The EIBA Premier Three’s roadshow has been in the area as South Shield’s held the first qualifying event, the quick fire format of three bowls, three ends and best of three sets ensures most games are done and dusted within half an hour. There are four regional event’s around the country from which two qualifiers from each will go forward to the Grand Finals day at Erewash in December. In section one Michael Laydon (pictured) was a late invite but took the opportunity with both hands, an opening 2-0 win over West Denton’s Peter Duffy was then followed by a semi-final 2-1 win over the highly rated Josh Minto (South Shields). In the section final Laydon faced Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley, the first set was tied 2-2 while Laydon took the second set 4-0, Hartley took the third set 3-2 which sent the game into a one bowl tie breaker, with Hartley’s effort a couple of feet away Laydon held his nerve to get inside the bowl and seal a place spot at Erewash. The second section saw Gary Smith (pictured) continue his run of good form in televised events, an opening 2-0 win over club mate Phil Smithson was followed by a hard fought 2-1 win over Phil Dixon although Dixon was left rueing a missed opportunities to win the game, with the final bowl in the second set Dixon fell just short which left Smith shot and sent the tie into a decisive third set, then on the last end of the third set Dixon holding a good two failed to put a back bowl in which allowed Smith with the game’s final bowl to play over weight and move the jack to his back bowl for shot. In the final Smith looked on the verge of going out again this time against talented youngster Josh Halcrow, with the sets all square and the third set all square Halcrow held shot on the final end only to trail the jack a foot with his final bowl to a Smith bowl and hand Smith the remaining place at Erewash.

Bristol hosted the final of this year’s Denny Cup, in the final Whiteknights lifted the title for the first time as they defeated Norfolk 74-69, Cumbria’s hopes were ended in the semi-finals after they were beaten by ten shots by Norfolk. In the ladies equivalent competition the Yetton Trophy the title went to Swale who defeated York 77-75 in the final.

The Durham County IBA held an extra ordinary meeting with all clubs except The Parks to decide the future of the Inter Club league following the failure of five of the six teams in the First Division to complete their five game programmes, it was eventually agreed that clubs will be given an extension to submit Notices of Motion regarding the format etc at the AGM on May 25. Bizarrely it was also agreed to award the cup to the only club to complete all five games which was Gateshead who in turn had finished 11 points behind table toppers Hartlepool, as all the other clubs had been deemed to have defaulted and according to league rules their points had to be null and void it left the farcical situation of everyone on nil points, the two relegation places were not confirmed. 

The final of the County Under 21 Doshi Pairs was played at Durham with Darlington’s Liam Macey & Noah Cummings defeating Hartlepool’s Niall Thompson & Matty Ray.

The final league standings in the various leagues at Houghton were as follows -:

10.30am Men’s Fours – Carter 37, Wells 33, Duell 32, Scullion 32, Sim 25, Storey 23, Smith 23, Morris 19, Dinsdale 12, Thompson 12, Newton 10, Holland 7
2.30pm Ladies Pairs - Johnson 42, Middleton 29, Glover 28, Wilson 28, Watt 24, Reay 22, Mitchinson 17, Thompson 14, Robson 12, Todd 11, Maddison 7
6.30pm Men’s Fours - Henderson 38, Williams 35, Thuburn 31, Noble 28, Sim 25, Piggott 23, Johnson 22, Collins 20, New 16, Taylor 12, Charlton 10, Lobb 2

10.30am Men’s Fours – Thuburn 38, Godfrey 32 (+152), Joicey 32 (+72), Matthews 28, Barnes 25, Kerry 23, Barkes 22, Sowerby 16, Walker 15, Graham 13, Moore 10, Thompson 9

2.30pm Ladies Fours - Johnson 39, Middleton 37, Coulson 34, Smith 30, Charlton 24, Fenwick 22, Prudhoe 18, Stewart 14, Lowes 14, Moore 12, Banks 12, White 10
6.30pm Men’s Fours - Kempster 33, Wilson 30 (+89), Brickle 30 (+77), Dunn 29, Froud 28, Usher 25, Patterson 25, Pescod 25, Connolly 14, Elliott 11, Hills 10, Rothwell 2

