed the prize. An achievement that is the first of its kind in Abington BC history.

Going into the pairs final, Freeman was also facing the unprecedented, but on a much less savoury note; a potential hat-trick of final defeats on the same day. He was to be redeemed. The game had been billed as a true clash of Abington titans. With O'Leary and Freeman's opponents being Dave Fage and Jonathan Brown, the four players involved would be the four surviving multiple club champions.

However, for a substantial period of time, only one half of the scoreboard was being flipped over with any regularity as O'Leary and Freeman shot into a 16-1 lead in the first half. Brown would later claim to have been distracted by his son's date with destiny in the Club Cup final, taking place on the next rink, and in all fairness, it was a claim supported by the recovery of his usual form almost immediately following the confirmation of Adam's win.

With the end of the match in sight, the gap had come down to 20-16. However, just as the contest was finally starting to live up to its billing, O'Leary and Freeman took another four to re-double that advantage. There was precious little time for Fage and Brown to rescue the situation and the game was soon done. Victory in at least one competition was just reward for Freeman, probably the outstanding individual player of the year.

******

Lastly for now, the Club Vase, the competition for early exiters of the Club Cup, which was won by club president Chris Beck despite multiple assaults on his lead by opponent Pat McAlwane. Most dramatic of these was the last, where McAlwane took six shots in just two ends to bring about a nervy climax at 20-18. But Beck remained just about steady enough to seal the day on the next end.

******

Abington BC - Men's Club Champions 2016

Singles - Adam Brown
Handicap - Allen Johnson
2-wood - Tony O'Leary
Veterans - Colin Barnes
Vase - Chris Beck
Pairs - Tony O'Leary & John Freeman
Triples - Alan Mann, Chris Beck & Peter Milburn

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26/9/2016

ABINGTON HOLD ONTO ROSE BOWL

ABINGTON retained the Rose Bowl against a side representing the much-missed County Ground B.C.

 

Under the floodlights the home side won 64-41, with three winning rinks and only one defeat. Appropriately enough, County Ground's winning rink was skipped by Dave Brawn, the man who has endeavoured more than anyone to keep this fixture a going concern. Its long-term future remains murky, but with next year marking the 10th anniversary of the untimely demise of Abington's former local rival, it seems only right and proper to reserve at least one more date for 2017.

And despite this being a game now driven by nostalgia, this year's edition perhaps saw a new beginning. Highest winning rink was skipped by Phil Reeve, making his Abington 'debut' a few months before he officially transfers from Kingsthorpe. The acquisition of one of Northamptonshire's most-capped Middleton Cup players, currently looking to refresh his bowling career, will be a key talking point of next year - and beyond - whatever happens.

******

Number two on Reeve's rink was Allen Johnson, whose exploits in friendly fixtures across the season deserve highlighting as well. No-one came near Johnson's service, barely missing a game on either Saturdays or Thursdays. While aware that not everyone can make both days with regularity - especially those still young enough to work for a living - the degree to which a new member has embraced the game of bowls, and Abington as a club in particular, should be celebrated, especially with the results it yielded. 

Here is a merit table featuring those who have played on both weekend and weekday friendly matches for the men's teams this season (including one lady player, who should receive her due for stepping in when required). As with the day-specific merit tables, the points reflect both number of appearances as well as results, while players in bold are those who have appeared in a majority of the matches. What immediately sticks out here is Johnson's win-loss ratio of 2:1 - the best of this group - almost being mirrored by his total shot difference. In all, he amassed 17 more merit table points than any other player!


