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:

16/7/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 9th-15th JULY

ABINGTON'S HOPES of representation at the National Championships in Leamington Spa withered drastically this week, but there remain a few isolated survivors. What we now know for sure is that the major men's competitions are all closed off.

Alan Dunkley had got to whites in the men's singles, but exited at the last eight stage on the evening of Thursday 12th July at Wellingborough. 11 shots against Northampton West End's Darren Childs, last year's national, nevermind county, runner-up was respectable enough, though tinged with the disappointment of having dominated the early exchanges. Childs was only on 6 when Dunkley hit double figures, but it was not a sustained peak.

And it rounded off a hard week for Dunkley, in which his county fours set-up, skipped by Jonathan Brown were knocked out in the group final by Chris Bland at Express, two rounds short of equaling last year's semi-final run. And then his senior fours suffered the same harsh fate in the last four of that comp, at the hands of Wellingborough's seasoned pro, Walt Winsor.

Thankfully, the other Abington Over-55 semi-finalists, Alan Mann, Trevor Aston, Chris Beck and Peter Milburn, did prevail. Their game, versus Desborough's Malcolm Winckles, had been practically deadlocked until the last couple of ends. On this occasion, mouse defeated cat as the Abington men constantly took the initiative before being pegged back. Eventually though, their opponents gave up the chase. Unlike in the other competitions, they are not yet guaranteed a Leamington spot, and sadly nor is the club following the defeat of Dunkley's rink. If Milburn is to qualify, he must get revenge on over Winsor on their behalf.

One good bit of news for Dunkley was just such an act of vengeance in the national senior singles. Kingsthorpe's Martin Gearey was finally felled by an Abington man at the fourth time of asking. Only John Haines of Desborough now stands in Dunkley's way of reaching the finals stage at Bowls England HQ.

Elsewhere, the other surviving county fours entrant from the previous week, skipped by Mick Taylor, were unsurprisingly thrashed by 7-22 by the all-star rink of West End's international Jamie Walker.

All attention then focused on the men's county 2-wood singles. Most of the early rounds in the southern half of Northants were again played at Abington, as they were last year, on Sunday 15th July. Unlike last year though, no-one was able to take advantage and reach the quarters. Adam Brown, who went on to qualify for the national championships last season, found his run this time ended at the second round - by his own father, Jonathan.

In turn, the elder Brown was not able to take it any further. And the 3rd round, two short of whites, was as far as any of our men would get this time. (Sadly, we aren't able to count Mark Courtney, Jonathan's conquerer. Despite his Abington membership, he still proudly represents Whyte Melville on the big stage. And even his bid was not to survive the day.)

Mick Taylor came away with the outstanding result of the day - from an Abington perspective - seeing off Express star Chris Bland 16-15, a man currently awaiting a semi-final in the county 4-wood singles. However, even this was quickly undone with the day's biggest loss in the next round, to that man Jamie Walker.

Jamie's namesake and clubmate David Walker was joint most prolific assassin of our players on the day, knocking out three of them in turn - Dunkley, Colin Barnes and John Freeman. Ironically, it would take another Abington scourge, Dave Iddles of Kingsthorpe, who had begun the day with a 6-15 hammering of our own Dave Fage, to end Walker's run.

Express' Rob White bettered this though by defeating three of our men - and then also Jamie Walker to reach the quarters. Rob Archer, Phil Reeve and Adam Hawkings were the forlorn trio here. The first two offered little resistance to White's pin-point draw bowling, it has to be said, but Hawkings was desperately unfortunate to lose his encounter 12-13.

It would be fair to say that on the whole we have been battered this week - but though bruised we are not totally beaten yet.

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12/7/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEK 7

AT THIS RATE, the two teams will likely swap places at the end of the season. Both Abington A and Abington B may come to look back at the events of July 9th as a pivotal moment in their campaign, for wildly opposing reasons.

Increasingly the Bs do more and more to earn top billing. This week, a sensational late fightback turned the potential outcome of Kislingbury B's visit on its head. With just a handful of ends left to play on either rink, the visitors looked to have brought the hosts' good run to an end, and blow the promotion chase wide open. Up by 12, they had five points in the bag, and all that seemed required was to seal the bag.

However, a daring, thrilling late raid, rescued the majority of those points back again, and the final reckoning was the exact opposite scoreline to that which had seemed certain for so long. Mick Taylor's rink undoubtedly receives plaudits for being the highest winners. Most crucially, they were a source of comfort while all else was sputtering. While they held a decent advantage, anything was still just about possible.

It was a flicker of hope which eventually empowered two other rinks to produce a spectacular late display. Both Peter Kneeshaw and Pete Boulden had long trailed after dropping heavy scores early on. But over the last three ends, they produced between them a staggering 19 shots, divided up just enough for both to sneak a rink result. And an aggregate result that - along with Bugbrooke being walloped at home by Division 2 leaders Desborough, and dropping into fourth - lifts Abington B clear of the pack at this crucial halfway juncture.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Desborough Town
7
6
0
1
477
362
32
Abington B
7
5
0
2
454
391
29
Kingsthorpe B
7
4
1
2
436
405
22.5
Bugbrooke
7
4
0
3
438
414
21
Brackley
7
3
0
4
413
414
19
Kislingbury B
7
3
0
4
401
447
18
Wootton Grange A
7
1
0
6
370
444
14.5
Heyford
7
1
1
5
377
489
12

For Kislingbury, the late comeback was a big hit to their hopes. Scrub the game at 12 ends, and this table would have looked totally different. Kisle would have been on Abington B's coattails, with Kingsthorpe B's breath similarly heating the back of their necks. It just goes to show how you can never get complacent in this division. However, with everyone now having played everyone else, four successive 5-1 wins has launched Abington B into a position of relative security, and they are halfway to promotion.

Whether there will be another Abington team to greet them in Division 1 is suddenly looking less assured, however. On paper, the drop should never be a consideration. However, Abington A are still looking for their first points win away from home, and they are still to play any of the supposed 'big' sides on their respective turfs.

Last week, one rogue rink cost them the aggregate victory. This time, failure was spread further and wider. John Freeman's was the source of the sole point, and even then by a narrow margin of just two shots after a game where they had trailed until the 14th end.

To be fair, no rink was thrashed either, with Dave Fage skipping the paltriest effort at 13-19. That in itself was a recovery of sorts after conceding nine shots before even scoring. The other two rinks were only defeated by the identical score of 12-16. Nevertheless, the talent involved in the squad is capable of so much more than an average of two points per game.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
7
7
0
0
511
331
37.5
Northampton Express A
7
5
0
2
481
361
30
Northampton West End A
6
4
0
2
397
312
23
St. Crispin’s A
7
4
0
3
412
423
23
Whyte Melville A
7
4
0
3
419
420
20
Abington A
6
1
1
4
331
404
12
Daventry Town A
7
1
0
6
381
491
10
Earls Barton
7
0
1
6
326
516
6.5

Challenging for the title was a write-off after the opening game, but even more concerning is that St. Crispin's and Whyte Melville, not usually our betters, are currently stealing a march on us as well. The sole win so far - vs Daventry at home - is the only thing keeping Abington A from a most ignominious position indeed. Hopefully the As can at least draw on the fact that their home fixtures for the second half of the season are fairly friendly, and ensure that there will be another all-Abington affair in the top flight next year.

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9/7/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 2nd-8th JULY

IT'S BEEN A FRENETIC week of fours action for Abington's men, and a largely successful one. A golden gleam of national championship qualification is materialising in front of several of our members' eyes.