10.30am Men’s Triples – Brown 36, Ramshaw 34, Scullion 32, Piggott 25, Lanagan 23, Barkes 22, Matthews 21, Joicey 21, Fletcher 18, Ward 16, Dinsdale 10, Thompson 6
4.30pm Mixed Triples - Henderson 46, Baker 37, Nicholson 34, Prudhoe 30, Holmes 27, Robson 25, Cowler 18, Martin 7
6.30pm Men’s Fours - Usher 35, Burt 32, Collins 28, Harding 27, Hutchinson 26, Carr 24, Sim 22, Morgan 17, Bowerbank 14, Classon 12, Robinson 0

10.30am Men’s Fours – Bew 38, Cooper 34, Scullion 32, Carter 29, Hartis 22, McAdam 20, Hills 20, Graham 16, Walker 15, Usher 12, Thompson 10, Rothwell 6
2.30pm Open Pairs - Brown 41, Houghton 33 (+217), Phythian 33 (+130), Laidler 26, Wells 25, Longley 24, Piggott 22, Waites 22, Thompson 14, Chalmers 10, Moore 10, Booth 4
6.30pm Men’s Fours - McAdoo 33, Wilson 30, Sykes 28, Hicks 26, Milner 26, Joicey 25, Piggott 21, Johnson 19, Hind 19, Grimes 17, Sumers 17, Armstrong 5

10.30am Men’s Triples – Jobling 40, Piggott 36, Baker 33, Holmes 29, Kerry 25, Usher 19, Walsh 19, Waterson 16, Hayley 12, Childs 11, Todd 10, Garrett 10
2.30pm Ladies Triples - Johnson 32, (+197), Robson 32 (+155), Glover 29, Middleton 28, Faith 28, Lowes 18, Banks 16, Nicholson 15, Todd 14, Bainbridge 13, Stewart 9
6.30pm Men’s Fours - McAdoo 35, Collins 32, Storey 30, Johnson 30, Patterson 26, Buckingham 25, Hills 20, Hartis 19, Longley 14, Nicholson 12, Smillie 12, Temple 9

10.00am Men’s Triples – Jopling 35, Harding 29, Henderson 26, Burt 22, Usher 21, Borthwick 21, Noble 21, Walsh 20, Holmes 10, Longley 9, Todd 6

10.00am Men’s Fours – Sykes 39, Thuburn 32, Hutchinson 31, Milner 31, Walsh 24, Sim 19, Williams 19, Robson 11, Bew 6

As all hardy outdoor bowlers know the start of the outdoor season signals a change in the weather  but despite the bitter weather the Howey Harold leagues signalled the start of the outdoor season, in the First Division there was an early setback for the defending champions Silksworth as they suffered a 16 shot 4-0 defeat away at Chester Le Street, there were mixed fortunes for the two Houghton Dairy Lane squads as the B team won by 7 shots (3-1) at Washington while the A team lost at home by 3 shots (3-1) to North Biddick A. Newly promoted Roker Marine A lost by 6 shots (½-3½) at home to Seaham Town A. Following their relegation to the Second Division Hylton Colliery Welfare A got off to a cracking start with a 17 shot (4-0) home win over New Herrington. On Wednesday the Swan Cup gets underway, holders Houghton Dairy Lane travel to newly promoted Thompson Park while last season’s runners up Silksworth head to Houghton Town. The season’s first casualty has occurred in the Second Division as New Herrington have dropped out.

Bowls England international selectors have named a 48 man Under 25 trial, the region is represented by Durham’s Noah Cummings and Northumberland’s Josh Minto, a squad of 24 will be selected after the trial for the Home International series at Elgin in September.


The traditional end to the National Championships is the Liberty Cup final and this year’s final  between Durham and Kent promised to be a classic and it didn’t fail to deliver, sadly for Durham despite having three rinks up and one level their hopes of a 12th Liberty title were heartbreakingly ended as Kent ran out narrow 111-109 winners. The early stages saw Durham make their usual slow start as Kent raced into a 17 shot lead which was extended to 19 shots at the half way mark, as in previous rounds Durham started a second half comeback notably Phil Smithson’s quartet turning round a 8-1 deficit to lead 15-12 and Gary Smith turning around a 7-4 deficit to lead 14-7 against former world champion Andy Thomson. By the 18th end Durham had crawled back to within 4 shots and they even got it down to a single shot however they just couldn’t get their noses in front. Darlington’s Andy Kirtland trailed 17-5 but battled back to finish 22-16 down against Shaun McCaughan, South Shield’s David Bolt was always playing catch up and finished 23-12 down against Ian Honnor, Phil Smithson (Shields) steered his quartet to a hard fought 19-18 win over Perry Martin while Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley defeated Mark Johnson 25-18, the third winning rink saw Gary Smith finish 20-13 up against Andy Thomson. The final rink left on the green was Hartlepool’s Paul Mosley who was left needing a three on the last end to force extra ends but had to settle for a single and a 17-17 draw against Duncan Hanmore to leave Kent the winners by a couple of shots, the ladies equivalent competition the Atherley Trophy was won by Norfolk.

