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League final week

To paraphrase Dickens ‘It was the best of seasons, it was the worst of seasons’ depending on your club!

Starting with the best: Headington A have set numerous records over the last fourteen weeks; Champions of Division 1 by the widest margin, undefeated all season (Only Watlington and Banbury Central able to take more than a single point in any match), and, to cap it all, the biggest point score from twelve matches (65.5 from a possible 72) in the leagues history.

Also undefeated were Thame, winning Division 4 by nineteen shots; is this also a league record?

The weather! We may have complained about the cold, the heat and, occasionally, the rain this summer but we lost no matches to the latter this season, another first in my time compiling the results.

Now the worst: Travel. Oxfordshire is a long, and, in its centre, wide county. Clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to get members to travel on a Thursday evening – at any time some would say. We need to think hard about what we are asking a generally ageing cohort of bowlers to commit to or there will be more matches where teams only field triples and not rinks and, eventually, a club will be unable to field twelve men for an away match! Some suggestions will be made at the AGM that would reduce total match time, including travel time, and we need be prepared to act on them.

To return to this week:

In Division 1, the only outstanding issue was who would join South Oxford in Division 2 next season. Carterton travelled to Headington knowing that they needed two points more than Banbury Central gained from their match at City and County. In the end, what could have been an interesting evening was a bit of a damp squib as Graham Morbey’s rink went twenty- three shots ahead after fourteen ends for Central. With Will Campion’s men fifteen shots ahead at the same time, Central were always going to take four points from the match so Carterton needed all six from theirs! Headington’s Nick Rae-Welsh’s six shots on end eleven, giving his rink a seventeen shot cushion, ensured that this was not going to happen and Carterton will play in division 2 next year. (Is Carterton’s relegation yet another unique occurrence this year as they were the reigning champions?)

Kidlington have looked Division 2 champions elect for some weeks. However, a poor result in their final match meant that, mathematically, Witney Mills could pip them. That Mills were playing Adderbury, a club fighting to stay in the division, only made the fixture more intriguing. In the event, Mills won comfortably on three rinks and, Richard Barnett’s rink completed the whitewash with a six shot win on the twenty-first end. Whilst the victory clinched promotion for them, Mills needed another forty-two shots to deny Kidlington a deserved title.

Witney Town’s chance of promotion depended on the Mills result but they did their bit with a good win against a weak, travel weary, Shiplake side. Ultimately, the results meant little as promotion and relegation issues were settled elsewhere.

We already knew that Charlbury were champions of Division 3, but they still had a major role to play in deciding who were promoted with them. Hanborough or Headington B were still promotion candidates. However, the latter travelled to the champions for their final fixture and were unable to compete on any rink, Charlbury‘s Mike Smith leaving the best ‘til last with a seventeen shot win for the home team.

This meant that Hanborough were promoted regardless of their result against already relegated Bicester. The latter scrapped well to lose a close match by three shots.

Blackbird Leys and Chadlington fought out a draw to ensure the former’s survival and the letters relegation. (I only have this information about this match!)

In Division 4, we already knew that Thame were the champions but, with City and County having already played their last match, both South Oxford and Bloxham had the chance to overtake them and move into the second promotion spot. In the event, Thame showed South Oxford why they are champions, defeating them on all four rinks. Bloxham made a much better attempt, getting close to Woodstock on all four rinks but, ultimately, only Tony Gardner’s rink held on for victory, albeit by twenty shots, but the ensuing three points was not enough so City and County are promoted straight back to division 2.

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Match results
League tables

League week 13

The penultimate week of the season defined the outcome in some divisions but left real possibilities still to be decided in others.

In Division 1, newly crowned champions Headington travelled to Banbury Central, who were fighting for their place in the top division. The home team were ahead on three rinks after eighteen ends but only Nigel Galletly’s rink held on for victory, having been eight shots clear with four ends to play (On a rink that I suspect set its own precedence with three members of the league committee playing on it!). Headington captain, Mark Charlett, skipped his rink to victory over the final three ends whist Nick Rae-Welsh drew level with Will Campion with his last two woods.