The senior fours in particular carries enormous potential. We left last week's update on a cliffhanger with Abington having a half-decent chance of crowding out the southern area's quarter-final representation. 'Half' being the operative word as only two of them made it through into whites. However, both of those made it through the next round as well to reach the last four.

The unit of Alan Mann, Trevor Aston, Chris Beck and Peter Milburn deserves special plaudits for the headline-capturing knockout of the most highly-rated four in the competition. A Kingsthorpe rink back-ended by former national champions Roger Tansley and Mick Sharpe would have been expected to see off almost any opponent in this tournament. Our men not only defeated them, but delivered what was practically a humbling.

The crucial - if not faintly remarkable - passage of play came between ends 9 and 15, when Abington, turned a 4-8 deficit into a decent lead of 18-11. Having just proved how much can change in six ends, they now had to hold their nerve and prevent a reverse onslaught in the same amount of time.

A couple of dropped singles threatened to set up a tense finish, but only two ends later, hands were being shaken. Milburn's men had increased their lead back to seven - and then nine shots. The Kingsthorpe stars were choosing to save face while still down by singles figures.

The other rink, skipped by Alan Dunkley, won by the same amount in the same time, and in doing so, extracted revenge on behalf of the Abington rink who had surprisingly lost to the same opponents in the previous round. Here again, a steady streak of eight consecutive scoring ends established a clear lead for the Abington rink (which also featured Colin Barnes, Reg Jones and Dave Fage) beginning with a big count of six on the eighth end. Their opponents, skipped by Phil Odell of St. Crispin's, deserve credit for hauling themselves back into contention, the advantage shrivelling from 20-6 to just 20-15 with three ends left. However, a killer blow was struck with a four on the 19th.

So, both rinks travel back to West End on the evening of Wednesday the 11th. The draw keeps them apart until the final, though unlike in the major competitions, there is only one slot at Leamington up for grabs. Here's hoping the club can afford to toast that success before the final is played.

Nearly all concerned were also out on the green for the early rounds of the county fours proper. And there were much joy for Dunkley and Barnes again, this time in tandem with the father-and-son duo of Jonathan and Adam Brown. The same unit that reached the semi-finals of last season's competition on their maiden voyage have kept an immediately proud record going with impressive Top Club and Double Rinks outings this year, and have wasted no time announcing their renewed intentions. Landing straight back in the group final took just 32 of the 42 scheduled ends - and an aggregate score of 47-12. Next up is Chris Bland from Express and their first major hurdle, but they have beaten similar high-quality opposition before.

Mick Taylor's entry - featuring Dave Fage at number three - have also reached the final of their group after a 20-13 win over Geoff Hayter from Bugbrooke. Said game could have been an all-Abington affair but instead they will be treated to the dubious pleasure of the competition favourites, skipped by West End, and England, star Jamie Walker. Should they pull off an almighty upset, their reward will be a quarter-final at Kislingbury on the Friday evening.

They'll certainly have to perform better than Dave Jones did in his county singles confrontation with Walker, losing 12-21. However, the very next round of that showed he is not invincible, his reign as national champion brought to an end by his own pairs partner! And in the fours format especially, nothing is pre-ordained.

******

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE have yet again failed to make the Middleton Cup quarter-finals, but the new manager, our very own Phil Reeve, has vowed to stay on having detected signs of progress, not least in the spirit of the camp. Besides the gaffer, our club's representation has swelled from two back to the four of recent years. The Browns, Adam and Jonathan, re-joined Tony O'Leary and John Freeman in the line-up for the Norfolk away and Huntingdonshire home games.

Both justified their selection with key performances in each match's highest winning rink respectively. Sadly, an overall defeat to Norfolk effectively ended Northants' chances. In the long run though, beating Hertfordshire at home on the proceeds of just one rink was at least as costly.

Reeve now has the freedom to experiment for the remainder of the season, and he knows he can rely on Abington to provide him with ready and willing back-up. One of the manager's more eye-catching innovations has been the fielding of an Under-25 rink in the senior Midland Counties championship. Congratulations are now due to this club's youngest bowler, 13-year-old Thomas Manderson, who will receive his Colt badge as the fresh-faced rink's number two for the Nottinghamshire away match at Newark on Saturday the 14th.

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5/7/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEK 6

BOTH THE A AND B TEAMS were given the seemingly simple task of a win against the bottom-placed side in their division on Monday 2nd July. Only the latter proved up to the job though.

The Bs claimed a thoroughly professional win over Heyford, with only Reg Jones' rink on the wrong end of the final scoreline, failing to recover from a desperate first half (and at least with the caveat of playing against Michael Moulton, the opposition's one county-level star). Thankfully, this was balanced out by an untroubled 19-9 win from Mick Taylor's rink.

A run of eight shots in five ends at the beginning of the second half was the breakthrough for Peter Milburn's rink after a first half they narrowly trailed. And Dave Brawn's survived a major scare with eight shots on the final three ends to snatch another point. In fact, without that late contribution, the whole night's work would have been thrown into doubt.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Desborough Town
6
5
0
1
405
314
26
Abington B
6
4
0
2
390
333
24
Bugbrooke
6
4
0
2
390
342
21
Brackley
6
3
0
3
349
345
18
Kingsthorpe B
6
3
1
2
355
359
17
Kislingbury B
6
3
0
3
343
383
17
Wootton Grange A
6
1
0
5
324
363
14
Heyford
6
0
1
5
308
425
7

The 2nd Division table shows how vital it could have been, with Abington displacing Bugbrooke from the second promotion spot, following only their second loss of the season at Kingsthorpe B. The field has constricted a little again, but a win at Kislingbury next week would surely confirm Abington B as a favoured candidate to go up.

That late contribution from Brawn's men shows again how fine the margins can be in this league. Without the 16-shot swing, Heyford would have claimed their first win of the season and the Bs would be three points worse off. Away at Earls Barton, the A-team were themselves receiving the lesson that every rink's last contribution is precious.

Tony O'Leary and his partners in crime, Chris Beck and Dave Fage, racked up 13 ends before finally scoring their first shot on the 14th. Thankfully, they never dropped a huge individual score, but 0-17 is never a pleasant read, no matter what the stage the game is at. By that time, the combined score of the other three rinks was 45-26, just enough to cancel out O'Leary's nightmare, but the dam was creaking.

In a way, it was ironic that it should finally burst just as O'Leary and company finally killed their duck (though even then they ended up with just two, not even enough to share between all the players). Every other rink conceded at least a couple of shots at the finish, but at least they had won. The most impressive being Dave Jones' rink, who had threatened a hideous collapse themselves early on before rallying to win 19-14.

The one major loss gave their Barton hosts the shot victory and so an equal share of the points, which more than doubled their return for the season so far. Abington A surely remain too good to go down but five shots is a meagre tally for the top performing rink. A bizarre disjointedness is still preventing the team from playing anywhere near its potential.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
6
6
0
0
439
279
33
Northampton Express A
6
5
0
1
429
289
28.5
Northampton West End A
5
3
0
2
325
258
18
St. Crispin’s A
6
3
0
3
348
369
18
Whyte Melville A
6
3
0
3
339
372
15
Abington A
5
1
1
3
282
340
11
Daventry Town A
6
1
0
5
327
424
9
Earls Barton
6
0
1
5
278
436
5.5

At least there is the consolation of the league's knockout competition, in which the As, winners of the shield two seasons ago, have again reached the quarter-finals with the expected stuffing of 3rd Division Roade. This time, it was Jones' rink who were the sole stragglers, but only to the deficit of six shots, barely leaving a dent in Abington's otherwise armour-plated march to victory. Between them, the other three rinks scored a total of 69 shots and dropped only 33.