Earlier in the week South Shield’s David Bolt’s hopes of adding the indoor singles title to his 2011 outdoor success were dashed in the last eight as three times world champion City of Ely’s Greg Harlow recovered from 16-14 down to record a 21-16 win. Previously Bolt had defeated Malvern Hill’s Ryan Atkins 21-11 and Wellingborough’s James Walker 21-11, Harlow had also ended the other regions hope Hartlepool’s Paul Mosely 21-17 in the last sixteen. Harlow went on to lose in the semi-finals to the eventual winner Spalding’s Martin Spencer,

There were more club finals completed at Houghton this week, the men’s Pairs final saw Jack Harrison & Billy Piggott face holders Billy Roberts & Frankie Froud, the holders looked in trouble as Piggott led 14-9 but then on the 11th end the momentum changed as a Froud fire ditched the jack for a five which was immediately followed by another five on the next end to push the holders 19-14 ahead, the high scoring affair continued for the rest of the game as the 29-27 final score in Froud’s favour demonstrates. There was some consolation for Harrison & Piggott as earlier in the week alongside Arthur Baker they took the Triples title with a comfortable 27-11 win over George Noble, Bill Laidler and Billy Holmes. The fours final saw Bryan Henderson (jnr), Joe Sutherland, Jimmy McAdoo and Brian Henderson (snr) take on Colin Brown, Dave Armstrong, Ian Whorlton and Alan J Dunn. The early exchanges saw Henderson lead 6-1 and 17-9, on the 16th end Dunn got back into the game with a cracking five to 17-14 but the Henderson quartet regrouped and saw out the remaining ends to record a 22-15 victory with one end left un-played.

The final of the Over 60’s Pairs went to an extra end after Bill Laidler & Billy Holmes were tied 19-19 with Michael Carr & Jeff Wilson, in the end it was Wilson who held on for the all-important shot to take the title. In the Over 60’s Triples George Noble, Bill Laidler and Billy Holmes opened up a 16-5 lead after 10 ends over Joe Sutherland, Freddie Fletcher and Alan J Dunn, a six on the 13th end to Holmes was the signal for Dunn to call it a day with the score at 23-6 which left five ends un-played.

Ellen Faith completed a clean sweep of the Ladies competition’s as she partnered M.Metcalf to the pairs title, in the final Faith defeated Maureen Hall & Norma Stephenson to complete a unique treble. The Mixed Pairs title went to J.Watt and Bill Laidler who defeated Joan Baker & Freddie Fletcher in the final.

The EIBA’s Premier Three’s roadshow rolled into South Shields this week with a 16 man field packed with well-known local bowlers, as usual the quick fire format was televised and a couple of two hour highlight packages will be broadcast on Monday April 25 - 1000 to 1200 and 1530 to1730 on British Eurosport 2 & British Eurosport 2 HD

Section 1 – Michael Laydon (South Shields) v Peter Duffy (West Denton), Josh Minto (The Parks) v Alan Lawton (Shields), David Bolt (Shields) v Brett Arkley (Stanley), Paul Hartley (Hartlepool) v Billy Ferry (Shields)

Section 2 - Gary Smith (Shields) v Phil Smithson (Shields), Phil Dixon (Shields)  v Michael Bennett (Stanley), Ian Riches (Shields)  v Shaun McIntosh (Shields), Gary Farquhar (Shields)  v Mal Peach (Shields)

The outdoor season gets underway on Thursday with the opening fixtures in the Harold Howey, last season Silksworth lifted the title by just half a point and another competitive season is expected this season, the holders open their defence away at Chester le Street while last season’s runners up Barnes West End have a bye, the two newly promoted teams Roker Marine “A” and Thompson Park “A” are at home to Seaham Town “A” and away to Ryhope “A” respectively. In the second division relegated Hylton Colliery Welfare “A” entertain New Herrington while the other relegated team Wearmouth entertain Whitburn.

