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Why isn't the Winter League open-age?

Winter League


So why isn't the Winter League an open-age competition? It is not a question I've been asked a lot except by Mark Sykes who continues to be frustrated by his youth and availability but unable to play in the League. And it isn't an unreasonable question so I thought that I should answer it before more under-age bowlers took an interest.


I believe that there are three reasons that the Winter League remains a competition only open to male and female bowlers aged 60 or over.

  1. In the beginning the new Winter League was going to be a spin-off of the Veterans League. The idea was first suggested to the Veterans League Management Competition and that is where the momentum started. When the first meeting of interested clubs was first held they were all Veterans League representatives who attended with the unspoken intention of a new competition for Veterans League bowlers. That idea developed further over the gestation period when it was suggested by one representative that it should be opened up to women bowlers as well. The reason being that his club could only field a full team in the League if lady bowlers were to be allowed to play in it. Although there wasn't a groundswell of other clubs keen to open the doors wider there wasn't any opposition to it either and so it evolved to include the ladies as well which resulted in the rift with the Veterans League Management Committee and the resultant separation of ways.

  2. Although I don't think it was a reason at the outset but is a reason now that the age limit is set, is the introduction of lady bowlers. There are a lot of lady bowlers now playing in the League. There are a number of all-lady teams as there are all-male teams. Many of the lady bowlers have a limit to how far they can send a wood especially in wet weather which is more prevalent in the winter months. And this is also true for many ageing male bowlers as well although few will admit it. So we have a population of male and female bowlers who have a vested interest in the length that an opening jack can be sent. That balance of opinion would undoubtedly be challenged if younger bowlers were invited to join the League. It is human nature that younger competitive bowlers would set longer marks to give them a tactical advantage. Bowlers of an older age, male or female, have a vested interest in not inviting more bowlers into the League who would favour a long mark.

  3. The third reason is linked to the previous two points as the real reason that a change to the age limit is unlikely to be changed any time soon is that the existing teams don't want it to change. A change to the League Rules can only happen with a majority vote from the member teams and no one has even put forward a proposal never mind launched a campaign to test feelings on this matter. Around a quarter of the bowlers in the League are lady bowlers and they are a real asset to the League. They bring an enthusiasm for bowling to the League. They never moan about long marks being set by male opponents and they have previously opposed a proposal to introduce a maximum length mark of 25 metres. I did a headcount of the number of lady bowlers that played in the League last week. There were 46 in total of the 192 bowlers that turn out every week through the season. That represents 24% or 1 in 4 of the total, a significant number. That number isn't concentrated in any one division as we have regular lady bowlers in each of the six divisions. There are a number of husband and wife mixed teams and the gentlemen will always protect their ladies' interests by opposing any move that would introduce a handicap to their partners. So the third reason for the age limit being set is very simple - members don't want it to change and as it is the member's decision then no change is likely any time soon.

Hope that puts that one to bed for the present but if the teams want it to change in the future then it can be changed but for all the reasons listed above I don't think that is very likely

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If this issue bothers Mark Sykes so much perhaps he would like to step up to the plate and organise an open age winter league.

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Zzzzzzzzzz...Such lame reasons apart from the last one,if teams don't want it then fair enough.....but throwing jack too far SERIOUSLY....I give up....

But well done briggo doing the Friday league..I'm sure Jeff will be telling us how the league is getting on as he does such a brilliant job with every other league......I wait in excitement of your news......

Ps I'm glad your reasons only took four month to come up with...worth waiting for.....


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Dave Parkin
Dave Parkin
19 nov 2023

One of the not mentioned factors also has to be that the winter bowling takes place at lunchtime during the week. Whilst not everybody has a "Dolly Parton" job these days (9 to 5 for those old enough to remember the hit), the availability of the younger generation to make weekly bowling commitments is likely to be less too.

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Milnsbridge are trialling a Friday 11 am start 4 person team organised by Ian Briggs which is up and running successfully for over 50s bowlers. Worth enquiring about for the future.

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Martin Holt
Martin Holt
19 nov 2023

Without going through all the up to date stats, there has been around 365 players making at least 1 appearance. About 100 are female the last time I looked into it. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from forming an open age competition/league as I'm certain the demand is out there.

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