Rotating Header Image

Under 25

U25’s face Berks in JHCL

Oxfordshire U25’s will face Berkshire on Sunday 4th June 10:30am in the Junior Home Counties League at Kidlington Bowls Club.

Team has been selected: JHCL v Berks

Orren Bennett and David Leighfield win OBA under 25 pairs competition

This years under 25 pairs was played with great success in the sunshine at South Oxford Bowls Club. This year sees the first time the boys able to progress to Leamington due to a Bowls England introduction of a male junior pairs competition.

The pairing of Orren Bennett and David Leighfield had to play three games of 18 ends to qualify, as only the winners overall progress to the national finals at Leamington Spa in August this year.
The pairing’s first game was against Woodstock duo Ollie John and Ben Dickson, the game was fairly evenly matched for the first half but a six on the 11th end made it very difficult for the Woodstock boys to comeback and they ended up losing 24-9 to Bennett and Leighfield.
The other three first round games were all taken to extra ends, after fantastic bowling by all players involved. A special mention is noted to Joe Justin and Darren Wakeman, from Carterton Bowls Club, who were 17-1 down after 8 ends, who went into the last end 20-17 up! A 3 from the pairing of Bradley Squires and Harvey Alder on the final end forced an extra end which ended up with the Carterton lads progressing to the semi-final winning 21-20.

Watlington’s Rob Parkes and Banbury Borough’s Jamie Wilkinson were in a tight tussle on rink 1 early on, against Thame’s Johnathon Dadson and Oxford City & County’s Joe Glenn, again a 3 shot pick up by Parkes and Wilkinson on the last end forcing an extra end. Dadson and Glenn won the extra end progressing to the semi-finals 15-14 victors.
The final first round game saw an all Watlington affair with the pairings of Sam Watts and Shane Cooper against Brandon King and Dan Swanson. Once more a 3 pick up on the final end forcing an extra end from King and Swanson. With one bowl left for Cooper and neither side quite sure who had shot, he played a very successful running bowl to remove both of his opponents bowls leaving his partners bowl for shot. Watts and Cooper progressed to the semi-final 21-20.

After a fantastic buffet lunch provided to the competitors and spectators from South Oxford Bowls Club, the semi-finals commenced with Dadson and Glenn against Bennett and Leighfield and Justin and Wakeman against Watts and Cooper. Watts and Cooper both played very strong games which got them a 26-5 victory and a place in the final. The other semi-final saw Bennett and Leighfield fight back from 15-4 down at 8 ends to win 25-20.

The final commenced in the glorious sunshine and both pairs keen to book their place at Leamington. There was a lot of emotion and big bowls played which saw the lead changing from pair to pair, but a 4 shot pick up on the 16th end for Bennett and Leighfield gave them a 16-12 lead with 2 ends to play. The penultimate end saw the Watlington pairing picking up a 2 which meant a very tense final end for the competitors, which saw Bennett and Leighfield pick up a single shot and win 17-14.
A very special thank you to Angie and Beryl from South Oxford for the excellent hospitality that was provided throughout the day and thank you to South Oxford Bowls Club for letting us use their facilities to host the event.

Watching the junior pairs played with so much talent and ability from all of the lads that were involved, shows just how bright the future is for bowls in Oxfordshire, for both the junior and senior game.

The Junior Pairs national finals will be held at Leamington Spa on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th August.

U25 & U31 update

Oxfordshire Under 25s men kicked off the season at South Oxford BC on 6th May with a trial game against Wiltshire. This resulted in an overall win for Oxfordshire however the primary objective was for the team to get together on the green and start gelling again following the winter. This was achieved and followed up with a mixed get together and White Rose trial at Kidlington BC on 14th May.

We presently have 34 junior players, male and female, in the county which is good, however that number will reduce by five at the end of the season and by at least two more in 2018. It is therefore imperative that we recruit further players to swell the ranks and build upon the successes of the past few seasons.