Much of this was scored in a whirlwind second half. When the dust had settled, captain Jonathan Brown's rink emerged with the largest amount of blood drawn, a five on the second end snatching the highest-winning rink honour from his namesake Terry. Mention though must be paid to the debut of young Thomas Manderson on his grandfather Dave Fage's rink, which included setting up an eight on the 13th end! Whatever their current travails, Abington A still have plenty of reasons to look forward in anticipation.

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2/7/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 18th JUNE-1st JULY

ANOTHER relatively quiet fortnight, but with some major highlights. Chief amongst which was an all-Abington duel for a place in the men's county singles quarter-finals, with Alan Dunkley prevailing over Peter Milburn 21-14.

The contest was not quite the spectacle that might have been hoped for by neutrals, with Dunkley hitting his stride far sooner, and the summit hove into view before Milburn scored on consecutive ends. As is so often the case though, the do-or-die circumstances inspired Milburn to produce some decent bowls, and Dunkley's last two steps took almost as long as the preceding 19.

Any potential comeback was eventually snuffed out when Milburn reached 14, and Dunkley goes through to the quarter-finals at Wellingborough a week on Thursday, just reward perhaps for his superb 21-16 win over Express star Dominic Graham in the previous round. His first opponent in whites will be either Dave Iddles of Kingsthorpe or Darren Childs of West End, last season's national runner-up!

A week before that though, on this coming Thursday, is the county senior fours quarters and the absurdly tantalising prospect that all four southern Northants representatives will be from our club! No other club has taken to this new competition quite so enthusiastically and all four of our entrants have been duly kept apart in the group draw. A couple have already survived one early round, notably the stacked and relatively youthful rink of Jonathan Brown, John Freeman, Tony O'Leary and Phil Reeve who convincingly beat a Brackley unit skipped by Dave Blencowe 20-8.

Only one of the four senior rinks has been granted home advantage for Wednesday's all-important 2nd round night. But even on a heads-or-tails basis, there's only a one-in-16 chance that none of them will go through. West End are the lucky club who could be hosting an Abington invasion later this week.

Returning to Dunkley, he is also the club's last man standing in the national senior singles. After walloping John Freeman's conqueror Michael Moulton 21-6, his next task will be to avenge another THREE of his clubmates. Martin Gearey of Kingsthorpe has been a one-man wrecking ball to Abington's chances in the seniors this year, defeating Dave Jones, Phil Reeve and Colin Barnes en route to his showdown with Dunkley. Surely lightning doesn't strike the same place four times...

Dunkley will at the very least hopes it goes better than his national senior pairs game last Thursday, in which neither he nor Colin Barnes excelled, to put it mildly. Thankfully, the beneficiaries of their off-day were their fellow Abingtonians Freeman and Reeve.

On the women's side of things, Gill Crossley suffered an agonising 20-21 loss to Liz Keeney of Corby Seagrave in the quarterfinals of the women's county champion of champions. A proud end to a proud first-time run in the tournament. It will surely not be her last. Elsewhere, the club's only entrant in the women's 2-wood singles, Lis Milburn was hastily despatched by Pat Bodily of Whyte Melville, 9-17 the score.

Meanwhile the prestigious benevolent triples was staged across the last week of June. This 2-wood three-woman tournament is always a highlight of the calendar, not least for being one of very few competitions unique to ladies bowls, and a vital fundraiser. Both of the Abington entrants performed well, reaching day three of four and the last 16. Sadly, this was the road ended for both also. Judy Jones, Margery Keal and that girl Crossley were comfortably beaten by Heather Lack of Burton Latimer, while Shirley Salado, Debbie Bradshaw and Barbara Astle were narrowly pipped 11-12 by Maureen McDonald from Wellingborough, who later almost made the final.

******

IT'S NO SECRET how thin the line is between triumph and disaster, and hence why we are advised to treat them just the same. Abington's 2018 Manfield Cup day on Saturday June 30th provided another salutary lesson to that, in part at least.

Just eight shots, spread in a particular way, and Abington would be one of the highest-ranked teams, as they usually are. Instead with the best result being Peter Milburn's tie against Andy Fowkes of West End at Daventry, we are one of the lowest this time.

In fairness, it would have taken a far bigger swing than that to trouble the very top of the leaderboard, despite Wellingborough claiming victory in the annual countywide four-rink jamboree with an aggregate of just +39, much lower than usually required. Abington simply didn't have any consistency in shot-scoring this year, despite a decent draw on paper, from which at least a couple of positive results might have been expected. Congratulations to Wellingborough. For our club, the wait for another Manfield extends to 28 years.

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27/6/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEK 5

THEY'RE UP AND RUNNING. And it's only taken them four attempts. The A-team continued their upward trajectory with a comfortable win at home to Daventry Town A. Meanwhile, the Bs kept the pace in Division 2, taking the same amount of point at Wootton Grange.

The As' result sees them swap places with Daventry, though with the top three also all winning healthily, no ground was gained on those who Abington should really be judging themselves by.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
5
5
0
0
369
217
28.5
Northampton Express A
5
4
0
1
344
258
22.5
Northampton West End A
4
3
0
1
272
191
17
Whyte Melville A
5
3
0
2
308
287
15
St. Crispin’s A
5
2
0
3
281
319
13
Abington A
4
1
0
3
232
284
8
Daventry Town A
5
1
0
4
265
354
7.5
Earls Barton
5
0
0
5
222
383
2.5

Nonetheless, a win can't be sniffed at after the struggle it's been to register one, and even this had its dodgier moments, such as captain Jonathan Brown's rink losing a five on the final end, and Phil Reeve's having to recover from 0-8 down after six ends. Still, they got the points in the end. Reeve had equalised within just three ends and effectively won the game with two ends to play, while Brown's men can be excused their late lapse on this occasion as they were 18-9 up at the time.

After all, not everyone can win 33-6, as Tony O'Leary's rink did. No-one knows that better than O'Leary himself, for whom this was a welcome corrective after suffering similar seismic thrashings in the first two games. Only Terry Brown's men came away with a negative mark, after sustaining a horror show between ends 9 and 12, conceding 13 shots in just those four ends. And even there, the damage was halved with a six immediately afterwards.

In Division 2, Abington B were denied an advance into the promotion spots, but only because Desborough and Bugbrooke also won convincingly, against Heyford and Kingsthorpe B. (Proving just how valuable last week's win over Desborough was for our boys.) The top three have taken a stride away from the rest of the ever-shuffling pack, with the Bs putting in a steady performance at Wootton.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Desborough Town
5
4
0
1
338
267
22
Bugbrooke
5
4
0
1
338
274
20
Abington B
5
3
0
2
327
279
19
Kislingbury B
5
3
0
2
296
316
15
Wootton Grange A
5
1
0
4
283
297
13
Brackley
5
2
0
3
283
304
13
Kingsthorpe B
5
2
1
2
287
307
12
Heyford
5
0
1
4
254
362
6

All three winning rinks triumphed by about the same amount, with Peter Milburn's 11-shot margin narrowly outperforming Mick Taylor and Peter Kneeshaw's 10. And again, all three built up an early decent advantage and maintained it to the finish. Mick Hall's rink must have read their memos upside down, with their game proceeding in the exact opposite fashion.