P
W
D
L
%
F
A
Pts
Allen Johnson
33
22
0
11
66.67
661
484
77
Peter Kneeshaw
30
13
4
13
50
517.25
470
60
Bill Shelton
26
16
1
9
63.46
506
401
59
Robert ‘Mick’ Hall
28
13
3
12
51.79
500
454
57
Bill Beesley
27
13
1
13
50
494
439
54
Chris Beck
24
13
0
11
54.17
439.5
393
50
Reg Jones
23
12
1
10
54.35
410
370
48
Harvey Fruish
24
10
1
13
43.75
443
416
45
Colin Barnes
20
12
0
8
60
353
329
44
Mick Taylor
21
11
1
9
54.76
385
328
44
Scott Osbourne
22
10
1
11
47.73
395
367
43
Alan Chapman
19
11
1
7
60.53
367
293
42
John Higginbottom
21
10
1
10
50
395.5
332
42
Neil Jenkinson
18
9
1
8
52.78
352
275
37
Steve Unwin
19
8
2
9
47.37
320
339
37
Peter Boulden
17
9
1
7
55.58
346
283
36
Bryan Hall
12
11
0
1
91.67
255
158
34
Arthur Bicker
19
4
0
15
21.05
282
392
27
Alan Necus
12
7
0
5
58.33
210
193
26
Anita Petrucci
5
3
1
1
70
101
83
12
Dick Voller
2
1
0
1
50
40
37
4

Peter Kneeshaw was the only other player to reach 30 games for the season (out of a total of 38). Bill Shelton and Colin Barnes the only others who achieved a win percentage of at least 60% - out of those who qualify at least, with Alan Chapman on the threshold. However, next year's captains should try hard to persuade Bryan Hall to play more often. With 11 wins from 12 games, he was something a of a lucky charm in 2016!

As mentioned earlier though it's just not possible for some players to feature in both fixtures, and many other names ranked high on the separate tables for Saturdays and Thursdays. They can be found in the men's section, but a quick salute here for Rob Archer (most Sat points), Dave Vernon (best Sat win % - an incredible 84.62%!) and Bernie Ingram (best Thu win % - a simply staggering 88.46%!). Johnson accrued the most points from Thursday games.

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20/9/2016

TRIPLES LEAGUE - KNOCKOUT GLORY FOR ABINGTON!

FOR THE first time since 2008, the Northampton Triples League Knockout Shield, sponsored by Dalepak, will be resident at Abington HQ, after a final triumph over Daventry Town A that was the definition of 'unflustered'.

Captain Jonathan Brown kept the side unchanged from the semi-final battering of Bugbrooke and was duly rewarded with a similarly professional performance, and the trophy. It was a particularly special day for his rink's middle man Alan Ward (left of the picture below). A perfect end to his first season as the League's new secretary!

Abington smiles all round:
Captain Brown receives the trophy, flanked by Ward and

Harvey Fruish, chairman of the league - and also an ABC member
The recent poor weather had left the chosen surface for the final - Northampton Express' green at Duston Sports Centre - a little soupier than most Abington players would prefer, but it did not prove a disadvantage, even against a team who regularly bowl on a notoriously heavy turf. The favourites, for that was their status on this occasion, raced into a double-figure aggregate lead after just a couple of ends and eventually triumphed by 36, exactly an average of nine on each of the four rinks.

It may not have been the most entertaining final, but a sporting toast should be made to Daventry for their runners-up achievement. Despite the disappointment of this last match, the very fact that they had made it here will go a long way to restoring the pride damaged by a dreadful time of it in Division 1. Especially after having conquered the great West End A on their own patch at the quarter-final stage. It may not be long before Daventry are back in the top flight.

Abington's motley crew of champions - from left to right:
John 'Fluff' Freeman, Alan Ward, Adam Hawkings, Dave Fage, Tony 'Bellies' O'Leary, Pres. Chris Beck,
Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.), Terry Brown, Dave Vernon, Bill Roberts, Adam Brown
As for Abington A, Cup final success rounds off a solid year of improvement, and with some interesting additions to the squad for next year don't bet against this honour being followed up by other, bigger ones in the near future. Hearty thank yous are extended to everyone who supported the team on the day, and especially to the other three players in the A-squad who were not used in the final but who all played in various stages of the run; Rob Archer, Ollie Kirkwood and Pat McAlwane (plus of course our former secretary Don Smith who moved away from all this in the summer).

A fuller match report can be found in the men's section, and other photos can be found here. Here's to continued glory in 2017.

