Second Helping

I earlier wrote that every team role is important, but then also said that the score-keeping has been taken away from the second player in the team, so you may wonder what is special about this position.  It’s a fair point.  In fact, the argument that this is an anonymous sort of position is supported by the way that some clubs and teams have a policy of putting new players in as a second, hidden, as it were, from the responsibilities of leading or measuring and advising.

To be honest, I can see the argument.  And to be even more honest, I think I’d agree with it.  That is, I reckon a new player would be more comfortable watching and then following the lead player, rather than having to deal with the issues of setting the mat, throwing the jack in the right place and being accurate.  But there is a school of thought, articulated for example by the great expert Tony Allcock, which maintains that the beginner should be encouraged simply to do the basic job of drawing to the jack, without the additional variations of shot that a second has to learn.  Let’s just say that I was initially attracted to that idea.  But whatever your views on the topic, we can at least agree that the second’s role is also important.

This, of course, is even more the case in triples, because there the second is acting as second and third.  In other words, the second player here carries out the functions which would belong to the third in a team of four (measuring, and advising the skip on what shots to play). It seems quite clear to me that that would be a step too far for a beginner, at least in a serious (league) game, and in that case I would either put my learner in as lead, or else play the learner as second and agree with all concerned – including the opposition – that it would be my lead who was in charge of measuring and communication.

But let’s not make this too daunting!  What is the second doing?  Well, in a standard team of four the second is there either to reinforce the position set up by the lead, or possibly to shore things up when there are early signs of weakness.  The role will certainly rely a lot on the ability to draw shots, but not just drawing to the jack – there may already be a requirement to reach and cover a particular bowl behind the jack, or to finish on one side of the rink as opposed to the other.  You may be asked to push an opposing bowl out of the way by playing just a little “over” (heavier than) the draw shot.  I have definitely come across cases where the second is asked to fire full-blast at a bowl right on the jack – this was a culture shock when it first happened, I can tell you, but as the standard of competition rises, so these tactics become more obvious. In addition to varying weight like this, the second will definitely be told which hand to play much more than happens for the lead.

The main point to come out of all this, then, is that the second ideally has to be more versatile than the lead.  Not as a player, as such, you understand, but in that role on the day in question.  Again, we can see why some people prefer to have new players performing as leads, but I’m assuming that a sensitive skip would know not to overload a new player who was playing second.

If the lead has not got shots close to the jack it’s very important for the second to do so, with at least one bowl. Otherwise the third will be left with a heap of opposition bowls and much less chance to change things. The second’s job is to calm things down.  And if the lead has done a good job, with your team lying shot, the second has to protect that position by playing for position, as advised by the skip.  It may be that the very last thing the skip wants is another bowl close to the jack – so you have to be aware of this and respond.  I’ll say more about such tactics elsewhere.

For the moment, however, let me just stress again how critical the role of second is in triples. The importance of correcting, defending or developing the position left by the lead is magnified now that each player has three bowls, and with only the skips left to follow.  Decisions about who should play where will depend on ability, experience, temperament and personal compatibility, not to mention the confidence of the players concerned, so there’s no point in trying to lay down general laws, Last year, for example, I played in two triples matches where one of the team was making his league début (very successfully – we won both games), and in each case I wanted the new player to lead because they had three bowls to do what they had spent a lot of time practising – drawing.  A more experienced player, who knew my game, could then play the link role as second/third.  But if we had been in a team of four, with two bowls each, I suspect I’d have advised having the new members playing as second.  It depends…

We’ve looked, almost by accident, at one or two of the things that the third does, but this position has a couple of really special responsibilities, so we definitely need to spend a bit more time on it.  As such, the third will be the subject of the next post.

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In the Bin Lid

“You don’t have to nail it, you’re just looking at the bin lid – in the area.”  If you’re new to bowls you are probably wondering what on earth that sentence means.  And maybe if you’ve been playing for decades you are still wondering!  Let me explain.

The words – as quoted – were spoken last night by my friend Clive, a wonderful bowler and inspirational skip who had chosen to sit out our league match and watch as we went down 10-12 in a highly enjoyable but frustrating game.  The reason for the loss?  The opposition lead.  He was like a machine, putting at least two of his three bowls within a foot of the jack time after time.  It was awesome.  Our lead had rather less experience and became quite intimidated – after the two leads had bowled we were usually three shots down.  Only on one end did our lead produce three really good bowls – and not only did we end up scoring a four after briefly lying six shots, but on the next end the opposition’s lead was all over the shop: it was his turn to be ruffled.

