Bowlers out in force for the start of the new outdoor season

PUBLISHED: 12:11 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:11 18 April 2018

Opening day at St Andrews Bowls Club.

Opening day at St Andrews Bowls Club.


The start of the bowls outdoor season was greeted by full sunshine for many of the local clubs.

Saturday saw Ashcombe Park Bowling Club hold their president’s opening day to mark the start of the outdoor bowling season.

Following major work over winter, both greens were in excellent condition which, together with the fine weather, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Proceedings began with 84 bowlers taking part in the traditional spider where each delivers one bowl, all together, towards the jack in the centre of the green. The winner is the bowler who ends up nearest the jack.

This year it was won by Derek Cardy, who was also last year’s winner. The spider was followed by an umbrella game, won this year by the team of Steve Andrews, Neil Coombes, Sam Hedges and Bill Miles.

Following the match, the bowlers were joined by 13 more of their colleagues for a three-course meal in the clubhouse. After the meal this year’s president, Averill Goacher, welcomed everyone, thanked those who had worked over the winter to get the greens, grounds and clubhouse ready for the season’s start, and wished all bowlers a successful and enjoyable season.

President Averill also thanked members for supporting the 2017 captain’s charity, the Great Western Air Ambulance, with the club raising £874.50 for them. This year’s captain’s charity is the Bone Cancer Research Trust.

The men’s and ladies’ sections of St Andrews held successful opening days of their outdoor seasons at the weekend.

Weather favoured the men, with warm sunshine on Saturday afternoon for their president v captain triples match, in which Darrell Johnston, Mike Stocker, Sam Stocker and Chris Howard all made their outdoor debuts.

A 16-shot victory for Johnston’s triple proved the difference as men’s president Brian Reeves’ team beat captain George Webber’s choice by two shots. As a result, Webber had to fill a new trophy, donated by Reeves, with the president’s choice of tipple.

The two figureheads played a singles, with Reeves prevailing by four against Webber. In a pairs match, Marcus Dew earned bragging rights against his teenage son Harvey by one, while lady stand-ins Judy Forse, Rebecca McMillan and Jill Bishop, another outdoor debutant, all acquitted themselves well in typical, heavy early-season conditions.

The spider was won by long-time member John Ling, who just edged out Sam Stocker.

Considering that persistent rain had made the prospect of play doubtful in midweek, the green bowled well and the hard work done during the week by a small team of volunteers, led by maintenance man Andy McMillan, showed in the immaculate surrounds.

After play, the ladies in the kitchen served up a lovely meal of sausages and mash.

President’s team 66, captain’s team 64 - president’s rinks first: B Reeves 9, G Webber 5 (singles); A Frost, A Cooper, D Johnston 22, R Lee, R Brereton, B May 6; H Dew, K Curtis 9, M Dew, D Favis 10 (pairs); R McLeod, R Gordon, A McMillan 11, Judy Forse, Rebecca McMillan, J Keay 15; D Reynolds, J Ling, M Stocker 14, G Sims, Jill Bishop, G Wride 14; P Smart, D Bailey, S Stocker 10, R Smith, R Wootten, C Howard 19.

Saints’ ladies were not so lucky with the weather for their opening day on Sunday. Intermittent rain forced them indoors, where they played a fun competition over three rinks, each of eight players.

Somerset county ladies’ president Hilary Leamon, of Severalls Jubilee, Crewkerne, was the guest of honour and showed herself to be a more than useful bowler.

However, honours in the fun competition went to the ever-lively Jackie Pitman. In joint second place were her clubmate Ann Campbell and Mary Hawkins (Wessex Ladies), one of the guests, who had won the spider competition.

At the meal which followed, put together by kitchen maestro Richard Venn and his helpers, club president Frid Allen announced that the money raised from charging a 50p entry fee for the spiders on both days would be split between the club charity, Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, and Visually-Impaired Bowls England, whose president Clive Robinson is a St Andrews member.

St Andrews men begin their inter-club programme with a six-rink triples friendly at home to Bridgwater today (Thursday). The ladies field three rinks at home to their Congresbury counterparts tomorrow (Friday).

Saints’ juniors Sam Stocker and Imogen Cracknell both received awards at the weekend. Stocker (17) was named Somerset men’s under-18 player of the year outdoors for last year.

Cracknell, who is 16, won the equivalent award for the ladies and also the Somerset county indoor under-25 ladies’ bowler of the year 2017/18. She has been selected for an England under-18 indoor trial at Rugby on April 29.

Clarence’s opening day kicked off in beautiful weather, with the traditional taking of photographs starting captain’s day off.

In attendance were captains and presidents from both ladies clubs and Alison Harwood from Optica, the main sponsor.

The afternoon progressed with seven rinks of triples and one rink of fours followed by drinks and a superb meal in the clubhouse, with all the hard work done by the ladies. Captain Ken Marshall declared all rinks were drawn matches making everyone a winner.

Banwell Bowls club members gathered on Saturday for the opening match of the season, namely president’s day and they could not have wished for better weather.

There was a good turnout and the competition was played over six rinks. A good day was had by all and it was a pleasure to play outdoors in the warm sunshine after a winter of cold and snow

Banwell start their season this week and have a full fixture list, including league friendly and mixed matches.

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