October 4, 2012

As you would expect of a news organ that spends the vast majority of its time staring blankly at the ramshackle array of original 1960s optics behind the bar at the Badgerbaiters Arms, Bankstone News neither knows nor cares much about the popular sporting pastime of bowls.

Or at least we didn’t… until we learned that Bankstone’s very own director of finances Mike “Mick” Hall is one of the world’s leading exponents of this noble art. We now belatedly realise that bowls – or at least the Crown Green version of it – is a sport among sports, the sort of sport, in short, that out-sports other sports, a sort of “sport of sports” if you will.

Mike is a key member of the Airedale and Wharfdale Federation team, newly crowned as Crown Green bowling’s Champions of Champions after a thrilling 7-point trouncing of would-be rivals Mid-Cheshire in the final match of a fiercely contested play-off death match at Todmorden’s Centre Vale Park on Sunday 23 September.

Top-ranking teams from right across the UK, from the Potteries to the Lakes, descended on Todmorden (whose name in Olde Englishe, fact fans, means either ‘the wood of murder and death’ or ‘the lair of the marshy fox’ depending on which toponymist you choose to believe) for the fight of their lives.

Mike and the boys were presented with the highly prized Victor Ludorum Cup, named in honour of famous local boardgames magnate and keen Crown Bowling devotee Victor Ludorum, at whose Monopoly Mills factory the UK version of the famous property-speculation game of that name (Monopoly not Ludorum) was first manufactured in the 1930s, after Victor’s son Norman Ludorum spent an energetic couple of days in London with his foxy young secretary collecting (often wildly arbitrary) street names to print on the board in place of the original New York names (many of his selections being suspiciously close to Kings Cross station where the couple alighted from the Leeds train and quickly got down to business). But we digress…

Essentially, what happened was that Mike and his team, unfancied rookie underdog outsiders the Airedale Alliance (aka the Dalesmen, The Terriers, the Peak Dodgers, The Guys from Guiseley and many other entirely spurious, fictional and otherwise non-applicable nicknames), only went and saw off all comers during a truly ferocious contest over three qualifying rounds and a final deciding bowl-off between the two highest-scoring teams of bowlsmen.

If you want to read a coherent and factually reliable account of how Mike and his fellow Airedalers saw off Bury, Barnsley (technically a draw this one, if you want to quibble) and South Lancs – before facing down the Mid-Cheshire Mad Cats to clinch ultimate victory and the coveted title of Crown Bowls Champions of Champions, you can do so by clicking here. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn something about Sausage Bacon and Egg Butties.

But, no doubt, what you really want to know is what the difference is between Crown Bowls and regular bowels. It’s perfectly simply really: Crown Bowlers scorn the tedium of bowling on a perfectly flat lawn or “pidduck”, as the playing surface is known, and prefer the challenge of “tossing” on a pidduck with a ruddy great hump somewhere in the middle of it (the so-called “jissup” or “crown” – hence the name Crown Bowls, which confusingly has nothing to do with the bizarre many-pointed headgear that players sport during the final “tenny” of each “roister”).

Regular or “Flat Green” bowlsmen, by contrast, prefer to “cast” on flat greens or “rinks”, dress up in poncey white outfits or “vettiments” and sneer unattractively at the more skillful Crown Bowlists, whom they unjustly traduce as “the flat cap and jeans brigade”. So now you know.

Anyway… very well done, Mike, we say at Bankstone News. There’s only one word truly fit to describe your victory, as the late great Sidney Waddell might have said: Magic Bowls!

Mike and the Airedale Crown Blowing team - not a flat cap or a pair of jeans in sight, please note!

Mike and the Airedale Crown Blowing team - hardly a flat cap or a pair of jeans in sight, please note!


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