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2022/23 Suffolk Squad

On Saturday 12th November the Suffolk squad trials took place at Needham Market Community Centre.

After a very tough selectors meeting earlier this week the other selectors and I have reached a decision on the squad for the next year. The squad will consist of 26 players with 24 needed for league matches. The squad is as follows;

Tom Runnacles (Barking) - Captain
Karen Hubbard (Chelmondiston) - Selector
Ally Hobbs (Claydon) - Selector
Ralph Sadgrove (Hundon) - Selector
Paul Daniels (Belstead)
Sue Davey (Cockfield)
Colin Fellingham (Cockfield)
David Ford (Claydon)
Andy Gilder (Barking)
Sue Gilder (Barking)
Jim Goodrich (Claydon)
Sally Goodrich (Claydon)
Ellen Grube (Hundon)
Adam Hubbard (Chelmondiston)
Sue Isles (Claydon)
Steve Isles (Claydon)
Neil Jolly (Brockley)
Oscar Mew (Belstead)
Andy Pooley (Claydon)
Pete Runnacles (Barking)
Rita Runnacles (Barking)
Sam Runnacles (Barking)
Tony Stevenson (Belstead)
Mick Watkins (Barking)
Clint Watling (Claydon)
Frank Wilkin (Hintlesham)

The first league match for the new squad will be the home match against Essex at Needham Market, on 11th December.

Tom Runnacles

2022 National Championships

This year’s event saw a reduction in the number of teams to 8, with Bedfordshire absent owing to the fact their league has only just restarted, and they currently have no squad.

Suffolk would be going for their 8th consecutive Nationals win.

The team were as follows:
A - Ralph Sadgrove, Ellen Grube, Adam Hubbard, Sam Runnacles
B - Emma Watling, Sally Goodrich, Paul Daniels, Sue Gilder
C - Sue Isles, Jim Goodrich, Peter Fellingham, Clint Watling
D - Pete Runnacles, Steve Isles, Andy Pooley, David Ford
E - Sue Davey, Andy Gilder, Colin Fellingham, Neil Jolly
F - Karen Hubbard, Rita Runnacles, Ally Hobbs, Tom Runnacles

It was a good start for Suffolk in the first session against Norfolk. A were 6 up in 3 ends, but by 8 ends it was back to 7-6, but they rallied at the end to take the game 12-6. B’s game was close too, 7-6 up going into the last end, but they picked up 4 on the 11th to win 11-6. For C it was a case of once they were ahead, the game was not in doubt, they led from the 4th end onwards, winning 11-8. A full house, although they were all hard fought for. Overall Suffolk were one point ahead of Cambridgeshire.

Against Northumberland there were two huge wins, D went from 5-3 up after 5 ends to 20-4 by the end. For F it was even more emphatic, they picked up a 7, and two 6s on their way to a huge 34-3 win. And E looked to be going the same way, 10-3 up after 7 looked very comfortable, but Northumberland came back, and kept coming back, and in the end got back to a 10-10 draw. One dropped point, but Suffolk had extended their lead over Cambridgeshire to 3 points.

And it was Cambriudgeshire who Suffolk would face in the third session of the day. Block A were never behind, although it was close up to end 8, but they pulled away at the end for an 11-4 win. It was the same for C, 6-3 at 7 ends, they picked up a couple of 4s on their way to a 15-5. B were 5-0 down after 3, but pulled it back to be all square at 7-7 with 2 ends to go, however those last 2 ends didn’t go their way, and they lost 7-10. It was still a winning session for Suffolk, but Hertfordshire had taken the opportunity to close on them, and were now in second, 2 points behind.

Durham were next up, and Suffolk won them all in comfortable fashion. D picked up 4 on the first end, and although their opponents came back from 8-1 down to 9-6 down with an end to go, Suffolk took the game 11-6. E picked upa 6 on the 6th end, giving them a 12-1 lead, and finished 17-5 winners. And F were never in danger, finishing with an 11-2 win. That extended Suffolk’s lead out to 6 points over Herts, with Cambridgeshire one further back.

The fifth session saw Suffolk taking on Essex. The first half of A’s game was close, but from 5-4 up, they pulled away to win 14-5. For B it was a case of grinding out a win, just 12 shots were scored over the 11 ends, but it was 9-3 in Suffolk’s favour. And for C it was a game of two halves, Suffolk were 5-0 up after 4 ends, but 7-8 down with an end to go, but C picked up a 3 to snatch the win 10-8. Overall Suffolk’s lead was now 7 points, with Cambridgeshire moving just ahead of Herts.

The penultimate session was a big one, Hertfordshire could close the gap considerably with 3 wins. It was close at the halfway mark for D, 5-4 up after 6 ends, but they pulled away in the second half to win 14-7. For E it was a different story, 10-0 ahead after only 4 ends, finishing 13-6 winners. And after picking up a 5 on the first end, Found themselves only one shot ahead after 7 ends, and the game was only really settled on the last, with Suffolk picking up 3 to win 12-7. Cambridgeshire matched Suffolk’s 6 points in that session, so the 7 point lead stayed the same, but Herts were now a further 7 points back, so only Cambridgeshire looked like they had a chance to challenge Suffolk for the win.

