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The updated ultimate guide to winter bowling

Winter League

Updated 16 February 2023

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 year and promises to break that record once again for the 2022-23 season. 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. The 2021-22 season enjoyed a remarkable amount of sunshine days only losing two days to the weather and they were both 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 almost trebled in size in 3 years


The Winter League bowls weekly from the beginning of October to mid-February with 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 2021-22 we had three divisions of 9 teams in each. Teams played each team twice so 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 £10 per week green fees to the host club (£2.50 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. Some charge extra for that whilst others provide it at no extra cost. 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 at least £2,000 over the course of a 16-week season, one of our host clubs in the 2021-22 season passed the £3,000 profit mark. 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 have just completed our second full season of winter bowling and no long-term damage has been reported on any green although obviously there will be some wear and tear which needs addressing.


Netherton Con provided free 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. 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 had the first running of a new individual Knock-Out competition. There were 60 entries. In the season just finished we had an astonishing 104 entries to the competition surpassing the wildest expectations. How many leagues can boast of such a response?


The Winter League publishes all Management Committee meeting minutes online


What next? Well you have missed the opportunity to witness winter bowling for yourselves if you haven't visited any of our three greens this winter which is the best recommendation for winter bowling that we can make. 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 that is to get in touch and we will be happy to talk to any club interested in signing up for the 2023-24 season.


The End-of-Season Party is a sell-out


This year we are holding our first-ever End of Season Party where we will be presenting all the trophies won over the season by teams and individuals. Tickets are £3.50 and cover pie 'n' peas and live entertainment. 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 are expanding the League for next season and aiming to add another 8-team division. it could be more, we have no limits. We had 5 divisions last season involving 40 teams which was an increase on the 27 from the previous year and almost treble the number from our first season in 2020-21. You have until 3 July to submit your team entry for next winter and be part of the future.

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