Elsewhere, last season’s champions, Carterton, hosted Watlington in a match they had to win to stay in the division. Baydon Sparkes’ men did their bit with a convincing victory but the other rinks were closely contested. Remmy Clanfield’s rink were held until the halfway mark then pulled away to win comfortably whilst Robbie Clanfield’s men looked good until they dropped five shots on end seventeen and just about hung on for the draw. Paul Sharman was well down at the halfway point but fought back to one down at nineteen ends but failed to complete the comeback.

West Witney ensured their survival with a convincing win at South Oxford, Paul Skidmore’s twenty-four shot win proving the highlight.

Central are at City and County next week whilst, just down the road, Headington host Carterton. The latter needing two points more than Central to still be in the division next year!

Kidlington are almost confirmed as champions of Division 2 after their match at Shiplake, but they could have guaranteed the title with a victory. As ever, Shiplake fielded a stronger team at home than they sometimes do away, and Jim Bland’s rink produced one of the comebacks of the season to snatch victory for the home side. Trailing by seven shots at the halfway point, they then took control, including a five shot win on the final end, to grab victory both on their rink and in the match itself.

However, Witney Mills will need to win on all four rinks and by an almost unheard of seventy-two shots if they are to snatch the title with their last match, where they are at home to Adderbury! This week they travelled to Chipping Norton and came away with a win by a surprisingly wide margin thanks to some late fine bowling on three rinks: Whilst Paul Robbins and Richard Barnett’s rinks scored well on their final ends to increase their victory margin, Chris Weller only won with his final wood!

Surprise of the day came at Adderbury where promotion chasing Witney Town were expected to beat the bottom team comfortable but came away with just a single point! Three big wins for the home side, especially Phil Gladden’s seventeen shot margin, ensued that the promotion and relegation issues will not be decided until the final week of the season. Adderbury themselves need to win or draw their final match to stay in the division, at Chipping Norton’s expense!

Charlbury are confirmed as Division 3 champions, with their draw at Hanborough and Blackbird Leys defeat at Headington meaning that they cannot be caught.

In a division seemingly wanting to set yet another record, one for tied matches, the matches at Hanborough and Chadlington both finished three apiece with each having a team winning on three rinks but losing the match points to the fourth opposition rink. At Hanborough, it was Dave Copper’s men who took the match points for Charlbury with a seventeen shot margin whilst at Chadlington, Phil Radbone’s rink won by eleven shots, four more than Banbury Central’s three winning rinks managed between them! (This was Central’s fifth match this season where one rink outscored the oppositions three winning rinks!)

With Bicester confirmed as being relegated and Central now safe, the final relegation place lies between Chadlington and Blackbird Leys, who meet in their last match, with Leys knowing that two points will be enough to keep them in the division, at Chadlington’s expense.

Hanborough and Headington now vie for the final promotion place with the advantage lying with Hanborough as they meet already relegated Bicester and start with a two and a half point advantage.

Whilst newly crowned champions of Division 4, Thame, can relax, the second promotion place is still not decided. Advantage is with South Oxford, who lie three points behind City and County but have a match still to play as City and County’s last match was this week at West Oxford. They could have guaranteed promotion with a win but lost 5 – 1. Chris Sherwood giving the home side a real advantage with his rink’s thirteen shot margin and his rink were ably backed by two others.

Thame were defeating Bloxham in a close match decided by Ken Calcutt’s nineteen shot margin. Defeat still leaves Bloxham with a chance of second place but they must beat a resurgent Woodstock six – nothing and hope that South Oxford also slip up in their final matches.

Woodstock themselves were defeating Oxford University Press comfortably thanks to fine wins for Paul Shipston and Brian Clarke’s rinks, though the result would do no more than determine last place in the league.

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Match results
League tables

League week 12

This week’s matches resolved some promotion and relegation issues but left others still as muddled as ever!

