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:

24/7/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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18/7/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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15/7/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 8

THE B-TEAM continue to fly ever higher in Division 2 of the men's Northampton Area Monday League. A gutsy display at Heyford has leapfrogged them from fourth into second, and the p-word is now on everyone's lips.

With Heyford also a promotion hopeful, and enjoying the home advantage of a notoriously spongy surface, it was no great shame that Abington's highest winning rink triumphed by a mere eight shots. It is however to their immense credit that three of the four rinks came away with the goods, and even the one that was defeated staved off a pummeling by Heyford's star skip, Michael Moulton.

Yet again, it was captain Mick Taylor who had the best result of the four skips, scoring 11 before dropping and practically coasting to the finish. Mick Hall and Peter Milburn's rinks took a decisive handful of shots at the halfway point, which kept their noses in front to the finish. Similar will now hopefully be written of the season as a whole. If this run of wins continues to a seventh, Abington B will almost certainly displace their next target, Daventry A, from top spot.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
8
5
1
2
537
464
31
Abington B
8
6
0
2
503
457
29
St. Crispin’s A
8
5
1
2
488
432
28
Heyford
8
4
1
3
486
464
26.5
Brackley
8
5
1
3
498
461
25
Kingsthorpe B
8
3
1
4
484
520
22
Roade
8
2
1
5
442
493
16
Harpole A
8
1
0
7
405
552
14.5

But even though this was the result of the season so far for the Bs, it wasn't even the standout result of the night in Division 2. That honour went to Brackley, for a disquieting thrashing of Crispin's A on the latter's home turf. A result that played its own part in Abington B's sudden rise. Daventry themselves warmed up for their trip to our place by stuffing Roade. With Kingsthorpe B getting revenge on Harpole A for their opening day loss, the gap to safety for the bottom two teams widens ever further.

As indeed does the gap to the ultimate glory for Abington A in Division 1. The visit of Earls Barton for the season's first return fixture brought about another points majority but also another listless performance overall, with victory by just eight shots. The season continues to drift to such an extent that Whyte Melville, next week's opposition have surpassed our team for 4th.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
8
6
1
1
521
410
36
Northampton West End A
7
6
0
1
513
345
34
Northampton Express A
8
5
1
2
474
435
30.5
Whyte Melville A
8
3
0
5
420
462
21.5
Abington A
8
4
0
4
452
475
21
Earls Barton
7
3
1
3
381
426
19
Desborough Town
8
1
1
6
440
510
14
Bugbrooke
8
1
0
7
385
523
10

John Freeman and Tony O'Leary skipped the two winning rinks, finishing with the exact same score of 20-11. O'Leary's rink began very strongly with eight from just the first two ends, after which the scoring was almost egalitarian. Freeman's trio experienced this the opposite way round, with half of their 20 coming on the final three ends.

Alan Dunkley's rink also displayed the advantage of finishing strongly, albeit to the benefit of the visiting Barton players, as they vanquished an 11-7 lead by dropping 12 across the last six ends. Phil Reeve's rink narrowly came off second best with cause to curse dropping a four on the 11th end, the first after they had finally edged in front.

There were no great twists and turns elsewhere in the First Division, just yet more proof of the continuing gulf between our side and the three imperious leaders. Minds are clearly focused elsewhere at the moment, but caution still needs to be advised. Let's not get involved in a battle for survival just to relieve the monotony.

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11/7/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 3rd-9th JULY

DAVE VERNON had a nice shock when he turned up at Grange Bowling Club in Rugby, as part of Abington's National Top Club men's A-side. The skip of the rink against, Brian Humphries, was a former school friend.

"See you in another 54 years!" he quipped on his way out the door a few hours later, but all concerned would agree that a return at any time would be fantastic news, following a keenly competitive but very pleasant match. And we're not saying that just because our side won.

A full match report can be found in the men's section, but as thoughts now turn to a trip to another unfamiliar Warwickshire location - Avenue BC in Coventry - what gives most comfort was further evidence that the side is strong in all departments. No longer is it reliant on particular players or formats to drag the rest through.

