Short mat bowls

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Short Mat Bowls)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Short Mat Bowls
A game of short mat bowls being played
Highest governing bodyWorld Bowls Council
First played1900s
Team membersSingles and team
Mixed genderYes
EquipmentBowls, carpet
GlossaryGlossary of bowls terms
Country or regionEurope, India
World ChampionshipsNo
World GamesNo
Short mat bowls

Short mat bowls is an indoor sport in which players attempt to score points by rolling a heavy ball along a fairly flat surface, to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents, and so outscore them. The game is a modern variation on lawn bowls, from which it is derived.


Short mat bowls is played indoors, so it is an all-year sport that is not affected by weather conditions. Because the equipment is transportable and easy to set up, it is particularly appropriate for locations that are also used for other purposes such as village halls, schools, and sports and social clubs; it is even played on North Sea oil rigs.[1]


The ESMBA specify a rink mat length of 40–45 ft (12–14 m) with a width of 6 ft (1.8 m). The mat is foam or rubber-backed, and has the required lines permanently marked. A wooden fender is placed at both ends to keep the bowls from rolling off the mat. A block sits in the middle of the mat; players have to avoid having their bowls hit the block on their way down the mat. The 'jack' is the target that sits near the end of the mat.[2]

As opposed to its counterparts, short mat uses a super-heavyweight jack that weighs approximately 900 g (32 oz), whereas, indoor bowls use 382–453 g (13.5–16.0 oz), and long mat (Grass) between 225–285 g (7.9–10.1 oz) [3]

Length of play[edit]

As with most variants of bowls, short mat bowls has a variable length of play. In traditional games such as crown green bowls and indoor bowls, winning lead players have the opportunity to throw the jack to the length they wish to play the next end from. In short mat bowls; the game has been simplified, to allowing the winning skip to simply place the jack on a 'jack line'; to determine the length of the next end.

How the game is played[edit]

Short mat bowls is very similar to lawn bowls in that the object is for each player, or team, to take turns rolling bowls (balls) down a mat in an attempt to get as many of the bowls as possible closer to the target (the 'jack') than the opponent.[4] The main difference is in the size of the playing area and the presence of the block midway down the rink mat. The presence of the block prevents players from knocking their opponents' bowls away from the jack by sheer force; players are required to use the natural bias of the bowls to manoeuvre around the block. Any bowls that touch the block, or land in the ditch or dead area, are dead and are removed before the next bowl. The skill in playing short mat bowls comes from the bias of the ball and the inconsistent playing surface; both the performance of the rink mat and the floor surface can vary between matches in different venues. A general description of different bowls games, including short mat bowls, is maintained at[5]


The origin of the short mat bowls game is uncertain, but one story is that it was first played in Wales by two South Africans who came to work in the area. They had played bowls outdoors in South Africa and, perhaps due to the poor climate and the long close season in Wales, they began to play a simulation of the outdoor game on a strip of carpet in a church hall. Some time later, they moved to Northern Ireland and took the new game with them. Rules and conditions of play were drawn up and the game soon became well established in the Province. It was introduced into England by Irish expatriates, but development was slow until the 1980s when its potential as a low cost sport for people of all ages was realised.[6]

The English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) was formed in 1984, and is now the governing body of the sport in England.[7] The sport is administered in England at two levels, the ESMBA oversee administration of the National Championships and Inter County Championships in addition to running the National Squad. At a more local level, 37 County Associations arrange a series of League, One Day and Knockout competitions within their own geographical area.

In 2009, the ESMBA launched a new National Club Championship event, the event featuring teams competing in all-four disciplines (Singles, Pairs, Triples & Fours), with all members being from the same club team.[8] The Final's Day was played at Rugby Thornfield with Kirby Bedon of Norfolk beating Warren Heath of Essex in the final. In 2010, Donnington of Cambridgeshire were the winners followed by Bob Carter of Norfolk in 2011. In 2012, the title was won by a side outside East Anglia for the first time when Cheshire's Morley Green lifted the title. The latest figures show 18,337 ESMBA registered members for the 2016/17 season.[9] The ESMBA rules of the game are followed by the affiliated clubs and also by most others. Most clubs arrange competitions among their own members as well as allowing time for those not wishing to take part in competitions to enjoy informal bowling.