In Division 1, Headington confirmed what we have all though for some weeks and clinched the title. Their 5-1 defeat of City and County and Watlington’s loss to Banbury Central leaves them fifteen points apart with two matches to play. They need thirty more shots to top one thousand for the season, a league record, so I am told, as is their 350 point shot difference!

In the match itself, Howard Watt’s rink took the prize with a twenty shot margin, only Alan Ley’s men were able to deliver for City and County with a narrow win.

Banbury went to Watlington needing a win and, surprisingly given earlier form this season, came away with one and were disappointed with only four points having led on all four rinks at eighteen ends! Excellent wins for Ian Whelpton and Will Campion’s rinks, with the former going 14-0 up at the start of their match, meant that the home side struggled.

(I have not had a full result for the South Oxford v Carterton match but I gather the result was four – two to South and I have record this information on the latest league tables.)

What the above results mean is that South Oxford are now relegated; they only have one match to play and cannot catch the teams above them. Carterton, Central and West Witney now fight to avoid filling the second relegation place, with Carterton favourites as their remaining fixtures are against Watlington and Headington.

Division 2 remains as fluid as ever! Kidlington are almost there and can clinch promotion next week away at Shiplake. Despite being held by Adderbury this week, Mike Peterson’s men clinched the match points for the leaders with a fourteen shot victory and rivals Witney Mills and Town will both need big wins in their final two matches to overtake them, as they tussle for the second promotion place.

Witney Town did their own promotion prospects no harm with an emphatic whitewash of Chipping Norton with all fours rinks restricting their opponents to low scores.

At the bottom of the table, Adderbury’s two points moves them to a position where they can still avoid relegation but they will need to score seven points more than Chipping Norton and Shiplake to do so.

In Division 3, Charlbury’s 6-0 defeat of Bicester means that they are all but promoted; Blackbird Leys will need to win their final two matches 6-0 to overtake them. Jim Stevens and Eddie Abbey’s rinks both scored thirty plus shots whilst restricting their opponents to single figures in a very big win for the leaders. Unfortunately for Bicester this league is so close that their defeat means almost certain relegation as they have only one more fixture left to play.

Blackbird Leys hopes of promotion were pretty much dashed by Hanborough who defeated them 5 -1 in a close match with three rinks finally going Hanborough’s way.

With Banbury Central losing at home to Headington and only having one fixture left they go from promotion candidates to relegation prospects! An eight shot win for Martin Kershaw proved enough for the visitors in an otherwise very close match.

Hanborough host Charlbury next week in a match that may decide both promotion places and the division title.

Congratulations go to Division 4 champions Thame. Their comprehensive defeat of Oxford University Press means that they cannot be caught by the two chasing clubs as they each have only one remaining fixture.

Indeed, Bloxham are still in the hunt for the final promotion place as they still have two fixtures to play and, having defeated South Oxford this week, thanks to Tony Gardner’s rink’s big win, they travel to champions Thame next week still able to catch those directly above them.

City and County moved into second place with their 5-1 defeat of Woodstock though the match would have been closer had Paul Shipton’s triple not had to forfeit twenty-five percent of their score for Woodstock.

City and County go to West Oxford next week knowing that six points will guarantee them promotion regardless of South Oxford’s result when they visit the newly crowned champions in the last week of the season.

Match Results
League Tables

League week 11

First this week an update on the Gilkes after their car crash. Bob and his wife are now at home and making small steps towards recovery having suffered chest and trunk injuries from seat belt and airbags. They hope to be back at the bowls club as soon as possible.

In the league, it was a week of close matches, even if the final scores seem to say otherwise.

With Division 1 leaders Headington not playing, Watlington had the chance to narrow the gap between them. Whilst they did so, with a four – two win over City and County, this may not be enough to give them a realistic chance of the title. Indeed, should they drop points to Banbury Central this week and Headington win their match, at home to City and County, the title will have been decided.

