The most northerly competition on the calendar saw BUTBA members travel to Hollywood Bowl Leeds to compete in the Leeds Doubles, formerly held by the University of Leeds, but taken over this year by Leeds Metropolitan University. On wooden lanes once again, all competitors were hoping for an interesting and close competition.
With the student and ex-student divisions split this time, unlike Coventry Singles, the competition to be at the top was fierce. In a six game qualification round, student teams battled it out to be in the top 8 for handicap pinfall, whilst the ex-students, with a smaller number of entries, bowled for a top 6 spot.
On the student side, all the teams seemed to be bowling at their best, with the standings after the first squad showing high scores all around. Nottingham, bowling in the first squad, looked set to be one of the higher scoring universities of the day once again, with all but one of their teams hitting above a 1200 team handicap series. Nottingham’s D team of Adam Maxwell and Charlotte Richardson were leading the student tables after the first squad on a massive 1366, with Maxwell bowling a 679 (580 scratch) and Richardson keeping up her outstanding form from Coventry with a 687 (423 scratch). Hot on Nottingham D’s heels though was Sheffield C team of Julie Lymath and Alex Castle on a handicap team series of 1348, with Castle bowling a massive 30 pins above his average in the first 3 games to finish on a series of 770 (638 scratch).
The second squad saw the high scores continue, closing the gap between the top 8 teams to a mere 60 pins. Birmingham’s B team of Kian Mistry and Jay Young instantly looked to be suited to the lanes, with both bowling above their averages, ending on a three game team handicap series of 1344, with Mistry scoring a 657 (414 scratch) and Young on a 867 (405 scratch). Close behind Birmingham were fellow Midland university students Chris Lee and Matt Burbury, representing Wolverhampton. Lee’s 712 (598 scratch) and Burbury’s 625 (364 scratch) gained them a very respectable team handicap series of 1337 for their first three games. Rachel and Mark Hodds from Loughborough were just one pin behind them with a 1336, with Mark bowling to average and Rachel excelling herself to score a series of 710 (542 scratch).
Students – The Qualifying 8
By the end of the six games, Birmingham B had skyrocketed themselves to the top of the tables, adding a massive 1465 to their 1344 to finish on a team handicap series of 2809, with Mistry bowling a massive 302 (221 scratch) game. Fellow Birmingham students Shaun Parsons and Georgina Overy were close behind on a team handicap series of 2743, just being pipped to the 2nd place qualification spot by Nottingham D on a 2783. Sheffield C took 4th place in the qualification tables on a 2705, followed by their B team of Abdullah Al-Tamimi and Carl Whitfield, who with their brilliant second set of 1367 saw them climb into the qualifying 8. Loughborough’s B team of Philippa Relf and Roy Meng climbed the tables in the second set, adding a massive 1377 handicap team series to their first three games of 1304 to come to sit in 7th, sandwiched between both Wolverhampton teams, with Wolverhampton’s B team on 2685 in 6th and their A team of Nathan Whitting and Adam Kehoe on 2636, just scraping the final spot in the qualifiers just 8 pins ahead of Loughborough’s Team Hodds.
With fewer teams competing on the ex-student side, the competition was fierce for the top 6 spots to progress to the next round. Though the scores weren’t as close on the ex-student side as the students, the scores were just as high, with impressive starts in the first squad from Ex-Leeds students Jez Swann and Liam Grainger, scoring a massive team handicap series for their first three games of 1369, topping the tables after the first squad, helped massively by Grainger’s 751 (631 scratch) series. Fellow northern bowlers ex-Bolton student Luke Johnstone and Manchester Metropolitan student Louise Parker were close behind, with Johnstone on a 682 (607 scratch) series and Parker on a 662 (536 scratch) series, giving them a team handicap total of 1344. Marks’s Magic made an appearance once again this year, with Paul Marks joined this time by ex-Sheffield Hallam student Joe Crook to lie in 3rd after the first squad on a team handicap series of 1336.
The second squad saw the more southern bowlers bring more high scores to the competition, with Thumper’s Bowling Club of ex-Nottingham Trent student James Larkin and ex-Plymouth student Lee Burrows bowl 654 and 674 respectively to end on a team handicap series of 1328 after three games. Just ahead of them, and edging their way into the top 6 qualifiers was Dan Chan and Rich Balaam, both scoring well with Chan scoring an impressive 668 (623 scratch) and Balaam scoring 666 (606 scratch) leaving them on a 1334 for three games. Show-stoppers of the ex-student side for the first three games however, came in the form of Chris Collins and Chris Atkinson with Atkinson bowling a 695 (494 scratch) and Collins scoring a massively above average 722 (632 scratch) to bump them up to 1st place after three games on a team handicap series of 1417.