British Isles Championships[edit]

Each year, winners of the national championships of each of the home nations (Although Ireland are usually represented as one country), along with a team selected by their governing body compete in the British Isles Championships. Despite being open to entry to all competition, the Isle of Man generally only competes in the singles competition. The winner is traditionally decided in a round-robin format, with the winner being the team with the most points, and shot difference.

The team competition for the British Isles championship is sixteen against sixteen; known as rinks. Each team deploys four teams of four over four mats, and the winning team is the one with the most combined shots over every mat. Although traditionally frowned upon, it is possible for players in the 'individual' disciplines, to also play in the team event. In this way, it is possible for players to win two British Isles titles in one season.

Current Champions:

Year Venue Singles Champion Fours Champions * Pairs Champions * Triples Champions * Premier Team Champion *
2016/17 Bromsgrove, England  Michael John (WAL)  Simon White, Keith Lackford, Stephen Proctor & Martin Walker (ENG)  Ben Render, Danny Langdon (ENG)  Raymond Stubbs, Jonny Wilson, Eddie Campbell (IRE)  Ireland (IRE)[10]

World Short Mat Bowls Championships[edit]

The Short Mat World Championships is held every two years in one of its member states. Whilst this may usually be inside the United Kingdom, teams such as India and Italy also compete; and thus could host the championships. Unlike the British Isles championships above, the world championships allows nations to enter up to two teams to each discipline; as there is no team event. There is also a knockout system in place after the first round-robin round. These tournaments are run by a group known as the World Short Mat Bowls Council.[11]

Year Venue Singles Champion Fours Champions * Pairs Champions * Triples Champions *
2018 Stromstad, Sweden  Jonathan Payn (BEL)  Jonas Häger, Joel Häger (SWE)
2016 Leigh, England  Raymond Stubbs (IRE)  Derick Wilson, Jonny Wilson, Eddie Campbell, Andrew Leckey (IRE)  Peter Hore, Christopher Willies (ENG)  Derek McCallion, Mark Sproule, Aiden Corrigan (IRE)
2014 Cardiff, Wales  Kevin Conroy (IRE)  Chris Mcwinnie, Jack Edwards, Andrew Jones, Nick Evans (WAL)  Pauline Beattie, Joe Beatie (IRE)
2012 Ballymoney, Northern Ireland  Stephen Williams (WAL)  Kevin Conroy, Fra Dillon, Michael Hand, Billy Taffe (IRE)  Dave Newsome, Ben Render (ENG)  Paddy Hanlon, Gerry McCabe, John Murnahan (IRE)
2010 Dumfries, Scotland  Stephen Williams (WAL)  Ronnie Stubbs, Gordon Stubbs, Keith Morrison, Raymond Stubbs (IRE)  DJ Wilson, J Wilson (IRE)  Glen Smith, Damian McElroy, Colum McHugh (IRE)
2008 Herentals, Belgium  Colum McHugh (IRE)  Leigh Hall, Trevor Brown, Craig Burgess, Stephen McAllister (ENG)  Babs Morokutti, Jody Frampton (ENG)  Simon Pridham, James Smith, Lee Toleman (ENG)
2006 Hopton-on-Sea, England  Chris Grocott (ENG)  Paul Hudson, D Hudson, Ben Haddon, Richard Hinkin (WAL)  James Trott, Mark White (ENG)  James Smith, Simon Pridham, Lee Toleman (ENG)

Short Mat Players Tour[edit]

The Short Mat Players Tour (SMPT),[12] is a company responsible of events set up by Craig Burgess and Simon Pridham in 2011.[13] The SMPT are responsible for running events throughout Europe, the first to establish a world ranking system.[14]

International Short Mat Open[edit]

The International Open was the biggest open competition in Short Mat Bowls when it first started in 2010. The competition was organised by Craig Burgess and Barry Hedges of Essex; both of the trophies awarded are in memory of their fathers, John Burgess and David Hedges. The inaugural event was held at Kempston Indoor Bowls Club, Bedford, England, and had the biggest gathering of short mat bowls talent from all over Europe including England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Belgium and Sweden. In subsequent years, the John Burgess Trophy became a pairs event instead of the original triples format. The event finished in 2013.

