Yesterday I reproduced my 2017 season forecast for the Veterans 10-Man League. Today I record the 2017 review of those 5 divisions which I am sure will bring back memories for many of you. These are reproductions of articles printed on the old HDVBA website at that time. The callous ones among you may care to compare yesterday's list of division by division tips with the eventual outcome for each listed below which I have included anyhow. Enjoy my embarrassment.
FULL REVIEW OF THE 2017 LEAGUE SEASON Section by Section Review with all 89 teams’ seasons covered
What a great season it has been for Veterans bowling in Huddersfield with good competition right through our six-month League season with none of the Section titles or relegation issues fully sorted until the final two weeks. When the mist did clear we are left with a record-breaking season for Lockwood Cons as they became the first club in League history to win both the 6-man and 10-man top Section titles in the same season. Congratulations and very well done to them.
Starting in the 10-man League where 2016 Champions Lockwood Cons were side-lined for most of the year with a really slow start which saw them lose three of their first five fixtures and languish in sixth position. Recovering to have a strong mid-season and then finish with six wins from their last seven matches only losing their final game when the title was already won. They won with the lowest points total for a Champion side for many years and 17 less points than the previous year. For much of the season it looked like Milnsbridge A had rekindled the form that had won them six consecutive titles from 2009-2014 but the Cons were not to be denied their third consecutive title eventually winning by 10 points.
Some would say that Milnsbridge lost the title rather than that Lockwood Cons won it and by losing their last three games when in the lead certainly contributed to that theory. The enigma that is Clayton West rolled on as they continue to be invincible at home with the longest unbeaten home record in the 10-man League, since Golcar Lib beat them in July 2016, but struggle on their travels in collecting just two wins this season. Clayton West were one of only four teams to go the 2017 season without losing at home – the other three won their respective Sections, the West finished third. Meltham once again took fourth place which means the top four are in exactly the same order as they were the previous season with 16 points between them this year as opposed to 36 points in 2016. That could be a pointer to the pack closing in on the leader and may give all teams hopes of resting the title from the Champions next year.
Marsh Utd A, Elland C&BC A, Netherton Con A, Golcar Lib A and Lindley Lib A filled the mid-table positions as they had done the previous year although Golcar Lib and, especially, Netherton Con flirted for some while with the relegation places. Netherton lost six on the bounce in mid-season and only a really strong finish in winning five of their final six fixtures did they finally allay those fears. Similarly, Golcar needed five wins from their last six fixtures to improve on last season’s final position. Cowcliffe looked dead and buried at the end of June sitting in a relegation spot having lost 9 of their opening 10 matches. Shepley had an identical record at that stage but sat at the foot of the table having accumulated less points and they were to remain there all season winning just 3 of their 26 matches. Whereas Cowcliffe found good form in the final months to win 7 of their last 10 fixtures and eventually sit 10 points ahead of the relegation places.
Joining Shepley in being relegated are Rastrick, the 2016 Section 2 Champions. It may be small comfort but the 97 points they collected means that they were relegated having collected more points than any team in a 14-team Section since our records started. A total of 94 points being the previous highest relegation points total. A final day match between the two 2016 promoted teams resulted in a 7-2 win for Almondbury BC A over Rastrick and sealed their fate. The season end couldn’t quick enough for Waterloo A who were in free-fall in losing 8 of their last 10 games with the two wins coming crucially against the two relegated teams. Team raising problems afflicted both their teams in the latter half of the season and that kind of form cannot expect to see them through another full season without the ultimate outcome.
TABLE TOPPERS AGAIN: Lockwood Cons COWSHED CALAMITIES: Cowcliffe Lib
In Section 2 we had the closest promotion battle of any of our Sections where all of the three prime contenders went into the final week with a chance of winning the title but knowing that one of them would miss out on promotion altogether and all playing away fixtures. The odd one out loser being Crosland Moor after a 2-7 final day reversal at Thorpe Green who themselves averted relegation with that win. It was Brockholes A, who lost 3-6 on the final day at Hemplow, that hung on to claim the title one point ahead of strong finishing Thongsbridge A who won 9 of their last 10 games to take the second promotion spot. All three featured near the top for most of the season and they were joined up until the half-way stage by Broad Oak but a run of six defeats in their last nine matches finally put to bed any thoughts of mixing it with the big boys next season and they eventually finished in the bottom half of the table.