As is my annual plea to all clubs, players and interested parties, please do all you can to recruit new bowlers of any age and in particular junior players, passing details to me regardless of age, experience or perceived ability. As I said in my end of season report, if we all introduce one new person to the sport this year we will be in a far healthier position as a county and as a sport!

This is scheduled to be my last season as manager and so I seek support from anyone interested in taking over or at least assisting in the role. Please call or email me for a chat.

Anyway, here’s to a great season for all in Oxfordshire. Look forward to seeing some of you at our junior games and many of you on the circuit.

Oxon U25s v Bucks 28/05/17

Steve Gilkes
Oxfordshire Junior Teams Manager
Mobile: 07868 435052

White Rose national runners up 2016 – Oxon U25s

White Rose Runners Up 2016

Oxfordshire Bowling Association’s Under 25s yesterday made history by being the first junior team in Oxon bowls history to reach a national final, the White Rose county under 25s double rink. Unfortunately the win was elusive with an accomplished Essex team playing better as an eight and deservedly taking the title. That said, this result should in no way diminish the massive achievement of the Oxford team in not only making the last four for the second successive season but in going a step further to become runners up.

The team qualified for the national championships by virtue of wins over Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Kent earlier in the season and were drawn to play Lincolnshire in the semi-final at Leamington yesterday. For the first half of the game against, the team trailed with opposing skip Jordan Philpott seemingly unable to put a foot, or bowl, wrong against the four of Shane Cooper, David Leighfield, Jamie Wilkinson and Orren Bennett. Cooper found himself 1-17 behind without he or his team having bowled badly and needed a catalyst to turn things around as, although the rink of captain Chris Gilkes, always controlled and led against Lincs captain Ashley Caress, the gap was not great enough at half or even three quarters way to guarantee the victory required. Gilkes, with Sam Watts, Bradley Squires and Dan Swanson continued to apply quiet pressure and maintained an eight to twelve shot lead on their rink always giving a chance of success if their team mates could turn things around, and turn around they did as Cooper as his rink picked up a five, gained confidence and started to outplay their opponents. As the game went on momentum was with Oxfordshire, shouted on by a magnificent support spanning a complete side of Leamington’s A green. Philpott was visibly rattled and started to miss where previously he had hit and a five on the last end for Oxon saw a fairly incredible 22-22 score line for Cooper all things considered. That with a 26-17 win for Gilkes set up the final against Essex who defeated holders Devon on an extra end in their semi-final.

The final proved to be a step too far for the Oxon team with Essex taking an early lead with generally better play as an eight and this time the turnaround didn’t come. Despite some magnificent play from the Oxon back end combinations the tide could not be turned with the Essex skips equally playing fantastic bowls to counter most things achieved by their opposition. Until the latter stages the lead did not look insurmountable given the never say die attitude of the Oxon team and the ability of their skips to pull amazing shots out of the bag throughout the season, however this time the breakthrough never came causing the Oxon team, out of necessity, to chase the game giving Essex chances which generally were taken, seeing them to a twenty-one shot victory. Congratulations to them for their play and their sportsmanship. The same must also be said of the Oxfordshire players who acquitted themselves magnificently all day both on and off the green. This was Gilkes’ final appearance in an Under 25s shirt for Oxfordshire which will be a big loss for the team as his captaincy and play has been outstanding all summer. That said, his moving on creates an opportunity for one of the county’s other great young players to step up and make his mark in 2017!

Mention has been made of the support for the team. Thanks from the manager and whole team for travelling and for the noise and encouragement throughout. It is appreciated and invaluable to the boys to have you there. Finally a word for the two reserves who have been at every game, not bowled a bowl, but who have been fantastic in their attitude and backing of the starting eight. Harvey Alder and Ben Dickson, you’re a credit to yourselves. Thankyou.