Anyway, we lost.  As Clive and I discussed the match on the way home he embroidered on a theme I hear from all the bowlers I talk to on this subject – the lead is vital, and a regular, reliable lead is maybe the most important player in the team.  By “nailing it” Clive was referring to touching the jack and staying close to it.  Remember, there are no points for getting chalk on the bowl.  A heavy bowl that finishes a couple of metres past the jack isn’t really any better for having brushed the jack on the way through (though I’ve heard a lot of skips shout “Oh, bad luck” in a misguided attempt to cheer people up).

dustbin-lid

Rather, what the skip wants is several bowls grouped close to the jack (we could get more detailed about patterns to aim for or to avoid, but it’s not important here).  The bin lid, for younger readers, is the lid of a dustbin, before they became hinged units on wheelies.  And while we don’t need to be too precise, I guess a circle with a radius of two feet (60 cm) centred on the jack would describe it.  Certainly for newer bowlers if you could get both or all your bowls within a yard (90 cm) it would be very acceptable.  Crucially it gives the other players something to work with or to aim at, and it reduces the pressure.

Getting something “in the area” is vital.  Don’t worry about having to finish up with the closest bowl, necessarily.  The other biggest influence on my bowling over the years, a good friend and serial trophy winner in Aberdeenshire, used always to explain how his game was based on playing for second shot.  Oh, he would try to pick up the maximum number all right, but he knew that it was a rare event.  And of course he was trying to get the shot if possible.  But as long as he was ever only giving away one on the ends he did lose, the winning ends could look after themselves. And boy, did it work as a strategy!

I’ll often find myself asking team mates to “bowl for second” – in fact, I’m usually asking because I can see them rushing a bit and getting too eager to do something dramatic.  What we want is something “in the area” to make sure the opposition doesn’t pick up a big score. If you’re playing lead it’s great to be able to settle the skip’s nerves as she claps her hands and calls out “Good second!”

There’s only one way to become good at this sort of accuracy and it is to practise.  That, if done as a solo exercise, can be a bit boring, but there are ways of making it more interesting. For example, one way of concentrating on the “bin lid” approach is to give yourself a point for finishing within a yard/metre of the jack, and giving the notional opposition a point for anything outside the invisible circle.  Play to 21 – and if you can “win” this game you’re doing ok.

Actually this mimics a good drill I learned when practising putting.  If you spend all your time trying to sink long putts you are, almost by definition, going to miss a lot, and that can just get depressing.  It’s much better to be aiming for the famous bin lid and being assured of a safe second putt, while all the while feeling elated when a couple of the long ones do go in the hole.  It’s the same psychology.

It’s also a good idea to place another set of four bowls fairly randomly in front of the jack.  I’ve seen a lot of people practise relentlessly and look absolute world-beaters by drawing close time after time, but then go to pieces when faced with a match situation where the opponents have the temerity to put bowls close as well.  It’s good to work out ways of playing around obstacles, whether it’s going outside or inside, or even – top skill – using them by getting a little deflection.

Then, as mentioned earlier, you need to practise with the jack and the mat.  Do take time to shift the mat.  Get the feel of different positions on the rink, right up to the minimum length, and then it won’t faze you (so much!) when it happens in a real match.  And for the jack, try taking several on to the green, and then testing yourself to see if you can bowl (say) four, with each one a metre shorter or longer than the previous one.

If you mix all these exercises, and others like them, you’ll become so much more able to adapt to whatever circumstances arise.  And on the basis of all that I’ve said in this post and the previous one you’ll surely by now appreciate that no real bowler would ever say “I’m just the lead”!

(Note:  By coincidence I found the photo of the bin lid on a website devoted to help with putting. There is a book with the same title (Get Down in Two) and I trust that author Thomas Caley will allow me to use this photo in the same spirit of sports tuition.)

Leading the Way

The cricket writer (and former England captain) Michael Atherton recently commented on the England team’s habit of chopping and changing their batting order: “Opening the batting”, he (a former opener) said, “is a specialist position”.  In other words, you may not want to put your best batsmen there, but the ones who play best in that position.