Watlington’s win was set up by Chris Gilkes’ twenty-three shots win. Whilst this more than cancelled Alan Leys impressive eighteen shot margin for City and County, it would have been even more decisive if, in the comeback of the season so far, Colin Pollard’s rink had not contrived to come from 23 – 9 down after sixteen ends to win the match 24 – 23 for City and County!

The other fixtures in the division were more about relegation than winning titles. West Witney’s win at Carterton looks impressive at first glance but the rink scores show that Carterton were also fighting for their division one lives. Paul Sharman’s rink were ahead at eighteen ends only to drop a five to Andy McIntyre and be unable to recover; David Leighfield scored four shots in the last two ends to win his rinks whilst Paul Skidmore saved the best for the end being fifteen – five down after thirteen ends but then only dropping one more shot to win his rink by two.

However, the real relegation battle was at Banbury Central were the home side need to beat strugglers South Oxford convincingly to have any chance of staying up themselves. Once Will Campion had gone fourteen – zero up on his rink, the rest of his teammates settled to the task with Mick Andrew drawing ahead in the second half of his game and Keith McNeil scrapping a last end win in a very tight match. Five points may yet be enough for Central giving what is still to come on the fixture list!

In Division 2, leaders Kidlington defeated Chipping Norton comfortably, only Norman Sifford able to make an impression for the home side winning by thirteen shots. Whilst mathematically not yet sure of promotion, Kidlington could clinch this with their next match.

Adderbury concocted a lifeline for themselves with a win at home to Shiplake, who showed their problems with travel distances fielding only fourteen players. Biggest win of the match was for Mike Jelfs’ rink who beat the opposition triple by fourteen shots.

Division 3 remains as topsy-turvy as ever! This week’s matches saw Banbury Central involved in another odd result, this time to their disadvantage. Winning on two rinks and drawing a third proved insufficient to take the match points as Ken Williams rink won by twelve shots to clinch the match for Hanborough, doing so with an impressive second half to the game where they dropped only two shots. Both clubs now tie on points and are half a point behind second place Blackbird Leys whose comfortable win away at Bicester was down to solid bowling rather than any single rink winning by a large margin.

Whilst the top four may think that they are fighting out the promotion places, Headington’s whitewash of Chadlington move them out of the relegation zone and, with three matches still to play, they remain close to the promotion dogfight. Martin Kershaw and Steve Gould skipped impressive victories for Headington with the latter taking the prize with a twenty shot win.

Woodstock’s demolition of West Oxford was the outstanding match in Division 4. However, wins on all four rinks, including a twenty shot margin for Dave Francis’ men, and scoring a century in the process was still not enough to lift them off the bottom of the table!

The other two matches appear to have been close affairs, indeed South Oxford’s win, at home to Oxford University Press was; David Bye’s twelve shot win cancelling Richard Cann’s ten shots for OUP. However, Thame’s defeat of City and County, whilst also four points to two, concluded with the home side scoring forty-four shots more than their opponents thanks to big wins for both Paul Heafey and Ray Plested’s men with the latter taking the star prize with their thirsty-three shot winning margin.

Match Results
League Tables

League week 10

What should have been the outstanding match of the season, anywhere in the league let alone Division 1, between the two outstanding club sides of the year, was marred by the car accident suffered by the doyen of Watlington Bowls Club the day before the match.

At the time of writing, I have little news of Bob Gilkes and his wife condition but wish them a speedy recovery.

Understandably, Watlington found it hard missing two of their usual skips, but held leaders Headington until the final few ends on three rinks, indeed, Howard Watts won his rink with the final bowl having been fifteen all at twenty ends and shot down as he stood on the mat. The resulting six point win leaves Headington fifteen points clear at the top of the league and, despite Watlington having a game in hand, unlikely to be caught before the end of the season.

City and County were cementing their place in the top three with a big win at South Oxford that, coincidentally, made their opponents favourites for relegation. Three comfortable rinks for the winners were sufficient to score more than David Tidball’s men could in defeating Alan Ley’s rink by ten shots.

