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.



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:


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




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.




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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