Aside from that, it hasn't been a bountiful week, with our sole remaining entrant in the mens' county pairs, Chris Beck and Peter Milburn, harshly dispatched 7-22 and the latter's wife Lis receiving similar treatment from Ann-Marie Waters of Roade in the ladies singles. To round off a most miserable week in the Milburn household, his rink in the county senior fours was also walloped, 8-23, by Mick Donohue of Kingsthorpe. Better news in the Northants executive triples, where club secretary Beck had at least some small success this week, and in the county mixed pairs, where Debbie Cadd and Rob Archer edged a high-scoring affair over Tom Wellburn and partner.

Although the Harris Cup is now taking pride of place behind our bar again, it will sadly not be joined by another jewel in Bowls Northants' crown. Yet another Manfield Cup day passed by with Abington placing highly - 4th - but not high enough. A tied game on captain Jonathan Brown's rink at Cogenhoe cost them a bronze medal placing but it would have taken a doubling of the score to trouble the top two, West End and winners Express.

Returning to the O55 rinks, also excised from it this week were John Freeman and Alan Dunkley's entries (the latter containing Colin Barnes and Reg Jones surprisingly coming a cropper on Cogenhoe's heavy surface for the second time in a week). Between them, these two rinks make up the bulk of our Top Club team. It appears that 2017 is becoming a season of that one very laden basket. Hopefully, it can take the strain for a good while longer.

*** OPPORTUNITIES FOR Leamington qualification haven't entirely closed for Abington's men though. This Sunday July 16th sees the opening rounds of their county 2-wood. This year, the southern half of the draw will be staged at our club, so we hope to see you in attendance on what should be a lively day of pure draw bowling. It's the first of a few important dates for Abington with other county comp events, including the mixed pairs quarters and Mason Cup latter stages, to follow in August.

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9/7/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 7

A DOUBLE HEADER with Kingsthorpe's A & B sides marked the halfway mark of the Monday evening league on July 3rd, and it was one in which Abington claimed a majority of the points on offer, 7-5.

Admittedly, the vast majority of those went to the B-side, but while the As now languish a very distant fourth in the top flight, Abington B continue to encroach on the promotion spots in Division 2. A complete clean sweep over their Kingsthorpe counterparts was not only a delicious and swift avenging of their defeat in the knockout tournament last week, but also the clearest statement yet that the team means business again. 


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
St. Crispin’s A
7
5
1
1
440
372
27
Daventry Town A
7
4
1
2
471
414
26
Heyford
7
4
1
2
437
404
25.5
Abington B
7
5
0
2
443
408
24
Brackley
7
4
1
3
438
413
20
Kingsthorpe B
7
2
1
4
413
475
17
Roade
7
2
1
4
392
427
15
Harpole A
7
1
0
6
360
481
13.5

This was the Bs' fifth successive win, yet incredibly their first by a major margin. This blog has fulminated several times in recent weeks on the possibilities that will open up should the side put in a fully-rounded performance, and at last, they have fulfilled that potential. Peter Milburn's rink were the standout performers, winning 21-9, a result that hinged entirely on one plentiful end nearly halfway through.

For a while it looked like Dave Brawn would achieve the highest win, but a big chunk was taken out of their advantage over the final four ends. Nevertheless, they held on for the point, while Mick Hall's rink fought back dramatically to snatch theirs at the death and captain Mick Taylor edged a narrow held a reasonable lead from the halfway mark.

Frustratingly, they still sit no higher than fourth place, but with Daventry Town A receiving a shock tonking at Brackley, the race for glory hasn't been so wide in weeks. St. Crispin's A assume top spot for the first time after crushing Harpole A, who now prop up the table, while Heyford continue their push after doing likewise to Roade.