The day finished with a Sunderland match up. C kept their noses in front after the second end, and won 15-8. B never got into their stride, it was close halfway through, but their opponents won the final 5 ends to take the game 13-4. The final game, for A, was a little different, though Sunderland led early on, it was all square at 6-6 after 8 ends, but with one end to go, Sunderland were 10-6 up which ought to be easily defendable, or so you’d think. But on that final end Suffolk had the upper hand, albeit with woods which weren’t all that close, and in front of the jack. All Sunderland needed to do was cut them down, but sometimes it’s not quite so easy, and amazingly Suffolk held on to 7 shots, to win 13-10. That mean that they finished the day with that same 7 point gap over Cambridgeshire, and 14 points over third placed Hertfordshire.

Norfolk were the day’s first opponents. Block D ran out to a big lead quickly, big enough to allow the opposition to take 5 on the last end, and still win 15-8. It was close all the way for E, but they were better over the final few ends, winning 9-6, while F were all square with 2 ends to go, but made the most of them to win 14-8. With Cambridgeshire also getting maximum points, the gap at the top was still 7 points.

Northumberland turned out to be not quite so easy to turn over, as might have been expected. Having said that, A comfortably won their game 23-3, B only really got their noses in front on the 10th end, they won 11-6, and while C were always ahead, it was never by much, they finished 12-9 up. Once again Cambridgeshire matched Suffolk’s points, but further behind, Herts were now 20 points off the lead.

The real crunch time for Suffolk was in the day’s third session, playing Cambridgeshire, who would be able to reduce the gap to just a point if they took all 3 games. As it was they were only able to win one, that was against D, who never really got going, losing the game 6-14. Meanwhile E ran out to a 9-1 lead, before taking the game 11-6, and F, who picked up a 4 on the 5th end, which helped keep their noses in front as they won 10-5. That inched Suffolk’s lead out to 9 points, and short of a massive slip-up they should retain the title.

And that slip-up very nearly happened in the next round, against Durham. C were 4-0 down after 4 ends, but were level after 6, and a couple of 4s on the 7th and 8th ends finally put their noses in front, as they won 14-7. It was close for A until the 8th end when they dropped a 5, to fall 10-6 behind, and going into the last 2 ends they trailed by 5, but they made those remaining ends count, and dragged it back to draw 11-11. And B trailed pretty much throughout their game, and headed into the last 2 ends trailing by 4, but 2 on the 10th end, and 4 on the last, saw them turn the game around to an 11-9 win out of nowhere. With Cambridgeshire only picking up 2 points against Herts, Suffolk’s lead extended further, to 12 points, giving them a full 2 sessions in hand over the only team that could now catch them.

And having survived that, a similar situation emerged against Essex. Of the 3 games, only E had their noses in front all the way through, winning 11-6, while F never recovered from a horrible start which saw them 9-0 down after only 4 ends, eventually losing 7-14. It was not a great start from D either, 5-0 down after 3 ends, they were still 7-4 behind with 2 ends to go, but like B, before them they staged a very late comeback, also picking up a 2 and a 4 on the final 2 ends to win 10-7. With Cambridgeshire also dropping 2 points, Suffolk still led by 12, with just 2 sessions to go.

Hertfordshire were always going to be tough opposition, and so it proved. C had their noses just in front most of the way through, but still needed one on the last end to win 8-7. B trailed 6-2 after 4 ends, but won the next 6, taking the game 12-7, while A pulled their game back from 7-0 down to win 12-8, all of which sealed the overall win for Suffolk with one session to spare.

That final session saw Suffolk up against Sunderland. After a sticky start, D took 7 straight ends, to win 15-3, on the other hand E never got going and fell to a 4-13 loss, while F were absolutely rampant, trouncing their opposition 28-2.

Suffolk finished the weekend on 72 points (out of a possible 84), finishing 15 points clear of Cambridgeshire, and 27 clear of third placed Hertfordshire, for a resounding win, to keep their run of victories going.

While every block contributed to the victory, particular congratulations should go to Clint’s team, who were the only team across the event to win all their games, and to Sam’s team who were the only other team to go undefeated.

You can find a copy of the full results here.

2022 Inter-County Play-Off

Having won the Eastern Counties Championship, in the absence of an Eastern Counties League for 2021-22, Suffolk would be representing the East against the Northern League winners, Sunderland, in Friday night’s game, as a prelude to the Nationals.

Most of the Suffolk teams were off to a decent start, and with 2 ends down, all but A were ahead. Unfortunately, they were 5-0 down after 2 ends, and never got going, with the game drifting away to a 4-15 loss.

After winning the first couple of ends, B first lost their lead, and then drew back level, so that with 2 ends to go it was all square at 7-7, but the last two ends were lost, as was the game, 7-11.

It was a good start for C, and they found themselves 6-2 up after 6 ends, but their opposition pulled back to draw the game 7-7 on the final end. That said, holding on for one point was going to crucial for Suffolk.