Full Fixtures
First Division – Barnes Park B v Hylton CW B, Cheter le St v Silksworth, Hetton Workmen v Dawdon, Houghton DL A v North Biddick A, Roker Marine A v Seaham Town A, Ryhope A v Thompson Park A, South Hylton v Roker Park A, Thompson Park B v Ryhope B, Washington A v Houghton DL B

Second Division – Grindon Mill v Houghton Town A, Houghton Town B v Barnes Park A, Hylton CW A v New Herrington, North Biddick B v Roker Marine B, Pemberton B v Hetton Park, Roker Park B v Pennywell, Seaham Town B v Pemberton A, Sunderland B v Sunderland A, Wearmouth v Whitburn

The local bowls scene has sadly lost three well-known names, Silksworth stalwart John Hall (88) (pictured right) was a regular spectator at most of the major local events and an avid follower of the fortunes of the Silksworth players. Norman Gray (82) although not seen on the bowls scene for more than a decade Norman was a much respected player at the now defunct LNER bowling club and Stan Turner (87) a long time member of the defunct Service’s bowling club Stan was a respected player and one of the games great characters of the eighties.   

16th April 2016 - THOMSON SHINES

There have been several club finals played at Houghton this week, on Tuesday the final of the men’s singles  saw defending champion Peter Thomson (pictured left) take on Billy Holmes, the early exchanges saw Thomson grind out a 7-6 lead before a decisive couple of ends where the defending champion collected counts of four and three to lead 14-6. Holmes responded and got back to 14-10 but another four consecutive scoring ends pushed Thomson to the brink at 20-10, two ends later and just over an hour’s play Thomson sealed a 21-14 win. In the final of the Over 60’s Fours George Brown, Jimmy Swinney, Forster Johnson and Ian Whorlton defeated David Ramshaw, Joe Sutherland, Freddie Fletcher and Alan J Dunn. The semi-finals of the men’s fours saw two cracking finishes, Brian Henderson saw a 15-6 lead wiped out against Billy Piggot but still held on for a 15-14 win while Alan J Dunn won a thriller against Jeff Wilson 13-12; the final is scheduled for Monday at 6.30pm. Two Ladies finals have been completed with Ellen Faith completing a double, in the singles Faith defeated J.Watt and then in the triples teamed up with M.Metcalf and M.Yews to defeat defending champions Maureen Hall, Mary Middleton and Norma Stephenson. The men’s triples final takes place today as Bill Laidler, G.Noble and Billy Holmes take on Jack Harrison, Arthur Baker and Billy Piggott. Another two club finals take place tomorrow (10am), in the Men’s Pairs Jack Harrison & Billy Piggott take on defending champions Billy Roberts & Frankie Froud while in the final of the Over 60’s Triples Joe Sutherland, Freddie Fletcher and Alan J Dunn face Bill Laidler, G.Noble and Billy Holmes. The remaining finals are due to be played this week, the Mixed Pairs final between Bill Laidler & J.Watt and Freddie Fletcher & Joan Baker takes place on Monday at 2.30pm, the following day the Over 60’s Pairs final between Michael Carr & Jeff Wilson and Bill Laidler & Billy Holmes takes place at 6.30pm.

It has been confirmed that Houghton ladies finished 5th in this seasons Inter Club league, the title went to South Shields.
Final Table – South Shields 46, Hartlepool 35½, Great Aycliffe 34, Durham 28, Houghton 26½, Gateshead 10
The Durham County Women’s IBA will hold its Annual General Meeting at Hartlepool (10am) on May 7th. 