So much could rest on Abington B's trip to Heyford in the upcoming match, the first reverse fixture of the season. A lot has happened since the night Heyford came to our HQ and claimed five of the six points on the opening night of the season, and Abington B are now breathing down their necks. This week was a result of pure vengeance. Inspiration will now need to strike twice.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
7
5
1
1
463
365
31.5
Northampton West End A
6
5
0
1
449
291
29
Northampton Express A
7
5
1
1
429
377
29
Abington A
7
3
0
4
389
420
17
Earls Barton
6
3
1
2
326
363
17
Whyte Melville A
7
2
0
5
358
421
15.5
Desborough Town
7
1
1
5
386
446
13
Bugbrooke
7
1
0
6
344
461
10

There's far less to report on the A's form and prospects, with the trip to play Kingsthorpe A bringing as few fruits as normal. Special mention though must go to the triple of Chris Beck, Tony O'Leary and especially our recent recruit, Phil Reeve, whose return to his old stomping ground resulted in an awesome 27-5 stuffing, and the sole point.

Sadly, this failed to inspire any of his new team-mates to similar heights, even though there was general agreement that the defending champions were untypically vulnerable on this occasion. John Freeman and Pat McAlwane's rinks were only narrowly beaten, both of whom were at level pegging with just a handful of ends to play. Unfortunately, neither could hold on. Meanwhile, Alan Dunkley's trio were being sliced and diced to the scoreline of 9-30, not scoring on either the first four or last six ends. Captain Jonathan Brown was left to rue his enforced absence as Kingsthorpe A took five points from an aggregate shot win of just nine.

Not for the first time recently, it, and other results, places the Abington side nearer the relegation zone than the gold medal slot, or bronze for that matter. Silverware concerns then have drifted back towards a defence of the league's K/O shield. That now has reached the last eight again after a comfortable desecration of Express B's wildest hopes and dreams. Reeve's rink was again the stand-out, barely conceding a shot and racking up 27. This time he was joined by others, with skipper Brown back in the side and similarly comfortable, and Dunkley scrambling back from 2-9 down at halfway to snatch it 12-11 at the death.

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5/7/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 26th JUNE-2nd JULY

AFTER NEAR-MISSES in the fours and triples, the start of the county pairs was greatly anticipated at Abington, but unfortunately the first week proved a massacre, with only one of 11 entered duos surviving.

Chris Beck & Peter Milburn were the great heroes of the week, the only duo to win on both the Wednesday and Friday. On both occasions a strong finish saw them through after a tight first and second acts, but it would be fair to say that their 3rd round opponents are their first serious opposition.

Nevertheless, the Beck/Milburn show - whose combination play might be termed stack-em-and-smack-em - has achieved great things against supposedly more gilded players on several occasions in the past. Five years ago, it took them to the brink of a county final. The club now needs something similar to that to restore the lost pride of a difficult week.

All the bigger shocks befell our players on the Friday night, with Alan Coleman & Terry Brown - semi-finalists last season - moored on the extremely heavy surface of Daventry Town. Colin Barnes & Alan Dunkley and Tony O'Leary & John Freeman were both stunned by opponents they would have been backed to beat. The father and son duo of Jonathan & Adam Brown had it a little harder against Andy Fowkes and Martin Walker of West End, but were no less dejected after dropping a five on the penultimate end to lose by four.

The other six entries were either comfortably stuffed - including a tough assignment for Adam Hawkings & Phil Reeve at West End, which they lost by 10 - unable to play, or narrowly beaten by fellow clubmates. Rob Archer & Pat McAlwane will have felt aggrieved after seeing O'Leary & Freeman's shock loss, having been only one bad end away from a similar result on the Wednesday.

So, opportunities are running out fast for Abington's men to join the women at Leamington, but there are still some rays of light poking through the clouds. The club took its first tentative steps into the unchartered waters of the new county senior fours this week also, beginning with a dramatic victory at Bugbrooke for Alan Dunkley's rink. This correspondent is reliably informed that as long as a bowl is live, it has its uses, no matter how far away from the target it was!

Only the county singles remains for Tony O'Leary though as he and senior pairs partner, Kingsthorpe's Jim McKee, qualifiers for the nationals last year, had their run ended this time much earlier and rather ignobly by a fully Kingsthorpe duo, 6-24. Roger Tansley & Mick Sharpe's reward for this was to be a game against Abington opponents either way, as the Barnes/Dunkley and Freeman/Reeve set-ups duelled in the same round. It was the latter who prevailed, getting off to a blinding start and holding a double-figures advantage through to the conclusion.