Still, apart from this, the Bs are currently performing with the necessary cohesion and camaraderie, and a comfortable win away from home is a very encouraging sign. Next week sees a visit from the winless stragglers Heyford. Better opportunities for a generous portion of points will be scarce after that.

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22/6/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEKS 3 & 4

THE B-TEAM recovered from a desperately disappointing loss at Bugbrooke in their third game to smash the Division 2 leaders in their fourth to haul themselves up to third.

At Bugbrooke, the Bs were ahead with just an end remaining for each rink. unfortunately, they all proceeded to drop shots. A swing of seven was enough to give Bugbrooke the aggregate by three. Perhaps hardest to take was Reg Jones' eventual 15-17 loss - also featuring team captain Rob Archer as the middle man - having been 12-5 up with just under half the game to go. However, it was a foul-up with collective responsibility, with Mick Taylor and Mick Hall's rinks also dropping big scores at inopportune moments.

And despite losing three points at the death, Abington B still walked away with a reasonable two from a tricky away tie. Produce a similar performance at home to Desborough, and hold their nerve a little longer, and the rewards would be plentiful, was the theory. And that is exactly what happened.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Desborough Town
4
3
0
1
267
229
16
Bugbrooke
4
3
0
1
265
235
15
Abington B
4
2
0
2
268
240
14
Kingsthorpe B
4
2
1
1
249
236
12
Wootton Grange A
4
1
0
3
244
238
12
Brackley
4
2
0
2
233
244
11
Kislingbury B
4
2
0
2
236
266
11
Heyford
4
0
1
3
215
289
5

Hall's rink were the wrecking ball this time, reaching 20 shots after nine ends, and only conceding one. From there, they coasted to the finish with a final tally of 27-7. No rink suffering a counter-balance of that destruction, though Dave Brawn's flirted with disaster in the opening exchanges. 0-9 down after three ends, they then hit back in extraordinary fashion, with 10 shots from the next three. This continued in a similar pattern but never again would Brawn's men have the lead.

To achieve the full win, the other two rinks did require some of the bottle that had been lacking at Bugbrooke. Both Peters, Boulden and Milburn, were behind with five ends to play but were near flawless in their scoring over that time, a steady stream of single shots (plus the occasional pair) finishing a stunning 5-1 rout of the side who had won all of their opening three games. As seen above, that narrows everything significantly. The second tier continues to be the most open of the league's four, with just four points separating the promotion and relegation places, and only Heyford struggling to join in the mass fight.

The R-word is pursing the lips of the A-team, who sit second bottom of Division 1, but only as a whisper. Nevertheless, despite their scheduled game for round four, at West End, being postponed, their is hope the As have turned the corner, with a much improved performance in the third match at home to Express.

Fair enough, it was a third defeat from three, but it was far from the thrashings of the previous two. If captain Jonathan Brown hadn't been so unfortunate to drill the jack just a few inches too far with his final wood, Abington would have taken a majority of the points rather than Express.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
4
4
0
0
282
173
22.5
Northampton Express A
4
3
0
1
256
217
16.5
Whyte Melville A
4
3
0
1
258
211
14.5
St. Crispin’s A
4
2
0
2
237
232
13
Northampton West End A
3
2
0
1
199
141
11.5
Daventry Town A
4
1
0
3
213
272
6.5
Abington A
3
0
0
3
150
232
3
Earls Barton
4
0
0
4
181
298
2.5

That put the seal on a thoroughly bad night for Brown personally, losing by 10 shots, though there was solace at John Freeman's and Phil Reeve's rinks beating well-regarded opposition. Were it not for the latter, Abington wouldn't have been thinking about the overall win. Six shots down after nine ends, no-one could have foreseen that Reeve and his boys would take 19 shots without reply. Sadly, Tony O'Leary's rink experiences something similar in reverse, dropping fours on two of the last three ends, putting the kibosh on the As' hopes of victory. Perhaps the B-team could give their Division 1 brethren instructions on how to recover from a last-minute blow.

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19/6/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 4th-17th JUNE

A TWO-WEEK update this time, although it's a period in which Abington have been thwarted in most of their primary pursuits, with some solace in the subsidiary competitions. Most notably, the triple of Diana Brown, Lis Milburn and Debbie Cadd reached the 'whites' stage for the second time this season but were thoroughly outclassed in their quarter-final encounter.

Facing the vaunted Desborough trio of Margaret Watts, Katie Smith and Rebecca Wigfield, and their international-level ability, our women were always going to be second favoruties. Their run to the national fours last season had included these very scalps at the same stage, but they were soon disabused of any notion of a repeat. After seven ends, the score was 3-12, and just kept plummeting despite a notably decent performance from Brown at lead.

The Desborough triple hit 20 before dropping double figures... and 30. In fact, nine shots was the summit of Abington's day. All agreed to remain out there until it was absolutely mathematically certain and so the game dragged on to 16 ends, but it had been over as a contest long before that.

Beyond this, Abington interest in the men's pairs was over by the 3rd round, with only two entrants surviving into the second week of play. Both of whom - Adam Hawkings & Phil Reeve and Bill Roberts & Dave Jones - were comfortably despatched by Darren Childs and David Walker of West End respectively.

Five men survive in the county singles, albeit four of them at the expense of their clubmates (and the fifth, Alan Dunkley, granted a walkover). Of the all-Abington head-to-heads, a majority of attention was focused on the battles between Alan Coleman and John Freeman, in which the latter gained revenge for a dramatic loss in the opening round of the pairs, and that between Tony O'Leary and Reeve. In truth, this wasn't a particularly close encounter. Abington's form man of the moment eased into the 3rd round fairly comfortably over the county manager, 21-10.

Reeve did find some solace in the national senior pairs, this time with Freeman in tow. Freeman was once again motivated to avenge a previous loss, beating Michael Moulton, the man who had just removed him from the tournament he reached Leamington in last year, the senior singles.

Even more praiseworthy though was Colin Barnes and Alan Dunkley's senior pairs success over the highly-rated Kingsthorpe duo Roger Tansley and Mick Sharpe, ruiners of many Abington dreams in the past. It sets up an intriguing battle between the two duos in the next round.

Dave Jones and Peter Milburn were the two other men to come through in the singles, beating Adam Hawkings and Dave Fage respectively. It's the second year in a row that Hawkings' run has been ended by Jones, although this time he's happy to wave him on as a fellow Abington player. Milburn's victory was the closest of the four duels at 21-17.

And in amongst all this, Gill Crossley continues to make a name for herself. Abington's new women's champion went out of the national champion of champions to the highly-rated Janet Ashby of West End - but only narrowly at 17-21. And she continues to be a presence in the county equivalent, smashing Irchester's Joy Gordon 21-7 to reach the last eight.

******

NO PROLONGED STAY in the men's National Top Club or Double Rinks this year for Abington, sadly. West End killed off both those hopes for another season.

First, our B-team were a comfortable second best in the former, though Harvey Fruish deserves a mention for being one bowl away from taking an astonishing 13-9 lead on the national singles champion, Jamie Walker. Walker however, got the shot at that point to level the game, and clicked into his usual top gear, which he maintained ever after.

Mick Taylor in the 2-wood and Peter Milburn's triple also came close to a point - the latter forcing an extra end - but the eventual loss of the former was an irrecoverable blow to any hopes of a miracle.

Three evenings later, it was the turn of the double-rinks B-team - albeit in effect a rebadged A-team - to feel the same pain. This time, Walker was to be denied his usual role as the star, by a combination that is proving to be a match for any opponent - namely, Colin Barnes, Adam Brown, Alan Dunkley and team captain Jonathan Brown. A six on the 11th end gave them a decisive lead after a tit-for-tat first half and they went on to win by 10.