Sunderland’s Inter County fate became a little clearer as the league rules state no games can be played a week after the final round of fixtures therefore it is likely the current standings will be the final standings which will see defending champions Darlington and Aycliffe relegated.
Final Table – Hartlepool 4-36, South Shields 4-34, Gateshead 5-25, Sunderland 3-12, Darlington 1-8, Great Aycliffe 3-5

The national championships are currently taking place at Melton Mowbray with plenty of local interest in the latter stages. In the pairs the South Shield’s duo of Phil Dixon & Gary Farquhar enjoyed a opening 23-5 win over Isle Of Wight’s Keith Beckett before succumbing 22-7 in the next round to Wey Valley’s Duncan Heard, the eventual winners were Torquay Utd’s Louis Ridout & Sam Tolchard. In the triples Farquhar was joined by Mal Peach and David Bolt, sadly for the Shield’s trio they were beaten in the first round 20-7 by the Whiteknight’s Rob Newman, there was a crumb of consolation as the Whiteknight’s triple went onto take the title. In the fours competition the Shields quartet of Paul Sainthouse, Stewart Hubbard, Alan Lawton and Ian McIntosh recorded a last sixteen 21-14 win over Church Gresley’s Mark O’Connell which was followed by a cracking quarter final 21-19 win over Exonia’s international Jamie Chestney. Sadly in the semi-finals McIntosh’s title hopes were ended as they went down to the eventual winners Adur’s David Hubbard 23-11. The singles takes place today, local hopes lie with David Bolt (Shields) who has a tricky last 32 tie against Malvern Hill’s talented youngster Ryan Atkins.

Durham County will be looking to lift the Liberty Trophy for a 12th time as they go head to head with Kent tomorrow at Melton Mowbray. The final promises to be a classic with both teams packed with attacking players, the draw for rinks has already made with the pick of the games being Gary Smith going up against former World Champion Andy Thomson (MBE).
The full Durham team is as follows -: J.Forcer (H), M.Barkass (St), I.Jackson (H), GR.Smith (SS), M.Peach (SS), W.Ferry (SS), G.Farquhar (SS), P.Smithson (SS),P.Dixon (SS),N.Cummings (D),J.Fielding (D), D.Bolt (SS), B.Arkley (St), C.Boston (H), G.Skipp (H), P.Mosley (H), M.Ray (H), C.Higgins (H), M.Squirrel (H), P.Hartley (H), D.Targar (SS), B.Hopkins (Da), M.Jones (Da), A.Kirtland (Da). Reserves – N.Ridley (SS), A.Portaway (H), J.Wells (H)

With the outdoor greens due to open this weekend the draw for the District 3 Bowls Durham County competitions have been made and are as follows.

Singles – M.Peach (HDL) v K.Armstrong (HT), B.Poulter (Us) v R.Robinson (HDL), D.Todenr (HDL) v J.McKinney (HDL), S.Patterson (HW) v A.Maidment (HCW).

Pairs – B.Cain (HDL) v J.Dunn (Da), D.Armstrong (HDL) v S.Patterson (HW), D.Wright (ST) v I.Whorlton (HDL), S.Krimpen (HDL) v R.Robinson (HDL), J.McAdoo (ST) v K.Armstrong (HT), P.Wallace (HT) v D.Morgan (HDL), R.Johnson (WG) v B.Henderson (ST), K.Makepeace (HDL) v J.McKinney (HDL). The following have byes – W.Rea (WG), AJ.Dunn (HDL)

Triples – D.Armstrong (HDL) v M.Peach (HDL), B.Henderson (ST) v R.Robinson (HDL), K.Armstrong (HT) v J.McKinney (HDL), D.Wright (ST) v AJ.Dunn (HDL). The following have byes – S.Patterson (HW), K.Makepeace (HDL)

Fours – K.Armstrong (HT) v J.McKinney (HDL), W.Rea (WG) v D.Morgan (HDL), I.Whorlton (HDL) v D.Armstrong (HDL). The following have a bye – D.Wright (ST)

Two Bowl Singles – B.Poulter (Us) v R.Robinson (HDL)

The worst kept secret in local bowls was confirmed at a meeting of council representatives and club secretaries this week where council representatives confirmed they were looking at various avenues to make future savings on green maintenance - although it was confirmed no services would be affected this year any future changes could have devastating consequences on a local sport that has had its fair share of set-backs. Sadly it is growing more apparent that Sunderland Council are unwilling to acknowledge the health benefits of the sport which culminated by the loss of the popular indoor venue at the ill-fated Crowtree site over two years ago.     


