Northants bowlers reached eight finals at the English Bowling Federation National Championships at Skegness, but unfortunately could only convert two of them into silverware,
Federation stalwart Les Sharp achieved a long-held ambition to win a national title by winning the senior mixed pairs with Yaxley colleague Gill King, defeating Durham 18-14 in the final after wins against North Essex (18-15), Northumberland (17-15) and North Cambs (27-6).
The Whittlesey Manor rink of Roger Stevens, Steve Lander (substitute for Martin Welsford) and Graham Agger lifted the three-bowl triples title by defeating Suffolk 21-11 in the final which followed victories over North Cambs (21-16) and Cleveland (18-17) on an extra end measure.
Welsford was forced to pull out halfway through the semi-final with a back problem, and so Lander stepped in to win this title for a second time.
Stephen Harris (Blackstones), who was unbeaten in all four of his events at the start of the penultimate day, ended up beaten in two finals and two semi-finals, but had the consolation of being named ‘Under 25 Player of the Tournament.’
After losing his four-bowl singles semi-final 18-21 to Cleveland after wins against Notts (21-9) and North Cambs (21-11), and the open under 25 pairs semi-final with Jack Corney (Whittlesey Manor) 13-18 to Suffolk after defeating Cleveland 20-11, he suffered a 7-24 mixed pairs final defeat with sister Louise at the hands of Notts, having earlier beaten North Essex (21-18) and North Cambs (17-16).
His heartbreak continued on the final morning when he was beaten 15-21 by Suffolk in the under 25 singles decider, with his sister going down 16-21 to North Cambs in the women’s equivalent on an adjoining green.
Stephen had wins against North Cambs (21-8), Humberside (21-12) and Durham (21-11) en route to the final, while Louise was involved in two nail-biting 21-20 wins against Notts and Derbys.
Northants were so close to doubling their national title tally as defending champions Paul Dalliday, Simon Law and Tristan Morton (Parkway) dropped a three on the last end to lose 16-17 to Derbyshire in the two-bowl triples final, while Sue Moir (Langtoft Pearl) had the frustration of a 20-21 defeat in the two-bowl singles final against Lincolnshire, having led 20-19.
Parkway had beaten Norfolk (22-14) and Humberside (21-16) on the way to the final – James Harford substituted for Leamington-bound Morton in the semi-final – while Moir accounted for North Cambs (21-17), Derbyshire (21-19) and Hunts (21-17).
After defeating Lincolnshires (20-14) and Northumberland (14-6), the Stamford rink of Moira and Helen Holroyd and Ann Holmes were soundly beaten 1-25 by Cleveland in the three-bowl triples final.