West Witney hosted Banbury Central in a relegation battle that finished two rinks apiece. Indeed, the match was so close that Will Campion killed the final end of his match, despite holding shot, as he knew that he needed a five to win the match overall for his team. He lost the replayed end by two shots but that did not change the overall result.

Leaders Kidlington were not playing in Division 2 and their closest rivals, close neighbours Witney Town and Witney Mills, met in a promotion battle with the honours going to the home team. Comfortable wins for Tim Ludlow and Alan Scholan’s rinks meant that Paul Robbins’ big win for Mills was insufficient to take the match points.

Shiplake’s defeat of Chipping Norton means that the league is very close with seven points separating the top five teams. Big wins for Barry Lambourne, by twenty-three shots, and Jim Bland were enough for the home side despite Jeff Martin’s brave effort winning by sixteen shots only to lose a quarter of his total as he only had three men in his team!

Division 3 again saw a match where a single rink won well enough to snatch match points. Tom McKenna’s men won their match by twenty-two shots to give the match points to Banbury Central and rob Bicester of victory. This despite Alan Hall winning by ten shots for Bicester.

Surprise of the week was Blackbird Leys big defeat of long term leaders Charlbury. Leys have been playing well of late but five – one was still unexpected. In a match of big wins, or losses depending on your club, Jim Stevens took the prize with a thirteen shot win for Charlbury’s only point, whilst Roy Brain and Alex Fleming’s rinks both won by ten or more to give the match points to the home side.

Just to tighten up the division even more, Chadlington took the match points in their four-two defeat of Hanborough to leave seven points between second and seventh places with last place Headington having a match in hand over half those above them.

Division 4 leaders, Thame, maintained their form with a big win at West Oxford. Ken Calcutt’s rink led the way with a thirteen shot win, only Gary Richardson’s men were able to reply for the visitors.

City and County drew a very close match with promotion rivals South Oxford despite losing on three, very close, rinks. Geoff Powell skipped the only winning rink for the home side but did so by twelve shots which was enough to counter the visitors eight shots in total from their winning rinks.

Bloxham travelled to Oxford University Press and took the spoils thanks to Dave Morse’s rink winning by sixteen shots.

Thame still look secure at the top of the division but Bloxham are not out of the hunt as they still have to play the top two sides.

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Match Results
League Table

League week 9

A week of high scores and tight finishes that saw Headington cement their place at the top of Division 1 with another six-nil win and a century to boot, this time the losers were South Oxford. With Watlington not playing, the lead at the top is now nine points for Headington and looks insurmountable but the top two play each other next week! The biggest win of the match was the rink of Nick Rae-Welsh, winning by twenty-seven shots.

Closest match of the week in the division was at Banbury Central where the home team came from five – one down after eighteen ends to win four-two against last season’s champions, Carterton. Whilst Nigel Galletly’s rink came from four behind to tie at twenty ends only for Paul Sharman’s men to take four on the last end, Will Campion came from a similar position to take a nine shot win and the match points for his team.

Elsewhere, City and County maintained their run of good form with a five-one defeat of West Witney. Stars of the week were Alan Ley’s rink winning by twenty-nine shots.

Relegation is now between four clubs and should be decided by their remaining head-to-heads.

The two games in Division 2 saw leaders Kidlington lose to rivals Witney Town thus tightening the battle for promotion. Witney lost on two very close rinks, despite Richard Barnett’s men picking up an eight on one end for them in their match with Joe Woodward’s men! However, comfortable wins on the other two rinks saw them gain the match points and move to within one point of their opponents.

Chipping Norton had a comfortable win despite Tom Clarke’s rink winning by eighteen shots for the visitors, Adderbury. They now lie third with a game in hand over the teams above them.

The top of the table clash in Division 3 saw leaders Charlbury host second place Banbury Central and finish satisfied with their four points from a very tight game thanks to Eric Pitts’ men winning by the widest margin of the evening – nine shots!

