It all started off at 8am on Sunday 23 September at Guiseley Bowling Club. The team piling on the boneshaker of a minibus on route to the Lancashire/Yorkshire border town of Todmorden where the event was being held. Airedale, winners of division 5 of the Federation leagues up against the winners of the other 5 divisions.
On arrival at Todmorden’s Centre Vale Park, where there are 4 greens it was a race to the Burger van for a strength building Sausage, Bacon & Egg Butty before the 9.30 start.
Suitably nourished we took to the green against Bury, winners of the 4th Division. We had a 13 player squad, with the teams consisting of 10 players per team, so with us having to play 3 qualifying games we had to rotate our squad. We got off to a great start with the first three winners off the green (including Bankstone’s Mike Hall winning his game 21-11) but then Bury recorded a win and looked like getting another win with their player 20-14 up against our Steve Morris (The Dancer). However Dancer kept his cool and ran out to win 21-20. Three more winners in the last five gave us a 7-3 win.
On to the second game against Barnsley, winners of the 2nd division, on paper a hard game as they had won this event last year, but again we were off to a flyer with our young Burnley supporter Danny Carter playing with his claret & blue marbles winning 21-1. Barnsley fought back however, and we ended up 3-2 down after the first five jacks. Another two defeats made it 5-2 for Barnsley, but then came the fight-back, last three winners for Airedale to grab a 5-5 draw. Mike Hall lost his game 16-21 but was losing 17-6 at one stage so a good fight back.
The final section game saw us needing 4 winners to qualify for the final, and after losing the first two games we then won the next three with Mike Hall fighting back in his game from 9-2 down and 19-15 down to win 21-19. Three more winners in last 5 games saw us progress to final in comfort.
FINAL AIREDALE v MID-CHESHIRE (Winners of Division 1 for the last three years)
Good start for Airedale with Bankstone’s Mike Hall winning his game 21-11 against Cheshire county player Tom Vickers, to record his third win of the day. But Airedale had only one other winner out of the first five leaving us 8 behind on aggregate. However, another two heavy defeats in the last five put us 30 behind with three games left on the green. Neil Nicholson (Nelly the Pink, ‘cos he has Pink Bowls) stormed to a 21-6 win, and class on grass Richard Stockdale won 21-7 to put us 1 point behind overall, with Graham (The Boss) Oliver (‘Cos he’s the oldest player in our team at 73 years old) 16-13 in front. No problem for the boss though, not letting his opponent score again to give us an overall victory by 7 points.