Without wanting to risk making it sound forbidding or difficult, I’d like to make the argument that the lead in bowls is also in a specialist position – arguably more than the other members of the team.  In part this is down to the role of delivering the jack – all the others only have bowls to worry about! – but there are other factors to do with how you actually play your woods.  To an outsider it may seem quite straightforward to have to send your bowls towards the jack with no major obstacle.  It may certainly look easier than the route the skip has to plot with anything up to 17 bowls in play already.  But somehow the emptiness of the green, and the need for accuracy, with little chance of help from other bowls, can be a daunting thing, and it certainly poses a difficulty all of its own.

It feels really good to set your side off with a solid base – and it makes all the other members of the team feel more confident too.  The crucial thing to remember is that even the best bowls may not remain in position because of what happens later in the end.  But that’s part of the game, and all you can do is do your bit.  It certainly teaches you patience, as you watch your two brilliant bowls being scattered in opposite directions by a later delivery: leads have to be quite philosophical about this!

The way I look at it, as a lead you can’t guarantee that your team will win the end, but you can go some way to making it likely they’ll lose it.  That isn’t meant to sound negative.  It’s rather more like the goalkeeper’s position in football (another specialised role) where people don’t always notice the saves you routinely make, but certainly notice any mistake.

So it’s an important role.  Don’t ever belittle your own position by thinking that “I’m just the lead”, or see the team as a hierarchy with players getting better in terms of seniority.  In serious bowls the positions will be picked in terms of ability in the respective roles, and it’s a great compliment when someone says that person X is a brilliant lead.

What you have to do as lead is obviously to get bowls near the jack, but also in such a way that helps later development of the head (the cluster of bowls around the jack). In Scotland the accent allows for a rhyming expression “no lead, no heid”:  if your lead isn’t getting close, you’re allowing the head to be dominated by the other team.

There’s a little bit of pressure involved here. It always seems to me that the only way to deal with this is to concentrate on your own game.  Either think simply in terms of position, giving yourself a little pat on the back (or even pretend points) for accuracy;  or else, you can view it as a game of singles against your opposing lead and just feel happy if you can win each end of this game within a game.   That’s your job done.  Worrying about the team score gets you nowhere; you can’t do anything about that.  Just focus on accuracy.  Draw, draw, draw…

That idea brings us in turn to another point which can affect some quite experienced leads.  If the opponent gets a bowl right on the jack, or very close, there’s a temptation to “chase” it, so as to dislodge that bowl and end up as shot.  But unless you’re very good indeed, or very lucky, you’ll probably miss the target by going for this all-or-nothing attempt, and end up way past the jack, thus wasting a bowl for the team.  Let the later players deal with the situation, and try to make it easier for them by getting close with all your bowls.  (Of course, you may well be able to play just a fraction heavy and “rest” on an opposing bowl or push it out gently, but that’s not the same as what I’ve called chasing the target or trying to do anything dramatic.)

As mentioned in an earlier post, it’s really important to be able to deliver the jack to where the skip wants it, or to take the mat up, and of course, to be able to respond calmly when the opposing lead changes the length.  If you can respond to this by planting a bowl close to the jack it has a serious deflating effect on the opposition.

The other big advantage of playing lead (the upside of having the green pretty empty) is that you can choose your hand. In bowls it really doesn’t do to be a one-sided player (that is, playing only forehand or backhand) but – at a push – a lead might get away with it.  However, even if you have no preference (and again, let me stress, you shouldn’t) it’s always good to pick one hand in each direction and stick to it throughout the game.  Later players may well have a hand blocked off, or be advised to change their hand, but it is relatively rare for the lead to be forced to change. So try to establish early on (either in trial ends, or the first few ends of a match) which hand works best for you on the day, on that green, and stick to it if you can.

I was going to move on at this point to look at the role of the second player, but in view of something that happened in a match later in the day I’d like to add another short post to develop the idea that this is a specialist position.

Teamwork

In the previous posts I concentrated on the start of the game.  I don’t want this blog to be a kind of coaching manual (I’m not qualified), and neither is it a full run-down of the Laws of the game (there are other obvious sources for that information).  As noted at the outset I’m really writing for new or newish bowlers who join a club and suddenly realise there is more to the game than they had imagined.  I guess I’m offering a float in case you find yourself too near the deep end.