Ex-Students – The Qualifying 6
It came as no surprise that Collins & Atkinson topped the ex-student qualifiers after the six games, adding an impressive 1365 to their 1417 to qualify with a team handicap series of 2782. Close behind them in 2nd place was It’s A Well Hung Jez Thing, with Swann and Grainger equaling their impressive performance from the first three games, to score a 1356 in the second set, giving them a team total of 2725. With Marks bowling an impressive 712 (592) in his second set, this helped Marks’s Magic on the way to securing 3rd place in qualification, scoring a 1330 in their second set to add to their 1336, giving them a team total of 2666. The battle for the final three places was very close, with 4 teams within 40 pins of one another. An impressive final set by Emma Liddington and Am Turner of 1325 was not enough, however, to secure them a place in the final 6, finishing on a team handicap series of 2551, just off the cut off of presented by Thumper’s Bowling Club on 2553, just 2 pins ahead. 4th and 5th place qualifiers were no surprise to be Ex-Trent (Chan and Balaam) on 2587 and Cosmic Aces (Johnstone and Parker) closely behind on 2573.
The Quarter Finals
On the student side, the quarter finals saw the 8 qualifying teams play in a one game knockout match. 1st seed, Birmingham B played 8th seed Wolverhampton A, with both teams putting up a great fight. Whitting and Kehoe’s score of 430 could not beat Mistry and Young’s 465, with both Birmingham bowlers showing no signs of letting up their high scores. A similar match took place between 3rd and 6th seed, with Birmingham and Wolverhampton facing each other once again, this time in the form of Birmingham’s Parsons and Overy taking on Wolverhampton’s Lee and Burbury. Despite putting up a good battle, Parson’s and Overy couldn’t compete with Lee’s massive game of 259, helped by Burbury’s 222, winning them the match with a team handicap score of 481 to Birmingham A’s 412. 2nd seed Nottingham D took on Loughborough B in what proved to be a close match, with Loughborough B’s Relf and Meng just scraping a victory with an impressive 488 to Maxwell and Richardson’s equally impressive 482. No match was as close as 4th seed versus 5th seed however, with two Sheffield teams coming up against one another. Lymath and Castle put up a good match, finishing on a 437, however, lost by just one pin to university-teammates Al-Tamimi and Whitfield, who won the match with a 438.
The ex-student quarter finals took on a different form, with 1st and 2nd seed (Collins & Atkinson and It’s A Well Hung Jez Thing) gaining a bye for the quarter finals, leaving 3rd to 6th seed to battle it out in a one game desperado match, in which only the top 2 handicap pinfall teams would progress to the semi’s. Thumper’s Bowling Club set the president for the finals, claiming their place in the semi finals from the offset, with Burrows scoring 252 and Larkin scoring 229 to finish on a team handicap score of 481. The battle for the final spot looked to be a close match, with Marks’s Magic finishing on 451, just ahead of Ex-Trent’s 450. It was Cosmic Aces team of Johnstone and Parker, however, who picked up in the last few frames to grab the final space in the semi’s, finishing on a 468, with Johnstone bowling a 259 and Parker on a 209.
The Semi Finals
In the student semi finals, Birmingham B once again scored very highly, shooting a team handicap game of 478 (Mistry on a 249 and Young on a 229) to beat Sheffield B, who, despite putting up a good fight, got unlucky on some frames, leaving them on a respectable team handicap game of 427. On the next pair, Wolverhampton B also struggled to find a line, with Lee and Burbury finishing on a 382, not enough to beat Relf and Meng from Loughborough B, having got into a good rhythm and finishing on a 461. With the students finals having a 3rd and 4th play off, Sheffield B and Wolverhampton B were still in fighting spirits to get that 3rd place trophy, whilst Loughborough B and Birmingham B battle it out for the champions title.
The top two teams from the ex-student desperado round came to face 1st and 2nd seed in the semi’s on the ex-student side, with Cosmic Aces facing 1st seed Collins & Atkinson, and Thumper’s Bowling Club facing 2nd seed It’s A Well Hung Jez Thing. The extra game proved to be an advantage it seemed for the 3rd and 4th seed teams, with Cosmic Aces bowling a massive team handicap game of 486, knocking Collins & Atkinson off their top spot, scoring a respectable 454. Thumper’s Bowling Club also used their extra game to their advantage, beating Swann and Grainger 415 to 399. With no 3rd and 4th play off in the ex-student section, Collins & Atkinson and It’s A Well Hung Jez Thing shared the 3rd place title.