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2/7/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 6

AS THE HALFWAY stage of the men's Monday evening Triples League approaches, it's becoming difficult to decide for both teams what will constitute a successful season

In game six, the A-team were overturned 1-5 by an Express A who remain in pursuit of the title. Already, that seems a long way off Abington's radar, and yet with only a few ends to spare, it was the home side who could have bagged a similar share of the points.

The biggest gut-wrencher of the night was the loss of the final point on captain Jonathan Brown's rink, who remains surprisingly winless despite being the only man now to have featured in every match so far. Their losing four shots over the last couple of ends was the screw on which everything turned. If they had gone the other way, the As would at least have salvaged a draw.

Nevertheless, every rink was guilty of at least a fairly weak finish, with only Ollie Kirkwood's managing to score more than they conceded over the final three, though it was the ever reliable combination of Adam Hawkings, Terry Brown and John Freeman who produced the sole reward of the evening.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Kingsthorpe A
6
4
1
1
396
307
26.5
Northampton West End A
5
4
0
1
382
235
24.5
Northampton Express A
6
4
1
1
371
328
24
Abington A
6
3
0
3
331
353
16
Whyte Melville A
6
2
0
4
302
354
14
Desborough Town
6
1
1
4
337
388
12
Earls Barton
5
2
1
2
253
317
12
Bugbrooke
6
1
0
5
298
388
9

The result leaves the As eight points adrift of Express, as the front three continue to pull clear (West End postponing their home tie Earls Barton and dropping to second notwithstanding). Surely the As are too good to go down, but have they already ascended to their highest peak? It's looking likely that attention will have to be focused on defending the knockout shield again, but fitting that in is currently playing havoc with the schedules.

That's an issue that the B-team have dealt with by exiting at the 2nd round. Coming a day after their fourth successive win in the league, it will hopefully have no effect on the great progress that has been made recently. Especially as it provides a potential fillip for the side who now sit just one place below them in the Division 2 table, Kingsthorpe B. It was a game Abington B were always chasing, but with no eventual pay-off - with the grand exception of Mick Hall's rink. Ironically, it was they who had the most ground to make up, finding themselves 3-15 down with just six ends to go. But two explosive salvos brought 16 shots, including seven over the last two.

Elsewhere, the Bs had to take solace from the Monday league victory at St Crispin's A. A wafer-thin but nonetheless vital victory at the home of the team who would still be considered favourites to take this tier. Despite taking the majority of shots, the Abington side actually lost on rink points, making the final score as close as could be, without an equal share being taken. Only one Abington rink got the full point, skipped by that man Hall again. And even more remarkably, they only triumphed by five shots, showing how tight the margins were elsewhere, Abington edging the aggregate score by two.

Away from this drama, Daventry Town built upon their lead at the top of the table, crushing Harpole A 5-1, but Kingsthorpe B warmed up for their Abington conquest to beat third-place Heyford 4-2. And Brackley moved off the foot of the table, and even out of the relegation zone completely by thrashing Roade. The entire table, except for the leaders perhaps has constricted yet again.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
6
4
1
1
423
323
25
St. Crispin’s A
6
4
1
1
378
329
22
Heyford
6
3
1
2
366
346
20.5
Abington B
6
4
0
2
373
368
18
Kingsthorpe B
6
2
1
3
373
405
17
Brackley
6
2
1
3
347
365
15
Roade
6
1
1
4
334
356
14
Harpole A
6
1
0
5
317
419
12.5

So, the Bs are left in a similar situation to the As, albeit it a much more nerve-wracking one. Both the ceiling above and floor below are spongy and vulnerable and its anyone's guess which will give way first. What should be borne in mind at this stage is the memory that Abington B have achieved promotion in similar circumstances more than once before.

