Thinking of giving it a go ?. Good. It's a great game and you're in a great area in which to give it a try.
It's a game that anyone can play. A sport for all ages. From a seven year old to a seventy year old. Able bodied as well as
disabled. Men and ladies. Boys and girls. It's a game too that you can play at many levels. Whether you just want to
have a bit of fun, a laugh and some gentle exercise or whether you're more competitive and want to
take it up as a genuine sport, just as competitive as amateur Football, Cricket, Golf, Rugby or any other sport you can think of.
Crown Green History
Crown Green Bowls is different to Flat Green Bowls or the Indoor Bowls you might have seen on the TV.
The name gives it away slightly in that the greens have, yes you've guessed it, a crown. This isn't just a raised area in the middle.
Crown Greens come in lots of shapes and sizes and can have undulations all over the green. That's partly what makes it so interesting.
Where our Flat Green cousins play on a green that is equally divided into 'lanes', the jack in Crown Green Bowls can be sent to any part of the green.
So that's corner to corner, up an edge, off the 'crown', over the crown, in fact just about anywhere. With several games on the green at the same time
it can look a bit chaotic with bowls criss crossing all over, but it's not as bad as it looks, and they don't collide as often as you'd think !.
Crown Green developed historically in the central to northern part of the county allegedly due to the nature of the land. The Pennines and generally
hilly areas of the North meant that areas of flat land were not as prevalent as in the flatter south. So Crown Green 'country' stretches pretty much
from the Midlands and North Wales, up through the North West to as far North as Cumbria and also the Isle of Man. There are also Crown Greens in
places like Portugal and Cyprus and even in America.
In this area around Stockport, we have hundreds of Bowling Clubs and thousands of players, playing regularly every day throughout the season.
The outdoor season traditionally starts on Good Friday, with the season drawing to a close by the end of September. During the winter
there are a few outdoor greens that are popular with a hardy band of Winter players. But for those wanting to escape the weather there is
a thriving Stockport Indoor League
The sport is governed by the British Crown Green Bowling Association and geographically is split into 16 County associations.
Within those 16 counties
are leagues which affiliate to one particular county, and within those leagues are the individual bowling clubs.
For example locally we have the Stockport & District Bowling League which is affiliated to Cheshire county, and say the North Derbyshire League which
is affiliated to Derbyshire county. There are lots of other leagues that we'll look at later.
Getting Started - Equipment
So you know someone who plays already, or you've maybe seen people playing on the local park, or you've even perhaps seen it on the TV or internet and fancy
having a go. What do you need to get started. We'll start with the equipment. Not much really. Just a pair (that's a pair, as you only play with 2 bowls in
Crown Green, not 4 like they do in Flat Green) of bowls, and a jack. That's the target that you're trying to get your bowls near. And a mat. That's a rubber mat, about 6 inches across that all players must stand on when delivering the jack or bowls. It's all the bowls are sent from the same place. Maybe 10 years ago all bowls
came in one of two colours, black or brown. They'd more than likely be made of plastic, very hard plastic at that, or sometimes the more traditional wood, Lignum Vitae.
However over the last few years coloured bowls have seen a dramatic rise in popularity which certainly helps to make the game more colourful.
Have a look at some of these retailers to see what the range of bowls and jacks are.
Premier Bowls of Stockport
Crown Green Bowler Discount Centre
So if you're starting from scratch, you can get kitted out with bowls, jack and a mat for less than £100. Alternatively, have a look at somewhere like Ebay on the
internet where there are always second hand bargains to be had.
The main difference between bowls, apart from the colour, is the weight and hence the size. The average weight of bowls for men is probably about 2lbs 10ozs. Ladies tend to go for smaller bowls so probably about 2lbs 6ozs.
So other than a pair of bowls, a jack and a mat you might need some good wet weather clothes
if your planning on playing competitively as Crown Green bowlers are a hardy bunch who play in most weather. There's no real dress code until you get to the top levels of the game where trousers and team shirts are the norm. Just make sure you have a decent pair of flat shoes, training shoes are quite acceptable, just no big heels !!.
Getting Started - Bowling Clubs
So you've got your bowls and a jack, what next. Well start playing. Bowling greens tend to be located either in the local park, or more usually attached to pubs. There
are also specific bowling
clubs, but these are fairly rare. All clubs would gladly welcome new members. There's none of this going up before the committee and fearing
being 'black balled'. So you can either join a club, or just go along to your local park and play there. It's not a difficult sport to learn how to play, but like all sports it
can take a lifetime to master.
