FOR ONE GLISTENING moment, Abington A's balloon was up in their Triples League knockout semi-final - but it was popped almost immediately. Express A ultimately snatched victory on Sunday September 7th by three shots.

That the opponents are the new champions, and now almost sure of sealing the double, does help in digesting this loss, but it was nonetheless a deeply disappointing conclusion. Playing without two of their top-rated skips, it may be a while before this Abington team are able to run Express so close again - at least not without a large scaling up of belief.

With three or four ends remaining on most rinks, the home side held an eight-shot advantage, as all four rinks suddenly began chalking up shots on their tally two to three at a time. However, the ultimate blow never came, and Express held firm to regain the initiative.

For sure, it was a testament to their having developed all the attributes needed to win a championship, but also not hard to think that this was a victory partially bequeathed to the away side. That the worst set of ends came immediately after the best is yet more evidence that Abington needs an extra round of confidence to get themselves over the finish line in front.

Only Dave Jones' rink came out ahead in their personal match-up. Four shots on the opening three ends gave them a narrow advantage that they held all the way to the end, withstanding myriad attempts to fold.

The converse of that was John Freeman's rink, who with six ends to go had only scored twice and were 11 shots worse off. From that point at least they did finally show what they were capable of, and took all but one of those six ends.

Unfortunately, that one end was a near-disaster. Four shots conceded undid too huge a chunk of the good work they'd performed in rescuing the situation, and meant that earlier deficit of 11 was not even halved. Around the exact same time, both Phil Reeve's and captain Jonathan Brown's rinks were also haemorrhaging shots at a similar rate.

In the early stages, these two rinks were cancelling each other out, with the former slipping a handful behind but the latter up by the same amount. Reeve's rink suddenly took fire at the start of the second half with 10 shots to 1 in a run of five ends going a fair way to giving Abington the lead. Their joint agonising loss of this narrow advantages through their fingers was a microcosm of the whole match.

And so ends the 2019 campaign. Plenty of progress made, but to end on, a timely reminder of how much ground there is still to make.


Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 15-16 S Coles
Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 12-18 W Stanley
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 14-15 C Bland
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Dave Jones 14-9 R Lemon

Agg: 55-58


ANOTHER LARGELY unconvincing show in the Monday triples league on August 5th resulted in just three of the 12 points available. And Abington B are now craning over the cliff-edge.

Their loss at home to Division 2 leaders Earls Barton was an infernal affair. For a decent proportion of the game, they looked capable of rendering the season's form book irrelevant. At the halfway stage, only Peter Milburn's rink were struggling to find their feet. The aggregate scoreline declared the Bs to be in front by a factor of 11.

And yet, once again, they were unable to see it home. The rot set in for Dave Brawn's rink on the ninth end, as they began a run of 10 shots in six. 9-6 up at half-distance, they would only score one more.

Ditto for Mick Hall's rink after taking a five on the ninth to go 13-4 up. From that point it was their jugular that proved more vulnerable. Just three ends later, they were handing back the five to their opponents, and had lost the lead even before a disastrous last end.

The infuriating part about all this is that the other two rinks did keep or find their poise and came home with a joint plus of double figures. Milburn's rink began racking the shots up just as Hall's rink stopped doing so. Largely scoring twos and keeping their opponents to just singles eventually hauled them clear 15-10 with an emphatic brace of twos at the finish. Meanwhile, the trio skipped by captain Rob Archer withstood the occasional bad end to ensure consistency won their day 18-13.

So, Hall's last-end minus six changed the fundamental outcome in Barton's favour, and could have fatal consequences, if this poor run of form is not checked quickly.

While the A-team do not have to worry about losing their place in Division 1, getting a win against the top sides is still proving a particularly tough nut to crack. This time, it was the turn of West End A to denude our men of their bright and brave pre-match hopes.

One rink did come away beaming at least, despite a change of pace required for skip Dave Jones, who took charge of Dave Fage and Alan Coleman, more regularly seen partnering captain Jonathan Brown. The new lineup paid off for Jones and company at least, with a stirring second half performance rocketing them from 5-9 down to 21-10 up, helped greatly by a stunning seven on the 14th.

Unfortunately every action and all that, as captain Brown, assisted this time by Pat McAlwane and Dave Vernon, endured a torrid evening as distant second best. Having fallen 0-12 down in just four ends, interest was revived just as quickly as they bumped it back to 10-12. Unfortunately the scoring pattern thereafter mirrored the first four ends again.

Similarly, John Freeman's trio were eternally playing a game of catch that they never looked remotely like winning. They took until the seventh end to earn their first shot. Six behind was the closest they could manage. Phil Reeve's rink also effectively lost the game on the first end. The five they dropped then would prove to be the eventual deficit.


Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Dave Jones 21-10 I Walker
Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 11-28 D Walker
Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 9-20 W Walker
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 10-15 J Walker

Agg: 1-5 (51-73)

Walt Thompson, Graham Allen, Dave Brawn 10-17 M Fearne
Allen Johnson, Mick Taylor, Peter Milburn 15-10 N Gould
Bill Roberts, Trevor Aston Rob Archer (capt.) 18-13 A Jeyes
Stan Breach, Reg Jones, Mick Hall 14-21 R Paintin

Agg: 2-4 (57-61)


FOR ONLY the second time this season, both the A and B teams lost their Monday evening Triples League fixture, on 29th July.

For both, there lurks the nagging sense of an opportunity missed - if not outright squandered in the B-team's case. A heedless 1-5 defeat at Roade sees them tumbling once again towards the lower end of Division 2.

Only the rink skipped by the returning Dave Brawn returned with pride distinctly free of bruises. Formerly a regular source of points, Brawn has not featured so much this year, but his quality told again with a superb late run of 13 shots in just five ends to finish as the reasonably comfortable victor at 18-9.

Unfortunately, this was mirrored blackly by Pete Boulden's trio, who conceded a couple of huge scores en route to losing their grip on proceedings completely in the second half. Their four-shot deficit combined with the five that Mick Hall's rink dropped on the last end (completely undoing a briefly stirring fightback) to cancel out Brawn's win on the aggregate.