New bowlers may take a while to play actual singles matches, but it’s quite likely that they will play lead in a team.  Apart from some special situations, you can take it that in a team of four each player has two bowls, in triples each player has three bowls, and in pairs (as well as singles) each player has four.    I’m going to look at the nature of the team based on a team of four – the other formats are just variations on this.

Until recently, one of the nice things about bowls was the neatness of the system whereby everyone in the team had something to do.   The lead looked after setting the mat and casting the jack; the second kept the scorecard; the third was responsible for measuring when there was any doubt about how many bowls counted for the score; and the skip floated about taking the credit when the others did all the hard work.  No, that last bit’s a joke. The skip has to be able to see how the end is progressing, and advise the others as to what shots to play, or where to place the jack,as well as being able to play any type of shot as necessary.  In other words, there was a good division of labour.

Then, a few years ago, the rule-makers decided to upset this neatness. It’s almost as if the members of an international committee had to be seen to be doing something to justify the expense of travelling around the world to meet and deliberate.  Anyway, for whatever reason, it was decided that it should now be the skip, and not the second player, who looks after the scorecard and scoreboard.  (I know that in another, later twist it is said that the skips can delegate the job, but since they have to agree on this it creates yet another complication.)

The result of this particular rule change, of course, was to take away any special duty from the second.  So if you’re a new player and you end up playing second you probably won’t have to worry about the card, or anything else except for kicking the bowls back after each end.   Perhaps that’s quite enough for you!  The important thing to notice, though, is that the team roles are very important.  For example, any measuring is done by the thirds.  That’s it.  The worst thing is when several people all start crowding round to have a look, and to express an opinion.  Measuring is not an excuse for a committee meeting: when bowls are being measured there are just two people to be involved, the two who are playing third, and everyone else should keep away.  Similarly, when one of your players is about to bowl, there is only one person to offer advice – the skip, or (when the skip is bowling), the third.  In a good team of people working together there may well be quick private discussions about the best option to take, but you can’t have more than one person shouting advice – the whole thing would become a shouting match as opposed to a bowls match.

Club teams at Cup match
Two teams of four – all happy in our roles. Even though we lost!

It might be good to concentrate on each position in the team in separate posts.  But for now, and as an overview, let’s summarise it like this.

The lead’s role is to set up a good basic position for the team.  Nothing fancy – the lead is very rarely required to play any heavy shots. Even if the lead bowls two (or more) super bowls it may well be that they won’t be near the jack at the end of the end, but that’s just part of the game – if you’ve set things up in the first place you’ve done your job.

The role of the second is very important even though it is sometimes seen as a nothingy sort of position (even more so now that the scorecard has been taken away!).  In fact, it’s crucial – either you  are building on the success of the lead and consolidating a position, or else you are rescuing and firming up something which looked a bit loose. Once the first two (often called the “front end”) have played, you want to have at least a couple of bowls in position near the jack so that the “back end” can use them.

The third should now be in a position to play shots, either by accurate drawing or by playing heavier bowls based on how the earlier ones are placed.  And the skip does the same thing with knobs on.   But if the front end has missed everything it’s amazing how quickly a sense of panic can spread through the team.

So you can see already that – as in other sports, or in business, or in government – it’s really important for everyone to work together, knowing what their role is.  As in football or rugby, you can sometimes see a team of goodish players beating a group of star individuals who don’t work together; and the sense of camaraderie and satisfaction that comes from a good combined effort is one of the joys of the game.     In the next posts I’ll look at the things you might want to think about in each position, and the easy mistakes to avoid.

Getting Started

Right, let’s start by talking about the start of the match.   There is a toss of a coin to determine who rolls the jack and the first bowl, but notice that this simply refers to deciding it.  The person who wins the toss can decide to put the other person in to bat, so to speak, by giving the jack away.  You can do this only after tossing the coin, and from then on in during the match the person who wins each end has to have first bowl on the next end.  The only exception – and it is perfectly logical – is if there is an extra end after a tied match.  At this point there is another coin-toss to see who goes first, so once again the rule holds that you can choose to give the jack away immediately after the toss of the coin.

There’s no set rule about who actually calls at the coin-toss.   In some places the skips seem to like doing it, in others the leads just get on with it, but as a rule of thumb it’s done by players in matching positions in the team. That’s just a convention.