The finals on the student side started with 3rd and 4th playoffs, with Sheffield’s B team of Al-Tamimi and Whitfield coming to face Wolverhampton’s B team of Lee and Burbury. Despite putting up a good fight, the long day seemed to have taken its toll on Wolverhampton, with Lee and Burbury scoring handicap games of 181 and 173 respectively. Sheffield B took advantage of this, and came to win the match against Wolverhamtpon B’s team handicap game of 354 with a 446. Semi final match winners, Birmingham B and Loughborough B brought out the big guns, with each team having a large support group behind each of them, making for a noisy, and subsequently, very close final. Mistry, bowling a 239 and Young, bowling a 194 handicap game put Birmingham B’s final handicap team score at 433, whilst Relf, bowling a 219 and Meng, bowling a 217, just pipped Birmingham B to the champions title, finishing just 3 pins ahead on a 436, making for an exciting and tense final.
The ex-student final against Cosmic Aces and Thumper’s Bowling Club also proved to be a close match, with Johnstone from Cosmic Aces scoring a 199 handicap game, and Burrows from Thumper’s Bowling Club scoring a 192 handicap game. Despite Parker contributing a respectable 211 handicap game to Cosmic Aces total, giving them a 410, a brilliant 242 handicap game from Larkin saw Thumper’s Bowling Club take the title, winning on a 434.
The presentation was a perfect sum up of how close the scoring had been, and how high the scores had been throughout the day on both the student and ex-student sides. For the students, it was Nottingham’s Adam Maxwell who picked up Male High Game Scratch, with a massive 249. On the female side, High Game Scratch was shared between Loughborough’s Rachel Hodds and Nottingham’s Danielle Ediker, both on a 222, however the prize went to Hodds, with Ediker being awarded the High Handicap Game award, for her 222, putting her on a massive 279 handicap game. Kian Mistry from Birmingham won, by no surprise, Male High Handicap Game, with a massive score of 302 (221 scratch). Alex Castle, representing Sheffield, picked up Male High Scratch Series on a massive 638, whilst Female High Scratch Series was won by Rachel Hodds for her 542. High Handicap Series’ were won by Kian Mistry for his 769 and by Loughborough’s Philippa Relf for her impressive 737. Adam Maxwell took Male High Average for the day, with a massive 201.3 average, and Female High Average, for her 177, went to Rachel Hodds, leaving Loughborough to clean up on female prizes.
Ex-student Male High Scratch Game and Series went to ex-Coventry student Dan Frazer for his brilliant 245 and 667. Cosmic Aces’ Louise Parker cleaned up on the female scratch prizes, winning High Scratch Game with a 197 and Scratch Series with a 536. Male High Handicap Game went, with no surprise, to Chris Collins for a massive 273, with Emma Liddington picking up High Handicap Game for the women with a brilliant 276. Liddington also picked up the Female High Handicap Series for her 710, rivaling most of the men’s scores, and just behind High Handicap Series winner for the men, Liam Grainger, for his very high scoring series of 715 (631 scratch). Rich Balaam just pipped ex-Leeds Metropolitan student Phil Manning to the Male High Average award, averaging 203.7, just ahead of Manning’s 203.2 average. Parker also on Female High Average for her consistent scoring, finishing on a 173.6 average for the day.
As an added bonus to the competition, combined prizes were also awarded for Team High Scratch Game, Team High Handicap Game and Most Above Average Bowler. Team High Scratch Game went to Ex-Trent’s Dan Chan and Rich Balaam, scoring a massive team game of 469 (Chan on a 226 and Balaam on a 243). The student side stole Team High Handicap Game, however, with Nottingham D winning on a massive 511 (Maxwell on a 282 and Richardson on a 229 handicap). It came to no surprise to anyone that Birmingham’s Kian Mistry won Most Above Average Bowler, with his impressive performance throughout the day leaving him an impressive 19.7 pins above his entering average of 139.
The overall winners for the student sections were; 4th – Wolverhampton B (Chris Lee and Matt Burbury), 3rd – Sheffield B (Abdullah Al-Tamimi and Carl Whitfield), 2nd – Birmingham B (Kian Mistry and Jay Young) and 1st – Loughborough B (Philippa Relf and Roy Meng).
The overall winners for the ex-student side were: joint 3rd – Collins & Atkinson (Chris Collins and Chris Atkinson) and It’s A Well Hung Jez Thing (Jez Swann and Liam Grainger), 2nd – Cosmic Aces (Luke Johnstone and Louise Parker) and 1st – Thumper’s Bowling Club (Lee Burrows and James Larkin).
With high scores all around, all competitors are in high spirits for the next competition on the calendar, which sees a new format come to the BUTBA Calendar in the form of Birmingham Baker Fives at Rugby Superbowl on the 9th March for the ex-students, whilst the students prepare for the BUCS Championships next weekend in Sheffield.