Hanborough’s whitewash of Headington demonstrates how close the division is as it moves them from sixth place to second! Other than the leaders, any club can still be either relegated or promoted from this division! This match was close on all four rinks with the biggest margin, one of six shots, going to Colin Hayley’s men.

The other match in this division saw erstwhile last placed Bicester defeat Chadlington on all four rinks and score a century whilst doing so. Comfortable wins all over for Bicester with Kevin Taylor’s men the pick with a thirteen shot margin.

In an exceptionally close division any club, other than the current leaders, can still finish as champions or find themselves relegated! None playing Blackbird Leys now occupy last place but they are only four and a half points adrift of second place and have a match in hand over most of their rivals!

Thames’ defeat of Woodstock sees them move clear at the top of Division 4 as closest rivals City and County were losing to Bloxham.

Biggest win for Thame in their five-one win came from John Timms rink which won by nineteen shots. Whilst Bloxham had an equivalent win for Tony Gardner’s rink it was exceeded by Dave Morse’s rink which won by a twenty-three shot margin. Indeed, Bloxham ran in over one hundred shots for the first time this season.

The other match in the division saw South Oxford defeat West Oxford in a topsy-turvy match where John Guest’s fourteen shot win proved sufficient to give the home side the match points and move them into second place.

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Match results
League tables

League week 8

At least the worst of the rain held off!

The duel at the top of Division 1 looks as though it will continue until the top two meet on 13 July and, maybe, until the end of the season!

This week the leaders, Headington, were at West Witney and they continued their seemingly relentless drive to the title with another six-nil win, albeit closer than some of late. Indeed, Ray Gaskin and his men were actually a shot down going into the final end, where a two shot advantage saw them snatch the victory from Kevin Alder’s men.

Rivals Watlington travelled to South Oxford and came away with five points. Dick Claridge’s rink went five shots clear after twelve ends for the home side and Shane Cooper’s men were unable to claw back the gap to give South Oxford their only point of the night. The other three rinks were comfortable for visitors despite a late scare for Bob Gilkes’ men, who dropped six shots in the final three ends of their 21 – 20 win.

Carterton continued their recent run of poor form with another six-nil defeat, this week at home to City and County! In a low scoring match that was close at the halfway mark the visitors were able to press home their advantage in the second half of the game on all rinks.

Two of the top three met in Division 2 with leaders Kidlington winning despite visitors Witney Town winning two rinks and drawing a third! Kidlington have Mike Peterson’s rink to thank for the match points as their thirteen shot win topped all that Witney Town’s winning duo of rinks could muster.

Second place Witney Mills travelled to Shiplake and came away with a victory. Richard Barnett’s victory by twelve shots proved enough despite Graham Kennedy’s efforts for Shiplake.

In the week’s local derby, Charlbury travelled to neighbours Chadlington in Division 3 and came out winners of a very close match. Ron Arthur and Carl Smart opened up a twenty-one shot advantage for the home side only to have Dave Cooper and Eric Pitts win by a combined twenty-two shots! It must have been a classic last end on the final rink to both watch and play in.

Second place Banbury Central travelled to Blackbird Leys and lost a very close match with no one rink able to build up a significant lead and only Alex Fleming’s men were able to pull away in the final third of their game to ensure the match points for the home side.

Headington went into their game in bottom place and in danger of relegation. However, they regained some form, winning on three rinks with Martin Kershaw’s men ensuring the match points despite Martin Workman’s magnificent effort in scoring sixteen shots in the final six ends for Bicester.

League leaders in Division 4, Thame, had their bye week so a chance for challengers to close the gap?

South Oxford seemed to have the best chance, away at bottom club Woodstock. However, not all went to plan as, despite John Guests’ rink winning comfortably, their score was cancelled by Ben Dickson’s rink and trumped by Brian Clark’s twenty-eight shot margin for the home side.

City and County’s game against Oxford University Press was much more one sided, with the home sided taking maximum points. Highlights included Geoff Powell’s rink winning by twelve shots. However, mention should be made for Roger Cann’s men who only lost because they played as a triple and had to forfeit twenty-five percent of their score.