Anyway, whenever the jack is delivered it has to travel at least 23 metres from the mat.  This is the purpose of the two markers on each side of the green, showing the 23-metre measurement in each direction.  (These markers will take various forms, depending on the club or green, but they should always be present.)  You almost certainly know that a jack cannot be placed nearer than two metres to the ditch: a “full-length” jack is placed on an imaginary “spot” sometimes called the “T” – indoors, of course, you very often have actual spots on the carpet.

The other point about the 23-metre minimum is that the mat can be taken forward, even as far as the marker that is one third of the way up the green.  But now, of course, you have much less green to play with, as 23 metres from this advanced position will take you to the “full length” spot, and you have only a gap of two metres between the jack and the ditch. If you overshoot with the jack it goes in the ditch, and if it’s short you haven’t gone 23 metres, and either of these errors (or, indeed, throwing the jack off the rink to one side) means the jack has been improperly delivered, and passes to the opposing player or team.  Note that it is just the jack which then goes to the other side.  The original player or team (who won the previous end) still has the first bowl.  It’s easy to forget this, as the natural rhythm of the game is to pick up a bowl after bowling the jack, so it is something to watch out for.

So what happens if the second attempt at casting the jack is wrong as well?  (It happens!)  The answer here is not always known by players, but is quite simple.  The jack is placed on the “T”, that is, two metres from the ditch,and the mat goes back to the original player, who can then place it wherever (s)he likes – full-length, mid-, or very short.  It’s their choice.  People sometimes find this puzzling, but the system here is designed to even things out.  After all, the second player got the jack because of a mistake.  She now makes a mistake, so there has to be some match-up.  Otherwise, the second player might fancy a long jack and just hurl the jack into the ditch, safe in the knowledge that it is going to go “on the spot”. The potential penalty for getting it wrong means that the second player here has to concentrate and show some skill to get the desired result.

So now you’ve rolled the jack.  When you watch it stop you’ll almost certainly have to ask your skip or (in singles) the marker to centre the jack.  There are various ways of doing this.  Coaching books will often show someone standing rigid with arm outstretched in a semaphore-like position.  I personally see no problem with calling out something like “a foot” (or some metric amount), or “a couple of turns” in addition to some clear arm signal to show which way it is.  Just try to avoid tiny little movements with both hands, leaving the person at the other end kneeling down and wondering when on earth these small adjustments are ever going to end!

You may at this point be wondering if I am ever going to end.  So yes, I will, but the next post deliberately runs over some of the issues arising from this overview of the rules.  These issues were the sorts of thing raised by our new bowlers at our discussion groups, so if you too are new to the game I hope you share their interest.

Jack Tactics

In the previous post I ran over the main points about deciding who rolls the jack, and where it should go.  Here are a few extra thoughts on related issues.   For example, I said that you might wish to let the opponent go first.  Why, you may ask, would you do this?  Well, in a really informative book on bowls, Tony Allcock points out that whereas having the jack may be an advantage, having the last bowl of an end is always an advantage.  There is a paradox here, of course, because to get the last bowl normally you have to have lost an end!   But on that very first end you may decide that you would like to have a chance of watching your opponent’s bowl, to have a better idea of the likely swing or bias; or you may simply fancy your chances with that last bowl; or you may know that to hand over the jack will irritate your opponent!  Of course, if you are playing lead you need to check with your skip first.

For a few years about a decade ago the rules allowed players to hand the jack over on any end, and what was found was the best players did it just about every time because they were so confident of being able to do something with the last bowl if they hadn’t already clinched the end.  The natural levelling of the game had thus been lost.  (Think of football or rugby, where the side that scores a goal or try does not take the ensuing kick-off; the advantage goes back to the side which conceded.)  So when you or your side win the end, just be happy with that and get ready to roll the jack at least the minimum length.

Debates about the minimum length don’t often occur, but if the jack is very close to that imaginary 23-metre line the opposition player (or skip in a team) can query it.  At this point we use a long tape to establish the distance.  Habits differ here, and I think very broadly there may be a north-south split in Britain.  That is, in England I have noticed that people like to put the buckle at the end of the tape on the front of the mat and then unroll it until the big round container is close to the jack.  However, when I was taught how to measure in Scotland, they were quite adamant that it should be the other way round, and I think the Scottish way is better.  Why?  Because if you put the end of the tape right in front of the jack and spin the tape out towards the mat, when you get to the mat you have a nice clear line on the tape to match up with the front of the mat; whereas if you arrive at the jack carrying a big, bulky object there is far more chance of disturbing the jack as you try to work out where the various lines are.  People get surprisingly dogmatic about all this, but in the absence of any strict law I would always prefer the safer option.

