Bowls: Narrow defeat for Sunderland seniors in final Inter-County League clash

Sunderland seniors, ahead of their final Inter-County League match. Back, from left: iColin Young, Bob Usher, Tony Grimes, Tony Wood, Ron Robson, Bill Roberts, Mick Carr, Eric Downes, John Jones, Peter Thomson. Front: Peter Brickle, Frank Froud, Terry Todd (captain), Richie Jobling, George Brown. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland seniors, ahead of their final Inter-County League match. Back, from left: iColin Young, Bob Usher, Tony Grimes, Tony Wood, Ron Robson, Bill Roberts, Mick Carr, Eric Downes, John Jones, Peter Thomson. Front: Peter Brickle, Frank Froud, Terry Todd (captain), Richie Jobling, George Brown. Picture by Frank Reid
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The curtain came down on the Sunderland seniors this week as they ended 27 years of competing in the Seniors’ Inter-County League with a 3-2 home loss to Stanley A.

George Brown, Billy Roberts, Ronnie Robson and John Jones looked set for a handsome win against Derek Craig as they built up 10-2 and 15-8 leads, however the failure to nick anything on the last three ends saw Jones having to settle for a 15-12 win.

Peter Thomson, Michael Carr, Peter Brickle and Terry Todd looked down and out against Colin Chapman as they trailed 10-2 at halfway, however a five on the 10th end turned the tie Todd’s way and, despite dropping a last end double, Todd secured a 15-14 win.

The remaining rink of Bobby Usher, Tony Wood, Frankie Froud and Richie Jobling got off to a flier against Davey Webb and led 5-0.

But the wheels came off as Jobling went down 20-9. Overall, despite leading at 14 ends, Sunderland snatched a 46-39 defeat from the jaws of victory.

In Group Three, Houghton A confirmed an end-of-season play-off place with a cracking 4-1 win at The Parks.

David Sim’s quartet of John Godfrey, Brian Race and Trevor Joicey were a touch unlucky to go down 14-11 to Brian Bolam, but that loss was cancelled out by Joe Sutherland, Jimmy Swinney, David Wright and Ian Whorlton, who defeated Billy Blyth 15-11.

The match was decided by Houghton’s remaining rink of John Doyle, Freddie Fletcher, Foster Johnson and Peter Harding, who secured a tremendous 24-6 win over Bob Harrison, sealing a 50-31 win overall.

The play-off format is a straight knockout, with the various group winners guaranteed a home draw in the quarter finals. As Houghton are most likely to finish runners-up, they be away.

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

Group 2: Darlington B 7-32, Hartlepool A 6-21½, Stanley A 8-15½, Sunderland 8-12, Ferryhill 7-9

Group 3: South Shields 7-28, Houghton A 7-24, Gateshead A 7-15, Stanley B 7-13½, Parks B 8-9½

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

South Shields have had a fine season after decent runs in the Denny Cup and the mixed Egham Trophy.

This weekend, the club could land a couple of national titles as the latter stages of the mixed fours and mixed pairs take place at Loddon Vale.

In the fours, Jackie Stewart-Tallack, Maureen Charles, Jaxon McKenna and Shaun McIntosh face Bournemouth’s Chris Daniels in the last 16, while, at the same stage in the pairs, Jackie Stewart-Tallack and David Bolt face Riverrain’s Tony Webb.

In the Over-60s singles area final, South Shields’ Alan Lawton will face Shildon’s Billy Maddison after the latter’s semi-final 21-13 win over Ferryhill’s Alan Hinds.

South Shields’ Dave Paterson enjoyed a tremendous 16-13 win at Durham against Michael Laydon in the Over-55s triples, setting up an area final against Hartlepool’s Dale Oram.

Shields’ Billy Ferry suffered a disappointing semi-final exit in the Over-60s fours to Gateshead’s Brian Orrell. Orrell now faces Aycliffe’s Fred Edwards in the area final.

The two-bowl singles area final will be between Alan Lawton (Shields) and either Matty Ray or Paul Hartley (both Hartlepool). Lawtonwon through with a 21-12 win over West Denton’s Dave Morrison.

The County Champions of Champions competitions are nearing the business end.

In the singles final, David Bolt (Shields) or Glen Skipp (Hartlepool) will face Shildon’s Billy Maddison, while, in the pairs, Houghton’s Frankie Froud’s hopes were ended in the semi-finals by Stanley’s Brett Arkley.

Arkley could collect three titles as he is still running in the triples and fours.

In the senior fours semi-finals, Houghton’s Ian Whorlton’s run was ended without a bowl being played after falling foul to one of the game’s many infamous unwritten rules regarding substitute players in the County Champion of Champions.

The unwritten rule is that a substitute can only play if they didn’t play in the club’s competition in the same year. Sunderland fell foul of the same rule a few years ago and it surely needs to be put into black and white in the rules book.

One of the area’s oldest indoor bowling venues, Boldon Community Centre has been the home of Boldon Indoor Bowling Club and, in the 1980s, used to be the home of the late great Billy Bewick and County star Russell Bewick.

Despite not being a member of the County Association for a number of years, the club has somewhat gone under the radar and are still operating.

They currently have 95 male and 41 female members who travel from the Sunderland, South Shields and Gateshead areas, plus members from Boldon, Jarrow, Hebburn, Washington and Gateshead.

The three-rink venue has recently installed a new blue playing surface.

They hold men’s leagues on Monday (10.30 and 13.30) and Wednesday (10.30), with ladies leagues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 13.00, alongside internal club competitions.

If anyone is interested in joining the club, or wants further information, they can ring secretary Gordon Whitfield (0750 485 9643), Geoff Pattison (0759 342 9074) or Jim Huntingdon (0792 604 3194).

England’s men’s Under-25s squad retained the Home International Series title at Newport this week.

They recorded three wins, beating Ireland 84-73 and Wales 96-58 before coming from behind in the auld enemy clash with Scotland (76-72).

As outdoor clubs continue to look for funding, it is worth noting that the Coalfields Community Investment Programme is currently accepting applications from not-for-profit groups and organisations working in the most deprived coalfield communities, including the North East.

The Coalfields Community Investment Programme is a £500,000 fund created to support activities which tackle some of the key challenges that remain in coalfield communities across England.

Projects should be based in an eligible coalfield community or be able to show clear and immediate benefits for an eligible coalfield community that has high levels of deprivation.

A list of eligible wards can be found on the Trust’s website. The funding cannot be used for projects with capital costs only, and no more than £2,000 can be requested for capital costs in total.

Applicants must complete the Eligibility Survey before they can complete a full application form, and the deadline for this survey is seven days before the application deadline of March 17.