As the wind and rain of autumn whips through the exposed bowling greens of Leeds and with little comfort offered by the adventures indoors, now feels like as good a time as any to start our journey through the 2012 outdoor season.
The first place to start, as always, is at the top of the pile in Leeds – the district’s Federation side.
It was a mixed season for the district with two teams vying for the same prize in Division Three before going in different directions to face different opposition next season.
The interest in the Federation matches started early, with the chat already begun on the forums.
Who would be picked for which side? Which players would actually want to play for which side?
Some of it required a side order of popcorn and an empty calendar to read the ins and outs, however, Dave Smith and his team quickly set their stall out, picked their players and sent them out on to the green to do battle.
The Leeds top team – who would remain such all the way through the season – fired an early shot across the bows of their opponents with a comprehensive win against Middleton. Middleton had dominated Division Four the season before, where Leeds ‘A’ had trailed in their wake.
Leeds ‘A’ were unlucky to go down to Furness in a close game separated by the aggregates. At least there was to be one Leeds side top of the table in April.
May came, with both sides rattling off wins that painted a pleasing picture for the quality of bowls within the city.
Leeds had two sides flying high in Division Three and although both had played one more game than the third-placed team, their respective 19-13 wins against strong opposition suggested they could both vie for promotion.
It’s always nice to believe in something when writing a column, even when the belief ebbs away with the very next game.
The nail was hammered into the dual promotion coffin in June, as once this column’s hyperbole surrounding the Leeds v Leeds ‘A’ game died down, so too did Leeds ‘A’s chances of promotion.
It was, if truth be told, a little too polite in the run-up to the game. No inappropriate words; no threats of destruction. It’s the way Smith would have wanted it – a unified, single team structure – but we wanted a bit of angst and frustration.
Leeds’ 24-8 win may have had a massive impact on the destiny of the league, but publicly it was a well- played game, with strong performances that could have resulted in victory going either way. Not a virtual high five in sight.
And that was that for Leeds ‘A’. They had the attention all to themselves in July with the top team sitting the month out through their bye week, but they couldn’t capitalise on it.
They went down to Mid-Cheshire ‘B’ in what was their last true chance of survival in Division Three.
Mid-Cheshire ‘B’s win meant they had closed the gap on the only survival spot to just five shots.
In August they would play Middleton and although they would lose 21-11, they were close enough to overtake our ‘A’ side.
Leeds ‘A’ dropped to within two points of last-placed Middleton with both promoted sides dropping down at the first time of asking,
Meanwhile, the triumphant and emphatic return to Division Two was confirmed for Leeds as they beat Furness 20-12 in the same month.
Fresh off their bye week, the champions put aside back-to-back relegations to take their place in Division Two with the likes of Calderdale, Fylde and Ormskirk.
Just two more years then until they are champions of the Federation! What, too soon – or should that read – too late in the season to start heaping pressure on our bowlers? Never!
If the Leeds bowlers went in different directions in the National League, the youth and junior level bowlers all had one idea in mind – to dominate their leagues.
And so they did, with the youth team (aged 17-20) taking their title by seven points whilst the junior team (16 & under) won their league by 17 points.
With the efforts of the Leeds’ teams in the Inter-District Youth Leagues, it is fair to say that the future of bowling in Leeds is in rude health.
* The latest group winners in the Potternewton Winter Pairs were: Ian Howard and Neil Porter, Mike Gregory and Ian Macfarlane, Bill Mewse and Jim Spalding and Tony Green and Neil Simpson.