By Alan Jackson
A sunny morning greeted players and spectators to the culmination of the 2017 County Competitions at Wolvey BC. With two new competitions added to the line up the crowd was treated to fine displays of bowling, writes Alan Jackson.
Phil Bale (Grange) took three of the opening four ends to hold an early lead but Avenue Coventry’s Jordan Merrett hit a trio of trebles and pair of two to move 14-4 ahead.
The pair exchanged shots to leave Merrett 19-8 up, needing two to become the youngest County Singles champion. Bale had other plans, taking a four and brace of singles to cut the gap down to five but Merrett took the next end with a two to claim the title and make history.
Watching from the sideline was Jordan’s great-grandad Bert Jacox, who won his own Singles title 50 years ago, it is thought also by a 21-14 scoreline.
Nothing could separate Ken Chedgzoy and Martin Timms (Welford) from their opponents Chris Barton and Jim Freeman (Kings Heath) during the first seven ends of the County Pairs, Timms one shot ahead.
Eleven shots in eight ends with just one in response saw Timms take a commanding lead, they sealed the win four ends later, Barton & Freeman shaking hands on nineteen ends with the score 20-6.
With six ends played Craig Carter, Brian Boardman & Tom Millership (Rugby) held a one shot advantage over Kineton’s Rich Townsend, Neil Weston & Robert Weston.
A pair of twos and a three singles helped widen the gap before the sides exchanged trebles to leave Millership and co seven clear with one end left.
Faced with a near impossible task Townsend finished with a four but couldn’t deny Millership’s trio an 18-15 victory.
John Bentien, Clive Burbage, Rob Wilson and Gary Langford (Solihull Municipal) got off to a flying start in the County Fours final against John Simmons, Geoff Roberts, Peter Harwood and John Bale (Wolvey), reaching thirteen ends 15-3 up. A couple of threes, trio of twos and a single, with three conceded in reply, cut the deficit down to two going into the final end. Langford and co took that end with a single to complete their 19-16 win.
Avenue Coventry’s Keith Wooding raced away to eleven shots before Chris Barton (Kings Heath) got on the board, the pair exchanged shots before Barton ran out of ends trying to deny Wooding the win. Final score 17-4.
The County Unbadged Singles final was an all Erdington Court affair, Paul Vaughan winning 21-10 against John Pritchard .
The Junior Pairs competition made its debut this season, the first final pitched Mark and Adam Smith against Matthew King and Dan Ellicott, the Smiths winning 24-6. Only the winners of this competition progress to the Nationals at Leamington.
The other new competition was the Senior Fours, Phil Birch, Greg Sampson, Steve Taylor and Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry)beating Frank Maund, Bob Smith, Mal Evans and Francis Fletcher (Sherwood Park) 27-9.
As with the Junior Pairs only the winners progress to the National stage at Leamington.
The four area stage winners of the Ivens Cup arrived for the semi-final draw, Kineton would play Solihull Municipal and Bilton drew Wolvey.
Steve Martin, Ray Morgan, Warren Cox and George Palmer (Bilton) got off to a good start, reaching the fifth end 8-3 up against Len Faulconbridge, John Hibbert, Mick Reardon and Bill Blakemore (Wolvey).
Wolvey then went on an eleven end scoring spree, picking up twenty unanswered shots. Bilton won three of the next four ends but couldn’t catch Wolvey, final score 24-12.
John Bentein, Clive Burbage, Rob Wilson and Gary Langford (Solihull Municipal) found themselves 8-3 down against the Kineton four of Keith Stanley, Nick Butcher, Sandy Mitchell and Alan Barker after seven ends but took ten unanswered shots to take the lead.
With 18 ends played Solihull held a one shot advantage, they took a treble to extend their lead, Kineton scored a single to head into the final end needing four to win but could only get another single, final score 21-19 to Solihull Municipal.
The final would see Wolvey (John Hibbert, Len Faulconbridge, Mick Reardon and Bill Blakemore) play Solihull Municipal (J Hanmore, G Carmichael, G Wyatt and B Jones), Solihull started well, going from 8-4 up after seven ends to reach fourteen ends also leading by four.
Wolvey halved the deficit only for Solihull to restore it with two ends left. Wolvey scored a double to enter the final end needing three to win, Solihull took the final end to seal their 17-14 victory.
Bilton (Steve Martin, Ray Morgan, Warren Cox and John Greer) held a six shot lead at the midway stage against Kineton (Keith Stanley, Nick Butcher, Sandy Mitchell and Alan Barker).
Bilton extended their advantage to be 11 shots clear with four ends to play. Kineton scored a single and pair of trebles to cut the deficit to four with one end left, they then stunned Bilton by scoring four in the last end to force an extra end, a single was enough to allow Kineton to complete an unlikely comeback victory 22-21.