Lindley BC A, Skel Windmill and Hemplow also had spells near the top but all flattered to deceive and all finished clustered together some 30 points off the promotion pace. Kirkheaton C&BC A and Meltham B filled the mid-table slots and the Kirkheaton team did well following their promotion last season to consolidate their Section 2 status. They had followed Linthwaite Hall up from Section 3 last year and the Hall are to return there next season after a disappointing campaign during which they were hardly ever out of the bottom two. They are joined by Canalside A who sat at the foot of the table for most of the season, a club that has had more worrying off-the-field distractions for them with the closure of their second green and doubts about the future of bowling at all for some teams.
The remaining three teams took it in turns to have bad spells which threw them into the relegation mix at times including Primrose Hill Lib who lost 7 of their final 9 fixtures only beating Linthwaite Hall and fellow strugglers Kirkheaton Cons. Me and my boys at the Cons got off to a slow start losing 4 of our first five matches before winning five on the bounce but we never looked like repeating our third-place finish of 12 months earlier. We did have one important part to play in the final day great escape of Thorpe Green from relegation by beating Linthwaite Hall whilst the Green dented Crosland Moor’s promotion. Team raising difficulties in the first half of the season hit Thorpe Green hard and they are a better team than the table shows when at full strength.
MOOR THE MERRIER: Crosland Moor
FOOTER FODDER: Canalside A
We have a really interesting couple of teams gaining promotion from Section 3 this year. Champions New Mill A along with Almondbury Lib maintained their amazing record of both being promoted or relegated in each season for the last four years. New Mill A have either been promoted or relegated between Sections 2 and 3 for the last four years. Whilst Almondbury Lib were promoted up to Section 2 at the end of 2014 and then went on to gain promotion to Section 1 the following year. Two successive relegations followed and now the two are promoted together again out of Section 3 just as they were three years ago. You wouldn’t bet against either of them being promoted or relegated again next season as they really are the two yo-yo teams of the Veterans League.
Perpetual Section 3 also-rans Holmfirth A raised their game to be in contention into the final month but their last four games were against the other top four teams including games against the promoted pair as their last two games. That is where their challenge ended, finishing one lower than the previous year in fourth position.
A run of five wins in their last six games enabled Lindley Lib B to reach a season-high position of third and they continue to improve year on year. Paddock I&C also progressed this year to gain 15 points more than they did last year and finish four positions higher. However, Springwood are going the other way dropping to a lower final position for the fourth consecutive season when finishing sixth and rarely threatening to go higher.
There was some congestion at the wrong end of the table with just eight points between the bottom six teams and it was even tighter than that going into the final day of the season. Bradley & Colne shot themselves in the foot by only being able to field six bowlers for their key game at fellow strugglers Brockholes B, losing the game 2-7 and their Section 3 status at the same time. The season had started so positively for them with three straight wins against teams who were to finish the season in the top four positions and only Bradley & Colne will know what went so wrong for them this season.
Going down with them are Waterloo B after losing eight of their final nine fixtures with repeated team raising difficulties accounting for many of those lost points. Slaithwaite escaped on the final day of the season despite losing 2-7 at home to Champions New Mill and that was true to trend as they only won four home games all season, the lowest total in the Section. Poor away form and a solitary away win all season for Milnsbridge B was mainly responsible for their involvement in the relegation dog-fight but a final day 6-3 home win over fellow strugglers Ravensknowle Park A saved their season. No Section 3 team won more home matches than the Park but just two away wins all season kept them well away from getting involved at the other end of the table. With four games to go Brockholes B were in bottom place but by winning their last three games they were elevated to the lofty final position of fifth from bottom.
LOSERS: Ravensknowle Park A
Golcar Lib B were the first team to gain promotion this season and they continued their form to go on and lift the Section 4 title by 10 clear points from Almondbury BC B. A commanding 11-0 home record, including four 9-0 scorelines, being a major contributor to that total. Almondbury BC B lost their first two and last two games but in-between did very little wrong in making an immediate return to Section 3 next season. It helps if you have the top 3 singles bowlers in the Section as Almondbury did this year.
