Bowls: End of an era as Sunderland play final Seniors Inter-Club League match after 27 years

Houghton Ladies bowlers (from left): Ellen Faith, Eleanor Barren, Betty Prudhoe and Brenda Robson
Houghton Ladies bowlers (from left): Ellen Faith, Eleanor Barren, Betty Prudhoe and Brenda Robson
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Wednesday’s Seniors Inter-Club League will be a sad occasion for Sunderland, who will bring down the curtain on 27 years of competing in the league.

During those years, Sunderland used to have two squads, and both enjoyed success.

The A team won the play-off final on five occasions and finished runners-up twice.

The B team never lifted the title but were runners-up twice.

Since the loss of the club’s Crowtree home, a small band of players have kept the club name going for three years, but the sands of time have caught up with the squad and it was reluctantly agreed to finish this season, although the club will not be dissolved.

The squad’s final game is at Houghton against Stanley A on Wednesday (12.30pm). After breaking their duck against Ferryhill, the Sunderland lads will be looking to end on a high note.

Sunderland team: G Brown, W Roberts, R Robson, J Jones; P Thomson, A Wood, P Brickle, TW Todd; R Usher, M Carr, F Froud, R Jobling. Reserves: E Downes, J Maxfield, D Gowland, C Young

In Area Three, Houghton A return to action on Thursday as they face a trip to bottom-of-the-group The Parks B.

Despite having not played a game for a month, the Houghton squad have virtually secured a play-off spot and now only need half a point from their last two games to qualify.

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

In Area Four, Houghton B tentertain The Parks A on Thursday.

The hosts are still looking for their first win of the season, while The Parks are locked in a fight for the second play-off place with Hartlepool B.

Houghton B team: S Barnes, P Taylor, F Sanderson, F Kell; P Hicks, I Richardson, T Baister, B Johnson; K Waterson, D Forth, G Charlton, R Thorpe

Latest standings, Area 1: Spennymoor played 7 pts-20, Shildon 5-19½, Darlington A 7-18½, Aycliffe 6-16, Durham A 7-6

Area 2: Darlington B 7-32, Hartlepool A 6-21½, Stanley A 7-12½, Sunderland 7-10, Ferryhill 7-9

Area 3: South Shields 7-28, Houghton A 6-20, Gateshead A 7-15, Stanley B 7-13½, Parks B 7-8½

Area 4: Durham B 5-22, Parks A 5-17, Hartlepool B 6-17, Gateshead B 6-11½, Houghton B 6-2½

The national competitions have reached the area final stages.

In the singles, the area final will be a repeat of the 2008 national final as Durham’s Gary Smith takes on Hartlepool’s Glenn Skipp.

In the semi-finals, Smith eased past West Denton’s Peter Duffy 21-6, while Skipp defeated club-mate Paul Mosley 21-7.

In the pairs semi-finals, Stanley’s Brett Arkley ended Gateshead’s Alec Bryden’s run with a 19-13 success and will now take on Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley in the Area final.

Hartley is also in the fours Area final where South Shields’ Gary Farquhar will provide the opposition.

Farquhar won an all-Shields semi-final 21-14 against Jamie Brass.

In the Over-60s singles, South Shields’ Alan Lawton booked a place in the Area final with a 21-7 victory against West Denton’s James Young.

Club-mate Billy Ferry moved into the fours semi-finals after defeating Stanley stalwart Eddie Henry 17-14.

Ferry heads to Gateshead next to face Brian Orrell.

Houghton played host this week to the Area final of the ladies’ pairs, with West Denton’s Annie Lennie defeating Hartlepool’s Lauren Mosley 20-10.

The final stages of the national Under-25 singles took place at the City of Ely club.

The region was represented by Matty Ray, however the Hartlepool youngster went out in the last 16. The title went to the host club’s Edward Elmore.

Stanley’s run in the Over-60s double fours came to an end in the last 16 after a thrilling 30-29 defeat to Hornsea.

On Friday, the South Shields quartet of Jackie Tallack, Maureen Charles, Jaxon McKenna and Shaun McIntosh head to Loddon Vale to take part in the final stages of the mixed fours.

In the last 16, McIntosh’s rink face Bournemouth’s Chris Daniels.

The Under-25 Home International Series takes place today and tomorrow at Newport in Wales.

England will be looking to defend the title they won at Bristol last season.

Bowls England is urging its members to sign and share a petition regarding the government preventing local councils to maintain bowling facilities, something that Sunderland Council have already introduced.

As Britain has an ageing population, withdrawing funding will result in older and vulnerable people in our society becoming less mobile and lose their only social contact something that local councils appear oblivious to.

The link to the petition is available on the Bowls England and Bowls Sunderland websites.