Ludicrous Loughborough Sixes

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that a sixes event might dampen the recent run of high-scoring in BUTBA organised events, but that was definitely not the case this time around!

There were no perfect games bowled on this occasion, but the scoring was undoubtedly the highest on record for our tour, of course I should mention that this event was held at Ilkeston, which has a bit of a reputation in this department (although our tour has bowled there before, and never with such spectacular results), but still!

To the best of my knowledge, prior to this tournament (approx 50 years of bowling), only 4 bowlers had ever managed to average in excess of 230 at a BUTBA tour event, these illustrious bowlers were Rich Balaam (Ex-student – on 3 separate occasions), Antony Lakey (Portsmouth – twice),  Phil Manning and Phil Keeling (Ex-student)…all at separate events.

At Loughborough Sixes 3 of our bowlers achieved this milestone, with a further 4 hitting in excess of 220!
The conditions definitely didn’t suit everyone however, as quite a lot of bowlers struggled with carry throughout the competition, and the high scorers weren’t necessarily the usual suspects.

The Loughborough Handicapped Diamond Sixes was a handicapped pinfall event with a diamond sixes format, which took place at 1st Bowl, Ilkeston on 09-12-12. This event entails all the players in each team being assigned a number from 1-6 which governs where and when they bowl. So in Game One, all the player 1’s bowl at singles pace, then in Game Two the player 2’s join in, and bowl a doubles with player 1. In Game Three, the player 3’s join in and so on, until you reach the full 6-man team. Then the players leave in the reverse order to that that they joined in, so that at the finish in Game Eleven, the player 6’s are playing singles!

The Winning team is the one that manages to accrue the most handicapped pinfall over the 36 games bowled by each team (6 per bowler). This tournament was planned as a mixed event, whereby student and ex-student teams compete directly against one another, rather than in two separate competitions as usual!

Mighty Nottingham’s Alex Kreloff got off to the best start in the first singles rolling a 266 handicap game (232 scratch), miles ahead of the Sheffield Shockers (Gemma Harmon) on 218 (173) in second, and Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… in third on 209 (193) thanks to Paul Marks.

After the first Doubles Leeds Uni took the lead courtesy of Alex Fitzpatrick (246) and Jeremy Swann (211) hitting a 522 doubles game (457 scratch), giving them a total of 714 handicap pins. Despite Paul Marks (245) and Rich Balaam (218) putting in a better scratch game (463), their more modest handicaps saw Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… only rise to 2nd with a total of 696 handicap pins over 3 games, whilst the Mighty Nottingham dropped to 3rd on 686.

It was all change in game 3 with Warwick shooting up from 6th to 1st place after an impressive 742 (640) from Jack Adams (225), Chris May (193), and handicap supremo Felix Lee (222), giving them a total of 1375 over the first 6. Loughborough improved from 4th to 2nd with a solid 700 (518) mainly due to Victor Yu’s 267 (189), taking them to 1354; and Nottingham crept
up to 3rd with a team performance of 686 (Simon Wilkins, Matt Plato & Rob Humphries), and a total of 1334. Dishonourable mention goes to Leeds Uni who managed to score less with 3 bowlers than they had with two (a feat almost emulated by Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… who followed their 463 doubles with a 485 trios!).

So far so not very impressive (let alone ludicrous!) you might say, and I’d have to agree with you, with only eleven 200’s scored in the first 86 games…but I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people were rear-loading their teams…and possibly, just possibly the lanes opened out slightly after the first three or four games (there were re-oils after games 4 and 7!).

By the end of the quads Loughborough had improved again into 1st place courtesy of Dominic Burton’s 291 (218) with a 920 (701) game, and a running total of 2274, whilst Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… had brought themselves back into contention with a tasty 959 (846) game, with great contributions from Paul Marks (246), Rich Balaam (229) and Dave Abbott (217), driving their total up to 2224. Warwick slipped back to 3rd with an 845 (663) game giving them a total of 2220 despite a scintillating 276 (251) from Felix Lee (following on from his 222 first game, making him the third best scratch scorer over the first two games in the tournament).

Game 4 saw some several bowlers getting off to a great start to their day, James Larkin (Misfits – 236 scratch), Darren Ellis (Grottbags – 224), Rob Goodwin (Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… – 217), and Grant Rayment (Nottingham – 214).

