Saturday, 12 November 2011

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WELCOME TO ABINGTON B.C.

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- Click through to the 'Off the Green' page for other club functions and outside events we're hosting.



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:

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.

******

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.

******

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.

******

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.

******

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.

******

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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