The decisive rink then would be Peter Milburn's. Captain Rob Archer had made the bold gamble of 'stacking' this particular rink, with Alan Mann leading and Mick Taylor as the middle man. Each man involved could make a good case for being the best in their position in the B-team. But it was a tactic that backfired badly on this occasion.

Milburn and company endured something of a horror show all round. Between the fourth and tenth ends, they conceded a staggering 17 shots. Though it wasn't to get any worse, it barely got much better either, with only three shots scratched off the deficit before close of play. Abington B had lost, and should be aware that this season's target is now first and foremost about preventing the worst.

Less was ultimately riding on the A-team's game against champions Kingsthorpe A - from our point of view at least. Though it was still a gut-wrencher to come so close to a rare win in this fixture. And not only rare but also one that was barely foreseeable just a few ends earlier.

Arguably, it shouldn't even have been close. Captain Jonathan Brown appeared to have received a boost when one of the opposing rink didn't show. With a whole three extra woods an end (48 extra bowls over the whole game), their rink point was effectively sealed before it started. Yet a final score of 14-8 shows how even a handicapped opponent can be a dangerous one, when their skip is a former England international.

It proved surprisingly damaging when the other rinks mounted a stunning late surge. John Freeman's spent almost the whole evening struggling to keep pace, but did produce a fantastic five on the very last end. Meanwhile, Dave Jones' trio recovered from a whirlwind of Kingsthorpe shots in the first half to salvage respectability in the second, losing only by a five-shot margin.

All this allowed the one rink who had begun brightly the chance to pull the match out of the fire. Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley and Phil Reeve went into their last end having just picked up a three. A two on the last would give them a rink-win point, and a tie overall. The match as a whole could be condensed into Reeve's last wood - an attempted take-out drive that squeaked just a few inches wide of its target.


Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 14-8 M Sharpe
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 14-14 N McKee
Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 15-20 A Manton
Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 16-18 V Gearey

Agg: 1.5-4.5 (59-60)

Harvey Fruish, Graham Allen, Dave Brawn 18-9 S David
Walt Thompson, Peter Kneeshaw, Mick Hall 9-14 D Agates
Bill Roberts, Rob Archer (capt.), Pete Boulden 15-19 T Mortwright
Alan Mann, Mick Taylor, Peter Milburn 10-22 P Hagon

Agg: 1-5 (52-64)


ABINGTON B go back up to third in Division 2 of the Monday evening triples league, thanks to a much-needed home win over Daventry Town A on July 22nd.

It was only the B-team's second home win from the five played so far. If they hadn't been able to start correcting that imbalance, then the dreaded R-word would have been a starkly real prospect. But there was barely any fuss or drama as our men eased to a win, and four and a half points, with a 28-shot aggregate margin.

Curiously, their only other super-sized win of the season came in the reverse fixture at Daventry. The rinks skipped by Pete Boulden and captain Rob Archer duked it out between themselves as much as anyone, for the honour of the highest winning rink.

This was eventually claimed by Boulden's men on the value of shots scored, with both winning by 15, and dropping just nine ends out of the 32 they played collectively. With this, the Bs were given an overall advantage Daventry were never likely to equalise, though the remaining rinks quelled an outright avalanche.

In fact, the one and a half points dropped represent a slight sore note, as Reg Jones and Peter Milburn both came very close to victory themselves. The former's rink took the lead on several occasions, but was eventually outgunned with a brace of dropped twos towards the finish. The latter conceded three shots on the very last end to be denied a win. A tie may have been the fairest result after a game that swung dramatically back and forth several times, but hopefully these almost-points won't prove too crucial at the end of the campaign.

Up in Division 1, the As were not quite as prolific as hoped for, but at least losing two whole points to Kingsthorpe B is merely disappointing rather than potentially damaging. This was the weakest outing from the As against a side in the lower half of the table this year, more reminiscent of the struggles in previous seasons.

At least a late surge of shots prevented outright defeat. On the last three ends (across all the rinks), Abington registered 18 shots to 4, enough to snatch the aggregate win by the narrow margin of three. Red faces gradually returned to their natural colour as captain Jonathan Brown's rink claimed the crucial three over his last two ends.

Ollie Kirkwood's rink mirrored the A-side's fitful showing. They'd looked assured in setting up and early lead of 9-2 after four ends, and maintaining it at 15-8 after 11. Yet in the blink of an eye, they were soon down after dropping a three and a five on succeeding ends. It was apposite that their swift recovery from this precipitated the overall salvaging.

Before that last-minute second wind, Phil Reeve's trio had looked set to go down with nary a whimper. The great irony was that they, despite coming back with the worst result of the night, were the most prolific scorers at the death - and that the best winning rink, skipped by Dave Jones, had the least exciting climax.

In fact, Jones' rink dropped more over the last three ends than they scored. Their halftime lead of 11-3 technically remained unaltered by full-time at 18-10. But it all goes to show how in the team dynamic, everyone always has something positive to contribute, no matter how badly it's going in general.


Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 11-17 I Wilson
Tony O'Leary, Dave Vernon, Ollie Kirkwood 20-17 C McKee
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Dave Jones 18-10 A Slinn
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 13-15 A Spencer

Agg: 4-2 (62-59)

Harvey Fruish, Graham Allen, Pete Boulden 21-6 P Dains
Dave Williamson, Mick Hall, Reg Jones 12-14 D Welch
Stan Breach, Mick Taylor, Peter Milburn 17-17 D Bellis
Allen Johnson, Trevor Aston, Rob Archer (capt.) 20-5 J Hodkinson

Agg: 4.5-1.5 (70-42)


THE SECOND HALF of the Monday Triples League campaign has begun much the same as the first did for both Abington A and B. For the former, that meant a largely untroubled thrashing of St. Crispin's A.