D had an even better start, they worked their way to a 7-0 lead after 5 ends, but over the next 5 proceeded to lose it, so that with one end to go it was all square at 7-7. But they rallied to pick up one on the last end, take one, and win 8-7. “It was never in doubt.” according to Mr Ford.

There was another bright start for E, 4-0 up after 2 ends, 8-2 up after 5, but 2 ends later it was 8-7. However, that lead was restored 2 ends later, and any hope of a Sunderland comeback was dashed as Suffolk picked up 6 on the penultimate end, finally winning 19-8.

For F, the result of their game was never really in doubt. By the 4th end they were 9-0 up, and although they managed to drop 8 shots over the last 4 ends, they still came home 14-10 winners.

The final result was a 7-5 win for Suffolk, taking the trophy for the 5th time on the trot, but they only just edged the shots 59-58, showing what a difference the two closest games might have made if the odd shot had gone the other way.

Eastern Counties Championship

On Sunday 26th September, Cambridgeshire hosted what was formerly the Six Counties Championship, although this year, with Bedfordshire not in a position to field a team, there were only 5 counties present.

Suffolk 1 (S1): Sally Goodrich, Emma Watling, Andy Gilder, Sam Runnacles
Suffolk 2 (S2):
Ralph Sadgrove, Ellen Grube, Sue Gilder, Paul Daniels
Suffolk 3 (S3):
Pete Runnacles, Steve Isles, Colin Fellingham, David Ford
Suffolk 4 (S4):
Sue Isles, Jim Goodrich, Adam Hubbard, Clint Watling
Suffolk 5 (S5):
Sue Davey, Tony Stevenson, Mick Watkins, Neil Jolly
Suffolk 6 (S6):
Karen Hubbard, Rita Runnacles, Ally Hobbs, Tom Runnacles

Session 1
Suffolk had all their blocks playing while the other teams had only 3 blocks competing.

Against Norfolk S1, S2, and S3 all had very close games, but each was able to come home in front, 6-3, 7-5, and 7-6 respectively. The other games were against Suffolks most likely rivals for the win, Cambridgeshire, but things didn't go quite so smoothly. S4 ran out to a 9-0 lead, before dropping a 6, but came back to win 15-7, S5 were always in touch, but never quite managed to get their noses in front, losing 4-5, while S6 were in a similar position until they dropped a 5 on end 7, losing the game 6-10.

Suffolk led the way on 8 points, 4 ahead of Essex and Cambridgeshire, but everyone else had games in hand.

Session 2
Just 3 games this time, and it was against Hertfordshire, who were missing some key players, and had been off to a slow start.

S4 were behind early on, but got ahead in the second half, and took a 9-5 win. S5 were always just in front, winning 7-3, and S6 started slowly, but grabbed a 7-6 win on the last end.

Suffolk now led Cambridgeshire by 8 points, but they had 3 games in hand.

Session 3
Essex were the oppostion this time, and S1 were struggling right from the start, eventually falling to a 3-13 loss. It was better for the other two, though, S2 took 5 on the first end and never looked back, winning 14-3, while S3 had the luxury of being able to drop a 4 on the last end, and still win 11-8.

That session saw Cambridgeshire use up their games in hand, and close dramatically on Suffolk, who now led by just one point.

Session 4
This time it was the other half of the Suffolk team who took on their Essex counterparts. While S6 ended up 6-3 ahead in a tight game, the other two results were resounding, as S4 won 18-5, and S5 won 18-0.

Maximum points for Suffolk, but Cambridgeshire could only muster one win against Herts, and had now falled 5 points behind.

Session 5
Norfolk were next up, and this time all the teams came home to very comfortable wins, S4 won 14-3, S5 13-3, and S6 10-3. Another maximum points haul, and another session in which Cambridgeshire faltered, taking just 2 points.

With all the teams having just 6 games left to play, Suffolk now led on 30 points, while nearest rivals Cambridgeshire were on 21.

Session 6
With Cambridgeshire sitting out the session, Suffolk could seal the deal with one set of games still to play.

And they did just that, S3 were never in any trouble, winning 14-3, S2's game ended up closer that they might have expected after being 7-0 up after 2 ends, just edging the game 11-9, while S3 were never in their game, quickly going 12-0 down, they rallied somewhat, but still lost 9-16.

That put Suffolk 13 points clear, and with Cambridgeshire only having 12 points available in the final session, the title was sealed.

Session 7
Suffolk's final game were against Cambridgeshire, and it was a mixed bag. S1 fell to a 4-9 loss, S3 ended up drawing 6-6, while S2 cruised to a 13-1 victory.

The final standings saw Suffolk on 37 points, Cambs on 30, Norfolk on 22, Essex on 16, and Herts on 15.

The key to the win was undoubtedly Suffolk's performances against Norfolk, Essex and Herts, losing just 2 of the 18 games, although it should be noted that they were only able to take 5 out of the 12 available points off Cambridgeshire.

Special mention should go to S4 who were the only team from any county to win all their games, while S3 were the only other team, with 3 wins and a draw, not to lose a game.

In the absense of an Eastern League this last season, Suffolk will now go forward to represent the East at Potters, in the East v North match, which is the prelude to the Nationals.

You can view the full set of results here.