In fairness though, the Walker rink's intensity may have steadily lessened as the night went on. Abington's other half, Tony O'Leary, Alan Coleman, Phil Reeve and John Freeman, were ruthlessly slaughtered by a rink skipped by Alan Ashby. 10 down before they even scored, they conceded another eight before notching a second shot. And still it was only halfway done. Unfortunately, there's just no sugarcoating a 7-35 flaying to within an inch of their bowling lives. To dwell on this would be the sporting equivalent of rubbernecking.

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7/6/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: KNOCKOUT 1st ROUND

THE CONTEST WAS OVER inside half an hour. With just two ends played on each rink at Harpole, Abington 'A' had already notched up a tally greater than their 4th Division opponents would manage, even after the rest of the evening.

An untroubled progression then, into the 2nd round of the Monday Triples League knockout tournament, in which another 94 shots on top of that early avalanche of 23 were but a thorough underlining of the gulf between the league's first and fourth tiers. Whatever the opposite of a giant-killing is called, this was it.

However, we lead with this not to brag unseemly, but to cover the disappointment of the other Abington result. The B-team's game was precisely the opposite in every respect. At home, but against a direct divisional rival, Heyford, and a scoreline that ended with no clearer difference than the 0-0 it had started as. By far a more interesting match for a neutral spectator, but sadly, with the opposite outcome for our club.

Captain Rob Archer held his hands up in apology afterwards. He was on the rink, skipped by Reg Jones, which made the most glaring error, conceding a five on the penultimate end. This, together with three other shots just before and after, was a suicidal sacrificing of their seeming status as the decisive winning rink.

Over the second half, they'd worked hard to build an advantage of 15-6 from 7-6. With every other rink on a knife-edge, they were close to being the heroes of the hour. And to compound the irony of their eventual collapse still further, two of the other three rinks had recovered from the threat of a thrashing to tee up that honour.

Peter Milburn's rink got bogged down in a tug of war for the lead, in which they eventually prevailed with a single on each of the last three ends. Mick Taylor and company were grateful for a five and four as they claimed only three of the first 12 ends. Dropping only ones and twos in return, helped them to finish just two adrift, while Peter Boulden's trio put a disastrous first half behind them - 1-10 down after seven - to take the lead with the penultimate end. Unfortunately, they were unable to finish the job, both for themselves and the team as a whole - twice.

The fickle finger of fate plucked their names out of the hat to be the contenders of the extra end, which they lost. So it's down to the As alone to uphold Abington's name in this competition. The Bs meanwhile, are tasked with regrouping and making sure they keep their nerve better when the league resumes next week.

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4/6/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 28th MAY-3rd JUNE

ABINGTON played host to the men's county triples finals stage on the Tuesday and Friday of last week. The green was accordingly prepared, an immaculate surface positioned on its nicest rink-setting guaranteed bowling of the highest quality.

Ultimately, this worked against the possibility of any surprises, and each quarter-final was claimed by the favourite. There was no breathing space for the outsider, the eventual semi-final lineup packed in all four corners with a dizzying array of former national finalists and internationally-recognised talent. A better advert for Northamptonshire bowls would be difficult to find.

The one unfortunate note was that some of our own men had to be the victims of this brutal filtering. Colin Barnes, Dave Fage and Alan Dunkley had performed exceptionally to reach this stage, but were barely able to leave a dent in the hull of national singles champion Jamie Walker. Dunkley's men dropped a four on the first end, and never got any closer than that, only just managing to score five themselves before conceding with four to play.

Thankfully, no single end was worse than the opener, a typically solid display from their lead meant they often had something in the head, even if holding onto shot - or scoring more than one when they did so - proved impossible. Hands were shaken while the scoreline still looked faintly respectable at 5-19.

Debbie Cadd's triple in the women's equivalent competition has a decent chance to do better, having emphatically taken out their clubmates, skipped by Margery Keal, 30 shots to seven. They now have just one more round to get through before hopefully donning whites themselves at Kingsthorpe on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Gill Crossley continues to make a name for herself, removing another noted name, Hilary Sharpe of Kingsthorpe, from the national champion of champions with a thoroughly dominant display of 21-12.

The men's main singles tournament has an interesting 2nd round lineup from our club's perspective, with no less than four all-Abington ties now guaranteed, following progression from the 1st this week for Phil Reeve at the expense of Daventry Tigers' John Moore. Reeve now goes on to play Tony O'Leary, who warmed up for the prospect of defeating a clubmate by squeaking past Dave Jones in the senior pairs 21-20.

Adam Brown sadly fell at the first hurdle of his opening county singles match, just unable to finish the job against Rob White of Express. Similarly, there was no joy to be had in the men's national champion of champions and senior singles. Jonathan Brown and John Freeman both made a hasty departure from the former to Kingsthorpe's Jason Bryan and Brackley's Bob Blencowe respectively. And in the seniors, Jones and Reeve only just scraped double figures against the same man, Martin Gearey of Kingsthorpe.

******

DESPITE RELYING ON ONE RINK to get the overall win in their opening Middleton Cup match at home to Hertfordshire, county manager Phil Reeve has opted to stick rather than twist for the second game away to Suffolk, this Saturday 9th June. The only two changes being made having been enforced upon him by bowling commitments elsewhere.

So, both Abington men involved at Kingsthorpe on the 2nd have retained their places. O'Leary in particular one of the stars of the day, with his consummate leading going a long way towards his rink's win of 32-7. A result that covered an otherwise disappointing return of just one point from 10 between the other five and ensured an aggregate deficit of 10.

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2/6/2018

DOUBLE RINKS: ABINGTON CONTINUE PAST EXPRESS

ABINGTON 'B' OVERCAME a Northampton Express side featuring the 2016 National Fours champions to advance to the 3rd round of the men's National Double Rinks.

It was a truly superb performance all round, and this time both rinks could hold their heads up, be proud of their contribution, and not have to thank the other for bailing them out. In many ways it was about as simple as a game of bowls gets, with some superb drawing from the front enders and some clinical head-turning shots from those at the back. Not an easy game - it never is against opponents of high calibre - but Abington were deserved winners.

Onwards to the next round, where West End lie in wait. More details of this success in the men's section.

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28/5/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 21st-27th MAY

THE CHAMPAGNE IS ON ICE for Colin Barnes' entry in the men's County Triples. Abington's only survivors from the Tuesday round in the second week powered their way through the next stage as well to book their place in the quarter-finals.

In doing so, they removed a highly-rated triple from Express skipped by Chris Bland. The game was barely a contest with Barnes, Dave Fage and Alan Dunkley all bowling at an elite level, and ended in an emphatic if bizarre manner. Needing 11 to tie with just two ends remaining, the Express trio initially decided to continue - until Barnes used his first bowl to ditch the jack! With that came the conciliatory handshakes.

So Barnes and company were through to the 'whites' stage, which is handily being staged at Abington this year. Home advantage and a similarly high level of performance will be necessary in order to advance any further, with England star Jamie Walker now lying in wait. But hope springs eternal.

The big hope beforehand was that this group final at least would be an all-Abington affair, but John Freeman's trio had fallen just short on the Tuesday to the same opposition. In the event, our boys made it through anyway, but it's always disappointing to see your own clubmates depart.

