Bowls: Houghton gear up for Seniors Inter-Club League play-off challenge

Jim Swinney is in the Houghton A team for their Seniors Inter-Club League play-off at The Parks

Jim Swinney is in the Houghton A team for their Seniors Inter-Club League play-off at The Parks

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Houghton have never won the Seniors Inter-Club League play-offs.

But, having finished runners-up in their group, the Houghton A team are potentially three games away from lifting the title for the first time.

Houghton A team bowler Brian Race

Houghton A team bowler Brian Race

In the quarter-finals, Houghton will have to be at their best as they head to last year’s runners-up, and three-time winners The Parks A on Friday (2pm).

The other last-eight ties see Durham B away to Shildon, South Shields entertaining Hartlepool A and Darlington B hosting club-mates Darlington A.

Houghton A team: J Doyle, F Fletcher, F Johnson, P Harding; J Swinney, J Godfrey, D Wright, I Whorlton; P Collins, B Race, T Joicey, D Sim

The remaining County Champion of Champions finals are due to be held next weekend at Hartlepool.

The singles final between South Shields’ David Bolt and Shildon’s Billy Maddison might be rearranged due to Bolt being at Melton Mowbray in the National Fours.

The pairs final will see Brett Arkley and John Thurlbeck (Stanley) taking on Aycliffe’s Dave Quickmire and Barry Attwood at 10am.

The following day’s action starts at 2pm with the triples final, between Billy Maddison (Shildon) and David Quickmire (Aycliffe), and the fours final as Brett Arkley (Stanley) tackles Brian Poulter (Gateshead).

In the Area final of the National Pairs, Hartlepool’s Carl Higgins and Paul Hartley secured a place at Melton Mowbray with a hard-fought 20-16 win over Stanley’s Brett Arkley and John Thurlbeck.

In the last 16, the Hartlepool duo will face Adur’s David Hubbard on March 29.

In the triples Area final, Higgins and Hartley were joined by Marc Squirrell as they comfortably defeated Durham’s Jimmy Taylor 23-9.

At Melton, the Hartlepool trio will meet Bedford Borough’s Alex Walton.

Stanley’s Brian Harris and Dave Webb cruised to a 29-7 win over Redcar’s Alan Jones in the Over-60s pairs Area final.

That qualifies them for the final stages at Nottingham, where Webb will face Banister Park’s Brian Barber.

The Area final of the Over-50s triples saw South Shields’ Dave Paterson, Ian Riches and Alan Lawton see off Hartlepool’s Dale Oram to secure a place at Nottingham, however, in the two-bowl Area final, there was disappointment for Lawton as he was beaten 21-20 by Hartlepool’s Matty Ray.

Darlington have secured a place in the Denny Plate final after a thumping 78-29 semi-final win over Dorchester. In the final, Darlington will be looking for a fourth Plate success against Wellingborough.

The National Championship final stages are split between two venues, with Melton Mowbray hosting the main four events, commencing next weekend until April 1.

One of the first events will be the fours and next Saturday the Shields quartet of Phil Dixon, Mal Peach, Gary Farquhar and David Bolt open up their pursuit of national glory with a last-16 tie against Westlecott’s Neil Smith.

All the Senior Championship final stages are then held at Nottingham from April 7 to April 15.

With the sport trying to reinvent itself, and the focus of many of the top players on cash-induced competitions, the English Indoor Bowling Association have tried to compete with them by increasing the prize money for the national championships.

Starting from next season, for both the men’s and ladies competitions, the first prize for the four main events – the singles, pairs, triples and fours – has been bumped up to £1,000. The Denny Cup and Yetton Trophy prizes have risen to £1,400 and the Top Club has a £2,000 lure.

As the indoor season enters the final month, and the leagues at Houghton start to reach a climax, the various club competitions will recommence in early April.

The dates have now been confirmed for the semi-finals.

Singles quarter-finals, Tuesday, April 6 (6.30pm): P Thomson (jnr) v S Tindale, B Henderson (snr) v S Patterson, Pat Thomson v J Sutherland, E McKeown v P Thomson (snr)

Pairs, Monday, April 10 (6.30pm): TW Todd v AJ Dunn, W Piggott v T Burt

Triples, Friday, April 7 (6.30pm): S Patterson v D Todner, W Piggott v AJ Dunn

Fours, Friday, April 7 (6.30pm): D Sim v S Kempster, R Johnson v B Henderson

Over-60s singles, Wednesday, April 5 (10.30am): P Thomson v R Jobling, F Froud v M Wright

Pairs, Sunday, April 9 (10.00am): F Froud v AJ Dunn, W Piggott v P Brickle

Triples, Monday, April 10 (10.30am): W Piggott v TW Todd, F Froud v AJ Dunn

Fours, Saturday, April 8 (10.30am): W Piggott v R Johnson, F Froud v TW .Todd

Ladies’ singles final, to be confirmed: N Stephenson v E Faith

Pairs, Friday, March 24 (2.30pm): S Moody v N Stephenson, E Faith v M Eggleston

Triples final, Friday, March 31 (2.30pm): E Faith v N Stephenson

Mixed pairs, Thursday, April 6 (2.30pm): E Faith v B Robson, F Phythian v J Watt

Houghton Indoor Bowling Club and Houghton Town outdoor club have both benefited from the fund-raising skills of George Duffield, who raised £12,000 to buy 12 Para Handy Bowling Wheelchairs.

The first six were handed over to the indoor club this week. Over the years, George has raised more than £160,000 for various good causes

With the outdoor season just around the corner, clubs on the council-owned greens are still waiting for the new licences to arrive.

Pemberton’s members are still unsure bout where they will be playing this season, although a visit to the green indicated that work has been carried out.

As these changes were introduced as cost-cutting measures by the council, the communication from the council to the affected clubs has been lamentable.

The British Isles Championships are currently taking place in Belfast.

Out of the 11 individual finals, England reached eight, however they had to settle for three titles.

Sam Tolchard and Louis Ridout took the pairs crown, while both Under-25 titles were secured by England, courtesy of Edward Elmore and Katy Smith.

Scotland secured the Gedling Trophy by collecting four titles.

The men’s Home International Series is the main course at the championships and the opening round of fixtures saw England defeat Wales 128-93 and Scotland beat hosts Ireland 110-77.

In the England win, South Shields’ David Bolt played third bowl to Jamie Chestney in a 19-14 victory over former England player Robert Chisholm, who is now skipping for Wales.

Earlier in the week, the ladies’ Series was won by Scotland, with England runners-up.

The decisive result saw Scotland comfortably defeat England by 45 shots.

There was a bit of consolation for England as Hartlepool’s Lauren Mosley was named player of the series.