*** A GOOD TIME also to check out the progress of the ladies Friday triples league, in which Abington have played three of their eight fixtures so far. After a perfect opening couple of games at home to Harpole and away at league newcomers Woodford-cum-Membris, Abington's form has been curtailed a little by defeat at Kislingbury. We are assured though that this will be only a momentary hiccup. And the table still makes for very good reading, with Abington having a game in hand on all the teams below them.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Whyte Melville
3
2
0
1
106
69
9
Abington
3
2
0
1
102
70
8
Kislingbury
4
2
0
2
104
111
7.5
Woodford-cum-Membris
4
2
0
2
111
122
7
Harpole
4
1
0
3
99
150
4.5

Molly Atterbury and Lis Milburn have produced the outstanding rink results so far, though Diana Brown and Pam Wills have also won both times they've appeared so far. However, it truly is a collective endeavour in a league where game-time is limited, especially with a squad size only slightly below the men's Monday teams. After narrowly missing out on top spot in Division 2 - the only available promotion spot - last year, will the new additions be enough to get them over the line this time? Signs are still encouraging.

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27/6/2017

ABINGTON IN TOP CLUB SENSATION

ABINGTON achieved one of its best results in modern times on Sunday June 25th, to remove Rugby BC from the men's National Top Club, traditionally one of the tournament's strongest sides.

Victory in three of the five disciplines was enough to expel a side brimming not only with Middleton Cup regulars but also a smattering of genuine international class. As recent winners of the trophy - and semi-finalists last year - the Warwickshire side would have been considered the favourites, but this upgraded Abington team stared them down and made them blink first.

In fact, the tie could have been done and dusted a whole hour before it eventually was, but for a couple of shots that went astray in the 4-wood singles. Only the pairs were soundly beaten, and they won't face too many other national team regulars on this journey.

Abington have always been able to get top results against the familiar Northants-based foes in this competition, but this year's new additions mean we can now also take on the very best from elsewhere with no fear. And win. Next up will be a trip to Rugby itself, to play Grange.

Full match report in the men's section.

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26/6/2017

COUNTY/NATIONAL COMPS ROUNDUP: 19th-25th JUNE

NO-ONE was expecting them to win, and such predictions did come to pass, but it was a valiant effort from Abington's last triple standing in their county quarter-final on Tuesday 20th June.

Rob Archer, Alan Coleman and Pat McAlwane would have been considered easy prey for their last-eight opponents from Wellingborough, skipped by one of Northamptonshire's classiest bowlers, Neil Corbyn. But they did not freeze in the spotlight. Instead, they were inspired into a startling performance, Archer in particular outstanding at lead.

Abington held shot on a decent majority of ends after the frontmen had finished, and it could only have been one extra decisive wood that ensured the favourites went through to the semi (and eventually qualified for Leamington). The scoreline was tied on several occasions, with just one end bringing a score of more than two shots. Archer's trio were even holding matchpoint for a few minutes of the final end, until Wellingborough's middle man Darren Lyman produced a peach of a shot bowl, right in front of the jack. The carrot dangled tortuously, with a big collection of Abington bowls just beyond, but would remain unconsumed as Lyman's wood proved too difficult to dislodge.

However, to walk off with regrets of what might have been is still an achievement in itself against top players. Having put an end to our Leamington dreams twice this year now, let's just hope that Abington has seen the last of Neil Corbyn for a while.

In other news, Tony O'Leary continues to fly the club's flag solo with yet another easy win in the county singles, this time over Express' Chris Terry, which puts him just one stage away from 'whites'. O'Leary was also on hand to assist Kingsthorpe's Jim McKee in the National Senior Pairs through another stuffing, this time over Kislingbury's Kevin Mawson.

John Freeman and Phil Reeve also made it through to the 2nd round of the senior pairs with ends to spare, which sets up a swift 'old man's comp' rematch between Reeve and clubmate Colin Barnes, who fought out a tense encounter in the senior singles. Reeve initially had trouble finding the final shot for victory and Barnes steadily encroached to the point where he also could take it on one end, but eventually Reeve's nerve held.