All four of the A-team's rinks won - three of them by double-figure margins, and all of those scoring over 20 shots. Top of the show proved to be Terry Brown's triple, despite having the smallest lead of any in the early stages. Two scores of four had bolstered their efforts in an otherwise tight first half, but they weren't to concede a single shot more after the eighth end.

Brown and company's final margin of 25-6 was only marginally better than the second-highest. John Freeman's trio did most of their business in the first half, only losing one of the first eight ends. A five on the 10th confirmed their supremacy at 16-2, and with every rink ahead, they could afford to saunter over the line at 21-6.

The rink skipped by captain Jonathan Brown also turned in a solid display, barely troubled en route to a 22-8 victory which included three threes and a four. Adam Hawkings' rink was the only one not to it all their own way, but they too began brightly, with a 9-2 lead after five ends.

That early haulage came in handy as they had to knuckle in and sustain a late charge from their opponents. Only two of the final seven shots scored (across the last five ends) went Abington's way, but it wasn't enough to prevent a clean sweep of the points.

Would that their B-team compatriots could also speak so confidently about their status. Their (to date) muddled campaign began with surprise defeat at home to Byfield, and now in the away fixture it has been knocked a fair way off course with another loss to the village club.

What makes this especially gutting is that just three more shots for Abington would have given them at least an equal share of the points. As it is, they take away just the one, despite losing by only two shots. The overall deficit was largely made up by Peter Milburn's trio.

With Mick Taylor, another regular skip, as Milburn's middle man, this definitely had the honour of being a stacked rink. And the gamble nearly paid off as Taylor, Milburn and lead Stan Breach put together a performance comparable to most of those back home. Taking 11 of the 16 ends, a sudden burst of seven shots across the last three ends elevated their score from 13-6 to 20-6.

Alas, it proved mere consolation. Captain Rob Archer was left to rue a dropped six on the seventh end. Minus that, and the final score on his rink swings exactly the opposite way, but every end counts. Reg Jones' game was the principle of 'one step forward, two steps back' writ large, a dropped five on the seventh triggering a bad run of six consecutive lost ends, firmly extinguishing their early lead.

And yet, still they might have got away with it if the rink skipped by the returning Dave Brawn (so often a regular source of points in this league), had not suffered a spectacular slippage in the second half. Having dropped the first two ends, they then went on a fabulous scoring run of seven ends. Unfortunately, 11 shots wasn't likely to see them to the finish line on its own.

So it proved, as they dropped exactly the same amount in a run of six ends. Their final losing margin of two was mirrored on the aggregate. Such are the fine lines in this tightrope of a division, as Abington B fall from second to fifth in the standings. Thankfully, a fine line is easier to cross. Here's hoping the Bs are back on the right side of it this time next week.


Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Terry Brown 25-6 D Gibson
Tony O'Leary, Ollie Kirkwood, John Freeman 21-6 M Dickens
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 22-8 P Odell
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings 15-12 L Parmenter

Agg: 6-0 (83-32)

Bill Roberts, Trevor Aston, Rob Archer (capt.) 13-16 B Haynes
Stan Breach, Mick Taylor, Peter Milburn 20-6 A Jane
Allen Johnson, Alan Mann, Reg Jones 8-19 N Gallerty
Walt Thompson, Graham Allen, Dave Brawn 12-14 P Achbos

Agg: 1-5 (53-55)


FOR THE A-TEAM, the halfway stage of the 2019 Monday Triples League was a confirmation of the progress made this season, while also being a salutary reminder of how far there is yet to go.

A solid 5-1 victory over Desborough in the scheduled game on Monday July 8th was followed by a harsh reminder at Kingsthorpe the following night, in a match rearranged from earlier in the campaign. There, the scoreline was reversed, with Abington A losing a 20-shot aggregate lead to the champions.

Whether such a slap in the face was strictly necessary, you could not find a better pair of results to prove where the natural level of this side sits right now. The performances were broadly of similar quality, but Kingsthorpe boast a handful of players who can slot woods into any available gap, or pick the jack precisely out of a crowded head.

Abington have no players of international standard. They just have enough to unsettle a side containing a couple of Middleton Cup regulars, such as Desborough. Even then, the sole dropped point at Desborough was lost to one of their star skips, John Haines. The contrasts of the week oddly played out in reverse for the man on the receiving end of that one.

Captain Jonathan Brown was unable to throw Haines off his stride on the Monday while the rest of his team were doing the business, yet at Kingsthorpe his was the only rink to emerge with credit. There was a tinge of disappointment here too as a halftime lead of 17-2 was quickly chomped down to a mere handful, signalling the total surrender of momentum in the second half across the green. But to beat a skip of Neil McKee's quality is not something to be sniffed at, especially when you've done so despite dropping two fours and a five!

Dave Jones' experience was the two nights in microcosm. A silly dropped six on the eighth end was his rink's only real blemish at Desborough as they otherwise steadily controlled the flow of scoring towards being the highest winning rink. Then, the following night, they let a great potential victory slip through their fingers. An early 10-2 lead slipped back to 10-9 in just three ends. After that, it became a nervy back and forth affair in which the Abington rink's was lost first.

Similarly, the Colin Barnes/Alan Dunkley/Phil Reeve trio dug in to claim a point at Desborough with a late salvo, doubling their score of 10 after 13 ends across the last three to snatch victory. Then following that up with the heaviest defeat at Kingsthorpe. Rot again set in at half-distance as they lost every end between the 10th and 14th. A four on the penultimate end barely spared any blushes.

John Freeman may have been a miss in the Kingsthorpe game, having marshaled his rink to a steady 18-12 win on the Monday, in which they claimed 11 of the 16 ends. Nevertheless, despite his enforced absence, Terry Brown and company were only a narrow second best on the Tuesday, and actually claimed a majority of ends won. With a final overall deficit in the single figures, it goes to show that the broad trend is still upwards. All that can be asked is ever greater consistency.


All that, and we haven't yet mentioned the B-team, which we are contractually obliged to do, even though their disappointing result on the Monday didn't have the balm of a win the day after to take the sting off.

