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10 Years of bowling websites in Huddersfield

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The first dedicated bowling website in Huddersfield was for the Huddersfield Veterans League, the now defunct www.hdvba.co.uk, which first appeared on 4 November 2013, 10 years ago today. That was after I had joined the Management Committee of the League specifically to develop a website to improve communications with clubs and bowlers and to promote the workings of the League.


I used a free website development programme and paid for all the hosting costs myself so there was no cost to the League. In return the League tolerated my licence to print most of what I did print although some of the articles didn't always sit too well with some members but in the main it was considered to be a useful tool for the League.


During the 7 years that I managed the League's website it may have been a coincidence, although I would like to think not, that the League attracted more teams than it has ever done. When I stood down in 2020 the total number of teams in the League was 96, that was a record number for the League and a total that has not been matched since. I truly believe that an active website had a major part to play in attracting and retaining new teams to the League. The lessons learnt then have benefited the Winter League since.


Daily postings ensured that interested parties came back to the site on a regular basis which concentrated on Veterans League news and didn't vary from the prime topic of League news and competition updates.


However that all ended with my split with the Management Committee when they did a U-turn over supporting the introduction of the Winter League in 2020 once they learnt that the clubs had voted for it to be a mixed-gender League. That sexist approach didn't sit well with me so I resigned my position of League Secretary after 5 years in post but continued to run the www.hdvba.co.uk website but without access to all the latest happenings in the League's Management Committee. It also freed me up to concentrate on contributing to a successful launch of the Winter League in Huddersfield.


Continuing to use the Veteran's League title aggravated the relationship with the Management Committee even further especially when I refused to handover to them the hdvba domain name so that they could take it over. That resulted in the League changing its name from The Huddersfield & District Veterans Bowling Association (HDVBA) to The Huddersfield Veterans Bowling Association (HVBA) so that they could operate under an alternative website domain name.


The 2020 Covid year saw a record number of visitors to the website as Yorkshire CCGBA used the outlet as an important communications tool resulting in over 1,000 visitors a day at times. I like to think that the site played an important part in future-proofing our sport so that it was well provided for in its safe reintroduction to bowlers everywhere.


On 12 November 2020 I developed and introduced a new website, www.huddweb.co.uk, with the new concept of a Web Portal with a vision of offering free websites to all local bowling leagues under the umbrella of a one-stop over-arching Huddersfield title. The first day posting explained the vision for the Web Portal. I had previously approached all the local leagues to offer this new service and been underwhelmed by the lack of a positive response.


All the Winter League activities were shared on the new website but beyond that only the Huddersfield Ladies Works League took up the offer and for a summer season we worked together to bring regular updates on League business to the League bowlers and teams. In addition I provided twice-weekly updates and commentary on the Mirfield League primarily derived from their Bowlsnet site.

After one season that link ended with the passing of the Ladies Works League's Treasurer Norma Maxwell in September 2021. At the same time my prime contact and supporter within the League, Hazel Rangeley, stepped down from her Management Committee role. A new Committee was formed and they had other priorities rather than providing information for their website. None of the other seven local leagues approached took up the free offer. Three of them never had the courtesy to respond to the offer at all.


The withdrawal of the Ladies Works League saw the end of the vision of one umbrella website serving local leagues. HuddWeb reverted to the official website of the Winter League and the unofficial website of the Veterans League to the continuing annoyance of that League's Management Committee. There was too much well-informed criticism of the League for their liking and they have never recognised the benefits of the promotion of their Leagues that HuddWeb has provided and continues to provide.


Despite the lack of local support the website continues to flourish with three postings a day over the last 2 years (3,100 postings in 2 years) covering not just the Winter League and Veterans League but going wider to cover Yorkshire representative teams and competitions and an increasing amount of club news especially in support of their open competitions. Averaging over 400 visitors a day is testimony to the interest that there is in the written word about happenings in the world of crown green bowling.

Ten years of reporting on happenings in local bowling leagues has enabled me to converse with many bowlers, clubmen and leagues in the area. I have found it very invigorating to learn of all the good work and commitment there is to the sport and the local clubs. I enjoy writing and the benefits it can bring to the reader and the subject under discussion.


I am a self-taught website developer primarily having a history of using free or cheap software tools to build websites from scratch. Although I did work in I.T in my working life the selection, purchase, support and introduction of medical equipment and clinical systems as well as major hospital departmental systems (e.g. Radiology, Pathology, Finance, Patient Administration etc) was of little relevance to building a website revolving around a blog on a sport new to me. I have enjoyed the challenge.