The final match was between two mid-table side with West Oxford defeating Bloxham and Gary Richardson’s rink having the largest win.

Match Results
League tables

League week 7

This week’s matches saw the halfway point in the season and, at least in some divisions, gave us some real pointers to the way the season is going.

Division 1 now seems a head-to-head battle between Headington and Watlington. Both had big wins this week and are now well clear of the rest. They meet on 13 July in what could be the title decider.

Headington continued their run of good form with a whitewash of last season’s champions, Carterton, on their opponent’s green! Difficult to praise any of the rinks as they all won by at least six shots but Nick Rae-Welsh’s men took the best performance award with a twenty shot winning margin.

Watlington were at West Witney in a much closer affair with Shane Cooper’s rink cancelling out Andy McIntyre’s twelve shot win for Witney. The other rinks both went to Watlington as the Witney men ran out of ends and were unable to close what early in the game had been a twenty shot difference between the teams.

The final fixture in the division looked as if it would be decisive in the relegation stakes early in the match. After eight ends Central were losing on all four rinks and in danger of being whitewashed. While they pulled back to win on two rinks nothing they did was going to compensate for Colin Pollard’s rink’s magnificent thirty shot win; indeed, they were unlucky to drop seven shots in the last two ends having been forty-one – four up after nineteen ends.

Despite not playing, Kidlington remain clear at the top of Division 2. Their closest rival, Witney Mills, closed the gap with a comfortable win at bottom club Adderbury but still remain four points behind. Nothing spectacular on any rink in what would appear to be a close match.

The other match in the division was at Shiplake where the home side were able to field a stronger team than they can away from home and beat visitors, Witney Town, comfortably. Shiplake held the early advantage on all four rinks and only Paul Demczak’s rink was able to pull back for the visitors whilst captain Barrie Evans lead his men to a convincing win for Shiplake.

Division 3 leaders, Charlbury increased their advantage over non-playing second place Banbury Central with a good win in a close match at Headington. whilst Eric Pitts men were able to break clear for the visitors, the other rinks were separated by no more than three shots. The loss leaves Headington at the foot of the table as Blackbird Leys took two points from their encounter at Chadlington. In a match with big wins on all four rinks, Ron Arthur and Paul Madeley’s rinks had bigger margins for the home side than Bob Spencer and Paul Sage could muster for their opponents.

The final match in this division proved a close affair between Hanborough and Bicester. It was decided by Martin Oliver’s rink’s big win for Hanborough.

In a similar fashion, Paul Heafey’s rink settled the match between Thame and South Oxford in Division 4. The win leaves Thame well clear atop the division with their visitors still in second place.

With City and County not playing, West Oxford and Bloxham closed the gap on the final promotion place. West Oxford defeating Oxford University Press in a match full of big wins. Gary Richardson and Chris Sherwood’s rinks both won by more than ten shots for West Oxford thus cancelling Paul Tweddle’s efforts for OUP.

The final match was also the closest of this weeks matches, Bloxham taking the match points by a single shot despite Brian Clark’s men winning by eleven shots for Woodstock. Tony Gardner and Dave Morse both skipped rinks that won by eight or more shots for Bloxham.

Printable report
Match Results
League Tables

League week 6

Another week of good weather produced some good bowls matches across the league.

Watlington provided the outstanding result of the week with their whitewash of last year’s Division 1 champions, Carterton. Good solid bowling from all sixteen Watlington players, as they have done for much of the season, means that they and Headington are now clear of the chasers.

That they are still second is as much to do with Headington’s abilities as it is to do with Banbury Central’s poor form. A six – nil defeat for Central may have not been unexpected, given other results so far this year, but the manner of it, 118 – 46, certainly was.

(As I write I have only the outline result for the third game, between South Oxford and Witney Mills. I am informed that this was also six – nil but, unexpectedly perhaps, to South Oxford.)