Houghton’s Inter club squad went into their final game of the season against unbeaten leaders The Parks needing four points to overtake Durham and take the remaining promotion place. As it happens the Houghton lads produced one of their best team performances for years to record a tremendous 10½-1½ win that secured promotion and almost pipped The Parks to the title. At Houghton all the damage was done by Peter Harding’s rink of John Doyle, Tom Patterson and Jules Biggerstaff as they produced a quality performance defeating Brian Houghton 32-15. Mal Baker, Matty Henderson, David Wright and Bryan Henderson (snr) were unlucky to have to settle for a 14-14 draw against Billy Blyth while Trevor Joicey, Bob Johnson, Richard Thorpe and Ian Whorlton (pictured right) let a 15-10 lead slip away but still managed to hold their nerve to beat Ian Brown 17-16. Those scores left the home squad 18 shots to the good and the return of 4½ points was enough to seal promotion. As it happens at The Parks the away squad also collected 4 points which would have also sealed promotion, Billy Davis’s rink of John Godfrey, Sam Patterson and Karl Armstrong never looked back after collecting a first end five and went onto defeat Peter Dawson 22-17 while Keith Waterson, Fred Sanderson , Freddie Fletcher and Dan Todner ground out a hard fought 13-10 win over Michael Simmonette. The remaining rink of Joe Sutherland, Dave Armstrong, M.Thompson and Alan J Dunn were level at 12-12 with three ends to go but slipped to a 17-12 defeat at the hands of the talented Josh Minto, despite that slip up the away squad finished three shots up which sealed a cracking 21 shot win overall against a team that had only dropped 4½ points over the previous four games.    

Second Division Final Table – The Parks 45, Houghton 44½, Durham 37, Shildon 29½, Ferryhill 14, Spennymoor 10 

The first club final at Houghton was played this week as Michael Wright (pictured left) faced Freddie Fletcher in the Senior Singles final. The earlier exchanges saw Wright open up a 9-1 lead, Fletcher recovered to 9-5 only for Wright to notch seven shots without reply to lead 16-5. With Wright only needing a single for victory Fletcher hit a purple patch and got back to 20-16 however Wright held his nerve and got the match winning single to finish a 21-16 winner. In the men’s semi-finals defending champion Peter Thomson ground out a 21-12 win over Ray Robinson while Billy Holmes turned round a 20-15 deficit to beat Jeff Wilson 21-20. The line-up for the pairs final has been decided after semi-final wins for Jack Harrison & Billy Piggott and Billy Roberts & Frankie Froud. On Wednesday the ladies triples final will take place between Norma Stephenson and Ellen Faith, the final starts at 2.30pm.

Over the next 10 days a host of internationals and world champion’s descend on Melton Mowbray as this season’s National Championships are played out. Locally there is plenty of interest, in the Pairs the Shield’s duo of Phillip Dixon and Gary Farquhar face a last thirty two opener against Isle of Wight’s Keith Beckett and Bryn Davies. Later in the week Farquhar is joined by Mal Peach and David Bolt in the triples, the draw has been unkind to the Shield’s lad as they face a tough opener against Whiteknights Robert Newman.  In the fours South Shield’s Ian McIntosh will attempt to steer his quartet to national glory, in the last sixteen McIntosh faces Church Gresley’s Mark O’Connell.
The remaining national finals at Nottingham were completed this week, in the final of the Denny Plate City Of Ely comfortably defeated Victory 89-55 while Acle eased past Torbay 109-53 in the final of the ladies Yetton Plate. The remaining seniors titles were also decided, in the Over 60’s singles local hope Hartlepool’s Albert Ward was beaten 21-12 in his opener, the title eventually went to Hounslow’s David Pitt. The Over 50 Triples title went to Lincoln’s Danny Brown, locally the Hartlepool trio of Dale Oram, Ian Jackson and Glenn Skipp went out in the last eight. The Over 60’s double fours went to host club Nottingham after a 37-28 win over West Berks.

Another round of the Open Singles Circuit was played in the region last weekend as York hosted a field of 59 players all competing for the £800 first prize. South Shield’s Gary Smith has enjoyed his venture into the circuit after earlier tournament wins at Hornsea and Peterborough plus runner up at Hartlepool’s Easter event. At York the Shield’s star enjoyed wins over James Sneller (1½-½), Carl Stoakes (2-0), Stuart Airey (2-1), Jamie Walker (2-0) and a semi-final win over Paul Hartley (2-0). Sadly in the final Smith was beaten 2-0 by Lincoln’s Kevin Rands however that loss will have been eased by the fact Smith has moved to top of the rankings, the top 32 ranked players qualify for the grand finals in October.

