Historic success for ladies after landing first county indoor title
For only the third time in its history and in its 90th anniversary year, Northants Bowling Federation won the coveted Derbyshire Trophy - the English Bowling Federation's inter-county title.
In the final at Newark IBC on Sunday (April 28), the Northants A team - all but one of whom are members of the Stamford indoor club - beat Nottinghamshire 97-80 over 25 enthralling ends.
They won on three out of four rinks played in a match under distinctive Federation rules as a two-bowl triples format.
Northants had emerged full of confidence from a tough southern area qualifying group featuring Lincs, Hunts, North Cambs and Norfolk while Notts - who have indicated they intend to field a B team next season - completed an unbeaten campaign against Northumberland, Durham and Humberside.
Led by captain James Harford, Northants quickly got into their stride, despite unfamiliar conditions of a slower carpet to that they are used to experiencing at Stamford IBC - and under overhead lighting that had most players peering through the gloom.
Overall they led by just six shots after five ends and only 35-30 after 10 ends before stretching their advantage to 59-45 with still 10 ends to play for each rink.
Against the experienced Dave Adams, Simon Law was in outstanding form inspiring his rink of Paul Dalliday and Harford to 15 shots in 11 ends and an eventual 24-19 victory.
Meanwhile, the wily Jeff Newson - a Derbyshire Trophy winner with Northants back in 1996 - showed that he had lost none of his old skills in the 23 intervening years. With Nick Wilkie and Trevor Collins the trio ran out triumphant 25-16.
Elsewhere, Roger Martin's rink was finding it difficult coming to terms with the conditions so as Federation rules allow, he switched with lead Adam Warrington after 13 ends and it immediately paid dividends cutting the scoreline to 17-19 by the 17th end.
A five count against them on the 20th end put them on the back foot but they held on gamely to keep the overall deficit manageable.
In the end, the rink honours went to Bob Warters, Martyn Dolby - the oldest players in the squad - and Tristan Morton (a young title winner in 2006).
With the front pair in control for the most part, they led 10-2 and 14-7 before a dip in the middle, brought two devastatingly accurate killed ends by Morton and two superbly drawn saving shots to keep the trio's noses in front.
Normal service was resumed, from the 18th end and 12 shots in seven ends put the result and the match beyond doubt.
A delighted Northants president Dick Noble - a winning team member in 2006 - joined in the celebrations and said what a proud moment it was for the county and for him to be president on this momentous occasion.
Results (Northants names first): Derbyshire Trophy final (at Newark): A Warrington, M Humphreys, R Martin lost to S Ayling, D Rouse, N Osbourne 21-31; N Wilkie, T Collins, J Newson beat D Colley,M Lenton,P Dayus 25-16; B Warters,M Dolby, T Morton won 27-14; P Dalliday, J Harford, S Law won 24-19.
Having given the county a promising start to the week of the English Bowling Federation indoor championships at Newark - winning their first three individual first round matches - Northants bowlers flattered to deceive and emerged empty-handed.
The county reached only one final - the women's four-bowl singles. But Helen Holroyd, having beaten opponents from Humberside and Norfolk, failed to put in an appearance against Northumberland's Anne Lennie because of a previous holiday commitment.
Earlier in the week, with her parents John and Moira, she had reached the second round of the mixed triples before losing to Nottinghamshire and then with Louise Harris won a first round pairs against Suffolk, before Lincs beat them.
Holroyd was also one of the victims of the unbeaten and unlucky England international Ed Elmore - in the Under 25 Open singles.
The Hunts bowler played 13 successive sessions to reach finals in three different disciplines but was struck down with illness and had to withdraw from all of them.
Elsewhere James Harford and Simon Law built an 11-1 lead in their pairs but when their Humberside opponents switched positions - as Federation rules allow - the Northants duo failed to pick up another shot.
Paul Dalliday and Martyn Dolby also went out in the first round of their respective four-bowl and senior singles and it was a similar story for Christine Ford in the women's senior singles despite a first round win.
Stephen Harris and his sister Louise won the first round of their mixed pairs against Norfolk but lost by one shot to Durham, the eventual runners-up.
Sadly Northants' hopes of progression in both men's and women's triples disciplines ended when the men from Blackstones lost 21-13 to the eventual finalists from Derbyshire. The women - June Brennan, Denise Mackie and Chris Ford - lost to North Essex.
Apart from the men's victory in the Derbyshire Trophy, the only other highlight of the week was the Northants women's executive finishing third in the Harry Carver Trophy.
The team was Doris Flowers, Viv Hempsell, Terri Handley, Glenys Edwards and Joan Robinson and president Christine Ford.
In the men's equivalent - the Eversley Trophy in which they were defending champions - the Northants men's executive team of Richard Montgomery, Les Sharp, Malcolm Squires, Cliff Watson, Graham Agger and President Dick Noble finished sixth of nine counties - seven points behind winners Durham.
Three Stamford bowlers made history by claiming the club's first Lincolnshire Women's Indoor title.
In the final of the triples at Boston, Elizabeth Wallace, Louise Harris and Katie Bailey beat three from Boston 17-16.
In a match of changing fortunes, they took time to adapt to the surface but eventually established a 14-11 lead only to drop four shots to trail 14-15.
However, a three count on the next end put them back in charge leaving the home trio needing two to take the match into an extra end. A single was not enough.
Stephen Harris (representing Spalding, but also a full member at Stamford) won the Under 25 singles, defeating Sam Ashton in a tie break, played to the sets format. He lost the first set 6-7, won the second 8-6, then won the tie break 2-1.