All in all this was an excellent weekend for Oxfordshire’s young bowlers and one that will live long in the memory. The players now look to next season when they must all go a stage further in terms of personal and team development and success. Regardless of the excellent season for both teams, Oxfordshire still needs more players to give strength and depth to the squads. If anyone would like any information regarding junior bowls in the county please contact team manager Steve Gilkes at or on 07868 435052.

Amy Rose and White Rose competitions

The men’s and ladies junior teams both play at the National Championships at Leamington Spa this weekend. The ladies play Northants in the opening round of the Amy Rose double rink at 11:30am on Saurday 3rd September and the men make their second successive national semi-final appearance, this time against Lincolnshire, at 9:30am on Sunday 4th.

The teams have both been selected: Amy Rose and White Rose

Under 25s Day

U25 day 2016

Who says it’s an old person’s game?

Thirty young bowlers from across Oxfordshire yesterday competed in the ninth annual Under 25s Day at Watlington Bowls Club.

Despite torrential downpours in the morning there were smiles all round as eight teams played each other in a round robin which was eventually won by David Leighfield of Chipping Norton with Thame’s Matt Canfield and four time winner Katie Bland from Shiplake Village.

This event kick started the current Under 25s teams back in 2008 and some players have competed every year since. That said, two new Oxfordshire players made their debuts. Charlie Buckett from Shiplake and Victoria Nemar of Thame played for the first time and will now be part of the junior teams from 2017. Charlie’s brother Jody and Lucas King from Bicester played for the first time in a couple of years and will also be valuable additions to the squad. Due to the age limits of junior bowls, for every new player coming in, often senior players are lost through age at the opposite end. Last year six players moved on and this year it was the turn of men’s captain Chris Gilkes who was thanked for his services to the Under 25s over the past years. Special thanks also to Chris Cadman from Suttons BC for stepping in at the last minute.

Ever popular, the event was well attended by parents and supporters as well as four past presidents of the Oxfordshire Bowling Association and two past lady presidents of the OWBA and Bowls Oxfordshire Ladies, all of whom
braved the elements of the morning but who were rewarded with some great bowling throughout and sunshine in the afternoon. The barbecue lunch provided for all competitors and support was a welcome break from the rain and, on that note, our thanks go to OBA President Peter Latter for his kind donation of burgers and sausages.

The competition, based on shot difference and run as ever brilliantly by Gordon Hooker could have been won by either the eventual victors or by Chris Gilkes’ team going into the last game however a defeat for Gilkes at the hands of Cadman saw him and his team finish third, pipped for runners up spot by Jazz Alder and her rink.

The winners received their medals from Watlington President and Oxfordshire’s longest serving past president, Henry Franklin, who also made a generous donation from the club to the junior bowlers.

Winners: David Leighfield, Matt Canfield and Katie Bland
Runners Up: Jazz Alder, Bradley Squires, Lucas King, Jonathan Dadson
Third: Chris Gilkes, Dan Swanson, Jody Buckett, Luke Gilbert

At the conclusion of the day the draw for the set of Aero bowls was made and was won by Chris Gilkes who charitably donated them back for auction to raise funds towards kit and running costs of the junior teams in the seasons to
come. The auction was won by David Leighfield. Thanks to both for your generosity.

If any young player or potential young player reading this wishes to take part in the junior Oxon teams next year, please get in touch with Steve Gilkes at or 07868 435052.

Under 25’s update

The boys travelled to Kent on 7th August in the JHCL and came away with an 8 points to 2 victory. Unfortunately the position in the league could not be improved upon and third place was the result of a season where we only lost one game. With Middlesex no longer competing and Surrey only fulfilling half of its fixtures it was difficult to overcome the initial loss to Berkshire. Looking ahead to next year we have home games against Berks, Sussex and Kent and play away in Surrey and Bucks so hopefully with a good start and a team with another year’s experience we will finally win this elusive trophy!

