In a previous life I used to produce an annual forecast of where I thought all the teams in the Veterans League, 10-man and 6-man, would finish ahead of a new season. I did this for many years and, although I have now learnt my lesson, I still reflect on those times with much affection. So in reflective mode again I have dug out my forecasts for the 2017 season as published on the old HDVBA website and reproduce that rash verdict once again for your entertainment. Below I start off with the 6-Man League to be followed shortly with the 2017 forecast for the 5 divisions of the 10-Man League. Tomorrow the outcome of the 2017 season will point out my futile attempt at forecasting something so temperamental as crown green bowling. As well as being embarrassing for me I am sure that the narrative will act as a memory jerker for many of you. Enjoy.
From www.hdvba.co.uk March 2017
2017 PREDICTIONS SECTION A
If you are looking for a Banker Bet then this is the one to put your mortgage on - Longwood to win Section A for the fourth consecutive year. Just one defeat last year, away to nearest challengers Lockwood Cons, otherwise an unblemished record. Then they have added to their squad this close-season with another newly qualified Veteran from their parent club so I fully expect them to widen the gap over the chasing pack.
Lockwood Cons are likely to continue to lead that pack and if they get over the habit of losing to anyone other than Longwood then they can mount a serious challenge but I don't see that happening. A good run in the Julie Fuller Trophy may be the extent of their ambitions this year and being drawn in the opposite half to Longwood should set up a top-two Final.
The trio in the supporting positions, Shepley A, Brockholes A and Clayton West, seem to rotate the next positions amongst themselves each year and that is likely to continue although Oakfield could break up that cosy scenario. They were the surprise team last year after only getting promoted due to Canalside folding. However, they were the most successful of the three promoted teams with Newsome and Meltham involved in a relegation battle which Meltham duly lost. Maybe the Newsome name change (to Primrose Hill Lib) will signal a change in fortune. Their Julie Fuller Trophy exploits of last season were remarkable and despite losing in the Final (to Longwood of course) they showed their potential.
More interestingly at the bottom is the battle to retain Section A status for 2018. Milnsbridge BC look the best of the two promoted teams leaving Farnley Tyas to contest it out with Almondbury Lib, Paddock and Primrose Hill with any two from four the probable outcome. I tipped Farnley to win Section B last year but now fear for their continuing involvement in the top flight.
FOUR-IN-A-ROW: Longwood DROP DOOMED: Farnley Tyas
We end our look at the season ahead in Section B of the 6-Man League where Skel Windmill are the logical selection to head the table at the end of the new season but are they good enough to do it? They finished 3rd last year and were 13 points clear of the 4th placed team. A 10-1 home record augurs well for the future as well.
Behind them came a pack of four teams, Shepley B, Hemplow, Golcar Lib and Holmfirth, separated by just four points and it is difficult to separate them. Golcar Lib were relegated the previous season and I would have expected them to bounce straight back up if they were up for it but a mid-table finish may mean they are on the decline. Shepley B moved up to 4th from 8th in 2015 so are an improving team as are Holmfirth who had the best away record of that group of four teams and were much improved on the previous season. Hemplow gained one more point than they did the previous season so appear to have peaked in 5th place. Then you have to factor in the two teams relegated last year, Crosland Moor and Meltham. The Moor will need to resolve their team raising difficulties before they can be considered as strong contenders but they obviously have the talent if they can field a full team every week and the new Starred Bowler rules will certainly help them. Meltham are back in the Section they won promotion from 2 years ago and could be worth a punt.
The last new team to enter Section B won it. Milnsbridge were the new boys last season and we have another new entry this year - Lindley BC. The Fantasy League tipsters like the look of their fortunes although Skel Windmill is the favourite selection so far. I struggle to talk up Lindley BC's chances I'm afraid but if they put some of their experienced bowlers to match their new bowlers then they could do very well. I'm tempted to go with the form and choose Skel Windmill as my pick for 2017 but will instead look for Meltham to prove that their promotion of 2015 was well earned and that they can do it again.
At the foot of the table Greenhead Park look well off the pace I'm afraid and their 2016 points total was less than half that of their nearest rivals so they will need to have a massive improvement to get out of finishing bottom again.
CHAMPIONS-IN-WAITING: Meltham WOODEN SPOONERS: Greenhead Park
Tomorrow we provide the 2017 final league tables so you can see how good (or not) the forecast was. More than that there is a commentary of all the teams in the 6-Man League in a comprehensive review of the 2017 season.