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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.

Printable report
Match results
League tables

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