Year Venue John Burgess Trophy David Hedges Trophy
2013 Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex  Allan Williams & James Trott (ENG)  Peter Fautley, Tony Elham, Steve Killington & Anthony Fautley (ENG)
2012 Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex  Joseph Newsome & Ben Render (ENG)  Sarah Beynon, Arwel Morgan, Tom Jones & Luke Haddon (WAL)
2011 Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex  Jack Shepherd & Chris Willies (ENG)  Steve Proctor, Andrew Beard, Gareth Stanway & Grant Soller (ENG)
2010 Kempston Indoor Bowls Club, Bedford  Marty Trainor, Alan Paul & Kevin Conroy (IRE)  Liam McHugh, Keith McCullagh,Damian McElroy & Colum McHugh (IRE)

St Georges Cup - (North v South)[edit]

The St Georges Cup began in 2011, with 32 players from the North of England against 32 players from the South of England in a Ryder Cup-style event.[15]

Year Venue Winners Final Score
2017-16 Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club North of England 39 - 29
2016-15 Solihull Indoor Bowls Club South of England 25 - 43
2015-14 Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club South of England 20.5 - 43.5
2013-14 Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club Draw 32 - 32
2012-13 Tamworth Indoor Bowls Club South of England 26 - 38
2011-12 Wey Valley Indoor Bowls Club, Guildford South of England 20.5 - 43.5
2010-11 Erdington Indoor Bowls Club, Birmingham South of England 21 - 35

English Inter County Championship[edit]

The ESMBA organise an inter-county championship for teams of 20 players from each county. Most counties will enter two teams, a first 'premier' team, and an 'A team'. Winners of the premier competition are invited to the Top County competition, where the winners of the English ICC play the Welsh & Irish winners. Teams are made up of two teams from each discipline (Singles, pairs, triples & fours).

Year Premier Championship A Team Championship Premier Consolation A Team Consolation
2016 Norfolk Kent Northamptonshire Shropshire
2015 Hampshire Devon Dorset Norfolk
2014 Cheshire Kent Northamptonshire Hampshire
2013 Cheshire Kent Dorset Hampshire
2012 Cheshire Devon Cornwall Cornwall
2011 Cheshire Kent Hampshire Cornwall
2010 Cheshire West Midlands West Sussex Cheshire
2009 Cheshire West Sussex West Midlands Cornwall
2008 Cheshire West Sussex West Midlands Hampshire
2007 Cheshire Kent Shropshire Cornwall
2006 Staffordshire Kent Cheshire Hertfordshire
2005 Kent West Sussex Warwickshire Gloucestershire
2004 West Midlands Herefordshire Cheshire Gloucestershire
2003 Kent West Sussex West Sussex Staffordshire
2002 Kent Kent Shropshire London
2001 Kent West Midlands Norfolk Northamptonshire
2000 West Midlands Devon Worcestershire Northamptonshire
1999 Kent Essex Hampshire Hampshire
1998 Kent Essex Shropshire Lancashire
1997 Staffordshire Somerset Shropshire Northamptonshire
1996 Norfolk Staffordshire Cornwall Cheshire
1995 Kent Cheshire West Midlands
1994 West Midlands West Midlands
1993 Staffordshire


  1. ^ "History of short mat bowling" (PDF). Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  2. ^ Murphy, A. (28 April 2015). Working with Elderly People: A Care Worker's Handbook. Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-78462-052-3.
  3. ^ "Lawn Bowls FAQ". Vale Bowling Club. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Quick Guide to Short Mat Bowls". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Short Mat Bowls - Your Complete Guide to The Rules & Equipment". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  6. ^ Pickup, Gilly (15 November 2015). What the British Invented: From the Great to the Downright Bonkers. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-4456-5028-9.
  7. ^ "English Short Mat Bowling Association ESMBA". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ "English Short Mat Bowling Association 2017-18- ESMBA Championship/". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  9. ^ "English Short Mat Bowling Association County Membership Totals". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Weaver, Bob. "Short Mat Bowls". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Short Mat Players Tour". Short Mat Players Tour. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Short mat Players Tour LTD". Companies House. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Short Mat Players Tour - Bowls Chat". Bowls Chat. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Hall of fame". St Georges Cup.

External links[edit]