As the indoors starts to enter its final few weeks thoughts turn to the outdoor scene, the draw for the District 2 section of the county competitions have been made and are as follows.

Singles - N.Ridley (Si) v J.McKenna (Si), JS.Richardson (RM) v P.Baker (Si), J.Halcrow (Wh) v N.Reid (Si), T.Dean (Si) v D.Bolt (Si), J.Maddison (Su) v A.Hill (BP), G.Farqhuar (Si) v I.Riches (Si), A.Thomspn (SH) v M.Higgins (Si), RW.Graham (RM) v K.Donkin (Si), R.Mckie (RM) v Pat Thomson (Si), C.Jefferson (Si) v P.Smithson (Si), B.Sanderson (BWE) v P.Dixon (Si) – the following have byes M.Laydon (SI0, K.Avery (Si), S.Don (RM), Peter Thomson (Si), S.Baker (Si)

Pairs – S.Baker (Si) v D.New (Su), W.Ferry (Si) v J.Halcrow (Wh), R.Mckie (RM) v J.Kelly (Si), D.Bolt (Si) v M.Higgins (RM), M.Laydon (Si) v I.Riches (Si), J.Richardson (RM) v D.Wilson (Wh), S.Don (RM) v A.Hill (BP), B.Sanderson (BWE) v P.Dixon (Si), S.Summers (Su) v J.Britton (BWE), J.Tulip (Su) v P.Smithson (Si), Both P.Thomson (Si) and K.Richardson (BP) have byes.

Triples – I.Riches (Si) v S.Baker (Si), R.Mckie (Si) v D.Bolt (Si), A.Hill (BP) v P.Thomson (Si), J.Kelly (Si) v D.Wilson (Wh), E.Cook (RM) v P.Campbell (Su), K.Richardson (RM) v M.Laydon (Si). Both R.Graham (RM) and W.Ferry (Si) have byes into the green finals.

Fours – S.Summers (Su) v J.Kelly (Si), A.Hill (BP) v W.Ferry (Si), P.Thomson (Si) v M.Laydon (Si), The following have byes into the green finals – R.Graham (RM), S.Baker (Si), R.Campbell (Su), M.Winter (SH), D.Wilson (Wh), D.Bolt (Si), R.Mckie (RM)

Two Bowl Singles – G.Farquhar (Si) v P.Dixon (Si), B.Sanderson (BWE) v A.Thompson (SH), M.Laydon (Si) v N.Reid (Si). The following have byes into the green finals – J.McKenna (Si), J.,Richardson (RM), N.Ridley (Si)


Houghton go into their final Inter club fixture tomorrow against unbeaten The Parks in the knowledge that they need to collect four of the 12 points on offer to leap frog Durham and clinch promotion back to Division one. The following team has been selected for the 2pm start.

At Houghton - M.Baker, M.Henderson, D.Wright, B.Henderson, T.Joicey, R.Johnson, R.Thorpe, I.Whorlton, J.Doyle, T.Patterson, J.Biggerstaff, P.Harding

At The Parks - M.Waterson, F.Sanderson, F.Fletcher, D.Todner, J.Sutherland, D.Armstrong, M.Thompson, AJ.Dunn, J.Godfrey, S.Patterson, K.Armstrong, W.Davis

Latest Table – The Parks 4-43½, Durham 5-37, Houghton 4-34, Shildon 5-29½, Ferryhill 5-14, Spennymoor 5-10

At the same time in the First Division Sunderland were due to play Great Aycliffe in a crunch relegation battle however in a repeat of the previous attempt to play the fixture Aycliffe are again unable to field a team, they have also indicated they will not be able to fore fill the fixture. This season the First Division has turned into a farce with games from November still not played, out of the six teams only Gateshead have managed to play all five games. The value of the County league has been diminishing over recent years with clubs struggling to get players to nominate to play, many other club and player commitments are now taking more priority and  if a complete revamp isn’t undertaken the future viability of the league will come into question.

