Daley hails Legionnaires after one of their best seasons
By Western Daily Press | Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 05:00
On the last day of the outdoor bowls season, the four clubs that play at Portishead Lake Grounds – Portishead, Portishead Ladies, Portishead Royal British Legion and the Legion Ladies (aka the Poppies) – traditionally meet up for a special challenge match.
Legion captains Ben Daley and Julie Gardner, left, and Portishead captains Mike Berryman and Jenny White, right, engage in a tug-of-war with the Spilling Cup at the Lake Grounds
On Sunday afternoon, a mixed team representing the Legion's men and women duly defeated their Portishead counterparts, 127-107, and retained possession of the Spiller Cup, donated by the late Portishead club stalwart Eric Spiller.
But the occasion was one which the Legionnaires, in particular, relished, coming as it did at the end of one of their most successful seasons since the Legion club was formed nearly 50 years ago.
The Legionnaires are still regarded as newcomers, because, while the Portishead club has played at the Lake Grounds since the green was laid in 1965, it has been the headquarters for the Legion only since 1967.
"I'm told there was a bit of resentment on the part of the Portishead members when we showed up and asked to share the green," smiles Legion captain Ben Daley.
"That was before my time, he adds quickly. "These days, we all get on very well together, and the four clubs have formed a successful alliance called the Association of Portishead Bowling Clubs – and we are rightly proud of our shared club facilities."
Daley is delighted that the Legion has won so many accolades in his year as captain, but is hard-pressed to list them all.
"Top of the list should be the Clarence Davey Trophy we won as Champions of the City & County of Bristol Bowls Association," he says proudly. "And Steve Secker was also runner up in the City & County singles championship."
The Legion's domination of the Co-operative Funeralcare Clevedon & District League continued in 2013, when the club not only won the Evening League, but the Over 60 League, and the Over 60 Knockout Cup.
Paul Davies, Roy Withey and Alan Spencer won the Over 60 Triples title, and the club were champions in the North Somerset Four Dimensions team event.
"We were also runners up in the North Somerset Cup, and came third in the Premier Division of the Somerset Bowls League," says Daley.
Not to be outdone, the 'Poppies' topped the Bristol Ladies League, were runners up in the Doreen Ralph North Somerset League, and came third in the North Somerset Triples League.
As a result of the Legionnaires' fund raising this season, Ben Daley is looking forward to presenting a cheque for £1,000 to the Wallace & Gromit Children's Hospital Appeal.
Somerset's plans to launch their annual challenge for the Liberty Trophy took a knock recently, when the Civil Service Sports Association announced cuts in its funding for bowls, and the usual early season clash at Taunton Deane had to be cancelled.
"It's a great shame," said Somerset's team manager Don Fowkes, "Civil Service could always be relied on to send a team brimful with top players, including a number of Welsh internationals, and it was just the sort of tough challenge we needed."
Instead, Fowkes is holding an internal Liberty Trophy trial at the Taunton Deane club on Sunday, October 13, when, interestingly, a regular member of the Civil Service team, Neil Collett, will be skipping a rink and could well be lining up in a Somerset shirt against Dorset on November 23.
Collett, a Wales international from Cardiff has joined the Clarrie Dunbar club, and has thrown his lot in with Somerset, while world number three Rob Paxton, now living in Taunton, has transferred from Devon, and is playing for Taunton Deane.
"We are delighted to welcome these two players," says Fowkes. "We have some great prospects coming along at the front-end, but, as proven back-end bowlers, we are hoping that Neil and Rob will make us more competitive across the green."
Fowkes explains that Clarrie Dunbar star Graham Shadwell is planning to spend time in Australia this winter, and is also involved in England's Commonwealth Games squad, so has not made himself available for selection this year.
Despite rumours that another Welsh international Chris Keating, who plays for the Bristol club, will not be available, Fowkes has invited him to the trial, and is hoping he will be part of the Somerset set-up again this season.
"I will be ably assisted by Neil Williams in matters of team selection, and there will be the opportunity to look at further candidates in the second trial, also at Taunton Deane, on the 3rd of November," Fowkes added.
England's elder statesmen will be on a mission to North Wales next weekend to try to win the Warner Holidays British Seniors Two Fours team title for the first time since 2006 without any representatives from Gloucestershire, Somerset or Wiltshire.
Pip Branfield was a regular member of the side until 2009, but his involvement as an outdoor selector and with the management of England's Commonwealth Games squad has recently curtailed his availability.
Warner Holidays British 'Seniors' at Bodelwyddan Castle, September 28/29 , England team – Rink 1: J M Ottaway (Norfolk), T Horobin (Yorks), M Smith (Lincs), K B Morley (Notts). Rink 2: M London (Durham), M Sharpe (Northants), J C Evans (Devon), D Denison (Devon).