Already some of our Under 25s have played at Leamington, most notably David Leighfield who reached the last eight of the junior singles only to be beaten by Jamie Walker, currently arguably the number one singles player in the country and eventual winner. David is to be congratulated on his achievement. Chris Gilkes had a bit of a nightmare in his first game and departed the competition earlier than wanted or expected but that’s bowls. He goes again in the men’s singles on Wednesday 31st August.

Katie Bland and Claire Soden both played in the junior ladies singles for the first time and Katie made it into the last 16 before losing out to international triallist Rachel Efde of Bucks. Claire teamed up with Emma Gilkes in the junior singles and played well but were always up against it, beaten in the end by Katherine Rednall and her partner from Suffolk.

As a reminder the girls’ double rink play Northants in the opening round of the Amy Rose on Saturday 3rd September and the boys are in the national semi final of the White Rose against Lincolnshire on Sunday 4th September. Please try and get along to support if you’re able and please let your members know. Thankyou.

JHCL U25 v Kent

Oxofordshire U25’s will face Kent in the Junior Home Counties League on Sunday 7th August 11am at Maidstone Bowls Club.

The team has been selected: Oxon U25s v Kent

Oxon U25’s update

Oxon Under 25s beat the JHCL champions elect Buckinghamshire in a tight and exciting contest decided with the final bowl at Kidlington yesterday. With two rinks finished and Oxfordshire two shots to the good the game looked to have gone the way of the visitors when, with just Shane Cooper’s last bowl of the game to play, Bucks held four shots with an offset jack. The Watlington man duly stepped up to the mark however, and played a fantastic shot under the circumstances to trail the jack for four to Oxon and a six shot and 8-2 points win overall.

In front of enthusiastic support for both teams Bucks had the better of the first half, with the Oxon rink of Cooper tied, Sam Watts’ four trailing by three and the luckless rink of Chris Gilkes eighteen adrift, and their confidence was high. The Oxford team though has gained massive experience from these type of games over the past few seasons and that showed as Gilkes and his men kept their heads and scored 11 shots to 5 in the second stage while Cooper and Watts steadily opened up what proved to be winning margins to set up the final end drama and the 60-54 victory.

Rink Scores (Oxon first):
Shane Cooper 24, Matt Gomme 16;
Chris Gilkes 12, Nathan Harvey 24;
Sam Watts 24, David West 14

As we understand it, despite this setback, Bucks still secured the title by virtue of a Sussex win over Berkshire at Popes Mead. Our congratulations go to them.

Previously, on 3rd July, Oxon travelled to Sussex and beat their hosts by 71 shots to 65 and 8 points to 2.
Rink Scores (Oxon first):
Shane Cooper 19, Andrew Fairhall 27;
Chris Gilkes 22, Callum Philliore 17;
Sam Watts 30, Jonathan Fenn-Tye 21.

Oxon travel to Maidstone next Sunday, minus several key players, but still in a position to secure the runners up spot with a good win.

At the same time yesterday there was a mixed friendly practice game between Oxon and Bucks involving seven of our Ladies Amy Rose team and three of the U25s reserves. It is hoped that this too, will become an annual fixture alongside the JHCL game.

The next date for your diaries is the annual Under 25s Day at Watlington on Sunday 28th August. If, at any of your clubs, you have youngsters interested in playing regardless of experience or ability, please please get in touch with Steve Gilkes on 07868 435052 or It is a day designed, not just for established players, but newcomers to have a fun introduction to the sport too. We need new players to start now, boys and girls, so please do all you can to get them along. Lunch, drink and a gift for all players is provided.

Oxon U25s & U31s v Bucks

The Oxfordshire U25’s will play Buckinghamshire U25’s in the Junior Home Counties League on Sunday 31st July at 10:30am at Kidlington Bowls Club. The Oxfordshire ladies U31’s will play an Amy Rose trial against Buckinghamshire at the same time.

The teams have been selected: Oxon U25s & U31s v Bucks 310716