Herefordshire Short Mat Bowling Association


Strong Showing Sees Fifth Consecutive Semi Final Appearance at National Mixed Fours for Herefordshire

The weekend of Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th February saw the National Mixed Fours and National Over 55 Pairs take place respectively at Solihull IBC. The first National Championships of the season, Herefordshire saw an increased entry as three teams took part on both days, looking to build on The Bulls improving National results in recent years.

Three of Herefordshire’s four former national champions in Kate Williams (Weston), John Mills (Woolhope) and Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel) were this year joined by Becci Cox (Woolhope) in “Hereford 1” as they sought to add to their 2020 National Mixed Fours title. Also representing The Bulls were the “Hereford 2” team of Dawn Cox, Bryan Watkins (Woolhope) and Dean Rudman (Gorsley Chapel) who were joined by late substitute Lynn Williams (Gorsley Chapel), standing in for Woolhope’s Shirley Cox. Finally “Hereford 3” featured the St Martin’s trio of Jo Millington, Pete Goulding and Jim Knowles with Ross’ Linda Evans.
Following the group stages, both Hereford 1 and 2 made it through to the knockout round as group runners up having won 2 and drawn 1 and won 2 and lost 1 respectively. Hereford 3, following a draw that saw them face several international players and former national champions across each of the teams faced, finished bottom of their group after three respectably close results.

The knockout draw was equally as unkind to Hereford 2 who faced a Hampshire team boasting former Gloster Knights and England captain Ryan Knight. A slow start from The Bulls saw the Hampshire team race into an unassailable lead as they ran out 16-1 winners. Hereford 1 had better fortune as they beat Kent 1 10-1. Familiar opponents then stood in their was as Cheshire looked to repeat their ICC performance against Herefordshire and progress to the quarter finals. However, history did not repeat itself and some revenge was taken as a resilient Hereford won 9-5. Up next was Hampshire 2 who were one of four Hampshire teams to make it to this stage. An incredibly close game saw Mills, Williams, Cox & Loveys 9-7 down going into the final end. A strong start from Herefordshire front end opened up an opportunity with Loveys drawing his final wood into the head to take a 10-9 victory and reach the semi-finals for the fifth year in a row. Standing in the way of the final was Gloucestershire 1. In spite of a close match, Herefordshire couldn’t counter Gloucester skip Saul Featherstone’s impressive performance, eventually falling to a 10-5 defeat.

Day Two featured three Over 55 Pairs, all from Ross BC. “Hereford 1” saw Herefordshire County Pairs Champions Dave Watkins & Ian Roe looking to make their mark on the national stage. They were joined by “Hereford 2” and reigning Herefordshire Over 55 Pairs County Champions, Claire Herbert & Peter Wright and “Hereford 3” Gary Peachey and David Millington Jones. The group stages once again saw Hereford 1 and 2 progress to the knockout stage as runner up whilst Hereford 3 fell to three defeats.

A continued theme of unlucky knockout draws for Herefordshire teams put Watkins & Roe against 3 x Over 55 Pairs National Champions Chris Hopkins and Steve Mcallister from Northamptonshire who ran out 12-4 victors. However, an emphatic 16-4 win for Herbert and Wright against Essex 4 booked their place in the round of 16. A valiant effort from Hereford 2 saw them 8-4 down and needing a 4 to take the game to an extra end but sadly this was not meant to be as an 8-5 final score ended Herefordshire’s weekend.

The HSMBA sends it’s congratulations to all representatives on a successful weekend. The National Championships are where all competitive bowlers aim to be and it is great to see Herefordshire represented so well. We now look forward to the Singles, Pairs, Fours and Triples taking place on 11th-14th Apil respectively.

(Image: Herefordshire National Mixed Fours 2024 Representatives)