Well in the end it has been a long, hot summer with the bar doing a roaring trade in Rebellion and Pimms, Rose, Strongbow, Guinness and anti dyspepsia pills. The Harefield Bowls Club form on the green has matched the weather and has certainly given many reasons to celebrate. The excellent performances have been so numerous that what follows is only a snapshot of the many highlights. It’s perhaps not for me to say that this is the most successful playing season that the club has ever had but unless someone wants to tell me that we won the All England Quoits Championship in 1908 I believe it to be the case (actually I know we didn’t because my granddad did – in between picking sugar beet and getting drunk in The Wickets public house, some things don’t change).
Taking it from the top Karen won the Middlesex Ladies two wood singles and thereby qualified to represent Middlesex in the National Finals at Leamington. There she won in the first round but then lost in the second on a variable paced green. There were other very near misses in the Middlesex Ladies competition but Karen is still in the Champion of Champions singles, Phyllis in the over 27 singles and Sheila and Beryl in the two wood pairs. The quarter and semi finals of these are to be played on Thursday 30 August at Holtwhites BC so good luck girls.
Harefield Ladies absolutely swept the board at the Harrow District finals. They actually qualified into every final, meaning that the triples has had to be pushed back to Tuesday 3 September (the day war broke out – most of you will be reminiscing about your teenage years spent snogging in the blackout accompanied by tins of Spam) at Wealdstone BC and they would appreciate any support. Karen won the singles 21-11 playing Rae Bragazza from Ladygate. Karen and Angela Stevens had a fantastic game in the two woods final which Karen won but both played brilliantly. The game of the day was probably the pairs in which Karen and Phyl trailed throughout to West Harrow only to pull back to 20-18 with two ends to go. They then dropped a three which meant they needed 5 to take the game to an extra end. It all came down to a dramatic measure in which their fifth wood was in by about two millimetres, news that was greeted by a roar, particularly from Dave, which was probably heard in the Kings Arms. On a nerve racked extra end Karen drew the shot to win the game, accompanying it with a shout of ‘Come On, Kazzy’. Breathtaking (literally) stuff. Karen, Phyl, Beryl and Sheila then went on to take the fours title by a couple of shots in a well contested game with hosts Wealdstone BC who are to be congratulated on the hosting and the green which played very well. A big shout also for the Harefield Ladies efforts in the Harrow league where they qualified for the final and Pauline, Kate, Bridget and Angela played their hearts out against West Harrow. At 12-8 up it looked like Harefield would carry the day but a change of Jack length swung the game and they went down 14-17 after putting up a magnificent fight.
So, five titles so far but there’s more. Bank Holiday Monday saw the Hillingdon District finals and first up were Karen, Phyl and Sheila in the ladies triples. They got off to a slow start on a fast paced green and the Ladygate ladies gained an early lead. Harefield then picked up successive counts of 5 and dominated the rest of the game running out 24-13 winners. Karen then played Jean Matthews from Rosedale BC in a Ladies Final of very high quality, many of the ends passing the dustbin lid test for all eight woods. Karen’s 2-5 lead was clawed back and it stood 15-15 at around 20 ends. Karen, however, was not to be denied and played two or three very solid ends to win 21-17. Karen returned to the rink for the Mixed triples final with Nigel and Myles against The Mill BC. This game see-sawed around and the pre match tactic of not accessing the performance enhancing qualities of Strongbow looked likely to backfire. Harefield enjoyed two enormous slices of luck, initially where the opposition skips’ excellent shot unfortunately moved the kitty to the Harefield woods for a six. Nevertheless, the Mill fought back and it was 16-16 going into the final end. Harefield were two down and looking out when Myles second wood ricocheted in for shot off a wide wood (“I knew what I was doing”....err..ahem) and Harefield won by one helped by the bowling gods.
So, eight titles so far but that’s not necessarily all. The men have not been (entirely) idle and this week sees Nigel go in the semi final of the Harrow singles, Dave in the Harrow two wood singles semi (at The Mill, Thursday 30 August), Myles, Nigel, Ted and Terry in the Harrow Fours semi and Terry, Nigel and Myles in the Harrow triples semi. Should they qualify the Harrow & District finals are at Harefield on Saturday 7 September. The Middlesex Mens league saw Harefield register a creditable 3 wins to two losses return with wins over Ladygate, Harrow and Eascote but the 0-10 result at Wealdstone put paid to any hopes of topping the group. The 24 hours between 6pm on 2 August and 6pm 3 August will go down as this seasons day of disaster for the men as they also crashed out of the Portman at Uxbridge and the Coronation Shield v Hendon in that period.
So what of the leagues? (I hear you cry). Excellent news from the Chiltern & Thames Mixed triples league where Harefield won their section comfortably to qualify into the quarter finals. This was played against The Mill on Sunday morning on a superb green at Chesham BC. Myles, Ted and Sheila won by 13 shots, Nigel, Mick and Karen won by 12 and Phyl, Dave and Paul drew which means Harefield go forward to the finals day at Harrow BC on 8 September. Unfortunately, half the team have taken this as a cue to clear off on holiday (Ted, for example, hasn’t actually been away for a whole two weeks !!) so not sure what the team will look like but we hope for the best. Myles, Karen and Nigel have also qualified into the finals day of the C&T triples at Cippenham BC on 15 September.
In the Three Counties rinks league, following a poor start Harefield reeled off a series of ten consecutive victories with some very big home wins to put themselves right back in the mix at the top of the table. A slightly disappointing 6-6 draw in the final game at Flackwell Heath on Sunday has left Harefield with a total of 110 points which would have been enough to win the league last year. However, conflicting reports from as far away as Wexham, High Wycombe and Rosedale means that no one is quite sure of the final position. It seems likely that the Chessvale BC fine home record will see them through but said bowling gods, in association with Kevin the Small Donkey, may be rolling the dice even now.
On a serious note all club members can be proud of their efforts this season in all of the leagues and the various competitions. It requires a huge amount of commitment from all members to produce the kind of results we have enjoyed this season and that commitment is both on and off the green. Everyone contributes no matter what they do and to pull together and to continue to support one another in all of the clubs activities is a ‘tremendous’ attribute for the club to have. Jim, the Captain of Eastcote, paid tribute to this in his remarks on Saturday and they resonated with everyone who was there. And it is all (well mostly), done with a smile on our faces.
All the success we have had has meant that people are now frantically playing the internal competitions. Good luck to all in these games. I know that we are struggling a bit to fit it all in but it will happen and we will sort it out so let’s stay cool and be a bit flexible. The internal competitions are a big part of the club’s season and in Neil Disney we have an excellent competition secretary so let’s support him and we will get it done. (The Captain is available to assist whenever as he has been knocked out of everything...). Next year we’ll have a look at the scheduling and perhaps do things a little differently, live and learn as they say.
Let’s also not overlook two fantastic social events which we’ve fitted in during this extraordinarily busy season. Blakes travel surpassed itself with an uproarious tour of Bournmouth culminating in a fantastic Sunday night where we very nearly raised the dead (you know who !). Phyl does an absolutely brilliant job organising the tour and we had the best time. Also the Rock’n’Bowl Captains day in honour of Gus Goodwin was a huge success and made the Harefield gazette !! Some great fancy dressed fun was had by all and again a huge vote of thanks from myself and the VC to Karen and all who helped with the catering, Eddie and Keith and the bar and all who participated. Although the newly inaugurated Commode of the day went to Mick Falcon (and richly deserved too), winning the Rock’n’Bowl trophy was ‘bad’ Bob Lisamore which definitely proves it’s not fixed, as he commented the Abbess once in certain defined circumstances.