If Carlsberg Did Weekends…

One of the biggest changes in the league structure is taking place this season as the league is split into four divisions, following three additional teams joining the league. The last time this happened was in 2004, when 35 teams entered the men’s night league.

The top three divisions will have 10 teams, whilst the fourth division will consist of 9 teams, which includes three new teams, with Castletown putting a C team in again this year, North Ramsey C have recruited enough members for a third team, whilst Noble’s have made history by putting an E Team into the league, helped by having two greens that are used throughout the summer season, they could theoretically put in a further three teams F, G & H.

The time was right for the restructure as to remain with three divisions, there would have been very little room for contingency dates, matches would need to be played during TT and Bank Holidays, it would also have meant that some of the popular team competitions would also have to be sacrificed to ensure league games were able to fit into the calendar.

With four divisions there is more scope for additional teams to come into the league to allow expansion of the game in the future. It also has the knock on effect of making each league more competitive, leaving enough contingency dates in the calendar, and most importantly it allows dates to be scheduled for the Junior league, along with the Mixed Team and the Club Championship.

In Canada Life International sponsored Division One league champions South Ramsey A will once again wary of the challenge from Marown A, with the Crosby men looking to close a 16 point gap on last season, they have Dean Kipling back in the fold and Tom Kelly promoted to the A Team full time. An unchanged South Ramsey team won’t be resting on their laurels.

It will be interesting to see which teams are battling for promotion and relegation this season in all four divisions.

In Division Two Finch Hill A will look to bounce back from the disappointment of not gaining promotion to league division one following the restructure, however it does present them a unique opportunity as they could make history by winning Division Two two years running. Also looking to challenge Finch Hill, will be Ballaugh A who finished runners up in Division Two, whilst Peel B and South Ramsey B will be looking to regain their places in the top tier.

Over to Division Three South Ramsey C will be ranked as one of the top teams based on last seasons league standings, they will fancy their chances of taking the title, whilst Port St Mary B, like Finch Hill A will be looking to win their division for a second consecutive season. Noble’s D might have something to say about that as they finished just one point behind Port St Mary B, whilst Ballaugh B will also be in the mix as they finished three points off top spot.

Noble’s C now have a year’s experience under their belts, as the Leeds fans recently made the most of a pre-season trip away as they started their weekend with a friendly at Thorner BC as they played Black Swan Bowling Club, with three of their team picking up victories on international soil, with Steve Brennan the first man to do so as he won 21-20, with Andy Greggor and Steve Cain also staking their claim to fame. The following day they faced one of the top teams in the UK, as they took on Crossgates BC, in what turned out to be a steep learning curve, which will no doubt serve them well in the future. Their weekend was topped off with a visit to Elland Road as their beloved Leeds won 2-0 against Millwall to hit top spot in the Championship. As their captain Steve Cain said if Carlsberg did weekends…

Division Four will be a good starting point for Noble’s E, as the team made up of local farmers, who are all new to the game will be looking to ‘plough’ their way through the season, they do say cream always rises to the top! I do hope they get the same bug for the game as those who took up the game last year. North Ramsey continue to grow as a club, as they put in a third team this season, whilst their development also continues off the green as the last club on the island without floodlights, they are rumoured to be getting floodlights in place in the near future, which will no doubt help the competition secretary with his bowls calendar planning for the season.

A special mention must go to Noble’s Bowling Club, who a few years ago were on the brink of collapsing, as they have gone from strength to strength. New members bring different ideas, and with that a fresh outlook. It just goes to show the efforts made to bring new players into the game can reap the rewards as they have also picked up team silverware the last two seasons in the Mixed Plate competition.

All the best for what promises to be a great season.