I try very hard not to be personal in any of my website postings except when it is good news I am conveying. I tend to criticise organisations rather than individuals. However most of the site readers aren't stupid and know who is responsible for many of the acts of criticism even if they aren't named. I do make mistakes. Anyone writing and publishing between 4,000-6,000 words a week on any topic is going to make mistakes. Some will be typo's, some will be completely wrong, some will be misinformed. All are published in good faith but if I am wrong on any matter then I welcome readers letting me know so that I can correct and apologise.


For those that respond aggressively to any published report I will not apologise for having a different opinion to you. Wouldn't life be boring if everyone had the same opinion about everything? Whilst most of the information on the website is factual and non-controversial I do on occasions offer a view on a topic that I know will not sit easily with everyone. To those people, I do not apologise and will continue to retain my right to share my opinion via the website.


Over the years I have had many contributions from lots of people who have a similar interest in our sport and are prepared to share their knowledge and experiences and I am very grateful to them for that. I don't have the local knowledge or history to inform or add value to the postings that I publish so I am grateful for those that have helped me out on that front over a prolonged period.


So what does the future hold for HuddWeb? Well it wont be as a portal for a range of local bowling leagues as they have made it clear that they aren't interested and that itch has been scratched for me. Nothing is forever and now approaching my 76th birthday I wonder how much longer I will have the appetite to continue this level of contribution to the website.

I do get frustrated at times by people who purport to work in the best interests of bowling but are doing the exact opposite and are more interested in their own egos and pockets than serving our sport. For now, I am content for the website to continue in its current form and hope that it helps to quench the thirst that there is clearly out there from the masses of decent like-minded people working hard to serve the sport and their clubs. I'm with you.


Nowadays I use a commercial service to host this website run by an American organisation called Wix. They have a range of development tools that make life easier for developers. In the service I get a range of reports on a daily basis which tell me lots of things about the people accessing the website. For example, I know how many of you are using mobile phones or tablets to visit the website as opposed to those using laptops or desk-based devices. It is almost a 50-50 split. Interestingly I can see how many visitors a day come from a range of countries. Outside of the UK the countries most visits come from are, in descending order, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Cyprus, Greece and Italy. Presumably many of these are from ex-pats now retired abroad or seeing out the winter in a warmer climate, or maybe not. But the site also gets visitors from more obscure countries as well such as India, Japan, Nigeria and Kasakhstan.


I still retain an enthusiasm for writing about bowling and have a number of new ideas to bring to HuddWeb over the coming months. My involvement in the running of the Winter League will continue for some while yet I hope, although it would be good to help an eventual successor to be identified and well-prepared to assume the role at some stage in the future.


This posting has been a lot about me which I try not to do very much at all usually but it is difficult to differentiate between the websites and the author on occasions. Sorry about that, it will probably be another 10 years before I do that again. There are almost 2,000 words in this posting alone. That is a third of my weekly quota so I can stop there. Thanks for getting this far without nodding off. Please keep coming back.


Now go to the homepage of HuddWeb to keep up to date with

all the Huddersfield, Yorkshire and national news about crown green bowling

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Dave Sykes
Dave Sykes
Dec 11, 2023

Hi Jeff, this makes very interesting reading, (and i didnt fall asleep before the end) i think you are doing a great job with the winter league and all other topics that you post about. i have copied the following part from your write up

During the 7 years that I managed the League's website it may have been a coincidence, although I would like to think not, that the League attracted more teams than it has ever done. When I stood down in 2020 the total number of teams in the League was 96, that was a record number for the League and a total that has not been matched since.

this coming season 2024 we will have 99…

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paw4647
paw4647
Nov 05, 2023

Thanks for the 10 years of articles including the controversial topics. Hope you’ve many more years in giving us interesting items to read and to comment on.

Philip of Lindley

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Karen Rausse
Karen Rausse
Nov 04, 2023

You you a great job Jeff , may you long continue 👍

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Jeff Jacklin
Jeff Jacklin
Nov 04, 2023

Mark - the mixed gender decision and the age related decision were nothing to do with me. The clubs proposed both of those decisions and voted unanimously on both. Nothing to do with me at all. I didn't speak for or aganist either. This is a League that does listen to its member clubs. You have pigeon-holed me as some sort of dictator but I don't think we have ever met so not sure where you get that image from.

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My argument is it was never even mentioned when you first set the league up but you then moan about the vets not allowing ladies to play hence you resigned your post......bowls should be open to all....

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I think you do a great job with this site .. my only criticism is ,it's your way or no way...

Eg. You resigned because vets wouldn't allow winter league to be mixed (sexist you said), but you won't open up to all ages ???? So what do we call you Jeff(is it ageism) ....

Keep up the good work on the site

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