The fives saw Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… finally reach the top spot with a very impressive 1174 (1043) game, with great scoring all around led by Paul Marks 262 (246), then Rob Goodwin 233 (204), Dave Abbott starting with 231 (213), Rich Balaam 231 (223), and Mike Hornby 217 (157), giving them a total pinfall of 3398. Loughborough managed to hang on to second place with a 1048 (780) team game, taking them to a team total of 3322; with Warwick still in 3rd due to their 1017 (776) game, giving them 3237 overall.

Tom Chuter (Notts Trent A) joined the party with 234 (234) in his first game, the second best scratch score in game 5, with other notable individual scores from John McOmish (Manchester) 263 (209), Jack Adams 256 (228), James Larkin 250 (232), Curtis Berry (Notts Trent A) 246 (215), Jim Madden (Notts Trent A) 243 (212), Alex Fitzpatrick 235 (215), Mark Hodds (Loughborough) 234 (203), Daniel Martin (Mighty Nottingham) 233 (211).

The much feared 6-man game saw Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… racing away to what was already beginning to look like an unassailable lead with the addition of Paul Williams 276 (256) first game to an already strong team, with notable performances from Rob Goodwin (246), Dave Abbot (213) and a decent last game from Paul Marks (202), posting a team game of 1404 (1253), giving them a 6 game total of 4802pins. Loughborough’s 1256 (972) was enough to maintain their fingernail grip on second with a total of 4578. Mark Hodds on 238 (207) was their only player to hit over 220 handicap. The Mighty Nottingham’s 1329 (1112) saw them climb from 5th to 3rd reaching a total of 4553, whilst Warwick’s 1266 (984) put them on 4503 and saw them slip to 5th behind Grottbags on 4527 courtesy of their 1307 (1095).

Curtis Berry finished his campaign in style with a 276 (245) game, whilst Gemma Harmon (Sheffield Shockers) held up the ladies’ end finishing on a 260 (215). Steve Donowski (Misfits) was the best of the rest on 266 (246), ahead of Chris Herbert (Sheffield Shockers) 265 (236), Dan Martin 258 (236), Adam Lewis (Portsmouth) 255 (213), and Antony Lakey (Grottbags) 254 (237).

Game seven saw a return to the fives and a rash of monstrous games! Despite one of their number hitting a 170 (110) game, Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… hit a staggering 1204 (1069) game, with Rich Balaam bowing out on a 284 (276), Paul Williams following his 276 with a 265 (245), Rob Goodwin hitting a 243 (214) and Dave Abbott a 242 (224), for a running total of 6006pins! Mighty Nottingham equalled Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… team game and sneaked into second place with a 1204 (1021) for a total of 5757, pushing Loughborough down in to third with 5703 after an 1125 (872) game.

Mighty Nottingham’s Dan Martin went one better than Rich Balaam bowing out with an incredible 308 (286) and was ably supported by his team mate James White (making the second best start after Paul Williams!) 274 (265). Adam Lewis on 275 (233), James Larkin’s 265 (247) Chris Herbert’s 262 (233 – bowling his final game), and Stacey Spencer (Sheffield) with 248 (193) were the other standout scores from the game.

Quads again, and it’s looking like a cakewalk for Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… hitting a modest (by their standards) 927 (800) team game and moving on to 6933 handicapped pins courtesy of a third consecutive 240+ scratch game from Paul Williams 267 (247), who at this point is averaging 249.33 over 3 games! Mighty Nottingham remained in second place on 6584 after an 827 (666) game, with Loughborough keeping pace with them in 3rd with 6525, as they hit 822 (642). The surprise package of the round however were the Misfits who put in an astounding 994 (that’s a 920 quads scratch game!) moving from 8th to 4th at a stroke, with a total pinfall of 6451. James Larkin 262 (244) put in another good game, but the biggest difference was made my Phil
Manning finally finding his form (with a 130 pin improvement between games…someone liked the fresh!) hitting a 277 (268), although able support came from both Chris Wragg 244 (210), and Pete Thornley 211 (198). Perhaps more worryingly this was a 52 pin improvement on the fives game they’d just bowled…I won’t mention which bowler’s absence made the team bowl that much better!

Danny Crook (Sheffield) posted the best score of the round with a 282 (267), Antony Lakey finally decided to join the party in earnest with his 276 (259), whilst Adam Lewis was in the mix again with a 251 (209).

