Ever since Sir Francis Drake postponed an attack on the Spanish Armada to finish his game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe, the County of Devon has become a well-known hub for bowling excellence.
I am David Coombes, a long-time bowls enthusiast and sports journalist who has become saddened by the sudden decline in the sport of bowls over recent years. The reasons lie mostly with Covid and the fact that social bowlers in particular, the backbone of every club, have found other things to do when the local bowls club was off limits. With the indoor season now under way, 'Talking Bowls' is right here right now to bring back the excitement that is bowls in Devon.
Read the top stories and articles about bowls in Devon here.
The once popular Benny Hill, clearly a man ahead of his time, came up with these words in the last line of a totally irrelevant and inappropriate song, ‘They won't forget old Ernie……..'
And they will not. That is why I must include a small tribute to my fellow bowler Ernie Knight on this page after his unexpected death last week on the morning of his 85th birthday.
One Minute's Silence For Ernie
In over the thirty years I have known him, the man was always a joy to play with because he always made those around him smile however intense and important the match may have been. A dry sense of humour, and sometimes scathing wit, never prevented those around him from enjoying his company. Like many others on the bowling green, I am sorry, Ernie, that you had to leave.
On the green, in this season's Denny Cup Inter Club competition, it was once again a disappointing round one for Torbay though things did look more hopeful for them at the half-way stage.
After ten ends, against a Torquay Utd side brimming with world champions, Torbay's overall lead was one shot at 36-35. Surely, they had enough talent to build from there?
Apparently not, in the final analysis, and that had a lot to do with the Torquay rink of Bob Condon, Harry Aspinall, John Ridout and the very capable Ian Lesley.
Trailing 9-14 on thirteen ends, Lesley took the next five ends 2-5-2-1-3 to lead 22-14 before finally running out a 25-19 winner despite a four dropped on the last end.
THE EARLY STAGES AT TORBAY IN DENNY CUP
Alongside, Torquay's Zak Kidd was having a battle royal with the Torbay's Alan Bowden finally winning a close contest by 17-14.
Back at Torquay in the other half of the game, Frank Prince, Geoff Bellamy, David Evans and Sam Tolchard were gradually overwhelming the Torbay four skipped by Gareth Foster to win 29-14 and although Jamie Walker lost his game with Torbay's Mark Powell by 13-21, it all added up to an 84-68 victory for Torquay United.
Torquay now play Exmouth Madeira in round two on November 4th. The winners play either Isca or Exonia in round three. Neither of these sides have played a match in the competition so far.
Still at Torbay - and Caradon in Liskeard, Cornwall - a few days later, Devon were playing Cornwall in the home half of the National Inter-County Over-60 competition and what a dull low-key event it turned out to be.
For the second year running, it was quicker to name the crowd and they were Barbra Bellamy, supporting her husband, Cornwall President Gordon Thomas, a former Devon President, me, plus a gentleman whose name I did not catch. When I looked up again, he had gone. Clearly another man ahead of his time.
Not a single Devon County official was present to officiate or even take an interest as was the case last year. Any control was left to Devon skip Kevin Phillips who had disappeared very swiftly after the match, like a shadow in the night, before I could get any real information from him.
I thank Gordon Thomas for the information he gave me which I could use here. But apathy it seems is contagious. Sufficient to say then that Devon beat Cornwall easily, as they do every year, this time by 162-90. They now play Somerset who defeated Dorset by 121-79 on Tuesday 21st November. I leave you with the pictures.