Heath Old Boys Association

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2017 Heath vs Old Crossleyans Bowls Tournament

Greenroyd Bowling Club on a balmy summer Sunday afternoon in late June presents an idyllic picture. Birds sing in the well-trimmed hedges; the hanging baskets are fragrant. The sun-dappled green is as fine a stretch of grass as you will find. An aura of tranquillity, away from the vulgar world without the gates, prevails. One feels that P.G. Wodehouse and his characters would feel at home in these sylvan surrounds.

But wait, for today, 25th June 2017, two old rivals are set to combat in the fourth of the on-going series to determine who will hold the diminutive but prestigious trophy. The series stands at 2–1 in Crocs favour, but both sides have indulged in desperate team-strengthening exercises, Crocs with a new player-manager in J. Ingham, following the inevitable resignation of M. Denton after last year’s debacle, Heath with the ethical dilemma of whether to import veteran talent, of uncertain quality, or to stick with old faithfuls whose delicate nervous systems may crumble under the magnitude of the occasion. We shall see!

After much intrigue the teams ran out as follows:—

For Heath: M. Griffiths and N.A. Small; P. Greenwood and G.P. Smith; R. Dixon and A. Waite; K. Campbell and J. Robertshaw; P. Birkhead and T. Depledge; J. Hamer and A. Baigent.

Reserves: R. Sumner; J. Henry; M. Baxendale; M. Bingham; R.D. Morley.

For Crocs: Mrs G. Knowles and G. Mitchell; T. Knowles and Mrs B. Clayton; B. Reynolds and J. Ingham; P. Ineson and C. Hodgson; G. Hinchcliffe and M. Squire; Mrs J. Dunn and Mrs M. Reynolds. The complexities of the scoreboard having been explained to Mrs Hamer and Mrs Dixon, the epic got under way. The format was the customary best–of-five ends or first to eleven, with two points for a win and one for a tied game. The magic number this year was 37.

The early exchanges went almost entirely Crocs way, with their experienced ladies carrying all before them. After a couple of hours desultory play, Crocs had forged well ahead and Heath heads were down. The day appeared lost. “Looks like a battlefield, dunnit?” was heard.

At 3.30 refreshments were taken, and lo! Suddenly the momentum shifted, the clouds lifted and it was ‘game on.’ Why? Was it the beer and sandwiches? Was it a stirring 11–1 win by Campbell and Robertshaw? Was it while the Crocs formidable ladies loitered in the tearoom socialising? O who can fathom the vagaries of the strumpet Fortune? At 4.05 the score stood at 26–26.

At 4.20 it was 28–28.

I can’t stand all this excitement, was heard.

Shortly after this the real miracle occurred when Mr Knowles was lost for words as Heath went ahead for the first time: 31–29. The rest is history. It’s exhibition stuff, John, was heard and We’ll bring our first team next year, from a crestfallen Croc.

The final score, 38–34, confirmed an emphatic team effort. Thanks to Jon Hamer for the buffet and to Grayham Smith and John Ingham for getting their teams together. It is now 2–2 in the series. Roll on next year!

Rod Eastwood [1954–1961]

Grayham Smith raising the trophy aloft before a group of old Heathens
Grayham Smith raising the trophy aloft
A group photo of those present at the 2017 HOBA vs Old Crossleyans Bowls competition
2017 HOBA vs Old Crossleyans Bowls Tournament group photo