Next week’s round of matches is at the halfway point in the season and, only then, will Division 2’s standings start to mean anything. This week saw three games played for the first time this year and wins for Kidlington, Witney Mills and Witney Town contrive to move Kidlington well clear at the top with only Adderbury, of the others, looking out of the promotion race.

Indeed, their defeat by Witney Town, despite Phil Gladden’s big win, makes their relegation look likely. Town’s Paul Demczak more than cancelled out Gladden’s score and he was able assisted on the other two rinks.

Leaders Kidlington comfortably defeated a weak Shiplake side, who still find getting people to travel difficult, but only Joe Woodward’s men were really able to make their advantage count with an eighteen shot victory.

Witney Mills defeat of Chipping Norton came from a close match where the biggest margin, of seven shots, came in Chippy’s one victory.

Division 3 is proving the closest in the league this year. Charlbury maintained their lead at the top with a win against Hanborough in a close match. David Cooper’s rink’s nineteen shot winning margin proving decisive with the match split at two rinks apiece.

Banbury Central find themselves in second place despite starting the season thinking that they would be in another relegation dogfight. This week it was Tom McKenna’s twenty-two shot winning margin that won them the points.

Whilst Blackbird Leys still occupy last place, their defeat of Headington B keeps them in contention with third place Chadlington only having one and a half points more than them now. A nineteen point win for James Baldwin’s rink, with good support from Roy Brain’s men ensured Leys of the match points.

John Timms’ seventeen shot win set up Thames’ defeat of Bloxham in Division 4 in an otherwise very close affair. A win that leaves them top of the table.

City and County’s defeat of West Oxford was a similar affair with Joe Glenn’s men seventeen shot winning margin ensuring the points went to the home side.

The final fixture, between the bottom two clubs saw Oxford University Press triumph with a whitewash of Woodstock. Both Roger Cann and Geoff Jordan’s rinks had sizeable wins in the match.

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Match results
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League week 5

The weather could have gone either way – I was in Wales where it rained heavily all day – but all matches seem to have survived.

Division 1 provided a week of large victories, or heavy defeats, depending who you were playing for. Headington retained their position at the top with good win, away at City and County. Results included a fifteen shot win for Howard Watts rink whilst the home sides only victory came from Paul Comley.

However, the title is yet to be decided as both Watlington and Carterton closed the gap taking maximum points from their fixtures. Carterton’s defeat of South Oxford was a comprehensive as the score suggest. Their fifty-one shot winning margin included a nineteen shot win for Paul Sharman’s rink.

Watlington might have expected more of a challenge away at Banbury Central but the home side put up little resistance, only Will Campion’s rink getting close at 20 – 22 but they started their fightback from 17 – 2 down and needed more ends than they had!

Leaders, Kidlington, increased their margin in Division 2 winning by twenty-five shots at Adderbury, Paul McGrath’s rink leading the way for them. Chipping Norton consolidated second place defeating Witney Town in a close game where all rinks could have gone either way until the last three ends.

Division 3 remains as close as ever. Hanborough defeated Blackbird Leys as Geoff Thompson’s eleven shot margin was enough to cancel Paul Sage’s nine shots for the visitors.

In a ‘game of two halves’, Bicester defeated Charlbury, despite Mike Smith and his men winning their rink comfortably for Charlbury, thanks to big wins for Kevin Taylor and Richard Herbert’s rinks.

The closest result of the week in the league came at Headington where the match ended in a bowls ‘draw’. The home team won on three rinks but the Banbury Central rink skipped by Jim Pickering won by a crushing twenty-seven shots to take match points and tie the fixture.

South Oxford remain on course to be promoted from Division 4 at the end of the season winning a close match at home to Bloxham. However, Jim Lucas tried to spoil their evening winning by twenty-one shots for the visitors. David Lyne almost cancelled this out for South Oxford winning by nineteen shots and David Bye completed the job for a two shot overall margin.

Thame maintained their form with a dominant defeat of Oxford University Press whilst City and County followed suit winning, slightly less convincingly, at Woodstock.

Prinatable report
Match results
League tables