In contrast, Marsden Park had a great first half of the season winning 9 of their first 10 games and heading the table for more weeks than any other team. Going on to win only five of their next 12 matches which is hardly promotion form and so it proved as they slipped to third position in the final table, 12 points off a promotion place. Meltham C were a constant in the top four for the first half of the season but then had an indifferent mid-season spell to drop out of contention but then finished strongly with six wins in their final seven games to end the campaign in fourth position.
The Rugby Club had a 5-5 record after ten matches and were sat comfortably in fifth position but then only won twice more all season to claim one of the relegation places. They were beaten to bottom place by David Brown Sports who were never out of the relegation spots all season finishing 14 points from safety. DBS are a resilient nomadic bunch having fielded a full team in every game all season but were always someway off the form of 2016 when they finished third in the same Section.
Thongsbridge B won their final four home games including a 6-3 victory over Champions Golcar Lib B and that was just sufficient for them to avoid relegation by one point. The B teams of Marsh Utd and Lindley BC were separated by one point when they came up together from Section 5 last year. Two points separated them at the end of this campaign as they consolidated in the same order in 7th and 8th positions which is a notable achievement. Netherton Con B steadied the ship after last season’s relegation from Section 3 and will be happy enough with a season-high fifth-place finish which included two 9-0 home wins.
Skel Windmill B had an 11-11 season record and predictably finished bang in the middle order in 6th position, 7 points and one position less than in 2016. Broad Oak B flirted with the relegation places all season without ever actually sitting in one and a place higher finish than the previous year can be counted as progress albeit of a small nature.
CHAMPS ELECT: Almondbury BC B
GOING DOWN AGAIN: Marsh Utd B
The season-long top-two battle in Section 5 resulted in Denby Dale edging out Outlane in the final weeks of the season. Only five points separated them at the end and looking for small differences to analyse why the Dale lifted the trophy is not decided by the head to head encounters with the home side winning 6-3 each time. With exactly the same 2818-2818 ‘Aggregate For’ totals that didn’t point the way either and looking at the 9-0 win count being 4-2 in favour of Outlane that doesn’t explain it either. The matches-won count does lead us to the answer with Denby Dale winning three more of their 22 matches than Outlane. The pair dominated the Section 5 promotion places all season except for a brief interruption by Primrose Hill Lib B. That challenge soon fizzled out and the Pip Hill team had to disappointedly settle for a final position of sixth.
If Dalton had started the season as they finished then they would have walked it. Bottom of the table after six matches after relegation the previous year and just a single win they went on a run that took them up in to third place and included home and away 9-0 wins over Canalside B. A continuation of that form will set them up for the 2018 season. New Mill B were a revelation this year with a fourth-place finish after ending the previous season 20 points adrift at the foot of the table. A remarkable turnaround which included a 9-0 away win at Primrose Hill Lib B.
Lowerhouses appeared to have a hangover from their relegation the previous season and lost 3 of their first 4 Section 5 fixtures (2 of them at home) before picking up the pace to win all their remaining home fixtures including seeing off the promoted pair. Greenhead Park and Kirkheaton C&BC B both had mid-table finishes and that was no change for the Park but a step up for Kirkheaton C&BC on their 2016 outcome. The bottom three all finished in the bottom half the previous season and it took ‘Aggregate For’ differences to separate Ravensknowle Park B from Holmfirth B with both compiling the same 75 point total. The Park really suffered with team raising problems failing to field a full ten in 12 of their 22 league fixtures and with that kind of handicap they did well to complete their season.
Holmfirth B managed to win only one of their last nine fixtures to plummet down the table and set a worrying trend they will be keen to eradicate for next season. Elland C&BC B continue to splash around in the deep end although they collected four more points than the previous year and moved up one place whilst Canalside suffered the demands of having an A team with no less than 11 of their bowlers getting A team calls at some stage during the season.
TABLE TOPPERS: Canalside B
CRASH CONTENDERS: New Mill B