With five divisional competitions, seven team knock-out events and 11 merit competitions, Leeds and District bowling may not exactly be in the rudest of health, but it is by no means hanging off the ropes.
The point is further emphasised by the renewed interest of the Federation side, as discussed last week; the return in numbers to the Yorkshire Merit qualifiers and the uptake in competitors for the merit competitions, which were, for many until recently, viewed as nothing more than a potter around on a Sunday morning.
Our district’s bowlers now, more than ever before, enter only to win.
It’s hard to know where to start when compiling a round-up of the Leeds and District competition action from the summer.
The temptation is to go straight to the ever-popular, six-division league on a Tuesday night. Divisions Five and Six may contain many a ‘B’ and even ‘C’ team, but it is clearly Leeds’ most popular league.
It also helps to lead off with Tuesday night bowls as it deflects from the prospect of mentioning Saturday.
Oh Saturday, with its once highly-regarded blue riband status reduced to two divisions as the exodus to Bradford or outer-lying Leeds leagues has stripped it of its glory.
Interestingly, there was a poll on Beighton Bowler earlier in the autumn with regards to a Leeds Super League.
Most were in favour of the idea, but you wonder whether politics of a sporting nature would ever see the exiles and fractured bowling community come together under one banner.
Would you really support one league at the detriment of your own?
So to Tuesday and to Division One, where Meanwood ‘A’ were again denied the title even though they won more games than the eventual champions, Roundhay Park ‘A’.
The battle of the picturesque park settings came down to one aggregate point – with Roundhay Park winning 12 and losing four to finish on 279 points; Meanwood won 13 and lost three, but finished on 278 points.
We’re all for the aggregate method of point scoring. It means that every jack matters, all the way from the start of the season.
But it still must feel ever so galling to fall a point short when you know your side has won more games.
Colton ‘A’ and Crossgates Rec ‘A’ were the two sides to drop out of the division.
They will be replaced by Armley Park and New Farnley ‘A’ – the only teams to break 300 points in the 19-team division.
Once again the importance of the aggregate came into play as New Farnley ‘A’ and third-placed East End Park ‘A’ finished equal on wins, but were separated by nearly 30 shots.
Drighlington and South Leeds Cons ‘A’ drop to division three.
Division Three was won by Chapel Allerton ‘A’.
They go up with Holbeck Ltd ‘A’, who beat Burley Park to the second play-off spot, again courtesy of the aggregate point margin.
Bramley Band and Unison were cut adrift at the bottom.
New Wortley ‘A’ lost just one game (drawing another) as they marched to the top of Division Four. Meanwood ‘B’ also secured promotion whilst Roundhay Park ‘B’ and Western Flatts (close rivals of New Wortley) went down.
Division Five proved a close- run thing at the top, with Middleton Park winning two more and losing three less than Holt Park – but only securing the title by four points.
Pudsey Park ‘A’ and Cranmore ‘B’ dropped down to the lowest level of the league.
Finally, it was Manston Park ‘B’ (as champions) and New Wortley ‘B’ the teams to rise out of Division Six.
East End Park ‘C’ finished last of all the Tuesday night teams.
Saturday Division One was wrapped up by New Farnley ‘A’ in convincing style.
The side broke 500 points as they took the title with 20 wins from 22 games, finishing on 510 points – 56 ahead of second-placed Holbeck Ltd. Middleton Community and Cranmore dropped out of the top division.
Division Two was won in an equally-convincing manner, with Cross Flatts ‘A’ beating Meanwood to the title by 59 points.
Monday nights are split into two formats, with the 31up pairs and Combined League (a mix of singles and pairs games).
Harehills once again won the league even though they won fewer games than second-placed New Farnley.
The gap at the top was 13 shots – with the gap to third place being 48 shots, even though Crossgates BC finished on the same number of wins as Harehills.
Cranmore won the Combined League – beating Meanwood by 20 shots, winning five more matches.
Wednesday’s league is still, rather quaintly referred to as the half holiday league – even if such an event is but a distant memory, removed long before the likes of Mark Hughes of Rothwell had taken up the game.
It’s a four-division league and it proved to be extremely competitive at the top of Division One, which was won by Meanwood Park.
They lost only one game to finish 58 points clear of Rothwell BC ‘A’. Holbeck Moor and Cranmore ‘A’ were relegated.
Division Two was won by Churwell Park ‘A’ with Potternewton ‘A’ following them up. Relegated were Grove Road and Middleton Park ‘A’.
Middleton Community won Division Three, ahead of Chapel Allerton while Rothwell Park ‘B’ and Hunslet Moor went down.
Methley and Potternewton ‘B’ were promoted out of Division Four.
Next week we will round up the cup and merit competitions in Leeds and move on to a review of the season for our surrounding leagues and open competitions.
● The group winners in the Potternewton Park winter pairs were M Lally and S Longley; D Burns and P Harrison; L Walsh and E Earnshaw; S Sellers and K Rennison; and P Hill and M Holmes.