West Backwell Bowls Club make best of bad situation in pandemic-hit campaign
PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 September 2020
West Backwell Bowling Club made the most of their 90th anniversary season, despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The club missed out on a trip to play the Royal Household in Windsor, while all local Clevedon & District Association League, county competitions and leagues and friendlies were curtailed.
But once new regulations were confirmed by Bowls England, they returned to action after IT expert Adam Knights produced an online rink booking system.
Captain Roger Spragg invited the club to take part in a singles league, with 12 men stepping forward by mid-June.
Four and a half weeks later, Daniel Rycroft needed to win his last match to claim the title by one point from Knights, as only three points separated the top five.
A second singles league began, as Jean Sims encouraged ladies to get involved, with May Vivian going on to take the title without losing a game.
The men’s league reached an extraordinary finale but first-time winner Rycroft could not match the form of Burt Budd in the final match and saw his rival crowned by one point ahead of Knights.
Again, only three points split the top five, with John Couch and Brian Gammon replaced by Barrie Baker and Peter Sims in the leading group.
The club championships were subsequently arranged for late August, with Julie Ratcliffe beating Vivian in a high quality ladies final, 21-15.
A pairs league was formed, with Spragg partnering Baker in the only all-male team and going on to top the table ahead of Vivian and newcomer Bob Bees.
The men’s championship saw a superb semi-final between Rycroft and Knights, who led 20-16 before his rival scored a three and then killed the head on the next end.
Rycroft then held two, but Knights drew the shot with his last wood to finish on a high, as Sims beat Gammon – who had put pout defending champion Couch – in the other semi-final.
Sims took an early lead in the final and was 18-12 up, before Knights rallied to level at 19-19.
And with Knights holding one, Sims saw his attempt to take the shot push another of his rival’s bowls into the head to give him the victory.
The club’s general committee thanked all members responsible for setting up a Covid-19 secure environment, as well as those who organised competitions.
It is hoped normal bowling will resume in 2021 when West Backwell will look to celebrate their postponed 90th anniversary.
*West Backwell’s Jerry Ashmore beat Anthony Page 21-16 in the delayed championship final at Nailsea Indoor Bowls Club after an outstanding contest.
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