Angling: Television deal boost to indoor exposure

Pete Hepworth and Gordon Monk, group winners in the winter pairs.
Pete Hepworth and Gordon Monk, group winners in the winter pairs.
Have your say

For the final column of 2012, it seems appropriate to give over the page to the form of the game which will carry on, regardless, in this scribe’s absence – indoor bowls.

It’s always a difficult balance pitching indoors correctly to the readers of this section. Each October starts with a preview of the season; which is then broken up with a rather lengthy review of the outdoor season past. In that time there will be a number of competitive casualties on a local and national level – then by the time we get back from our winter break, the national chances are all but gone; the local interest often waning.

It doesn’t help that there is still a massive disconnect between our local region and the indoor game. Leeds & District, in finding their own feet, away from the council but not quite finding their winning ways, could have something to do with that; but then it is not really a new thing.

Hopefully the local crown bowlers will soon show the same level of interest in the game as the satellite broadcaster, Premier Sports, who have signed an exclusive deal to show indoor bowls in 2013. The deal will include coverage of World Bowls Tour event in February, live and delayed National EIBA Finals to be shown throughout the spring and summer. Also included is coverage of the Premier Threes competition.

Premier Threes may well be the competition that both introduces the indoor game to a new audience, whilst simultaneously upsetting the purists that think the – often viewed, unpalatable – team competitions are the best thing about bowls. Now, rather than spending four hours at a venue on a Saturday where you bowl two bowls and stand around; in Premier Threes you play three bowls over three end sets in a singles format. Games can last between 20-45 minutes. Short, snappy and no doubt cheaper to play in – as you can get between three and six games in the same time most clubs set aside for their evening weekday events.

Premier Sports currently have 49 programmes listed in their schedule for 2013. The channel is also home to the Rugby League Championship and Australian NRL leagues. You may already be a subscriber to watch those sports – you may find you actually enjoy the coverage of the bowls as an added bonus.

Now is the time to see how quickly our local clubs opt to drop some of the more traditional games (Fours, Triples, 21 shots and ends) in favour of the new, shorter format of the game.

There are still traditional games ongoing in our region, with both club and county finding their luck running out as they move through the various rounds.

Yorkshire came unstuck as they played against much-fancied Cumbria in the Liberty Trophy. Having beaten Lincolnshire in the previous round, the White Rose would have entered this game knowing that they would have to play at their very best to win. Unfortunately the North Western side came out on top with a 29 shot – 128-99 – win.

Another side going out in recent weeks was the Leeds & District Egham Trophy side. The competition, based on mixed sides of eight men and eight women, had witnessed two excellent wins for our local bowlers. Having beaten Huddersfield in the first round, they then went on to beat Scarborough 77-73, to set up a clash with York. It was at this stage that the run drew to an end, as the team from North Yorkshire proved to be far too strong for Leeds, winning 124-41. York then beat Hartlepool in the next round to set up a clash with Cumbria later this month.

There are no Yorkshire sides left in either of the Denny competitions – the cup or the plate – as both tournaments move towards the quarter-final stages early in the new year.

York were the last of the Denny Cup sides standing. Having beaten Featherstone comfortably, 94-66, they then went down by nearly 50 shots (102-58) against Cumbria.

Hornsea were the last of the Yorkshire teams in the Denny Plate, but much like with York, a good run was destroyed by a hefty defeat; 111-52 at the hands of Blackpool Newton Hall.

There has been very little action on the county league front due to the national club and county competitions. That fact changes this weekend as the three divisions – First, Second and Hebden Trophy are back in action.

It is often hard for club sides to lift themselves for the return of the county league once they have been knocked out of national competitions. For some there will still be the chance to qualify in the individual or team events, but for most – the rest of the season will contain little glory beyond internal club leagues and competitions.

If Leeds & District are going to challenge for either the Division Two title and promotion spots, or a place in the end of season Hebden Trophy play-off, the club will have to turn around their league form to date. This will be hard for the Hebden Trophy side as they sit out this week on a bye. The main club side face Hornsea. Three defeats from all competitions will need to be overturned if they are to take the points they need, against the best-placed Denny Plate side this season.

A defeat here will consign the side to another season in Division Two. From there, there will only be the belief that this could be their level. How you then go about overturning belief and challenging your place in the league structure will take more than just the remaining four games left for the club this season.

The latest group winners in the Potternewton Park Winter Pairs were: M. Hall & C. Oddy, M. Gregory & I. Macfarlane, I. Howard & N. Porter, J & A. Stocks, P. Hepworth & G. Monk.

David Walker with the ABA Men's Merit trophy.

Bowls: Walker claims convincing Men’s Merit title victory