NORTH LANCASHIRE & FYLDE CBA
THE FORMATION OF THE COUNTY ASSOCIATION
North Lancs & Fylde is the youngest county in the British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA). It was created largely through the hard work of six people: Keith Scott (Preston), Eric Garth (Gt Eccleston), Eric Currah (Lancaster), George Davies (Preston), Bert Sutton (Lancaster), and Stan Drake (Blackpool). They represented a widely-held view that Lancashire, even after the formation of Greater Manchester and Merseyside in 1980, was still too big an area and that bowling in North Lancashire was strong enough to support a sixteenth county.
In 1982, an application for membership of the BCGBA was turned down on the basis that not enough consultation had taken place with the Lancashire CBA. Having rectified this and agreed boundaries, a new application went forward in 1983 and was approved, allowing the formation of a North Lancashire & Fylde County Bowling Association.
The six pioneers, along with Bert Dransfield (Preston), Malcolm Shaw (Burnley), David Sutcliffe (Todmorden), Allan Yates (Burnley) and Alan Whitworth (Preston), went on to form a Constitution and a set of County Rules which were presented to a General Meeting held in January 1984. These being accepted, Eric Garth was elected the first President and Chairman. In 1986 the County entered the Junior County Championship after an organisation (which became the Junior County Committee) was set up by Alan Whitworth.
STRUCTURE OF THE ASSOCIATION
The Constitution has changed very little since 1984. The position of President was originally the culmination of a six year term, with two years as Junior Vice-President, two as Senior Vice-President and two as President. In the light of experience this was felt to be too long and the position of Junior Vice-President was abandoned. It was also decided that only the last five Past Presidents should remain on the committee, so long as they retained their interest. This was done to prevent the committee from becoming top heavy. However, it became obvious that the committee needed all the members it could get and the five year limit was removed!
The County is divided into five districts: i) Blackburn; ii) East Lancashire; iii) Fylde iv) Lancaster; v) Preston. Each district has its own Chairman and up to three delegates and they, plus the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Financial Officer, Competitions Secretary, BCGBA representative, Referees’ Representative, Coaches’ Representative, Registrar, Publicity Officer, Development Officer and Welfare Officer form the Management Committee, which meets every two months.
Although this appears to be a large committee, several members fulfil more than one position. It must also be borne in mind that the committee serves about 300 clubs with a membership in excess of 23,000 bowlers, plus over 47 Leagues.
The County holds various competitions: Champion of League Champions (for League Merit winners); Senior County Merit; Junior Merit; Veterans Merit; Jack & Jean Isherwood (for veterans); County Pairs and County Team (for clubs). In so far as is possible the competitions are held around the 5 Districts within the County.
There are also the County Teams in the Crosfield Cup (Senior County Championship), the Junior County Championship and the Veterans County Championship. The County Team has used 184 players to the end of 2008, appearing in the Final three times: in 1985 and 1994 against Yorkshire and 2005 against North Midlands. The team lost in the first final of the Supplementary Competition in 1992 and again in the 1998 final.
In 2013 the County won all three group matches, both home & away, before losing in the Semi-Final to a very strong Warwick & Worcester Team.
The County has had two winners of the BCGBA Merit in Michael Leach (1984) and Steve Ellis (1994) and five runners-up:- Brian Tomlinson (1987), Ian Rigby (1991, Paul Wilson (1998) Simon Coupe (2007).and Wayne Ditchfield 2011. In 1996 Ian Rigby played for the winning England team in the International matches at Blackburn and in 1997 Michael Leach also played for the winning England team at Rhyl.
The County Juniors have won 15 of the 57 matches they have played. They won the Junior Supplementary the first time it was played, in 1996 and were runners-up in 2001. Of all those who have played for the County Juniors 16 have gone on to play for the County Seniors. In the Junior Merit the County has had six runners-up in Simon Coupe (1987), Andrew Cairns (1991), James Ball (1996) Stephen Clough (2003 Mark Chester (2009) and Owen Jackson (2010) Wayne Ditchfield has broken all records by winning the competition on three successive occasions – 2005, 2006,2007 and a fourth time in 2009. The County Veterans appeared in the Final of their Championship, which only began in 1995, in 2000.
St Josephs (Chorley) won the inaugural ‘World Club Team Championship at Irlam in 2011.
Winning it again in 2013.
BCGBA OFFICIALS FROM THE COUNTY
The County has so far provided two BCGBA Presidents – Malcolm Shaw in 1998,. Dr Henry Butler in 2010. During Dr Butlers term of office the BCGBA Merit, returned to Fleetwood Bowling Club, the venue for the first BCGBA Merit in 1910. Since 2003 the County has provided the BCGBA Financial Officer in Alan Whitworth.
The County Representatives to BCGBA have been:-
1984 – 1987 Stan Drake (Blackpool)
1988 – 1993 Bert Sutton (Lancaster)
1994 – 2002 Alan Whitworth (Preston)
2003 – 2011 David Sutcliffe (Todmorden)
2012 – Jim Parker (Blackpool)
2013 Tony Bamber (Preston)