Bowls: Durham suffer Liberty Cup agony with biggest defeat in more than 30 years

Houghton B team bowlers (from left): Peter Hicks, John Eggleston, Peter Taylor and Frank Kell

Houghton B team bowlers (from left): Peter Hicks, John Eggleston, Peter Taylor and Frank Kell

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Durham County’s Liberty Cup squad suffered the heaviest defeat in more than 30 years as their hopes of a 12th title were clinically ended by Cumbria.

En route to the final last season, the two counties met at the same first round stage and Durham ran out winners by 13 shots.

With Hartlepool’s Paul Mosley unavailable for the rematch at Carlisle, the selected team was hit by three withdrawals, all of whom were backend players.

With no recognised backend players on the bench, it resulted in a hasty late shuffle of the pack which sadly was dismantled by a rampant Cumbrian outfit.

Out of the six rinks, Durham only recorded one win and that saw South Shields’ David Bolt steer his quartet to a 11-10 win over Stu Irwin.

Stanley’s John Thurlbeck’s Liberty return ended in a 15-8 loss to Stephen Farish, while Durham’s Gary Smith went down 17-11 to Gavin Taylor.

The Hartlepool duo of Glenn Skipp and Paul Hartley both suffered convincing defeats – Skipp lost 20-9 to Martyn Rice and Hartley lost 18-9 to Ian Gallagher.

The remaining rink, skipped by Durham’s Phil Smithson, had a tough day at the office and were thumped 26-8 by Stuart Airey, after leading 8-1.

Across the green at the five-end mark, Durham only trailed by a couple of shots, however a 56-10 return in Cumbria’s favour over the next set of five ends decided the match.

When the traditional late Durham charge failed to materialise, with Cumbria 52 shots up, the visitors conceded, leaving 21 ends left unplayed across the green.

Cumbria face Northumberland in round two.

In the local stage of the national pairs, Durham’s Mark Higgins enjoyed a cracking 16-12 win at Stanley against Gary Robson, while club-mate Gary Smith secured a good 22-11 win at West Denton against Clive Knott.

In the triples, however, Higgins went out 18-7 to Peter Duffy at West Denton.

Durham’s Michael Laydon progressed in the fours with an 18-8 home win over Houghton’s Peter Thomson and will host South Shields’ Stewart Hubbard next.

In the Over-60 singles, South Shields’ Billy Ferry saw off Durham’s Malcolm Robinson 21-14 and will be at home to The Parks’ Phil Mason next.

The Area final of the Warners-sponsored Champion of Champions saw South Shields’ David Bolt convincingly defeat Hartlepool’s Glen Skipp 21-9.

The win secures Bolt a place at the final stages in February down at Hayling Island, where he will face Egreton Park’s Rob Morphett in the last 16.

The final round of fixtures in the Seniors Inter-Club League before the Christmas break takes place this week.

In Group Two, Houghton A will look to inflict a first defeat of the season on leaders South Shields as they go head to head at Houghton on Thursday (12.30pm).

Houghton will look to avenge an away defeat earlier this season.

Houghton A team: J Sutherland, B Race, T Joicey, D Sim; J Doyle, J Thuburn, J Scullion, P Harding; P Collins, J Swinney, D Wright, I Whorlton. Reserves: F Johnson, C Wallace

On Wednesday in Group Four, the Houghton B team make the trip to Hartlepool looking for their first win.

Houghton B team: B White, D Forth, P Taylor, F Kell; P Hicks, I Richardson, F Sanderson, R Johnson; K Waterson, A Gregory, A Glover, R Thorpe. Reserve: G Charlton

Latest standings, Group 1: Shildon played 3 its 11, Darlington A 4-9½, Great Aycliffe 3-9½, Spennymoor 3-9, Durham A 3-1

Group 2: Darlington B 3-14, Hartlepool A 3-13, Stanley 4-9, Ferryhill 4-5, Sunderland 4-4

Group 3: South Shields 4-19, Houghton A 4-14, Gateshead 4-9, Stanley B 4-5, Parks B 4-3

Group 4: Durham B 4-17, Parks A 4-12, Gateshead B 4-9½, Hartlepool 4-9, Houghton B 4-2½

Sunderland return to Inter-County League action next weekend when they face a tough task against last year’s unofficial winners, Hartlepool. Houghton, meanwhile, have a bye.

