County suffer a Mersey mauling
Sorry Shropshire had bowls aficionados reaching for the history books after a deflating start to the Endsleigh British Senior County Championship.
They lost to Merseyside for the first time in years – and suffered their heaviest away defeat since 1960 as they were beaten by 105 shots at the Wheatsheaf in St Helens, writes Malcolm Fletcher.
It meant a 43-shot home win on Bowring’s Premier green, which would usually be a decent result, was nowhere near good enough as Shropshire lost Sunday’s qualifying section two opener by 62 chalks overall. A county association spokesperson confirmed: “It was only the third ever over one hundred aggregate loss away from home in Shropshire’s history.
“It follows defeats against Staffordshire in 1932 and Lancashire in 1960.”
Selectors Mick Jones and Mark Thomas clearly have lots to discuss before they tackle reigning champions North Midlands – who beat Cheshire by a single shot – next month, and with more than just avenging last season’s semi-final loss on their minds.
Some of their selections clearly worked, debutant Sam Millward sweeping the man-of-the-match awards at Bowring with a 21-5 card and Spencer Clarke proving his class with a 21-9.
But another slow start in the sunshine at home was not helped by the early news of maulings on Merseyside.
The visitors were 38 shots down after the first four and single-figure defeats for Clay Flattley, Kiah Roberts, Josh Bradburn, the recalled Derek Wright and Rich Goddard meant the bad news just kept coming.
Only county No.1 Callum Wraight (21-14) and his Castlefields team-mate Glyn Herbert (21-20) managed to get over the line first and the mood in Wellington was flat despite a slow recovery featuring Champion of Champions Michael Beer (21-8) to secure a reasonable margin with eight winners out of 12.
Jones had warned Merseyside were a good side – and they were, making recently retired BCGBA chief executive John Crowther understandably proud of his men.
But it was stunned disbelief for Shropshire and, when three-time county president Isobel Jones came to make her post-match speech, the public address system gave up the ghost.
It was that sort of day.