HISTORY OF ASSOCIATION
Hampshire County Short Mat Bowling Association (HCSMBA) started around 1993 with approximately 230 members and, being affiliated to the English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA), looks after the interests of short mat players in this County. There are currently 26 affiliated Clubs (covering around 600 members).
We also know that in addition to this there are a large number of Clubs which are not affiliated to the County and this means that members of these non-affiliated Clubs are not available for call up to the County teams, nor are they eligible to play in the National Qualifiers. What talent are we missing out on?
Over the years the Association has made its base in a variety of places, Itchen College, Swanmore Community School, Winchester College. We have also had satellite venues such as the Eastpoint Centre and Bitterne Park Secondary School and have recently been resident at Banister Park BC where it was for the first time in our history a dedicated bowls fraternity, and lessened the chance of having our equipment damaged or lost.
However we have now moved to Testbourne Community School in Whitchurch in order to re-integrate the clubs in the north of the County. We are also supported by Stannah which is why we have changed our team shirts to reflect their colours.
Competitions and General Information:
The HCSMBA runs two County teams and these play in the Winter Inter-County Leagues. There was a Summer Inter-County League but unfortunately this proved to be unsustainable and eventually the ESMBA ceased to run it. We do have friendly matches during the summer, and this is sometimes a good time to get involved.
In the years prior to 1997-98 our affiliated clubs could enter a competition called the Greenway Trophy. This was an Inter-Club Knockout Championship. However, as this was a straight knockout (played on a home & away basis) it meant that clubs who were knocked out early had no further involvement, and an Inter-Club League was initiated.
This faltered as the number of Clubs entering declined and eventually it ceased. The Knockout had been run on a one-day tournament basis, but entries were disappointingly low.
However this year (2017) the Inter-Club competition was successfully re-launched and will hopefully go back to being well contested in future years.
On behalf of the ESMBA, the Hampshire Association runs National Qualifying knockout competitions in each of the following disciplines, Fours, Triples, Pairs and Singles, Mixed Fours and Under 18’s. The winners of these go on to play in the National Championships Finals in April each year representing their County. In past years Hampshire has been very successful in these Championships, winning the Fours, Triples, Pairs and Singles fairly regularly. Winning one of these Championships gives the successful person an opportunity to play for England, and in 2001 we had as many as seven England players in the County. The venues for the National Finals have been as far away as Church Gresley in Derbyshire, but our players have still made the commitment to represent their county at the highest level
The County also runs a Champion of Champions competition, and a “Secretaries Cup” for the Club’s workhorse, although these have not been as well supported in later years as they were originally.
In 2003, the County was successful with an Awards for All lottery bid of £5000 to set up a youth training programme and it is hoped that in time this may generate a healthy youth base to continue the game into the future. The Under 18’s training went from strength to strength until there were as many as 25 affiliated youngsters in the County. We have had as many as six representatives regularly in the England Under 18’s team travelling all over the country.
In the 1995-96 season, Hampshire Premier team finished top of their group and progressed to the Quarter finals of the knockout stage but unfortunately got no further. Subsequent years have seen the team progress a stage or so further until 1999/2000 when they got to the Final and lost only narrowly to West Midlands. In 2002/03 the Premier team again reached the Final this time losing to Kent.
Since then Hampshire Premier team has been in the Consolation Plate competition (and has won it) and in the main competition four times. Twice they have met Cheshire in the final, and come away empty handed.
However in 2015, and with Cheshire again the opponents, Hampshire won the ultimate Premier Team prize, which ended Cheshire’s dominance – well for one year anyway. The prize for that excellence is to represent England against Wales & Ireland in a Top Team competition. In the 2006-7 season the A team reached the Final losing narrowly to Cornwall. We don’t like losing – but we do it with dignity!
The A team has regularly reached the final of Consolation Plate competition and indeed has won this three times. Unfortunately when the team progresses into the main competition they are less successful, but their time will come.
The HCSMBA draws most of its funds from affiliation fees, taking a portion of all yearly affiliation fees paid by members of the registered Clubs. Most of the affiliation fee paid goes to the ruling body, the ESMBA. We also run raffles at County League match days, and the occasional Open Day
As you can see, the affiliated player can get a fair selection of competition at County level throughout the year, winter and summer. You may not personally be interested in playing for the County, but playing against County players within your own Club will see a dramatic improvement in your own game.
You may, of course, merely wish to play with your own club colleagues but remember coaching days will help improve your own game – and maybe your club would like to set one of these up. Many clubs run various tournaments, and often look for additional or different people to enter.