Latest Standings – Hartlepool 3-34, Gateshead 5-25, South Shields 3-24, Sunderland 3-12, Darlington 1-8, Great Aycliffe 3-5

Hartlepool are due to play South Shields tomorrow in one of those rearranged games with Hartlepool only needing a possible three points to finish top.  The list of un-played fixtures is as follows
Darlington v Sth Shields (Nov 1), Darlington v Hartlepool (Dec 13), Sunderland v Darlington (Jan 3), Aycliffe v Sunderland (Feb 7), Aycliffe v Darlington (Mar 12)

With the various leagues at Houghton starting to come to a conclusion the focus returns to the club competitions, the semi-finals of the senior singles takes place today with Freddie Fletcher facing Bill Laidler and Michael Wright facing Tony Grimes. The men’s semi’s take place on Tuesday (630pm) with Ray Robinson playing Peter Thomson and Jeff Wilson playing Billy Holmes. On Wednesday (630pm) the semi-finals of the men’s pairs takes place, Michael Wright & Peter Thomson play J.Harrison & Billy Piggott while Billy Roberts & Frankie Froud face C.Brown & Dave Armstrong. The triples semi-finals are on Thursday (630pm) with Vic Hendry playing Billy Holmes and Peter Thomson playing Billy Piggott.
The remaining Durham County Champion of Champions final was played at Hartlepool this week as Darlington’s Mark Jones defeated host club’s Jonathan Forcer, this was Jones fourth success with the first being back in 2007.

Ferryhill hosted the Seniors Premier League final in front of a large crowd, it was perhaps fitting that Darlington "B" and Stanley should contest the final as both had led the league from the offset. The Stanley triple skipped by Dave Webb looked in control in the final as they led by 10 shots after eleven ends however the Darlington trio skipped by Stan Blewitt had other thoughts as they won six of the last seven ends which included a last end treble to force an extra end. The extra end was a classic with the head changing several times, with only the skips left to bowl Blewitt took out the Stanley shot bowl to lay within inches of the jack however Webb replicated that shot to hold  shot again. Blewitt somehow threaded his bowl through a narrow gap to ditch the jack followed by his own bowl to leave Darlington in an unbeatable position a foot away from the jack, then came the shot of the day from Webb as he drew onto the shot perched on the rink edge turned it into the ditch and stayed on the rink with his own bowl overhanging enough to be the shot, Blewitt's final attempt to save the game failed the Stanley triple of B Harrod, Billy Bell and Dave Webb the winners. The prizes were presented by the County  president Paul Heath on behalf of the competiton sponsors Gordon Fletcher and Sons.

Hartlepool held the latest round of Open Singles Circuit events last weekend, a field of 64 players competed for the £800 first prize. Former Sunderland star Gary Smith enhanced his hopes of making the last sixteen Grand Final by reaching the final however Scarborough’s Jack Bird ran out a 2-0 sets winner, despite the loss Smith moves up to third in the overall rankings and will have another opportunity to cement his place at York today and tomorrow as a field of 59 players battle it out for a £800 first prize.

The National Championships have started this week at Nottingham with the seniors taking centre stage, in the Over 60’s Fours The Park’s quartet of Roy Goldsmith, Mike London, Ian Brown and Brian Houghton fell at the final hurdle and were beaten 22-14 by Brian Taylor (County Arts). Hartlepool’s Glen Skipp missed out in the Over 50 triples as a 16-13 quarter final loss to Beccles David Todd end their hopes. Northants lifted the Over 60’s version of the Liberty Trophy after defeating Surrey 130-118.

As thoughts slowly turn to the outdoor season the draw for the District 2 section of the County Championships has been made. In the singles Silksworth have 18 of the 27 entries, past national champion David Bolt has a local derby against club mate Terry Dean.
Full Draw - N.Ridley (Si) v J.McKenna (Si), JS.Richardson (RM) v P.Baker (Si), J.Halcrow (Wh) v N.Reid (Si), T.Dean (Si) v D.Bolt (Si), J.Maddison (Su) v A.Hill (BP), G.Farqhuar (Si) v I.Riches (Si), A.Thomspn (SH) v M.Higgins (Si), RW.Graham (RM) v K.Donkin (Si), R.Mckie (RM) v Pat Thomson (Si), C.Jefferson (Si) v P.Smithson (Si), B.Sanderson (BWE) v P.Dixon (Si) – the following have byes M.Laydon (SI0, K.Avery (Si), S.Don (RM), Peter Thomson (Si), S.Baker (Si)
































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