By Alan Jackson
Balcomb championd, back row (l to r) Matt Wells, Tom Millership, Brian Boardman & Rob Robinson.
Front row (l to r) Colin Jacox, Martyn Murley, Alan Apsey and Calvin Wells
Warwickshire’s Senior Squad created a double slice of history as they won the Balcomb Trophy (County Two Fours) for the first time, as well as becoming the first team to lift the trophy in its new home following the Bowls England Men’s Championships move from Worthing to Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa.
The two rinks that would write their names in the history books were Martyn Murley (Rugby), Rob Robinson (Erdington Court), Tom Millership & team captain Alan Apsey (both Rugby) and Matt Wells, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) & Calvin Wells (Rugby). Unused reserves Steve Merrett (Avenue Coventry) and Matt Wordingham (Avenue Leamington) completed co- managers Jim Freeman and Francis Fletchers squad.
Lancashire stood between the Bears and the final. Little could separate Apsey from his opponent, trailing 6-5 after seven ends but ahead 12-11 with six ends to play. Lancashire the started to build a lead, four shots up with two ends to go. The rink was turned on its head when Apsey and co registered six shots, while Lancs finished with a single it was the Bears who won 18-17, a one shot advantage. In the other rink Wells and co got off to an excellent start, 11-2 after seven ends. Lancashire went on a five end scoring spree, starting with a five, to take the lead 12-11. A pair of fours either side of a Lancashire double saw the Bears take command again. A good finish helped Wells’ rink win 24-16 and give the Bears a shot at the trophy with an overall 42-33 victory.
The first ten ends of the final against Huntingdonshire were very tight, the score overall 20 each (Apsey 10-8 up, Wells 12-10 down). Things remained tight in Apsey’s rink as the sides matched each other, including exchanging fours. With three ends to play Apsey still lead by two shots, the Bears opened up a vital lead in the remaining ends to secure a seven shot advantage, 23-16 the final score. A fourteenth end four helped Wells keep within reach of Huntingdonshire who had hit a bit of form but with four ends to play the Bears trailed by five shots. A pair of singles was wiped out by a Hunts double to leave Wells trailing 17-22 with one end left.
With the other rink now finished both sets of players knew what they had to do, Hunts needed three or more shots to win the trophy or two shots to go to an additional end, anything else and the trophy was Warwickshire’s. With two bowls left, one for each skip, the Hunts skip was one down and attempted to kill the end. In near silence he fired but when his bowl went wide of its target the watching crowd and Warwickshire players erupted into a cauldron of noise. Final score Wells lost 18-22 but the overall score of 41-38 meant Warwickshire were the 2014 Balcomb Trophy Winners.