Yet again, the Bs continue to make life harder than it need be in their quest for promotion, as opponents Heyford produced their first win of the season at our ground. It was the B-team's third home loss from four of an oddly disjointed season so far.

That can best be summed up by the contrasting finishes to the two best rink on the night. While Peter Milburn's were salvaging a draw with seven shots on the last three ends, stand-in captain Mick Taylor were losing just as many on the final two. Thankfully, their lead after 14 had been eight, so Abington B did emerge with one and a half points, but they would have expected several more.

With the other two rink only losing by three each, this must go down as a big opportunity missed. Like the A-side, the B-team still have a lot of work to do to meet this season's goals.


A-team vs Desborough
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 20-15 C Wigfield
Pat McAlwane, Terry Brown, John Freeman 18-12 P Ward
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 9-14 J Haines
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Dave Jones 22-15 P Crouch

Agg: 5-1 (69-56)

A-team vs Kingsthorpe
Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 16-17 M Sharpe
Tony O'Leary, Dave Vernon, Terry Brown 12-15 R Tansley
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 13-21 A Manton
Pat McAlwane, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 22-18 N McKee

Agg: 1-5 (63-71)

Allen Johnson, Trevor Aston, Graham Allen 12-15 M Moulton
Peter Kneeshaw, Reg Jones, Mick Taylor (capt.) 18-17 B Humphries
Dave Williamson, Stan Breach, Mick Hall 13-16 R Holland
Walt Thompson, Alan Mann, Peter Milburn 14-14 T Goodchild

Agg: 1.5-4.5 (57-62)


ABINGTON'S B-TEAM survived a scare at Wootton Grange to claim a majority of the points from their sixth game of the Monday Triples League.

Over the final few ends, the home side inched closer to a smash-and-grab, but were ultimately denied by a pick-up of four shots on both Mick Hall's and Pete Boulden's rink. Abington B came away with four of the six points.

Despite their part in the aggregate victory, Hall's triple was not one of the two winners, but their last-end fillip did ensure they were only three down at the death. The deficit had been similarly small throughout much of proceedings.

Conversely, Boulden's trio had the highest win, even though the bulk of their eventual 18-9 score was achieved by the seventh end. Without their late boost, Reg Jones' rink would have pipped them to top honours, despite winning a minority of ends. A 14-shot splurge in the middle was enough to be the difference, even though either side of that they struggled to do better than second wood.

Peter Milburn's rink also required good defensive bowling, only managing to score on four of the 16 ends, but rarely dropping more than one on the others. Their eventual deficit only just reached double figures.

Back at base camp, the As were mainly unable to prevent Express A from marching further away at the top of the table. The one exception being Dave Jones' trio, who responded well to all potential knockbacks. On several occasions, their determined challengers bared arms and prepared to move in for the kill, but Jones and his men didn't blink and held their narrow advantage to the finish line.

Hopes of a second point mainly rested on John Freeman's rink, but unfortunately they fell afoul on the number 13. A blistering start to proceedings saw both triples rack up five shots after three, before the scoring settled into an attritional back-and-forth. After the 13th end, their game was deadlocked with both triples on that same, dreaded number. Sadly, that was the last time Freeman's men were to score, dropping five across the last three.

Phil Reeve's trio lost by the same margin, but it was a very different route to get there. They didn't score until the seventh end, and the last-minute addition of four across the final couple of ends - ensuring they just reached double figures - was achieved after the game as a whole had been confirmed a lost cause. Ollie Kirkwood's rink conceded a five on the first and last ends. In between, they'd briefly made gains indicating an unlikely triumph, but it was not to be.


Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 13-18 D Graham
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 10-15 C Bland
Chris Beck, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 18-15 W Stanley
Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Ollie Kirkwood 12-26 G Taylor

Agg: 1-5 (53-74)

Harvey Fruish, Dave Williamson, Reg Jones 17-11 P Botterill
Stan Breach, Peter Kneeshaw, Mick Hall 14-17 O Muston
Allen Johnson, Graham Allen, Pete Boulden 18-9 A Carter
Bill Roberts, Rob Archer (capt.), Peter Milburn 7-17 P Botterill

Agg: 4-2 (56-54)


A SIMPLY FANTASTIC hammering of Desborough put Abington A into the last eight of the Triples League's knockout competition.

As blistering as their overall form has been to date, few would have expected it to be matched in this game, even with home advantage. Yet after two hours of solid bowling, not one but two Middleton Cup back-enders had received nothing short of a pasting from our men.

Dave Jones' rink made a welcome appearance at the top of the show, claiming all but one of the ends in the second half. Their advantage gradually mushroomed from 7-4 to a final tally of 23-5 over county team skip John Haines.

It was a similar story on Phil Reeve's rink, who took every end between the ninth and 15th, including a four and a six on successive ends, eventually declaring at 24-10. Again, given the star quality of the opposition skip, Pete Ward, this is one that will remain a contender for the result of the season whatever happens.

It's ironic that these two seismic thrashings were eased into being by the fair early form of the other two rinks, yet they were to tail off in comparison. In fact, captain Jonathan Brown's trio were ultimately denied an outright win, despite holding a 14-4 lead at halfway. Thankfully, they were spared a surprise loss as well, their game ending tied.

The least consequential head-to-head was probably the most absorbing for the neutral, with Terry Brown's rink first having to recover from losing a five on the second end - which they did brilliantly with 13 shots across the next seven ends - before settling into a rally exchange of twos and threes. To round off the (almost) perfect evening, they too emerged victors of their personal battle, confirming that the Abington A-side is sturdy in all departments.


Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 23-5 J Haines
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 24-10 P Ward
Tony O'Leary, Dave Vernon, Terry Brown 18-15 P Crouch
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 15-15 C Wigfield

Agg: 80-45


A RETURN to the scene of their dominant display in the knockout 1st round proved likewise with the A-team's form in the Monday evening Triples League. They resumed their terrific start to the campaign with a near clean sweep at Whyte Melville.

