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Ladies Day in Winter Cup Final

Winter League

It was all change in the Winter Cup as the ladies took over to dominate this year's Finals Day. Three of the quarter-finalists were ladies and all three progressed into the semi-finals. The fact that all three came from outside the top division added to the drama as the strength in depth in the League was show-cased in fine style.

No lady bowler had reached the semi-finals of the competition in the two previous years it has been staged. Lorraine Hirst was a quarter-finalist in 2022 but that is the nearest we have come to a lady winner - before this year. In fact it really was all change as none of the last 24 contenders had featured at the same stage in previous years. One thing that hadn't changed was the weather as for the third year running we were blessed with sunshine and a dry green for our showcase event and fitting climax to the season.

In the top half of the draw, Marsh United teammates Julie Mallinson and Lynn Carter were in no mood to respect the male dominance of previous years as they steamrollered over quarter-fnal opponents. Jean Winchcombe replicated that in the bottom-half of the draw as she saw off Lowerhouses bowler Dave Sykes. Linthwaite Hall bowler Rob Spencer was the sole male straggler left to defend the male name in the semi-finals where he was pitched against teammate Jean Winchcombe.

With both bowlers on a +5 handicap it was Jean who made the stronger start and she led all the way up to 15 but was finally caught and passed by Rob to stake his place in the final four. At the same time the two Marsh United and Yorkshire Ladies bowlers were up against each other in what was undoubtedly the match of the day as first one then the other took the lead.

Lynn started the brighter claiming six points before Julie scored. Lynn continued to play and score better and led up to double-figures where she was caught and passed by Julie. That lead didn't last as Lynn fought back to lead at 14 but then Julie came again to lead 15-14. Still the seesaw scoring system prevailed as Lynn was first to reach 16, Julie first to 17 and then Lynn attacked again to lead 19-17 which was as big a gap as there had been in the back half of the match and seemed set to dictate the destiny of the match.

However the drama continued as the practice of the first wood being planted alongside the jack continued only to be knocked off by the following wood. Top class bowling throughout the match culminated in another fight-back as Julie drew level at 19-19. Nerves were high and what should have been the peak of a classic encounter produced probably the worst end that either bowler had played all day. Julie's two woods wouldn't have won any other end in this match but both were nearer than Lynns and were good enough to win the match and provide her passage into the final.

After such a great semi-final threatened to overshadow the final but that didn't happen although it was a very different game to any that had gone before it. Rob as a Division 5 bowler received a +5 handicap start and that was always a big target to chase. But Julie had pegged the difference back as they approached double-figures together at 9-9. This awakened Rob to the threat now looming and he took over to take a 12-9 advantage.

That in turn stirred Julie to a key moment in the match as she won the next seven ends to build up an 18-12 lead. Rob wasn't finished as he won 4 of the next 5 ends to pull it back to 17-19 and the nerves were back on parade before a final pair for Julie claimed a 21-17 final score and the title. We had a deserved and popular winner as Julie rarely stopped smiling throughout the three hours of competition and that smile was never more evident than when she stepped up to receive her trophy from co-sponsor Garry Senior. It was Ladies Day but it was bowling that was the real winner not forgetting the the contribution of all eight bowlers made to a special day in the history of the Winter Cup.

Trophy co-sponsor, Garry Senior, made the presentation after League Chairman, Mike Ralph, had announced a series of thanks to those responsible for a good day in the Winter League extended season. More action photographs tomorrow from all the Finals Day matches along with the detailed scorecards from the last three matches.

We all had a good day in the April sunshine on a wonderfully prepared green (has it really been bowled on right through the winter?) and the Lindley Lib hospitality with Sunday afternoon tea and cake all adding to the occasion. Thanks to referee Ray Tunnacliffe for putting in the miles around the green and adding to the special day we try to make it for all bowlers. A good crowd of over 50 showing the typical response to Winter League bowling we have enjoyed all season but never more so than in an historic Finals Day in the 2024 Winter Cup.

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