Bowls: Why belief can help to change the old guard

Although the old year may be over and the next 12 months may promise plenty, in a bowls sense the promise still has an old year feel to it.

York & District are still heading the Yorkshire pursuit of national honours in the Denny Cup, whilst Featherstone rule the roost in the County League.

More pertinent are the websites proclaiming the potential stars for the coming outdoor season.

The self-proclaimed pundits still struggle to look past the likes of

Lower Hopton, Thongsbridge, Pudsey and Graeme Wilson.

Maybe it is too much to expect a change of year to herald a change of guard, but it should be something to strive for.

To knock Wilson from the summit; a peak that saw him bring home the equivalent of a year's salary in the 1,000-listed Open competitions last year, must be the challenge for every Yorkshire bowler in 2011.

Challenge

The challenge could well start now, well, in the mind at least.

When you walk past a green at this time of the year, do you look at it with the faintest aspirations that come October you will have laid waste to every opponent drawn against you?

Do you harbour a hope that you might scoop a top prize, or are you too reserved to dream; or arrogant enough to believe? Do you believe that you will be the next Graeme Wilson – even if you lose your opening game to someone playing their first-ever season?

If you don't believe, then whisper your aspirations to yourself next time you walk out on to a bowling green.

If you do believe, or more importantly, if you have the skills in your armoury to truly believe – then at least have the humility, sense of humour and good grace to admit that you might have been wrong.

For in 2011 there will be winners, there will be far more losers, but more importantly, there will be a lot of good times enjoyed by all around the greens of our region.

We'll start to take in the build- up to the new outdoor season from mid-February onwards, but for now it is the cut and thrust of the indoor season that takes our attention.

The Yorkshire League gets back under way once more this weekend, with our local sides all in action.

South Leeds and Featherstone both have trips north to overcome, playing Thornaby and Redcar respectively.

Meanwhile, the Huddersfield away bowlers must brace themselves for the winter chill that a trip to Scarborough brings at this time of year.

The season is only two games old but already the ramifications of the opening encounters is starting to bite home for some of the clubs.

Word reaches us that the bowlers of Hull, already languishing at the bottom after one defeat and a no result, have decided to pre-empt their impending departure from the world of bowls and have conceded this season.

This move will lead to two possible issues. Firstly, that the relegation battle should now be limited to only one club.

This is good news for the likes of South Leeds, Thornaby and Redcar who currently sit in the bottom half of the table.

Two clubs up would then balance out the leagues.

The bigger issue is that only one club has registered a full result against Hull – Featherstone, who currently sit on top of the table, with two wins from two.

The maximum points win they secured will be expunged from the records, dropping the club down to third spot and 10 points off the leaders.

Normally cheery souls, the Featherstone camp would not be happy if the title was decided without the Hull result going in their favour.

Though as it is at such an early stage of the season, no one will really have lost out – that would only happen if a team at the top had dropped points against the outgoing east coast side.

In the battle to avoid the drop, this weekend's matches could go some way to determining if it is a two or three-team shoot-out to avoid the one relegation spot.

If South Leeds beat Thornaby they can set themselves up for an end-of-month clash with Featherstone where any point is a bonus.

But defeat could mean South Leeds playing catch-up to them, whilst trying to stay at arm's length from Redcar for the remainder of the season.

One good point for South Leeds and Thornaby is that Redcar were due to play Hull in the last game of the season.

If Redcar sit in bottom spot after the penultimate round of action, their league placing can not change no matter what happens to the rest of the league.

It is something for South Leeds to ponder as it is they who play Redcar in that penultimate game.

Stuart Dallas

Leeds United YEP Jury verdict: A point better than none from difficult trip to Town