THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO CROWN GREEN BOWLS IN THIS AREA FOR YEARS.
That was the overwhelming opinion of those who attended the first meeting of the proposed new Premier Bowls League.
Around 50 people attended the inaugural meeting held at Woodfield Social Club in Wolverhampton last night to hear a presentation from the group hoping to set up this new league.
Work has been going on behind the scenes for a few weeks by Mel Evans, John & Nick Newey, Mark Hall, Lynn Pritchatt & Mark Clayton. Together they have produced exciting plans to create a league which will hopefully improve both the image & standard of bowls in the area.
Ladies Waterloo Champion Lynn Pritchatt opened the meeting by welcoming members from clubs in Staffordshire CBA & Warwick & Worcester CBA together with officers from the BCGBA, SCBA & W&WCBA.
John & Nick Newey then spoke at length of the committee’s desire to set up a competitive mid week league before Mel Evans unveiled the leagues forward thinking format.
The league which is planned to commence in April 2007 will be eight a side & played on Monday evening’s. All games 21up starting at 7.00pm.
Mel Evans was delighted to announce that a deal has been clinched with a sponsor enabling them to pay out prize money totalling around £2,000 based on a division of ten sides making it one of the richest leagues in the country. The eventual winning side could pick up an attractive first prize in the region of £650 & a side finishing as low as sixth place collecting £150. Rules include all games being played under the BCGBA dress code & with scoreboards in operation at all games.
Quotes from the meeting :-
BRIAN CHAMBERLAIN (2007 BCGBA President) – Those involved in putting this together in such a professional & detailed manner need congratulating. I sincerely hope it gets the support it deserves because its something the game needs”.
MEL EVANS – “We are constantly hearing the game is dying on its feet. There are fewer tournaments & less teams in the main leagues than there were 10-20 years ago. Unless we take the game by the scruff of the neck & come up with a product attractive to bowlers & spectators the game will continue to struggle – Hopefully this will improve the profile of the sport in this region”.
JOHN NEWEY – “The sport has lost some of its appeal & needs to reinvent itself like football with the Premiership & cricket with 20-20 & one day games. Manchester did it a few years ago by bringing together the top clubs & players from the north to form a premier league & that has been a resounding success. If we can get this league off the ground & inject some more enthusiasm into the game it can only be good for Crown Green bowls”
LYNN PRITCHATT – “A great deal of work has gone into the planning & development of this league. Everyone involved is passionate about Crown Green Bowls & we feel this league can only be good for the sport”.
NICK NEWEY – “A few weeks ago Staffordshire reached the Crosfield Cup Final and to see the interest & crowd at the final shows how much support there is in the bowls in this locality. We feel we should build on that and this proposed league can only improve the strength of the game in this area”.
The committee pointed out this is not a league for the elite sides & hope the league can develop further by creating more divisions of clubs keen to play at the highest level.
Clubs who attended have a closing date of 30th November to get in their application to join. The official launch of this new Premier Bowls league will take place at Woodfield Social Club, Woodfield Avenue, Penn, Wolverhampton on Monday 4th December at 8.00pm.
Quote from Nick Newey, Fixtures Secretary
The idea behind this league, is to introduce a workable 8 a side midweek league to the area that excites the top bowlers again. The current midweek situation in Staffordshire is not as strong as it needs to be if Staffordshire are to compete at county level with the likes of Greater Manchester and Cheshire and the like, and judging by W&Ws recent form, the same applies to you guys. The 8 a side format makes it workable for midweek i.e matches start at 7.00pm and will be finished before 9.00pm allowing a little social time afterwards and everyone will be home without wondering whether they will be in danger of turning into pumpkins. The high prize fund means that the better teams locally will be encouraged to have a go and in turn, if the better teams are involved, then the better players will be involved and the competition will be stronger. We are not intending to operate as a ‘closed shop’ and should we fulfill our numbers this season, teams will be invited to apply for next season. But, it aint gonna appeal to everyone, so, as applies in any democracy, if you don’t like it, stay away!!!
The game of crown green bowls will never have the mass appeal of football or golf or cricket or snooker. But with a little invention we could all strive to have our time ‘in the sun’. I don’t doubt that there are people out there that would rather watch village cricket than an exciting 20/20 match but the latter is gonna appeal to the majority, not the former. In recent years, we’ve watched every other sport evolve into something special. Why not bowls? Its not about the money. My club would happily play in this league if we finished 10th. Its about having a vehicle for the best players to test themselves against the best players and see how good they can be. What we have put together would not work through any existing league and thats why we have put this league together. All we ask is that bowlers embrace the idea, give it a chance and see what happens.
Mel Evans, League Secretary:
On behalf of the team behind the formation of the new Premier League i would like to thank everyone for their support. There has been a huge amount of work involved behind the scenes over a short period of time. What many are not aware of is the fact the first meeting the six people involved in getting the wheels in motion was only held on 6th November. In just 14 days we managed to put together a package including – a set of rules – a dedicated team to run it – and clinched a deal for league sponsorship. It has been an hectic two weeks involving endless phone calls and meetings.
We hope everyone who comes on board will enjoy the prospect of competing in what we feel will be the strongest league in the Staffs and W&W area. The off shoot of more competitive games on a regular basis can in turn only be to the benefit of both our County teams. Over the past 15 years both Staffs and W&W have each just reached two Crosfield Cup Finals. Hopefully, the strength & competitive nature of this league will result in teams & individuals from this region having more frequent success on the National scene.
A special mention to Waterloo manager Jimmy Parker for his support. Yes i am sure our eventual champions would enjoy taking on the Manchester Premier League champions. At a neutral venue that would be a very attractive fixture as a opener to the 2008 bowls season.
Bill Pitt mentioned the work of Martin McGuinness commenced in the winter of 2005/2006 to try to get something of this nature off the ground. Martin’s idea’s which sadly did not come to fruition laid the foundations which we have built on & his efforts will not be forgotten. We are keen to ensure Martin remains involved in the set up.