Has there ever been a season like the one that has just finished?
Few matches lost to the weather, two titles going to the wire, new rules for some clubs to adjust to and the closest relegation battle that I can remember!
First the congratulations:
Champions: Carterton BC
Runners Up: Headington BC
Champions: Watlington BC
Runners Up: West Witney BC
Runners Up: Chipping Norton BC
Champions: Chadlington BC
Runners Up: Blackbird Leys BC
Now some details:
In Division 1, Carterton needed to match Headington’s results to become champions and they did so in style. Away at City and County, which is never easy, they won on all four rinks and made 100 shots for the second time this season meaning that Headington could not beat them however good their results.
As it was, Headington won well on three rinks, including a twenty-eight shot margin for captain Mark Charlett, but Richard Barnett’s rink spoiled their party by winning his rink for Witney Mills.
Unfortunately, the single point gained by Witney Mills was not enough to stave off relegation and they join Shiplake in division 2 next season.
The final match, between South Oxford and Banbury Central, could have no relevance to either clubs final league position and indeed Banbury arrived with a minimal squad and, as a consequence, lost on all rinks.
In Division 2, Watlington knew that they were already champions but also knew that opponents Witney Town could clinch promotion to division 1 with a good result. As it turned out, Watlington mixture of youth and experience won the day and Town awaited neighbours West Witney’s result. Drama aplenty in the match itself, where either team could have won. Big wins on one rink apiece meant that the two close rinks would settle the result. Steve Gilkes trailed Tim Ludlow’s four by two shots with his own last bowl to play and promoted one of his own team’s bowls for shot and a tied rink. Paul Demczak’s men needed a four to win the match for Town and were holding three, and a tied result in the match, only for Chris Gilkes to draw shot with his final bowl. Drama not yet finished as exuberance took over and the head was kicked out before Paul could bowl his last bowl! End replayed in the dark, but to no avail for Town as they were unable to score the required four shots.
Elsewhere, West Witney were demolishing already relegated Bicester, scoring a century of points in the process. The five points they gained in the match were sufficient to get them back to the top division as they leapfrogged Witney Town into second place.
The last match in the division was a fascinating relegation battle between Banbury Chestnuts and Adderbury with the visitors needing two points to overtake Charlbury and remain in division 2 next season. The outcome was close, and one that suited both teams, with Alan Wase’s nine shot margin for Chestnuts, on their only winning rink, being sufficient to give them match points and a 3 – 3 tie, keeping both teams up at Charlbury’s expense.
Kidlington were already champions in Division 3 but either Chipping Norton or Headington could join them in division 2 next season. Both were playing clubs fighting to avoid relegation and, despite the efforts of Martin Kershaw’s four, who ran out sixteen shots to the good for Headington, Hanborough won on three rinks, with Martin Oliver’s eighteen shots win giving Hanborough the victory and keeping both clubs in the division next year.
That result meant that Chipping Norton needed a single point from their fixture at home to City and County, who themselves had to match the result of the winners in the third match, between Banbury Central and Thame, in order to stay up. Unfortunately for them, Chipping Norton were too good on three, of four closely fought rinks, whilst Central were winning well on two rinks with big totals for Ron Cox and Jim Pickering’s men. These results relegated both Thame and City and County, whilst promotion was the prize for a rejuvenated Chipping Norton.
As elsewhere, Division 4 went to the wire. The top two played each other knowing that three points each would promote both clubs. In what, given the scores, must be the tightest match of the year, Blackbird Leys snatched the required match points by a single shot to leave Bloxham in the division next year whatever their result.
Bloxham did beat Oxford University Press, thanks to Ray Hopkins’s rink’s big win, but to no avail in their promotion effort, whist the last match went to Woodstock who defeated South Oxford in a dead fixture.
Final League Table