The only half point not claimed was hard-earned by the opposition, requiring a hit-and-hope with the last bowl to deny an outright win for Dave Jones' rink. Before that drive, they were sitting more than the required two shots to snatch a great comeback victory (from 1-11 down after just six ends). Once the dust settled, they were left with just one, but grateful for the tie following a disappointing start.

On every other rink, it was much less fraught. The scores on Phil Reeve and captain Jonathan Brown's rinks soared into the stratosphere at pretty much the exact same moment, inspiring each other to gatherings of 18 and 16 shots respectively between the fifth and ninth ends.

Only marginally offset by the other two rinks' losses over the same period, such proliferation effectively decided the contest by the halfway mark. Certainly, it appears to have allowed Jones' men to breathe a little easier and work their way back into the game. Meanwhile, the fourth rink, skipped by Terry Brown in Ollie Kirkwood's enforced absence, also came on strong to claim all but two of the ends in the second half and rack up their own big score.

In fact, Reeve and company may have relaxed a little too much, allowing their winning margin to drop to a mere six by close of play (only taking one of the last six ends), but throughout the second half it was merely a question of '5 points or 6?', which is the position we should be striving for.

Unfortunately, back at HQ, the B-team failed to hit their target. The Division 2 promotion/relegation races were opened wide again with their surprise 1-5 loss to Bugbrooke. The Bs had been confident of victory against a side who were yet to win a game after four, but ultimately were undone by less stamina on the night.

Coming into the last five ends, two rinks - Mick Taylor's and Pete Boulden's - had a decent lead. The other two - Mick Hall's and Reg Jones' - were marginally down but seemingly prepared to pounce and overhaul the tiring hares of the opposition. Except the opposite transpired.

The rot began with two dropped fours, from Hall and Boulden's charges respectively (the latter featuring captain Rob Archer as the middleman). That precipitated a hemorrhage of ends lost at the climax. 21 shots conceded between them, with only 3 picked back up on the final end, by which time it was far too late.

Though not quite as profligate, both of the other rinks also operated at a loss over this final period, and the aggregate tipped Bugbrooke's way by seven. Only Mick Taylor's rink was to finish in credit, thanks to the quadrupling of their score from 4 to 16 in the middle third. The Bs' immediate future remains in limbo.


Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 23-11 S Rowlands
Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 13-13 M Courtney
Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Terry Brown 20-10 T Hilliard
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 22-16 T Spear

Agg: 5.5-0.5 (78-50)

Walt Thompson, Chris Zouch, Mick Hall 7-15 P Callis
Allen Johnson, Rob Archer (capt.), Pete Boulden 15-18 M Spruels
Trevor Aston, Dave Williamson, Reg Jones 14-18 R Rigby
Alan Mann, Graham Allen, Mick Taylor 19-11 G Hayter

Agg: 1-5 (55-62)


ABINGTON EXPERIENCED a setback in the fourth round of games in the Monday evening triples league on June 17th. Both the A and B teams were narrowly defeated after conceding 66 shots.

For the As, a loss to the star-studded West End A-side is not news, but this was more disappointing than most given the context. Winning this time - as they did in last season's fixture - would have confirmed that Abington A can compete at the very top level, and would have left their visitors still in search of their first victory.

To strike a more positive note, the overall loss was only in single figures. Albeit the bulk of the deficit was made up by just one winning rink, meaning only one point. John Freeman's triple took a seven on the third end to immediately establish what proved an unassailable lead. A fantastic run of 17 shots in seven ends soon after had the home side in front as the finish line came into view.

Unfortunately, none of their teammates were able to finish the job off. Dave Jones' rink came closest but dropped too many multiples. They conceded on only seven ends but dropped an average of three shots each time. A five against on the penultimate end was the final nail. Some allowances can perhaps be made for captain Jonathan Brown's rink, who had the challenge of stopping England's own Jamie Walker, but only six shots from five scoring ends is a miserly total at any level.

Elsewhere, it was a game of three thirds for the rink skipped by a returning Ollie Kirkwood. It took until the seventh end for them to get a shot on the board, by which time they had already conceded 10. Yet five ends later, the gap had dramatically closed all the way back to 9-11. Unfortunately, the comeback was not on and they lost all the last fours ends. Ultimately, West End proved to have greater stamina on the night.

Over at Earls Barton, the B-team went even closer, losing the aggregate by only five. Though at least they came away with two points for their troubles, no mean tally away from home in Division 2. Again, it looked to be heading our way until a sudden plummet from Peter Milburn's rink across the final four ends. A halftime lead of 11-4 had turned into a 12-21 loss by fulltime.

Mick Hall and captain Rob Archer were the skips who emerged with honour. The former recovered from an appalling start - 0-8 down after just three ends - to take the highest win with 19-12. The latter somehow could only win by six shots despite taking 11 of the 16 ends. A dropped four on the second-last end was a particular source of regret, and may have decisively tipped the balance in Barton's favour.

Mick Taylor's rink had the hardest time of it, not recovering from conceding a four and a five on succeeding ends at the end of the first half. A 13-22 loss confirmed that Barton's two winning rinks had done so by marginally more (18) than Abington B's (13).


Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 27-10 I Walker
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 6-18 J Walker
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Dave Jones 15-21 D Walker
Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Ollie Kirkwood 9-17 D Kovacs

Agg: 1-5 (57-66)

Bill Roberts, Trevor Aston, Rob Archer (capt.) 17-11 A Jeyes
Allen Johnson, Alan Mann, Peter Milburn 12-21 P Wright
Harvey Fruish, Graham Allen, Mick Taylor 13-22 D Knight
Dave Williamson, Peter Kneeshaw, Mick Hall 19-12 G Bartnfik

Agg: 2-4 (61-66)


THE DOWNPOURS of late played havoc with the fixture card across the Monday evening triples league, but some games went ahead as planned on June 10th. Abington B were rewarded for their endeavour with a handsome share of the spoils against Roade.