By the nature of the way Bowls England draw these things, his next opponent will be the man who conquered Bugbrooke's Dave Jones this week... John Freeman.

There was only disappointment for Abington's ladies in singles play, with Pam Wills a faller at the second hurdle of the champion of champions trophy (by a hair's breadth to Debbie Cox of Finedon), and Lis Milburn likewise in the 2-wood, to West End's Janet Ashby. However, the latter - along with husband Peter - was able to bury that setback by taking out half the Walker family from the National Mixed Pairs with not one but two impressive wins. Similarly, Dave Fage secured a notable 21-10 coup over Middleton Cup regular Richard Lemon in the county exec triples.

But the really good news is the long-awaited return of an old favourite: Northants VP's Harris Cup.

In the oppressive heat of the warmest June day since the infamous summer of 1976, 24 rinks did battle in a series of 7-end games for one of the oldest and grandest trophies Bowls Northamptonshire have to offer. A trophy that will once again reside in its natural home, our clubhouse. Rounding off a most profitable week for all of them, O'Leary, Freeman, Reeve and Terry Brown dominated the final against a Corby Grampian rink skipped by George Mitchell, taking all the middle five ends. Does this bode well for our upcoming attempt to wrest back that other famous piece of silverware, the Manfield Cup, at long last? All will be revealed this Saturday.

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24/6/2017

MEN'S TRIPLES LEAGUE - WEEK 5

IT'S TAKEN a while, but Abington can finally celebrate wins for both the A and B teams in the men's Monday evening triple league.

For the As, a comfortable 5-1 win against Bugbrooke was a refreshing tonic after a couple of bad results in previous weeks, stabilising them in fourth. The real drama of the night was happening everywhere else in Division 1.

Earls Barton and Desborough played out a rare sharing of the six points that nevertheless lifts the latter out of the dropzone. And shock, horror! West End A have lost a game! They still picked up two and a half points and it was away to third-placed Express A, but still... the battle for supremacy just got a whole lot more interesting.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Northampton West End A
5
4
0
1
382
235
24.5
Kingsthorpe A
5
3
1
1
330
260
21
Northampton Express A
5
3
1
1
307
272
19
Abington A
5
3
0
2
275
289
15
Earls Barton
5
2
1
2
253
317
12
Desborough Town
5
1
1
3
284
330
10
Whyte Melville A
5
1
0
4
244
301
10
Bugbrooke
5
1
0
4
251
322
8.5

Now, much was made last week of Abington B only earning four points despite scoring more than twice as many shots as their opponents, while Heyford took five points despite only winning the aggregate by one measly shot. Well, those who believe in karma will be assured to note that this week, the Bs earned an extra half-point from a single-shot aggregate win while St. Crispin's A picked up just four despite stuffing Kingsthorpe B 81-48.


P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Daventry Town A
5
3
1
1
336
275
20
St. Crispin’s A
5
4
1
0
320
269
19.5
Heyford
5
3
1
1
303
268
18.5
Abington B
5
3
0
2
313
310
14.5
Roade
5
1
1
3
291
287
13
Kingsthorpe B
5
1
1
3
295
342
13
Harpole A
5
1
0
4
269
332
11.5
Brackley
5
1
1
3
278
322
10

Another win for Abington B means the season's record has now flipped into the positive, with a majority of matches won and more shots scored than conceded. Promotion is suddenly back on the agenda, though it will still require a turnaround in form from a couple of rinks to acquire those extra points.

This new hope will be aided by neither Daventry A nor Heyford - still 1st and 3rd respectively - taking the majority of points from their tussle (a result which closes the top three up considerably). The gap to the drop remains closer though. Roade's stuffing of Harpole A constricts the bottom half of the table in a similar manner, and leaves them with the curious record of a positive shot difference - one better than Abington B's to boot - despite this week's result being their first points win of the season. As this column has a habit of concluding, that just about sums Division 2 up. Nothing is ever certain.

Full match reports of this week's games in the men's section. Next week is an acid test for both teams. Express A and Crispin's A the giants they will respectively have to fell. Win these and we can start to get excited.

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20/6/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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