Your ultimate guide to winter bowling

Winter League


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?


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 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.


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.


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.


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 first full season of winter bowling so the impact on the greens of bowling the extra days cannot yet be judged. Early indication is that bowling over the winter isn't doing any long-term harm to your green but obviously there will be some wear and tear which needs addressing.


Format All teams are of four bowlers playing two singles and 1 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 memento trophies for individual team members to keep to mark team and individual achievements. We don't pay League officials to run the League, we are all in it for the enjoyment. In 2022 we will have the first running of a new individual Knock-Out competition, The Winter Cup, which will become part of the League's calendar, maybe more will follow.


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. Thorpe Green averaged over 70 people each matchday while the other two 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 2022-23 season.


Alternatively join us for our End of Season Meeting of all clubs at Milnsbridge BC from 2pm on Wednesday 23 March. There we will be celebrating the achievements of teams and individuals over the past season as well as reviewing our League Rules to make them fit-for-purpose for next season. In addition we will be making the draw for the opening rounds of our brand new Winter Cup individual knock-out competition where we have already attracted over 60 entries. Any club interested in learning more about the Winter League is very welcome to join us at the meeting.


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 for 40 teams to play in 5 divisions, it could be more, we have no limits. We had 3 divisions last season involving 27 teams which was almost double the first season of competition when we had 14 teams. You have until 4 July to submit your team entry for next winter and be part of the future.




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