A 5-1 win displaces their opponents from second place in Division 2. Indeed, Roade's good start to the campaign continued into the early exchanges of this match, with all four of the home rinks struggling to get a toe hold. Thankfully, by the halfway mark they had all achieved a secure footing, and most would remain in command for the duration.

Mick Hall's trio most obviously, who never looked back after taking the lead with a four on the fourth. They dropped singles on just two further ends, their half of the scoreboard flipping over as if the wind had taken hold of it. By close of play, it was simply a pummeling at 26-5.

No other result was so emphatic, but as the aggregate win became clearer, captain Rob Archer's rink eventually found a similar degree of consistency in their scoring. Across the second half of proceedings, they found 10 shots to only 3 against, smartly recovering from a difficult first eight ends.

By contrast, Peter Milburn's triple relied on the occasional big score to keep their noses marginally ahead. They could only claim one of the last six ends, but did ensure that particular mark was a hefty four. Allied to an earlier five and another four, it proved just enough to earn them the fifth and final point.

Not even the late collapse on Pete Boulden's rink - dropping a four and a six late on just when they were seemed set to move in for the kill themselves - could take the shine off this bright night under the dark clouds.


Walt Thompson, Chris Zouch, Mick Hall 26-5 G Warren
Trevor Aston, Alan Mann, Rob Archer (capt.) 14-9 D Acles
Allen Johnson, Dave Williamson, Peter Milburn 17-16 T Hartwright
Bill Roberts, Graham Allen, Pete Boulden 10-22 M Brown

Agg: 5-1 (67-52)


ABINGTON A were almost entirely untroubled in their jaunt to Whyte Melville for the 1st round of the Monday triples league knockout on June 3rd. A 3-shot margin of victory makes it a perfect hat-trick of decent-sized wins so far this season, and against another top flight side to boot.

The sole black mark of the night came on the rink skipped by Adam Hawkings, whose concentration slipped at the last and dropped a seven on the penultimate end, losing their game by eight. By that point though, progression was already sealed, with double figure wins being confirmed on all the rest.

Phil Reeve's rink emerged with the top-score honours. They didn't concede a shot until the sixth end, and after that their advantage steadily doubled from seven to 15. Later, John Freeman's rink managed an even more impressive five-end haul - with 10 taken between the ninth and 13th - to bring their tally up to similar heights. They declared at 22-10.

For a short period, it looked like captain Jonathan Brown's trio would eclipse both of them, with their first half ending in a flurry of 12 from just four ends. They weren't able to match this spell, but kept their distance until the finish to wrap up another satisfying night.

For half the club anyway. The B-team will have to concentrate on their league form alone from now on, after a disappointing loss at home to Kingsthorpe B. Being defeated on all four rinks by a side they could potentially displace from the 1st Division is not ideal as a spur to further glory.

Among the few plus points was the fact that only one rink suffered similarly to the fate their A-team brethren inflicted upon Whyte Melville. Pete Boulden's trio had led 12-8 with less than half the game to go, before dropping 15 across the final seven ends.

It was a harsh reckoning, though symptomatic in many ways. The 2nd round had begun to beckon the home side until the latter third, where it was revealed to be a mere tease. Both Peter Milburn's and Mick Taylor's rinks suffered similar, if less spectacular, late collapses, the latter having racked up six consecutive scoring ends for nothing.

Captain Rob Archer's rink experienced all this in reverse, but for their inability to complete their comeback. Having found themselves 1-10 down after seven ends, failure to procure more than or two shots at a time after that meant they were left to rue the disastrous opening.


Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 22-10 S Collier
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 19-8 D Ainsworth
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 21-6 M Courtney
Chris Beck, Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings 13-21 T Spear

Agg: 75-45

Allen Johnson, Bill Roberts, Rob Archer (capt.) 12-13 I Wilson
Walt Thompson, Graham Allen, Mick Taylor 13-15 A Slinn
Chris Zouch, Trevor Aston, Pete Boulden 12-23 C McGee
Harvey Fruish, Alan Mann, Peter Milburn 14-21 D Coles

Agg: 51-72


WHEN THE pressure's off, there's more freedom to play well, and Abington B proved that again in the National Top Club, despite the eventual, expected defeat to Northampton Express.

Only one of the five disciplines was settled convincingly in Express' favour. It just happened to be a vital one, with the all-important 2-wood singles proving a cakewalk for Rob White over our man Harvey Fruish, the latter scoring only three shots and the game declared over after 14 ends.

On the pairs rink, the reverse was true, with Rob Archer and Pat McAlwane sheer class to produce a shock thumping of Richard White and Dominic Graham. Having raced into an early 8-0 lead, it was especially heartening to see the Abington duo rediscover that mojo after being pegged back to 9-7. Eight successive scoring ends concluded with hands shaken at three to go.

By then though, Abington required all the team units to win, though Alan Mann deserves praise for being a bigger thorn on Gavin Taylor's side than many would have predicted. Our man led the early exchanges and eventually racked up 14 shots before the superior class finally told.

Still, a shock was definitely possible, with the fours winning well - 14-6 after 12 - and the triples only narrowly down - 8-10 after the same amount. Unfortunately, neither could maintain their earlier form, and when the attempted fightback did begin to emerge, it was slightly too late.


2-wood: Harvey Fruish 3-18 R White
Singles: Alan Mann 14-21 G Taylor
Pairs: Rob Archer (capt.), Pat McAlwane 25-7 D Graham
Triples: Trevor Aston, Chris Beck, Dave Vernon 13-15 C Bland
Fours: Phil Boseley, Mick Taylor, Graham Allen, Pete Boulden 18-18 R Lemon

Agg: 1.5-3.5


THE CALENDARS had barely been flipped from May to June before a myriad errors melded together, to cast Abington out of the National Double Rinks entirely.

Nobody could blame the side designated Abington 'B' for coming up short against West End's top side, stuffed as ever with bowlers amongst the finest in the county and beyond, although the scale of the loss still cuts deep.

