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FMB's Jon Nicholson presenting Ian Nicholson with the FMB Super 32 Trophy
Caption: FMB's Jon Nicholson presenting Ian Nicholson with the FMB Super 32 Trophy

Sunday 5th April saw me attend the second annual FMB Super 32, held on the hallowed turf of Netherfield 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 crème de la crème of the area’s bowlers who are all winners in their own right. Entrants are invited based on the previous season’s results. Most originate from the top half of the Division 1 merit table; with the remaining places being filled with the winners and runners-up of the lower divisions respective merit tables and championship competitions from the 2014 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 last year. We are thrilled that we can continue our sponsorship for the second year running.

Bowls may look like a very simple sport. And it is. But like any sport there are good players and bad; with most fitting somewhere in the middle. Line and length are the most important factors but understanding the speed and undulations within the green are also crucial to success. Many club bowlers are constantly caught out with a quickening or slowing green depending on the time of day. A rising sun will warm up the playing surface and speed up the green and the reverse happens as the temperature drops. Similarly, rain will slow the speed of the bowls over the ground with the game quickening up as it dries or drains away.

Rules are simple, each player has two bowls and the first player to start will bowl the jack. This is a smaller bowl quite often coloured yellow for official matches and competitions. Nearest to the jack wins one point and if the same player has first two nearest he will score two points. The winner of each end retains the jack and will put it wherever he/she likes on the green. The only condition is that it must travel at least 20 metres. First to 21 wins the match.

As part of the FMB Super 32 format, division 2 players are given a +2 handicap; division 3 +3 and so on. The early rounds of the Super 32 have become known for who will be the 'giant-killing' victims and the crowd was not left disappointed by the displays of several underdogs from those lower divisions this year. Verna Ashley (Lower Holker) was the first of those to triumph over #11 seed Dave Grisedale (Holme). Ashley started the game 5-0 up and finished it with the same points advantage, 21-16.

However, more impressive perhaps was Tom Wilson (Sedbergh); a fourth division entrant (starting 4-0) who demolished #16 seed Kevin Tomlinson (Bowness) 21-7.

The first semi-final saw a family affair with father and son Martin and Alan Gilpin (both Victoria) competing against one-another. Gilpin was the only semi-finalist outside of the top four rankings (#7) and led superbly on short lengths to defeat his father 21-15.

In the second semi-final top seed Ian Nicholson took on Holme youngster Mark Ashburn in the game of the day, with both players illustrating their quality and it was only a bowl-sized gap at 20 each that stopped Ashburn from reaching the final.

Ian Nicholson in action

Nicholson quickly built a 9-4 lead in the final but Gilpin was determined not to disappoint the crowd and came back to 11-12. But Nicholson played excellently to complete the win.

There are several attractions to this FMB sponsored event that have seen it grow in popularity in such a short time frame, as witnessed by the large crowd. Lower division club players get to pit themselves against the area’s best and the winner is invited to a £3,500 invitational tournament in Lancaster against the countries elite.

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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