The Summit Garage Staffordshire Premier Bowls League starts on Monday with three divisions of 10 teams after a turbulent Winter. We look at each division below.
The Greville Arms will be looking to retain the league title and with the same squad they will be favourites to do so. Willenhall Nordley A were 22 points behind and with the additions of Paul Bailey and Chris Worthington they may be able to close that gap. Dudley Dell finished level with Nordley however with the sad passing of Jamie Broadhead have lost a very good player, but will have the greatest inspiration out of all of the teams. King George V lost a few players before last season but still had a solid season, however have lost Phil Clinton for this one, while West Brom FSC will want to improve on their finish last season. Tanworth have made a few signings so with their weapon of a home green they will hope to be able to challenge the top half. 2016 winners St Georges struggled last season and with the loss of Glyn Picknell and Mike Wainwright may do so again. Newly promoted teams M&B Cheslyn Hay and the George will be looking to survive with the teams that got them promoted, although M&B have added Reece Farr and the George Phil Clinton. Moor Lane also will just want to survive in their first season in the top league for a while, and will look for their exciting young prospects Jack Whitehead and Adam Patrick to lead the way for them.
There will be a lot of teams in the league with aspirations of getting promoted to the Premier Division, none so than the three relegated teams from last season, Castlefields, Penn and Chadsmoor. They all have similar sides from last season although Penn have signed Andy and Mark Jones but lost Ben Dixon and Paul Busby, while Chadsmoor will have Dave Rhodes back. Three Magpies lost in the playoffs last season and have lost Tom Palmer from that side in a much changed squad. Windmill were in the top league a couple of years ago and have the squad to be able to get back, while Moseley CC are another former Premier Division team. Great Barr have a young side that could surprise a few, and Baddesley and Ward End Cons were not far from the playoffs last season in one of the feeder leagues.
Stretton Anglesey will be overwhelming favourites to go up as they have a squad packed full of Derbyshire county players, and Netherseal, as winners of Division 2 last season, will also be looking to join them. Woodfield were unlucky to be moved into Division 2 and will want to get back to Division 1, as well as Langley who weren’t far behind them last season. Short Heath Libs, Wrockwardine Wood, Willenhall Nordley B and Sutton Park all had similar points tallies last season so it may be a close battle between them, but Wrockwardine have signed Aaron and Jamie King from the defunct Hadley USC team. Broomfield struggled last season and will welcome an easier division to get some confidence back into the side. Baldwins are another new team in the league, made up of some of the bowlers that played at Kings Norton and Ye Olde Knowle, and could be dark horses with a new home green as well.