Not much analysis is required. Dave Vernon's rink dropped a hot shot on the second end and it largely got worse from there. To their credit, they did pull it back to 11-16 by half distance, only to trigger an even bigger onslaught, as West End more than doubled their tally.

It was less eventful for Dave Fage's rink, but an even bleaker picture. West End achieved an aggregate of 60-21 with NINE ends left unplayed.

Elsewhere, the team carrying the banner of Abington 'C', but commonly recognised as the strongest of the three, inflicted deep wounds upon themselves. Due respect must be afforded Northampton Express' B-team, who performed well, but defeat to them still counts as a surprise, and the single most decisive factor was a total and collective loss of nerve.

With a handful of ends remaining in their Sunday morning encounter, the weather noticeably darkened. A few spots of rain fell and an unseasonable wind began to bite. A storm also seemed to brew in the inner turmoil of the Abington bowlers, who were not playing badly, but were struggling for consistency and cohesion.

A win didn't appear to be in doubt, with John Freeman's rink holding a firm lead and captain Jonathan Brown's rink maintaining a narrow advantage. But over the close of their game, the former failed to bury the matter and blew their lead entirely, conceding nine shots across three of the last four ends to end up all square at 20-all.

In a matter of moments, the complexion of the game had changed, and now the lesser-performing rink was required to take the team through. It was a challenge they markedly failed to live up to, with only a sporadic decent bowl not enough to prevent them from conceding six shots to one across the remaining three ends.


Harvey Fruish, Phil Boseley, Mick Taylor, Dave Fage (capt.) 10-26 J Walker
Alan Mann, Reg Jones, Chris Beck, Dave Vernon 11-34 D Childs

Agg: 21-60

Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, Dave Jones, John Freeman 20-20 P Green
Colin Barnes, Adam Brown, Alan Dunkley, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 19-21 I Bland

Agg: 39-41


WITH A PERFORMANCE as patchy as the rain clouds that hovered overhead and intermittently soaked those playing bowls under them, Abington A made a swift exit from the National Top Club tournament at Northampton West End, on Sunday May 26th.

Away from home against a side boasting a handful of players who are no strangers to the latter stages of national comps, Abington were always the underdogs. And in the event only the pairs came good, with Colin Barnes and Jonathan Brown well worth their eventual win over namesakes Will and David Walker.

It took a speculative drive to prevent them from extending their immediate 11-0 lead after four ends. The pattern of scoring favoured the young West End duo after that, but consistent draw bowling kept Barnes and Brown ahead until shaking hands with an end to spare.

By then, the contest as a whole was over. The triples and fours had been comfortably beaten despite their own decent draw play. The former began brightly but then fell into a dangerous vortex of constantly chasing the jack, without retrieving shots. Ten consecutive losing ends will always add up badly, even if only at one or two a time.

Unusually, the four-wood singles was played before the two-wood. There were no surprises here with John Freeman succumbing honourably to former national runner-up Darren Childs, and Alan Coleman losing to former (multiple) national champion Jamie Walker.

Walker came into this match fresh from his latest international honours, a double gold medal success at the Atlantic Championships in Wales. So our man's forcing him to kill an end, to prevent an upset, is an especially noteworthy achievement. The fact that the world-class talent eventually prevailed is just more proof that, on the green, Abington are currently a rung or two below clubs like West End.


2-wood: Alan Coleman 14-17 J Walker
Singles: John Freeman 14-21 D Childs
Pairs: Colin Barnes, Jonathan Brown 19-16 D Walker
Triples: Adam Brown, Alan Dunkley, Dave Jones 11-24 D Kovacs
Fours: Adam Hawkings, Terry Brown, Tony O'Leary, Phil Reeve (capt.) 14-21 A Ashby

Agg: 1-4


ABINGTON A sit top of the Triples League First Division after another comfortable win at home to Kingsthorpe B on the evening of May 20th. However, the B-team's almost identical demolition of Daventry Town A deserves to be the headline act.

The Bs were in need of a pick-me-up after last week's very disappointing loss at home to Byfield. The ultra-heavy green at Daventry would not have been their preferred choice of location beforehand, but they mainly made it work in their favour. The Abington side were very comfortable winners on three of the four rinks.

Reg Jones' trio set the tone, flying into a 16-0 lead in just six ends. They weren't to hold a bigger lead than that until another flurry of shots at the death, but it was practically unassailable. A four on the final end rounded off a supreme 28-7 showing.

Peter Boulden also squeaked into the 20-shot advantage range. His triple - including captain Rob Archer at lead - dropped the shot on only three ends to declare at 25-5. Meanwhile, Peter Milburn took a five on the second end, and any subsequent attempts to eat into his rink's surplus was responded with similar emphatic scores. Seven shots across the last four ends took them to 21-10 by the 16th.

The only negative mark was on Mick Taylor's rink, who experienced an exact mirror of the game all their teammates were enjoying. Bizarrely, they did manage an outlying six on the 12th end, although almost all of this was given back on the final end as they finished with a deficit of 13. Still, it barely mattered. The scale of the overall win was still impressively vast, and hopefully bodes well.

Back at base camp, the As were triumphant over Kingsthorpe B by very nearly the exact same score. Five points to one, with 87 shots to 44.  The largest proportion of these was racked up by Phil Reeve's trio, who recovered from an early wobble to take 15 shots in a run of six consecutive ends, and only dropping one shot in the entire second half. 26-10 their final mark.

Dave Jones' trio managed an even greater winning margin though, never looking back after assuming the lead on the 5th end, and thereafter sauntering to a 24-7 scoreline. Captain Jonathan Brown wasn't far off claiming the top rink honours either. Having got off to the best start of the evening - 8-0 after three ends - regular salvos kept their advantage in the comfort zone until close of play.

As with the Bs, it wasn't a completely perfect night, with John Freeman's trio succumbing 14-19, despite a spirited late fightback. But it will do to put Abington A in pole position for three whole weeks, when the next league game comes around.