As noted last week, the aim was to produce a second mini-massacre of a rival club, to follow the previous week's at West End, with Jonathan Brown and Peter Milburn's units also in action at the Express green in Duston. What transpired was in fact the reverse, and with Barnes also doing for Adam Hawkings' set-up on the Tuesday, that left them as the last Abington men standing. Thankfully, their fight goes on.

As it does also for Debbie Cadd's entry in the women's triples. A comfortable 18-8 win over Janet Swift of Abbey Park puts them on a collision course in this week's second round with their own clubmates, skipped by Margery Keal.

Most of our first round entrants in the men's singles made it through. Of particular note were Alan Coleman, Dave Fage and Tony O'Leary, who all beat Middleton Cup standard bowlers past and present. Fage's 21-9 win over Kingsthorpe's Mick Spear being the most decisive margin. Also worthy of praise was Mick Taylor who came incredibly close - just three short - to a sensational scalping of West End's Darren Childs, last season's national runner-up.

Gill Crossley continued to bely her status as a relative novice and make good on her claim to be Abington's champion female bowler. Progressed into the second round of the county champions of champions came at the expense of Wellingborough's Jan Hunt.

Elsewhere, Barbara Astle didn't have the best week, with an early exit from both the ladies triples and senior pairs, followed by a nasty-looking accident as she walked off the green at the finish of the second game. Thankfully, a sprained wrist was the only damage sustained from her tripping over a wood-pusher and landing on the concrete around the green, but it was enough to rule her out of action from another all-Abington affair in the mixed fours. This also ended with defeat for Astle's side, skipped by Peter Milburn as Debbie Cadd's side, skipped by Adam Brown, leapfrogged their way into the next round with 10 shots on the last three ends.

******

HOW FINE THE MARGINS ARE. Abington A will not be repeating their fine run in last season's men's National Top Club, but Desborough prevailed 3-2 only thanks to some brilliant last woods from their 2-wood player and pairs skip.

Alan Coleman was especially unfortunate not to get that first point on the board, and the margin for error became wafer-thin when Tony O'Leary couldn't quite finish the job in the 4-wood despite leading 19-14 at one stage. The triples and the fours went to the home side, taking it to the wire, but a final end where the shot exchanged several times, even during one bowl on a few occasions, eventually went against them.

Conversely, the B-team saw off St. Crispin's in an even more heart-stopping manner. The 2-wood and the pairs went Abington's way, but as the match reached the summit, it appeared that might be it. Thankfully, Peter Milburn's triple played a divine last end to escape from the jaws of defeat and give the B-team its first ever win in this competition. Having come close to an upset against Express last year, the next target is to produce an actual one on the stars of West End.

*THE CLUB EXTENDS ITS HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS, as ever, to those members with Middleton Cup call-ups. Our very own Phil Reeve's first selection as manager features two of his clubmates for the opening game at home to Hertfordshire.

John Freeman and Tony O'Leary have kept their places from last week's final warm-up match. With Northants still yet to lose a rink in the Midland Counties Championship, Reeve is understandably reluctant to tinker too much right now. Freeman will be number two on a rink skipped by Phil Exley (and otherwise featuring Burton Latimer bowlers). O'Leary continues his long run as one of the county's automatic leads, a duty he will perform this time for Kingsthorpe's Vernon Gearey.

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24/5/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEK 2

THE A-TEAM'S WORST FEARS were realised with the visit of Kingsthorpe A. The perennial champions gave their usual merciless display and took all the points, leaving the home side bereft and bottom of Division 1.

Unlike the previous week's tranquilised performance at Whyte Melville, this wasn't unexpected, although the scale of the gulf in class was still dispiriting.  Captain Jonathan Brown returned to the fray and nearly salvaged a point, albeit only with the occasional big score. Conversely, two other rinks trudged to the bar with a combined scoreline of 11-49.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
2
2
0
0
150
74
11.5
Kingsthorpe A
2
2
0
0
155
78
11
Whyte Melville A
2
2
0
0
153
95
10
Northampton Express A
2
1
0
1
117
114
6.5
St. Crispin’s A
2
1
0
1
108
124
6
Daventry Town A
2
0
0
2
93
135
1
Earls Barton
2
0
0
2
72
147
1
Abington A
2
0
0
2
89
170
1

Results and form elsewhere prove that this limpness is mainly a Monday league syndrome, although an explanation for why that should be continues to elude the pundits. Abington A have yet again got a long season ahead of them. With the next fixture being the 1st round of the league's knockout tournament, and a bank holiday in between, this table will now remain unaltered for three whole weeks.

The B-team provided a slightly better return for their own little jaunt to Kingsthorpe against their 2nd Division equivalents. They didn't claim a win, but two points keeps them near the top, with only shot difference demoting them down two slots to fourth. Just one extra shot would have kept Abington B above their hosts.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Desborough Town
2
2
0
0
156
102
10
Bugbrooke
2
1
0
1
138
112
7
Kingsthorpe B
2
1
1
0
123
112
7
Abington B
2
1
0
1
130
120
7
Brackley
2
1
0
1
114
130
5
Kislingbury B
2
1
0
1
108
132
5
Wootton Grange A
2
0
0
2
113
122
4
Heyford
2
0
1
1
95
147
3

Peter Boulden's rink won plaudits as the highest-winning rink, though their game would be better categorised as a smash-and-grab than. Eight shots on the last two ends turned around a game they had trailed since the opening end just in time. Mick Taylor's rink would similarly assume control after a patch of three ends and 10 shots with which they took the lead for the first time after 12.

Less fortunately, Dave Brawn experienced that feeling in reverse, losing eight shots - and subsequently the opportunity to win outright - between ends 11 and 13. The fourth rink, skipped by Peter Milburn, struggled to translate second wood into shots and a final deficit of 10 swung the aggregate balance Kingsthorpe B's way.

Nonetheless, the season has begun, and continues, with confidence in abundance - from one of our sides at least. If Desborough are to live up to their pre-season billing as comfortable 2nd Division favourites, (and that's certainly how they've started) then belief will be a crucial psychological weapon in a tight fight for the only other promotion spot.

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21/5/2018

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 14th-20th MAY

THIS TIME LAST YEAR, we were able to bring you the delightful news of Abington's first ever female national championship qualifiers. Here in 2018, those same players fell agonisingly short of a repeat achievement.

The rink of Debbie Bradshaw, Diana Brown, Lis Milburn and Debbie Cadd made history 12 months ago with some epically nervy late comebacks. Having gone through that initiation, they were utterly fearless this time round and comfortably re-booked a passage to the quarter-final stage. Via first a 23-1 thrashing of Brackley's Val Scott, and then an assured display against the highly-rated Sharon Tansley of Kingsthorpe in round 2.

Back in whites, they drew back on their previous experience to edge the last eight encounter vs Viv Gaudyn of Higham Ferrers 20-18, having trailed with two ends to play. In truth, they perhaps should not have let it get to that stage. Nine of the first 11 ends had gone Abington's way and they were 17-3 up with more than half the match consigned to the past. Nevertheless, they were through.

The semi-final draw saw them miss the international stars of the home venue Desborough, but they still took a while to regain their composure against a Wellingborough rink skipped by county selector Jan Hunt. Skipper Cadd saw them through the early choppy stage with some excellent saving bowls and eventually the other three found enough consistency to make the second half a nail-biter, the lead exchanging several times.

In fact, it was their own clumsiness that did for them in the end, with the shot given away at crucial junctures on more than one occasion, though tribute must also be paid to two supreme deliveries by the opposition skip. Hunt's very last bowl salvaged second when game down at the close of an end that had gone entirely Abington's way until that point. Such composure under pressure is worthy of qualification for the nationals, and at the very least, our women had proved themselves no one-season wonders. The second time may be a case of when rather than if after all.

