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'The Ultimate Guide to Winter Bowling' updated

Updated: Apr 18

Winter League

Updated 17 April 2024


Do you enjoy your bowling so much that you hope that the summer season will never end? Well summer is always going to end but that doesn't mean you have to stop playing your favourite outdoor sport. The Huddersfield Winter League has expanded in teams and bowlers each of the four years that it has been in existence. So what is it that is attracting normally sane people to spend some of the winter months outside in the cold?


Many of the reasons that you bowl in the summer apply equally as much during the winter months, some more so. You bowl because you enjoy the social life; because of the exercise you get, for the competition, for the feeling of belonging to a team, for fresh air, for getting you away from the TV and for having a reason to get up in a morning. All these very good reasons apply all year round. So why don't you bowl all year round?

 

The Huddersfield Winter League is the fastest-growing bowling league in the country

 

Well until recently there probably hasn't been that opportunity but the creation of the local Winter League has changed all that. Coupled with the milder winters we have experienced in recent years there is every reason and opportunity to extend your bowling season through the winter months. Each season to date we have enjoyed a remarkable amount of sunshine days only losing the odd days to the weather and they were mainly caught up within a week by the clubs. You will be cold so come prepared, you will probably get wet on occasions but you will during the summer season as well. Don't be surprised by or moan about the weather - this is winter bowling for goodness sake!

 

The Winter League has grown 400% in team numbers in 4 years

 

The Winter League bowls weekly from the beginning of October to mid-February with usually a one-week break over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. The start date may vary due to the availability of some host greens with some greenkeepers preferring to undertake some maintenance work between the end of the summer and the start of the winter season. The length of the season is determined by the number of teams in each division. In the 2023-24 season we have 9 teams in each of our 6 divisions. Teams play each team twice so a total of 16 matches in a season.

 

You don't use your own bowling green in the Winter League

 

Each division is based on the same green right through the season so you see the same teams every week and get to know each other very well. It becomes a real community and you start to follow all the other teams' results as much as you do your own. You bowl on the same green on the same day every week through the winter season. You do not bowl on your own green.

 

The Winter League charges teams the absolute minimum to enter and play. There are no cash prizes for teams or payments to league officials.

 

Costs

Each team pays £12 per week green fees to the host club (£3.00 per bowler). This covers your green fee, a raffle ticket for each bowler and hot drinks and basic refreshments (e.g. biscuits).


In practice the host clubs have always provided more than the basic refreshments with a range of hot and cold food. There is a moderate charge for additional food and drink items which are also available for spectators. Clubs will offer more raffle tickets to bowlers and spectators. Hot drinks for spectators at 50p is normal and food is also available to those just there to watch the action on the green. Lunchtime bowling demands food for the participants and followers.

 

The Winter League is mixed-gender for the Over-60's

 

Host Greens

Host clubs can expect to make between £2,500 to £3,500 profit over a Winter League season. All this at a time when many wouldn't usually be making any money at all, so a good incentive for clubs to provide a full hosting service. We are now approaching our 5th season of winter bowling and no long-term damage has been reported on any green due to the extra footfall over the winter months although obviously there will be some wear and tear which needs addressing.

 

Netherton Con provided pie 'n' peas Christmas lunch for 74 bowlers

 

Format All teams are of four bowlers playing two singles and one pairs game every week. Bowlers must have celebrated their 60th birthday before becoming eligible to bowl and we welcome men and women on an equal footing. We will strive to place new teams in the division that best matches the playing ability of their bowlers. Promotion and relegation feature in all divisions so teams will find their own level over the course of time.


We don't pay out prize money to teams or individuals but we have an increasing number of trophies we award to winners as well as a memento trophy for the team to keep to mark their achievements. We don't pay League officials to run the League, we are all in it for the enjoyment.


In 2022 we introduced our first individual competition - the Winter Cup, a trophy donated by two Kirkheaton Con bowlers. There were 60 entries in the first season. Last year we had an astonishing 142 entries to the competition surpassing the wildest expectations. How many leagues can boast of such a response? With even more teams playing in the League next season we expect that record to be broken again.

 

The Winter League publishes all Management Committee meeting minutes online

 

What next? The number of spectators at the greens on matchdays has been a bit of a surprise as the numbers keep increasing. Netherton Con averaged 60-70 people each matchday while the other greens had regular houses of over 50 people. If you want to take your interest to the next level then the best way of progressing is to get in touch and we will be happy to talk to any club interested in signing up for the 2024-5 season.

 

The End-of-Season Party sold out in 36 hours

 

At the end of the 2022-23 season we held our first-ever End of Season Party where we presented all the trophies won over the season by teams and individuals. Tickets were £3.50 and covered pie 'n' peas and live entertainment at Lindley Liberal Club. All 140 tickets were sold out within 36 hours of being released.

The Winter League is here to stay and definitely part of the local bowling calendar so have a serious think about joining us next season. We expect to expand the League again next season with a working assumption that there will be a further 10 new teams joining us, it could be more as our only limiting factor is the number of host greens that are available to us.


Any team interested in learning more should get in touch with the League Secretary. As we learn of the interest from prospective new teams we can work towards attracting new host clubs to come forward to once again satisfy the demand that there clearly is for winter bowling in Huddersfield. Get in touch now if you want to know more or secure your place in the League for the 2024-25 season.

 

The social impact of weekly bowling cannot be underestimated. One spectator told me that he probably wouldn't have spoken to anyone all day if he hadn't come out to watch a Winter League set of matches

 

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