Pat McAlwane, Dave Vernon, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 23-8 G Beard
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 26-10 C McGee
Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 14-19 I Wilson
Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 24-7 D Coles

Agg: 5-1 (87-44)

Walt Thompson, Alan Mann, Reg Jones 28-7 B Spreadbury
Rob Archer (capt.), Graham Allen, Pete Boulden 25-5 D Bellis
Bill Roberts, Peter Kneeshaw, Mick Taylor 7-25 B Haynes
Harvey Fruish, Trevor Aston, Peter Milburn 21-10 P Daines

Agg: 5-1 (83-44)


ONE OF the two Abington sides drawn in the prelim round of the National Double Rinks made it through to join the nominal B-team in the first. Ultimately, there were no upsets as the nominal A-side were well beaten by the stars of Express, although the designated 'C-team' laboured in their efforts against Whyte Melville on Sunday May 19th.

It wasn't for want of good bowling as on both rinks, the Abington men controlled the headshape and positioned a vast majority of woods closer, but struggled early on to convert it into actual shots. Both of Whyte Melville's skips continued to produce wood after wood that prevented a crucial big return, if not taking the shot outright.

John Freeman's rink ultimately never quite recovered from going 1-9 down after five ends, although they did take the majority of the next 12, to bring their deficit down to just two. By then, captain Jonathan Brown's rink had finally settled into a consistent pattern of scoring. The home side at last edged ahead as the match entered the final third.

Some of the earlier struggles re-manifested again though, with Freeman's rink losing the last four ends, despite playing some of their best bowls over this period. Fortunately, they only conceded five shots, but it meant the game was exactly equal with two ends to play. As Freeman and company were shaking hands, their compatriots were also shot down.

Brown's number three Alan Dunkley emerged as the man of the match at this crucial juncture, with a superb bowl on each of the remaining ends to confirm the presence of our supposed strongest team in the next round, where they will play Express B.

They'll be thankful they won't have to play Express A just yet, who on the strength of their display at Abington a few days earlier boast a side capable of going very far in the competition. The side carrying the banner of 'Abington A' this year had not enjoyed the best preparation. Sudden enforced absences had lead to a bit of a patch job on the line-up. However, even a settled unit would have struggled to contain the talents of an VIII who can afford to pick a regular county back-ender as one of their front-enders.

Not that it was a total disaster. Abington team selector Phil Reeve skipped a rink who led for a good majority of the game - 11-3 up after eight ends was their peak advantage. Unfortunately, this wasn't to last, and they could only watch as their exercise swiftly became a matter of purely personal pride. Peter Milburn's rink were in arrears from start to finish, and only just squeaked double figures.


Adam Hawkings, Pat McAlwane, Graham Allen, Peter Milburn 10-26 G Taylor
Rob Archer, Trevor Aston, Alan Coleman, Phil Reeve (capt.) 17-18 D Graham

Agg: 27-45

Colin Barnes, Adam Brown, Alan Dunkley, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 23-11 G Green
Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, Dave Jones, John Freeman 16-23 T Hilliard

Agg: 39-34


COMING INTO the 2019 campaign, Abington's Monday league A-team had vowed not to get bogged down against the teams they are expected to beat anymore. And they made good on that promise in the opening game on May 13th, at St. Crispin's.

The last two campaigns had promised much, but simply never got off the ground, bad early results scuppering all hopes before the green light had gone out. That certainly isn't the case this term, with all six points being plundered and Abington recording nearly a century of shots away from their own green.

Dave Jones' rink seemed destined for top rink honours with an 18-shot, five-end explosion around the midway point giving them an unassailable 23-7 lead with six ends to go. Possibly they relaxed a little after this as they only scored on one further end, declaring at 26-14.

This allowed John Freeman's rink to steal in and claim the best rink result, thanks in part to a seven on the 12th. Their final reckoning was 27-8. Similarly, Phil Reeve's rink confirmed their win with a five on the second-last end, to round off a close, but steady game.

The closest the As came to any sort of drama was the first half struggles of captain Jonathan Brown's rink, who bizarrely found themselves four shots down after nine ends, despite scoring on six. Thankfully, they continued racking up successful ends, and started making more of their woods count when they did so. A flurry of 13 in four sewed up the only point that ever (briefly) looked in doubt.

Back at base camp, the B-team had a more eventful, and sadly less glorious, evening. Dropping any points at home to Byfield was not expected, but to have lost the match overall was particularly careless.

Plus marks went to the rinks skipped by the two Peters, Boulden and Milburn. The former consistently notched up shots from the fourth end on and finished 19-8. A late salvo from the latter saw them walking off just one shot below the same mark.

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough to tip the aggregate balance as the other two rinks flopped and floundered by a marginally greater degree. Reg Jones' rink came away with the most eye-catching scorecard. They were responsible for a extraordinarily disastrous bout of THREE dropped sixes between ends 5 and 8, made even more remarkable for partially redeeming themselves by taking an EIGHT on the 14th end.

The damage however, had been done. Mainly on Mick Taylor's rink, who themselves dropped two sixes, and weren't able to register much at all in response. All those sixes together represent 30 shots in just five ends, almost half of Byfield's total tally. If even just one of them had been prevented, the B-team would have snatched the overall win. But such are the margins in Division 2. An improvement can't come soon enough.


Tony O'Leary, Terry Brown, John Freeman 27-8 D Gibson
Dave Fage, Alan Coleman, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 22-14 P Odell
Adam Brown, Adam Hawkings, Dave Jones 26-14 L Parmenter
Colin Barnes, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 20-10 M Dickens

Agg: 6-0 (95-46)

Harvey Fruish, Chris Zouch, Reg Jones 18-26 P Ambos
Bill Roberts, Rob Archer (capt.), Pete Boulden 19-8 N Galletly
Dave Williamson, Stan Breach, Mick Taylor 7-25 B Haynes
Alan Mann, Trevor Aston, Peter Milburn 18-8 R Voss

Agg: 2-4 (62-67)