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11/9/2016

ABINGTON LADIES CLUB FINALS

ABINGTON'S women completed their club competitions on the weekend of 3rd & 4th September. And there were myriad dramas, even in the most one-sided games.

Where else to start than the Club Cup final? The pattern of scoring would not normally suggest a classic, with the victor barely challenged, dropping only eight shots. However, when the defeated is the defending champion and favourite, and the winner is the all-time most frequent club champion looking for her first in six years, it's a whole other class of thrashing.

It was a marvellous return to the top for Pam Wills, not least for the huge preventative strike against her record - now extended to five titles, two more than anyone else has ever managed - being taken. She was in no mood to acquiesce to Debbie Bradshaw, last season's winner and most in-form player of our ladies section recently, racing into a 10-3 lead after just seven ends.

This level of scoring barely abated. Bradshaw tried hard to stop the flood, but only succeeded in slowing the pace down to a trickle before eventually being subsumed. Wills kept on grinding out a torturous run of single shot after single shot to eventually crawl over the line still well ahead. Impeccably patient and devastating, it was a true champion's performance.

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Bradshaw at least managed to restore some pride with a similar mauling of her most regular rival for honours since joining the club, Lis Milburn, in the 2-wood singles. It wasn't until the eighth end of the match when Milburn scored her first shot, having already let Bradshaw get to double figures. With the ladies preferring to use the 21-end format for their 2-wood competition, there was limited chance of a fightback, and what remained of Milburn's will was crushed by the two-thirds mark, as the deficit had only come down to eight. Bradshaw picked up two doubles to seal it with five ends to spare.

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And it only got worse for poor Lis. That was just one of three last-match heartbreaks for her to endure this year, the extra assistance only enabling her slightly closer to glory. In the triples final, she skipped Margaret Sidebottom and Pat Parsonson. They held tight to their opponents, Gill Bailey, Debbie Bradshaw - again! - and Anita Petrucci for the first half, the score 6-7 after nine ends.

However, they could never quite gain the advantage and right at the start of the second half, Petrucci's trio seized the day with a five, the biggest score of the game. It proved to be the defining end, with the pattern of scoring immediately settling back down to a nitty-gritty exchange of ones and twos. This was never going to be enough to turn the match round and so Milburn and company were left to count the cost of their anomalous bumble. Bailey, Bradshaw and Petrucci were the champions.

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The most agonising of all Milburn's final flops however was in the pairs, as she and partner Margaret Williams contrived to blow a hard-earned lead of 18-13 over the last three ends. A dropped two right at the death confirmed the only point of the whole match at which they would be behind. The duo who pounced upon this sudden collapse were Judy Jones and Gill Crossley, who had already clawed back a greater deficit earlier in the game, making up for their lack of consistency with an excellent sense of timing.

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Special attention should be merited here to the two Gills, Bailey and Crossley, for both getting their names on the honours board at the end of their very first season of competitive bowling. For their keenness and enthusiasm, they have been fine additions to the ladies section, and now duly rewarded.

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Crossley was also to reach the handicap, although again we have to link on a negative as it was her turn to suffer a smash-and-grab, with Diana Brown instead claiming her very first singles honour. Handicap cups are specifically designed to allow for greater variety of winners and this year's final showed the idea remains sound, with two uncrowned players both starting on zero.

As might be expected in a duel between those unused to the situation, the match was a nervy one from start to finish. It was rare for either to score on consecutive ends. The last time it happened saw Crossley become the first to edge into the 'championship end' territory, 17-16 up. There then followed an extraordinary sequence - Brown took three, and then Crossley hit back with three of her own. Belying the incredible nervousness of the situation, Brown claimed the brace she needed to snatch the trophy.

Abington BC - Ladies Club Champions 2016

Singles - Pam Wills
Handicap - Diana Brown
2-wood - Debbie Bradshaw
Pairs - Judy Jones & Gill Crossley
Triples - Gill Bailey, Debbie Bradshaw & Anita Petrucci
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