Personally I'd recommend joining a local club. Stockport has lots of them, and I'd wager that wherever you live, you're never more than a
mile or so away from a bowling club.
Have a look at the 'Green Finder' on the left of the website front page. That shows, for some of our local leagues exactly where the
member clubs are located. As you'll see there are lots of them.
Once you've picked a club, you can just go along and introduce yourself. Pay your membership which then
gives you unlimited access to that green for the season (except when there might be a match on).
Membership fees vary from club to club, but as a rule of thumb I'd say
expect to pay somewhere around £30. This will be cheaper for veterans (Over 60's), Ladies and Juniors, who at most clubs get a discount.
Stockport has a Bowls Development Group who amongst other things run coaching courses for beginners. Going on one of these courses would be an ideal way of learning the basics, of how the bowls are biased, the basic rules, how to deliver the bowls and bowling etiquette. Failing this there will always be club members eager to point you in the right direction.
Getting Started - Competitive Bowling
Once your up and running and have learnt the basics, you might be happy just to play socially for fun, but most people, men and ladies, play for their club (or clubs in most cases) in organised leagues. If you are over 60 you'd be eligible to play for your club in one of the Veterans (or 'Vets') leagues. These are during the day and run on most afternoons around the area.
Monday - Stockport & District (Pairs)
Wednesday - Cheadle & Gatley (Singles)
Thursday - Altrincham & District (Singles)
The leagues open to any age (including Vets) tend to be played either during the evenings or on Saturday afternoons. Have a look at the right hand side of the website front page and you'll see some of the leagues in this area. If you were keen enough you could play every weekday night :-
Monday - Alderley & District, Altrincham & District, Buxton, Stockport & District Ladies
Tuesday - Stockport & District, Cheadle & Gatley
Wednesday - Stockport Parks, North Derbyshire, Cheadle & Gatley Ladies
Thursday - Some Stockport & District clubs play Thursdays instead of Tuesdays
Friday - Stockport Workshops Mixed
Saturday - Longdendale, Tameside
Sunday - Rest !. Oh apart from cup matches !!.
Lots of clubs have several teams. For instance the The Nursery in Heaton Norris has 4 teams playing each week just in the Stockport & District league. Also lots of clubs have teams playing in more than one league. For instance the Romiley Arms in Romiley have teams that play in the Stockport & District league, the North Derbyshire league, the Stockport Workshops league and the Tameside league, aswell as ladies and Vets teams. Phew !.
Standards vary aswell. As a learner, if you wanted to play in a league you'd start on that clubs most junior team, which would obviously be playing in one of a leagues lower
divisions. As you get better you'll move up to your clubs more senior teams where the opposition you play against also gets tougher. Leagues lower divisions tend to be made
up of either people new to the game or those that just enjoy playing and aren't too bothered about getting better. At the other end of the scale the top 'A' divisions of our
best standard local leagues will have teams that include a number of 'County' standard players. And players travel some distance to play in our top leagues. At this end of
the scale the level of competition can rival that of most sports.
Aswell as playing in leagues for a team there are lots of individual competitions you can enter. You pay an entrance fee which goes into the prize money pot, sometimes in addition to money put up by sponsors. This money is then divided out amongst maybe the last 8 or last 16 competitors. There are also pairs and mixed pairs competitions to have a go at.
Whilst there isn't enough money to allow players to turn 'professional' and play for a living, some of the top players can make thousands of pounds over a season in prize money.
The top men, ladies and junior players can be selected to represent their County. Fifteen counties compete each year in the Senior Men, Senior Ladies and Junior County Championships
Hopefully this website and others like it help to promote what is a great game. Certainly this one tries to concentrate predominantly on what's going on locally in and around Stockport. Amongst the various pages there is lots of information that should help you see what clubs there are, where they are and what leagues they play in. If you need any more information you can email me and I will do my best to answer any questions you have. You can email me using the link below. I have the contact details of most of the area's clubs and secretary's.
Email to :- StockportBowls
Alternatively the Website Messageboard is a great place for general information and 'banter'. You could register on there, post a question and the bowling 'community' would
be glad to help you out.
I hope this has given you a flavour of what Crown Green Bowls is about, how to get started and how it's organised.
Why not give it a go. It's fun, gets you out and about, you'll meet lots of new friends and it helps keep you fit.