In tactical and practical terms, control of the jack is often forgotten or overlooked.  Good players will actually practise with the jack, as it’s very important to be able to vary the length with some confidence, or especially when your skip or playing partner advises or instructs a particular length.  I learned to play league bowls with a very demanding skip who would stand at a certain point on the green and put his foot out, wanting the jack just there.  If you were a yard or two out you’d would get a withering look, and the only route to redemption was to put a bowl right on the jack.  That would cheer him up.

That wasn’t good man-management, however, and didn’t make things enjoyable.  I’ve seldom seen anything so rigorous since.  But if the skip says “Bring the mat right up” it’s not very handy if you are left gulping that you don’t like doing that, or making your reluctance obvious to the opposition.  I’ve even heard some players express irritation at such requests, thus letting the opposition know they don’t like short ends – and guess what the opposition will do at the next opportunity!  Sure, we may all prefer a certain length, but most club players are far too content to just play more or less full length all the time. Then one day an opponent decides to take the mat four yards up the green and it feels like foreign territory.

There are various reasons for taking the mat forward, or for playing a very short end.  Notably, it is to change the rhythm of an opponent or team when the score is going badly against you.  Finally, after several difficult ends, and with the opposing lead playing like a dream on full length, you get the jack.  You may not like short ends all that much, but if’s worth trying one just to see the effect: it could be that the opponent likes short ends even less than you do!

Finally, there is a good coaching rule which advises players to watch bowls all the way up the green, until they stop.  Even if they are bad ones.  Especially if they are bad ones!   Well, the same advice applies if you are in charge of the jack.  Some players just lob it up the green and turn their back to pick up a bowl or have a word with someone else.  It really does help to watch the jack and get a better feel for what’s happening on the green.

All that, and we still haven’t bowled an actual bowl!   We still won’t in the next post, but because I’ve referred here to singles games and also teams it may be worth explaining a bit about team positions and roles.

About the Blog

Hello.  You’ve obviously found my bowls blog, so I thought I should add a few notes here about the purpose and nature of the posts.
My name’s Trevor Field, and I’m the club Secretary at Hexham Elvaston Bowling Club in Northumberland.  In 2015 we ran a very successful recruitment drive for new members, and several of the new recruits did so well that they started playing in league matches and other competitions.  We therefore thought it was a good idea to organise a couple of seminars dealing with the written and (almost more important) unwritten rules of the sport, and these sessions turned out to be so interesting and rewarding for all concerned that it seems like a good idea to develop the content for a wider audience.

That audience would (I think) primarily be new or newish bowlers, either indoor our outdoor.  However, after our first group session our club coach commented that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hold similar sessions for all club members – another reason for this blog.  Whatever your level, then, I hope you will get some interest out of this, but if you are an experienced player you’ll no doubt be familiar a lot of the material already.  Please remember that my main intended audience is made up of new or prospective bowlers.

So what am I going to cover?  Well, I’m not going to go laboriously through the rules (more properly, Laws) of the game, although several of them are worth stressing, particularly for newcomers.  In addition to these comments on the Laws, I’ll make a lot of references to what is generally known as etiquette on the green.   This is not meant to suggest anything fancy or dainty, it’s just a question of what you do and what you don’t.  (You might almost see a parallel example in the way that football teams give the ball back to the opponents after play has stopped for injury – just look at what happens when someone ignores this unwritten convention!)  There are also some comments on the nature of teams, and teamwork.  I’ll also illustrate tactics and terminology, as and when appropriate.  And finally, with any luck, I’ll be able to reply to questions that you send me via the Comments section.

IMAG0406-1So that’s what it’s all about.  At which point, you may be asking: Who is he to set up as an expert?  To which I can only say that my own definition of an expert is that X is an unknown quantity and a spurt is a drip under pressure.  More seriously, I would say that I’ve played for over 25 years, winning club championships at an earlier club in Scotland and now here in Hexham; and playing at county level outdoors in Scotland and indoor here in England. That’s not boasting (I’d say that at the county level I was and still am just a marginal choice, and the majority of my trophies have been runner-up prizes!) but it’s only fair to add a micro-cv to reassure you that I do at least know something about the topic.

Ok, that’s the project explained.  In a day or so I’ll get started on the main writing.