Rob himself finished the day with a poor performance, but the team continued to excel, Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… hitting 655 (588) in the trios and moving on to 7588. Dave Abbott 252 (234) was the main scorer on this occasion, with Paul Williams 226 (206) scoring a little more conservatively than hitherto. Mighty Nottingham maintained their second place with a 646 (547) game, putting them on 7230 overall courtesy of James White’s 233 (224) continued high scoring (922 scratch over first 4); although Loughborough’s impressive 696 (594) had closed the gap to less than 10 pins, giving them a total of 7221, with Misfits losing ground fractionally in 4th on 7138 despite hitting 687 (647).

Grant Rayment 300 (276) led the way in the second trios, yet another player finishing their day with a big game! Jon Atkins (Notts Trent B) was second best on 275 (244), ahead of Sam De’Athe (Grottbags) 263 (224), and Rachel Hodds (Loughborough) 260 (223), with Adam Lewis making a showing yet again on 251 (209).

We returned to the ludicrous in the doubles with Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… posting an unassailable target of 552 (a 514 scratch doubles game!), with Dave Abbott 308 (290) sticking to the trend and finishing his day’s bowling with a monster game! Paul Williams continued his impressive progress with a 244 (224) game. Mighty Nottingham (pinfall total 7658) put in a solid doubles game 428 (390), but Loughborough (now on 7702) surpassed it with ease shooting 481 (416) and moved back in to second place with just the singles to go. Misfits closed the gap slightly with a 460 (438), but remained in fourth on 7598.

Jon Atkins was the best of the rest on 265 (234), followed by Phil Manning 258 (249), Chris Lane (Loughborough) 253 (204), Karl Gaughan 248 (237), and Tom Chuter 247 (247), another player finishing with his best game!

In the crucial final singles Paul Williams hit 257 (237), James White shot 241 (232), Dan Frazer (Loughborough) could only score 193 (177), and Phil Manning finished strongest with a 267 (258). Karl Gaughan 258 (247) and Paul Turner 254 (211) were both on trend and finished with their best games of the day, whilst Danny Crook 252 (237) could only manage his second best!

Big Gay Rob’s Throbbing… were deservedly crowned champions with a total handicap pinfall of 8397 (7491 Scratch…an average of over 208 per bowler!), Mighty Nottingham somehow managed to steal second place overturning a 44 pin deficit in a singles game, finishing on 7899, and Loughborough had to be content with 3rd on 7895. Misfits (the second best scratch team, 7085 pins, 196.81 av.) finished just 30 pins shy of placing back on 7865.

A lot of people put down markers towards being the high average bowler in the event, but the issue wasn’t decided until the very last game!

The best position 1 total was posted by Paul Marks with 1290 over the 6 games for a 215 average, with Mark Hodds his nearest competitor on 1183.

The best position 2 total was posted by Rich Balaam with 1329 an average of 221.5, just beating out Daniel Martin on 1322.

The best position 3 total was posted by Felix Lee with 1212 an average of just 202, with Matt Bailey his nearest competitor on 1145.

The best position 4 total was posted by James Larkin with 1396 an average of 232.67, with Rob Goodwin the nearest competitor on 1236.

The best position 5 total was posted by Dave Abbott with 1385 an average of 230.83, with Tom Chuter his nearest competitor on 1352 and Antony Lakey 3rd on 1269.

The best position 6 total was posted by Paul Williams with 1415 an average of 235.83, with James White his nearest competitor on 1345, Phil Manning 3rd on 1313, Jon Spivey (Portsmouth) 4th on 1295, Danny Crook 5th on 1281, Karl Gaughan 6th on 1280.

I think that all we can conclude from the above is that most teams put their best bowlers in 2nd,   5th and 6th positions, and that massive kudos has to go to Paul Williams, for knowing what score he needed to hit in the last game to secure high average, and for surpassing it!

Commiserations go out to James Larkin for hitting a PB tournament average, closing all 60 frames bowled, and winning absolutely nothing!

The high student male average went to Tom Chuter for his 225.33, whilst the female award was won by Rachel Hodds with 179.17. Paul Williams took the ex-student male average award with his 235.83, and Gemma Harmon the ladies title with a 182.33 average.

High game scratch was won by Grant Rayment (276) and Rachel Hodds (223) respectively for the students, and by Dave Abbott (290) and Gemma Harmon (215) for the ex-students.

Dominic Burton on 291 and Stacey Spencer on 248 won the high handicap game awards for the students, whilst for the ex-students Daniel Martin’s 308 and Poppy Girdlestone’s (Mighty Nottingham) 233 received the awards.

Here endeth another chapter in the BUTBA Saga Tour, here’s hoping our next event, the “Hull Memorial Trios” which is going to be run in Scunthorpe on Sat 26th Jan proves just as exciting.

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