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THE HEATS - 2003 - It seemed as if fate might be lining up against this annual competition, which determines which of our players go forward to the Finals at Barnard Castle in March. A fresh fall of snow and sub-zero temperatures made travelling conditions treacherous especially on the approaches to the venue at Ampleforth. Even before the competition had started, the Secretary fell foul of the ungritted slope down Ampleforth's JerryCarr Bank on his return from preparations on Friday evening. Suffice to say his car survived an unplanned trip off the side of the road and over a 15 foot bank  to come to rest in trees by Carr Lodge.

Overnight gritting helped most contestants arrive on time the next day although liquid refreshments were late in arriving with the North Duffield team. Sickness had also taken its toll but all those dropping out were successfully substituted. Once underway the competition ran well apart from several brief power cuts which reduced the hall to half light on several occasions. Some minor changes from last year ensured that both days finished on time between 5-5.30 pm.           

Saturday 4th January : In a change from last year, the first discipline to be played was the Fours with 15 entrants - the best for 3 years. A preliminary round reduced the field to 12 for the final round robin of 4 groups of 3. This year there were 5 places in the Finals on offer and these were filled by the four group winners and the best runner up - (see Roll of Honour - NZ Fours qualifiers). In the afternoon there was once again an entry of 30 for the Singles with 18 of them drawn to play off in a Preliminary round robin round. This eliminated 6 of the players leaving the final 24 to play  a further round robin in 8 groups of 3. The group winners were then drawn in a final knockout to produce the final four qualifiers - (see Roll of Honour - NZ Singles qualifiers).

Sunday 5th January : Sunday also saw a change from last year with the Triples in the morning followed by the Pairs during the afternoon. In the former, 15 of the 21 entrants played in a Preliminary round in which 5 were eliminated. In Round 1 the final 16 were arranged in 4 groups of 4. This produced 8 finalists for the final knockout round - with all 4 winners and the best runner up qualifying - (see Roll of Honour - NZ Triples qualifiers). With 42 entrants, the afternoon Pairs produced the biggest entry of the whole weekend requiring all 9 mats to be used for the initial Preliminary round - 9 groups of 3. It was only the winner in each group that progressed to the next round robin - 8 groups of 3 with a final knockout round to determine the four qualifiers - (see Roll of Honour - NZ Pairs qualifiers).

THE FINALS - 2003 - The Finals were once again held at the Teesdale Leisure Centre in Barnard Castle (Co. Durham) over the weekend of 22nd/23rd March. In his opening welcome, the Competition Secretary, David Rutt, reminded those present that this would be the last year he would organise the event as his intention was still to resign as the NZ Competition Secretary. If those present enjoyed the competition and wanted it to continue, they would have to ensure that someone else was found who would be willing to take on the responsibility for 2004. 

Each discipline had 32 finalists from across eight of the nine NZ member counties (Merseyside did not take part) - a total entry of 320 bowlers. The competition for all disciplines started with round robins (8 groups of 4) in which two from each group progressed to a preliminary KO round in order to produce the final eight Quarter Finalists.  North Yorkshire were represented by 47 entrants (five Fours, four Singles, four Pairs and five Triples) and once again we met with some notable success. (For details of all our team see the Roll of Honour)

Saturday 22nd March : In the Fours, three of our five rinks reached the Quarter Finals. Alan & Fred Banthorpe, Danny Brown and Derek Williams were then put out by a decisive 12-3 defeat at the hands of a young West Yorkshire four whilst Dave Randon, Bruce Fryer, Ian Tallach and Ian McKenzie forced their Derbyshire opponents to an extra end before going down 5-8.  Roger Green, Derek Johnstone, Rose Haynes and Philip Elgie, however had a good 11-3 win to get into the Semi-Finals where they were outplayed by the more consistent Derbyshire four. The eventual winners were Jim Smith, Frank Knight with Doreen & Colin Rochester (Humberside) who beat Margaret & Trevor Kirby & Isobell & Ted Howarth (Derbyshire)  

In the Singles, Ken Calvert and Roger Green both made the last sixteen where they found themselves drawn to play each other in the preliminary knockout round. Roger was no match to Kens consistent drawing skills and it was the latter who went through. A two point win in the Quarter Finals and a decisive 12-3 win over Bernard Fennell of the Stockport Metro League in the Semis saw Ken reach the Final against Darren Cookson, one of West Yorkshire younger players. The match was a fine one with both players drawing well and using weight when needed effectively. Trailing by four shots with two ends to play, Ken finished well to force an extra end with the scores at 9-9. With some more excellent drawing, Ken forced his opponent to use weight which for once failed him. To the delight of several North Yorkshire spectators who had stayed until after 10pm to support him, Ken thus becomes our counties first NZ Singles Champion. For a photo of the Champion Ken Calvert go to the Photo Gallery

Sunday 23rd March : In the Pairs, only Janet & George Crosby made it through to the knockout stage by winning all three of their round robin games.  However they did not quite make it into the Quarter Finals, losing their preliminary round game by a single shot. The Final was an all Derbyshire affair with Terry and Maureen Flint overcoming Ralph and Elaine Manterfield.

In the Triples however we fared better with Alan Banthorpe, Fred Banthorpe and Danny Brown reaching the Quarter Finals where they went down 6-8 after an extra end. Jean Calvert, Simon Holtby and Les Stelling had a great run with close wins in both the Quarter and Semi Finals. In the Final they continued to play well together against Andy James, Colin Hamill and David Gregory from Cumbria forcing an extra end with the scores at 5-5. However, the opposition won the toss and put up a long jack which their lead took into the ditch with his second attempt thus taking the title out of reach.

The Trophy for the best overall team performance went to Derbyshire with 9 points with our own team joint second with West Yorkshire on 7 points.