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Winner, Liam Baxter, receiving his trophy from FMB's Jon Nicholson
Caption: FMB's Jon Nicholson presenting the inaugural FMB Super 32 trophy to winner Liam Baxter from Holme

Sunday 6th April saw me attend the inaugural FMB Super 32, held at the picturesque Staveley Crown Green Bowling Club. Dream child of Alan Gilpin and organised by the Kendal and District Bowling League, it is an invitational ‘champion of champion’s’ event to kick start the new season. Invitees represent the cream of the area’s bowlers, predominantly originating from the top half of the Division 1 merit table with the remaining places filled with the winners and runners up of the different divisions, merit tables and championship competitions from the 2013 season.

As proud sponsors of local sport in the community generally and the Kendal and District Bowling League Website in particular, the Directors at FMB were only too willing to help when Denise Noble, League Secretary, asked for FMB’s assistance in getting the Super 32 Competition off the ground.

After a morning of mixed weather and results, semi-finalists were Steve Carruthers (Windermere A) v Liam Baxter (Holme A) and Jonathan Cooper (Windermere A) v James Dennison (Levens A). Baxter and Cooper came out winners and the final was a tight run affair but Baxter sneaked to the finish line 21-18. It was an excellent day of excellent bowling and an event which hopefully will be run for many years. Note: to anyone thinking of taking up the game. Jonathan Cooper a well-respected cricketer in the South Lakes area only took up bowling two season’s ago!

My own interest in Bowls starting when shortly after retiring from a 20 year rugby playing career with Kendal Rugby Club when I moved into a house situated yards from Netherfield Cricket Club. The site is also home to Netherfield Crown Green Bowling Club and coincidentally one of the most welcoming and well run social clubs this side of the border. It was a golden opportunity for a few neighbours and I to ‘get involved’ in the local community.

What we hadn’t realised at the time is how addictive and frustrating a game it can be. Although the rules are few and simple, like any ball sport - line and length are crucial. In our early days we saw rapid improvement; from struggling to keep our bowls within the same postcode we eventually managed to keep most of them on the green. Several seasons down the line we generally manage to get within a couple of feet of the jack – unfortunately better players consistently get their bowls within an inch or two.

However, what really surprised me was how competitive a game, or more specifically the people who played it were. Behind the friendliest of opponent’s smiles lies a steely determination to win. Although a game played and enjoyed by many retirees; people of all ages are welcomed into the many clubs within the area. Leagues are run with military precision with individual merit tables for each division. Open competitions are run nearly every weekend throughout the season - many with prize money not to be sniffed at.

There are 25 clubs in the south lakes area with my own club Netherfield running 7 teams on a competitive weekly basis. If you would like to find the nearest club within your area, click here.

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