Short mat bowls

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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 the game is derived.

History[edit]

The Short Mat Bowls game 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 this country, 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,[1] but development was slow until the 1980s when its potential as a low cost sport for people of all ages was realised. The English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) was formed in 1984, and is now the governing body of the sport in England. 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, 28 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 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 from the ESMBA puts membership at 25211 bowlers in 928 clubs. 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.

Equipment[edit]

The foam or rubber backed rink mats, permanently marked with the required lines, can be purchased direct from the manufacturers or from sports equipment dealers, with or without the necessary mat furniture. Administration The ESMBA specify a minimum mat length of 40 ft and a maximum of 45 ft. The width is 6 ft. The cost of mats depends on the length required and also the quality of the material. The cheapest mats at present (2010) cost £650 and starter kits, comprising one 45 ft mat, two fenders, block, jack, two foot mats and two sets of bowls are available at around £900.

Where the game is played[edit]

Short mat bowls is an all-year sport unaffected by weather conditions and it does not require a permanent location as the rink mats can be rolled up and stowed away. This makes it particularly appropriate for small communities as it can be played in village halls, schools, sports and social clubs, hotels etc. where space is restricted and is also required for other purposes: it is even played on North Sea oil rigs where space is severely limited.

How the game is played[edit]

The game is played in broadly the same way, and provides the same enjoyment and has the same attractions as lawn bowls and, indeed, many players participate in both games. The bowls themselves, and the smooth soled heel less footwear are the same as those used outdoors.

The object is for each player in a singles game or each team in a pairs, triples or fours to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents, and so outscore them.

The main differences in the playing conditions are the size of the playing area, the block that occupies the mid-position of the rink mat, and the ditch, which is actually a defined area of the mat surface. The intimidatory presence of the block, which prevents players from playing with force directly towards an opponents bowl to knock it out of a scoring position, and the narrow playing area, requires players to develop skill in using the natural bias on the bowls to bowl round the block. Bowls that touch the block, and those that come to rest in the dead area or in the ditch (other than those that touch the jack before going into the ditch) are declared "dead" and removed from the mat before the next bowl is delivered.

The primary skill requirement is in the fact that no two mats perform identically and all village halls have floors that are not perfectly flat therefore every competitive match is a measure of the ability of the visiting team to conquer an unfamiliar playing surface.

World Short Mat Bowls Council Championships[edit]

Year Venue Singles Champion Fours Champions * Pairs Champions * Triples Champions *
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 To be updated
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 was set up by Craig Burgess and Simon Pridham to run professional events open to any player from any country. Phil Mills and Stephen Gale have joined the SMPT team, and together they run 6 world-class singles competitions all over Europe.

Year UK Open Irish Open Norwegian Open Swedish Masters English Masters World Masters
2016-17  Lawrence Moffat (SCO)  Alan Paul (NIR)  Mark Beattie (NIR)  P.J. Gallagher (IRE)  Joseph Beattie (NIR)  Joseph Beattie (NIR)
2015-16  Gary McNabb (NIR)  Dimitri Payne (BEL)  Joel Häger (SWE)  Marcus Almén (SWE)  James Bucknall (ENG)  Gary Burke (NIR)
2014-15  Robert Martin (ENG)  PJ McCrossan (NIR)  Mark Beattie (NIR)  Cecil Dillon (NIR)  Stephen Williams (WAL)  Mark Beattie (NIR)
2013-14  Joseph Beattie (NIR)  Andrew Leckey (NIR)  Chris Mann (ENG)  Joseph Beattie (NIR)  Cecil Dillon (NIR)  Gerry McCabe (IRE)
2012-13  Mark Beattie (NIR) Was not played  Jonathan Payne (BEL)  Morten-Andre Coll (NOR)  Joseph Beattie (NIR)  Alan Paul (NIR)
2011-12 Was not played Was not played Was not played Was not played  Jonathan Payne (BEL) Was not played

Order of Merit[edit]

There is also an Order of Merit that is produced from the 6 ranking events on the Short Mat Players Tour. The player ranked number 1 at the end of the season will be awarded the Short Mat Players Tour Order of Merit sponsored by Henselite Bowls UK.

Year Order of Merit Champion
2016-17  Dimitri Payne (BEL)
2015-16  Joel Hager (SWE)
2014-15  Mark Beattie (NIR)
2013-14  Cecil Dillon (NIR)
2012-13  Mark Beattie (NIR) /  Joel Hager (SWE)

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 being played for are in memory of their Fathers John Burgess and David Hedges.

The inaugural event was staged in 2010 and was held at Kempston Indoor Bowls Club, Bedford. This event had the biggest gathering of short mat bowls talent from all over Europe including England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Belgium & Sweden. In future 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 was an idea from Nick Tideswell and Darran Beardmore. It would be an idea turned into reality in 2011 with the Short Mat Players Tour looking to form the competition with 32 players from the North of England against 32 players from the South of England.

2 captains were put forward, Darran Beardmore (North) and Craig Burgess (South). They then selected their 32 players who would take part in a Ryder Cup style event that had not been seen before in Short Mat Bowls.

Year Venue Winners
2012-13 Tamworth Indoor Bowls Club South of England
2011-12 Wey Valley Indoor Bowls Club, Guildford South of England
2010-11 Erdington Indoor Bowls Club, Birmingham South of England

English Inter County Championship Winners[edit]

Year Premier Championship A Team Championship Premier Consolation A Team Consolation
2015 Norfolk
2014 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

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Short Mat Players Tour