The records we have published over recent months have emphasised the impact that the COVID pandemic has had on the number of teams competing in 24 local leagues. From that listing it is clear that Saturday Leagues have been the hardest hit with the leagues from Barnsley, Huddersfield and Bradford all in the top four leagues for a reduction in numbers as the table extract below shows.
The Barnsley League has paid the ultimate price as only 3 of the 8 teams registered for the 2021 season resulting in the inevitable closure of a competition that had survived two World Wars and over 100 years of bowling. A sad day indeed. Both the Bradford and Huddersfield Saturday leagues have lost around a quarter of their 2019 teams for this season and those sort of figures should start the warning bells ringing in these areas if not in the Yorkshire CCGBA and BCGBA.
The Huddersfield League has lost 22 teams from the 80 that completed the 2019 season with some notable casualties including three teams from Golcar Lib and Kirkheaton Con as well as teams from Moldgreen Con, Farnley Tyas, Lowerhouses, Slaithwaite C&BC, Milnsbridge Lib, Almondbury Lib, Paddock C&BC, Skel Windmill, Thongsbridge C&BC, Almondbury BC, Longwood, Primrose Hill Lib, Lockwood Con, Lindley Lib, Broad Oak, Milnsbridge and Linthwaite Hall.
The optimists will tell you that this is a one-off season and they will all be back for the 2022 season, the realists know differently. Clubs and greens have come and gone over the years but more are going than coming at present, in fact it is a long time since a new club and green was formed locally. Paddock C&BC being the latest green being lost to the local bowling community. Crown green bowling has been on the decline in numbers for the last 8 years at least and the pandemic has caused an acceleration of the demise of our sport. The table below highlights the numbers associated with 14 Saturday leagues and they tell their own sorry story. All the figures come from the league's own Bowlsnet pages and we couldn't find one league, Saturday or otherwise, that has grown in team numbers for 2021.