Established in 1932, the Mid Shropshire Crown Green Bowling League, based in and around the Telford area, plans to mark its 90th anniversary season with a series of celebratory events – and simply by returning to some kind of normal!
For like every other bowls league, and amateur sport for that matter, Covid-19 has proved a real menace, virtually wiping out the entire 2020 programme and causing a delayed start to a strange 2021 campaign.
League officers were proud to mark the easing of lockdown restrictions in September 2020 by running a singles knockout at Edgmond – the only competition promoted in Shropshire that summer – but a second wave of the pandemic then meant it was July 2021 before any kind of league action could resume.
It was very much a ‘one-off, half season’ organised with the aim of getting as many bowlers as possible back on the greens.
The usual structures were replaced with four Friday night divisions for 12 and 10-a-side teams and five Monday evening divisions featuring 10 and 8-a-side teams.
In pre-pandemic days, the League boasted 26 member clubs with nearly 1,500 bowlers, a popular Thursday night division and Saturday afternoon division, both of which have been put into cold storage.
It also organised the biggest bowls presentation function in Shropshire in the form of an annual dinner in January regularly attended by 200 plus.
Now the League’s officers have to re-double their efforts to try and grow the sport by attracting more and younger people to take up crown green bowls.
And they are delighted that County Development Officer and coaching chief Pauline Wilson is still making full use of coaching equipment bought with a £7,145 grant from Sport England to the maximum, especially in a hugely successful Bowls Big Weekend that will be repeated in May 2022.
Mid Shropshire have also continued to award Life Memberships to recognise the efforts of bowlers to further the sport – and this too will resume in 2022.
And one thing the various coronavirus variants have taught us is to enjoy the sport we all love and the company and friendships it brings, aiding our mental well being and adding to the quality of our lives after such a tough 2 years.
Here’s hoping the League has a special 90th birthday!