Sunderland team – at Houghton: A Grimes, K Armstrong, P Brickle, R Jobling; R Usher, I Fairweather, W Roberts, F.Froud; At Hartlepool: G Brown, M Carr, TW Todd, R Mckie; P Thomson, A Wood, J Jones, PThomson

Latest standings: Hartlepool played 1 its 10, Parks 2-10, Sunderland 2-9½, South Shields 1-7, Durham 1-7, Houghton 2-6½, Gateshead A 1-0

Houghton ladies open up their Mason Trophy double fours campaign against West Denton on Friday (10.30am).

Houghton team – at Houghton: M Hall, R Turnbull, E Faith, N Stephenson; At West Denton: M Metcalf, J Baker, F Phythian, JB Smith

The draw for all the club competitions at Houghton have been made.

Men’s singles: R Robinson v F Froud, P Brickle v P Thomson (jnr), P Harris v W Pattison, S Tindale v J Wilson, D Todner v W Holmes, B Henderson (snr) v D Pattison, K Bartley v A Maidment, Pat Thomson v M Wright, K Armstrong v J Sutherland, W Laidler v E McKeown, D Robson v P Thomson (snr). Bye: S Patterson

Pairs: TW Todd v M Baker, D Armstrong v R Robinson, W Pattison v T Patterson, P Thomson v AJ Dunn, K Armstrong v W Piggott, P Brickle v R Mckie, J Wilson v W Holmes, F Froud v TBC

Triples: M Baker v R Robinson, W Roberts v S Patterson, D Simpson v D Todner, G Noble v F Johnson, K Bartley v W Piggott, R Mckie v J Wilson, AJ Dunn v D Wright

Fours: D Sim v W Piggott, AJ Dunn v S Tindale, F Froud v R .Johnson, B Henderson v P Brickle

Over-60s singles: P Brickle v P Thomson, E McKeown v R Robinson, R Jobling v J Sutherland, M Carr v D Robson, W .Laidler v F Froud, W Holmes v J Wilson, A Maidment v M Wright

Pairs: F Froud v P Wallace, R Robinson v G Brown, K Waterson v AJ Dunn, TW Todd v M Carr, I. Whorlton v J Scott, W Piggott v S Barnes, P Brickle v F Johnson

Triples: F Johnson v W Piggott, J Lanagan v G Noble, D Wright v TW .Todd, R Hold v F Froud, R Thorpe v AJ Dunn

Fours: I Whorlton v W Piggott, R Hold v R Johnson, F Kell v F Froud, TW.Todd v J Wilson

Ladies’ singles: E Barren bt E Barkes, N Stephenson bt S Moody, E Faith bt M Metcalf. Bye: B Robson

Pairs: S Moody v E Barkes, M Hall v N Stephenson, M Metcalf v E Faith, E Barren v M Eggleston

Triples Final: E Faith v N Stephenson

The 2016 Outdoor World Championships are currently taking place in New Zealand and so far it has been a good week for England.

They have qualified for the finals of the women’s fours and the men’s triples.

The women’s quartet, skipped by Ellen Faulkner, went through their group stage unbeaten in nine games before defeating a rink from the Philippines 18-15 to set up a final clash against Australia.

Meanwhile, the men’s triple, skipped by Robert Paxton, progressed from the group stage with eight wins before a 18-9 semi-final success against Japan to seal a final against Australia.

Over the years, players in the Sunderland & District leagues have strived to win an iconic gold-plated Sunderland & District League winners medal. Some of the best players the area has seen never managed to get their hands on one.

Sadly, for the first time, this year’s winners missed out on them following the Association’s decision to stop handing them out, instead opting for a plaque for the clubs.

As most clubs know, the game in the area has more important things to worry about and, on paper, it may look a trivial thing, but to a club player the sense of achievement of getting one of these iconic medals, which are a part of the fabric of the history of bowls in Sunderland, should not be underestimated and should be reintroduced.