******

As for the men, it will be another fortnight (at least) before we can report on an occasion quite so seismic, but there was an extremely enjoyable night to be had at West End on the Friday of this opening week. Not one, not two, but THREE of our county triples entrants defied the form book at our bogey ground.

Adam Hawkings' triple of himself, Dave Jones and Dave Vernon absolutely slaughtered that of Dave Kovacs, 22-6. Initially, it looked like that would be paid for in return a few rinks over, as Colin Barnes's trio (skipped by Alan Dunkley and featuring Dave Fage) went 0-12 down against Iain Walker's. With incredible resilience, they salvaged an 18-15 win so dramatic it took longer to complete than the extra end triumph of Alan Mann, Chris Beck and Peter Milburn over Martin Walker.

So, three wins, and several big scalps claimed, though the greatest of them all was to prove just beyond reach. Also at West End that evening, Pat McAlwane's triple (also featuring Rob Archer and Alan Coleman) held a lead against a set-up featuring BOTH of last year's national singles finalists, Darren Childs and Jamie Walker, for an amazingly long time. Sadly, they'd expended themselves before the last handful of ends and collapsed back to 10 shots down.

Elsewhere around the town, Jonathan Brown and John Freeman's set-ups also qualified for the second week. The former, skipped by Phil Reeve, recorded a routine win over Gerry Stephenson at St. Crispin's but the latter very nearly ended up on the wrong end of a sensational defeat to Dave Williamson (now an Abington member, but still competing for park team Boys Brigade Old Boys in county competition). Blushes were spared only by a salvo of 12 shots across the final four ends, to snatch a 20-18 win.

Apart from this, Mick Taylor's trio was soundly beaten by Tom Wellburn's from Express, who go on to face Milburn's this Tuesday. Beyond that, there was further West End woe at Abington's expense as Dunkley recorded a 21-14 win over the aforementioned M Walker in the national senior singles (setting up a possible confrontation against his clubmate Freeman in the next round). And a striking debut for Gill Crossley in the women's national champion of champions. Overcoming the disappointment of an early exit from the county fours, Crossley beat Whyte Melville's Victoria Stevenson by a decisive margin.

*JOHN FREEMAN becomes the only Abington man to be selected for all of Northamptonshire's four Middleton Cup warm-up events, as he again makes the lineup for next Saturday's second Midland Counties match vs Lincolnshire.  He will be number two in a rink otherwise made up of recent star signings by Burton Latimer, skipped by Callum Height.

Despite acquitting themselves well in the 22-0 wipeout of Derbyshire the Brown duo - father Jonathan and son Adam - have been rested for this week's clash. There is another Abington recall though, with Tony O'Leary given another chance to make his case for Middleton inclusion as lead to Kingsthorpe's Vernon Gearey.

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21/5/2018

DOUBLE RINKS: 'C' OUT, BUT 'B' WIN

THE 1ST ROUND of the men's National Double Rinks proved eventful for Abington, though largely for the wrong reasons.

John Freeman's rink is the only one of the six (including the A-team's prelim exit, reported here two weeks back) to have won their opening game. Thankfully though, with a barnstorming scoreline of 34-7, there was to be no upset for the 'B'-team at Roade, despite captain Jonathan Brown's rink collectively catching a cold in the early stages.

Neither of the 'C'-team rinks could ride to the gallant rescue of the other though. Despite hitting St. Crispin's for 41, they were hit back even harder for 55 and bade an immediate farewell. This leaves only the Bs still in the running already, though despite the label they are our strongest side. They will have to start living up to that billing collectively from the next round, when they make the same trip as the previously felled 'A'-side to Northampton Express.

More details in the men's section.

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17/5/2018

MONDAY TRIPLES LEAGUE: WEEK 1

WILL SOMEONE TELL US WHY the A-team doesn't like Mondays? They arrived at Whyte Melville with the new campaign resolution that 2018 would not feature the trials of its predecessor. Yet, if anything the 50-83 mauling at Whyte Melville was a new low.

Despite all the success in other formats and on other nights of the week over the past couple of years, Abington's elite male bowlers have slipped alarmingly off the pace in the Monday evening league of late. This particular fixture was supposed to have been an early banker. Now, they face the possibility of another season wasted fighting to get out of the wrong half of the table.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
1
1
0
0
65
48
6
Northampton West End A
1
1
0
0
71
41
5.5
Whyte Melville A
1
1
0
0
83
50
5
Kingsthorpe A
1
1
0
0
68
39
5
Earls Barton
1
0
0
1
39
68
1
Abington A
1
0
0
1
50
83
1
Northampton Express A
1
0
0
1
41
71
0.5
Daventry Town A
1
0
0
1
48
65
0

With their next three fixtures against the traditional Big Three of the league, it will require a turnaround in performance across the green to prevent a quick descent to the bottom of the Division 1 pile. This was no narrow, unlucky loss. This was a thrashing.

Thankfully, one rink did emerge with credit. Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley and Phil Reeve claimed the As' inaugural point of the season. (A discreet veil will however be drawn over the 6-32 massacre of Dave Fage, Dave Jones and Tony O'Leary, capped off by a final end where they dropped as many shots as they'd scored all night - plus two more!)

All of this threatens to overshadow the good news story of the night. Abington B began in exactly the opposite style, gaining an immediate four-point advantage over a Division 2 promotion rival in the process. Brackley were conquered 5-1 (72-54 on shots) by turns swashbuckling and nerve-shredding. Peter Milburn and Mick Taylor's rinks blinked last to edge their noses in front over the last two ends and complete the job started by Reg Jones' magnificent 28-11.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Bugbrooke
1
1
0
0
79
52
5
Abington B
1
1
0
0
72
54
5
Desborough Town
1
1
0
0
66
60
4
Kingsthorpe B
1
0
1
0
57
53
3
Heyford
1
0
1
0
53
57
3
Wootton Grange A
1
0
0
1
60
66
2
Brackley
1
0
0
1
54
72
1
Kislingbury B
1
0
0
1
52
79
1

The man of the moment though was the new B-team captain, Rob Archer. His first team selection could hardly have gone better and he himself was on the highest-winning rink. A charmed skipper? If only it was as simple as that.

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15/5/2018

SEVERAL PLEASING RESULTS in the early county/national competition exchanges. Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown and John Freeman brought forward their county triples 1st round by two days and recorded a superb thrashing of Dave Blencowe's setup from Brackley. Although our men were favourites, few would have predicted a scoreline like 22-6 with three ends to play.

Less emphatic but perhaps even more remarkable were the events on the rink next door, as Debbie Cadd's national mixed fours unit held their early lead to defeat Sharon Tansley's from Kingsthorpe. For Cadd and company - Diana Brown, Rob Archer and Adam Brown - it was a stunning revenge upon the team who had knocked them out the previous year. Given that their opponents included national champions and an international, who have reached the Leamington stage of this event before, it suggests a sustained run is possible.

New member Dave Jones was also in action in the mixed fours, skipping his set-up of previous seasons featuring Bugbrooke's Bob Fagan and St. Crispin's Lesley Young, plus his wife Julia. Unlike Cadd's they were not to advance past their opening game, losing 11-24 to a West End quartet skipped by Danny Walker. Jones fared much better in the mixed pairs (again with Young) hammering Paul Green and partner from Northampton Express 25-6.

*THREE Abington men have been selected for Northamptonshire's opening Midland Counties match this Saturday, May 19th. Jonathan Brown and John Freeman have been retained yet again, as front-enders for Burton Latimer's Paul Broderick and West End's Darren Childs respectively. Meanwhile, Adam Brown is recalled to the county side as lead for Vernon Gearey of Kingsthorpe.

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7/5/2018

ABINGTON 'A' (OR 'C') SET STANDARD DESPITE DEFEAT

THE SUN was scorching on Sunday May 6th, and Abington very nearly produced a result to match at Northampton Express in the National Double Rinks.

Although competing as 'Abington A', this was in effect the C-team. Before the season started, it was agreed that from this year, the assignation of the double rinks units would be randomly drawn - and it just so happened to give the nominal third-choice set-up the hardest task of the opening games. A prelim against a side who can boast some of the biggest stars in the county.

However, the label proved far from a lie as our men gave an excellent account of themselves. For the majority of the game, they held a narrow advantage over their garlanded opposition, and away from their own turf to boot. Sadly, they couldn't keep it up for the entirety of the match, surrendering any semblance of control over the final third, but regardless, they have laid down a marker for their supposed superiors. If 'team C' can keep a lead against a national championship-winning rink for 14 ends, then 'team A' - who will compete as 'Abington B' this season - should have nought to fear.

More details in the men's section.

*AS REPORTED last week, five of our men were in action at the Northamptonshire county-team trial on Saturday May 5th. Three of whom have also been selected for this coming Saturday, when the team travels to Oxford for a Middleton Cup trial match. However, what squad rotation takes away, it can also give back. A sixth member of our club, Alan Dunkley, who didn't take part in the exhibition, will be coming in to play Oxfordshire, with Jonathan Brown, John Freeman and Tony O'Leary's services also retained by their team manager (and, on his days off, clubmate) Phil Reeve.

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30/4/2018

ABINGTON START WITH CONVINCING WIN

ABINGTON'S first Saturday fixture has been, in modern times, in the village of Earls Barton. This time round though, the tables were turned as Barton instead came to our HQ to kick things off for 2018.

The hosts' generosity only went so far as the use of the green though, as Abington ran out convincing winners. With a final aggregate score of 113-80, the winning margin was an average of 5.5 per rink, with all six rinks being used.

Of course some played a greater role in the despatching than others. Jonathan Brown's trio hit a five and a seven on consecutive ends to set up an eventual 28-14 thrashing, while John Freeman's achieved a win in double figures despite dropping heads of four and five.

Not everything went quite so smoothly. In fact, possibly the strongest overall trio of Adam Brown, Colin Barnes and Dave Vernon - certainly the only one to contain three county-level players - surprisingly lost 14-19. They didn't even score until the seventh end and trailed throughout, with the exception of the very last end. However, a 12-shot fightback to draw level proved academic as they conceded a five.

This week, the women's and Thursday men's teams begin their campaigns (weather permitting - the latter had been due to start at Daventry last week until the rain intervened). Elsewhere, minds are increasingly being tuned towards competition play. Abington's Saturday squad will (hopefully!) have to continue this good start without some of their bigger name players as the county team swoops in to claim their attention.

Five of our men have been selected (by a sixth, new county team manager Phil Reeve) for a Middleton Cup trial exhibition at Kingsthorpe on May 5th. In amongst two teams of 20, Freeman, the two Browns and Tony O'Leary will all play for one side, with our new recruit from Bugbrooke, Dave Jones, on the other.

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23/4/2018

ABINGTON'S YOUNGEST MEMBER BOWLS THEM OVER

THOMAS MANDERSON continued his rapid development as a bowler with a sensational 21-3 victory in the final of the NYBDS U15 indoor singles.

The Northamptonshire Bowls Youth Development Scheme works to give our county's youngsters an early organised start in the game, and 13-year-old Manderson is currently one of their main beneficiaries.

Representing his indoor club, Northampton & District, he beat Keira Garner of Rushden Town 21-3 in the final. His opponent collected all her shots on just one end, five ends in, by which time Thomas already had eight himself, and he didn't look back after that. The final scoreline was a little harsh on Keira as she was bowling pretty well but could not dislodge Thomas' woods.

Having been introduced to the game less than two years ago by his grandad Dave Fage - Abington's head bar-man and a player with a decent bowling record himself (twice club champion and twice a National Championship qualifier) - young Thomas has progressed quickly. Already he's skipped at least one game on a Saturday afternoon, and been declared man of the match by his team-mates, as they recorded the highest-winning rink. More prizes will surely come.

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23/4/2018

A QUICK THANK YOU to all the members who came to open the green with a game on Our Day, Saturday 21st April. Five women and 31 men made this the best turn-out in a long while, with all six rinks being used for the first time in many years.

In a triples format, President Rob Archer's team edged out Captain Peter Milburn's 96-76, largely thanks to the 30-5 mauling dished out to Phil Reeve's trio by Alan Dunkley's. It is possible the victors were motivated to give the new county team manager the best possible display of their capabilities. If this is any indication of future opponents' determination, Reeve has several tough seasons ahead of him on the green!

However, it's not the result that matters on a day like this, but welcoming new faces and catching up with more familiar ones. Three brand new members were present, in addition to several more who've been recruited in the last few years. That, and a smooth-running playing surface, puts Abington in good stead for another successful year.

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19/4/2018

SO, HERE WE GO AGAIN. Another outdoor bowling season is imminent, enticing players with the heady promise of fresh starts and renewed hope. And yet again, Abington Bowling Club is especially keen to get the little white ball rolling. There's much to welcome this year that's new and different.

New names on the county honours board being among the most noticeable. 2017 was Abington's best year in a generation for representation at the National Championships - most notably our first ever female qualifiers. In fact, it was such a successful season, there's need of a new board as well. The aim is to start filling it in straight away.

We can be even prouder for bucking the national trend when it comes to membership. Yet again, there are a few new arrivals. And this time around, there will also be a guarantee of new opponents. Fixture secretary Adam Hawkings has spent the off-season working furiously to reinvigorate a friendly fixture list that's been in danger of withering in places. He has secured two brand new Saturday games - outside of the county - against Stony Stratford and Rugby Railway.

Rob Archer takes over as the new club president, only five years after taking up bowls fully. Very sadly, his predecessor Anita Petrucci - the club's first ever woman president - passed away shortly after completing her year in the job, at the age of 80. However, the club will endeavour to keep her memory going with a new honour. The Anita Petrucci Trophy, founded by her partner of recent years and fellow bowler Steve Unwin, will be contested between Abington and her previous club, Bedford Borough.

There's change too at county level, with the men's competitions beginning an annual rotation of order. This year, the fours will come after the triples and pairs, ensuring that all tournaments receive an equal share of the conditions, which can vary hugely between May (cold weather, heavy surfaces) and June/July (the complete opposite).

And in addition to this, there will definitely be an Abington presence at the heart of the men's county team one way or another, as Phil Reeve takes over as their new manager. Abington BC wishes him the very best of luck in this brave endeavour, along with the firm hope that the inevitable success rubs off on his club-mates as well!

Elsewhere, Gill Crossley will be representing the club in the National Champion of Champions as our brand new women's champion. But in amongst all this newness, there's plenty that will be staying the same as well. Same clubhouse, same game, same old faces. We wouldn't have it any other way. Whatever your aspirations for the next five months, and whether the final result lives up to them, just remember one thing:

THAT'S BOWLS, MATE

Have a glorious 2018 season. It begins this Saturday afternoon with the customary Our Day, followed by the 100 Club Draw. ALL members welcome.

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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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