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Mission Statement

  • The NSMBA mission is to provide excellent bowling and facilities for the benefit of all members and our guests
  • We aim to attract new clubs and players by promoting the Northamptonshire Short Mat Bowls Association, where friendship and socialising is fostered
  • We will try and encourage more members to attend and participate in tournaments and friendly matches
  • We aim to be cheerful, welcoming and friendly at all times
  • Recognising and maintaining the integrity and respect of the sport
  • Ensuring that all bowlers are given the opportunity to reach their full potential
  • We value tradition but recognise that we also need to embrace change in order to progress

Our Home Venue

Bridgman Bowls Club
Eagle Way, Harrold,
Bedford MK43 7EW

During the lockdown, Bridgman Bowls Club have installed an Air Filtration Unit which runs the full length of the hall, so it is the safest possible area in which to play Short Mat Bowls. 

A Fire Risk Assessment is carried out annually by Smith Fire of Kettering, the alarm is linked directly to the Fire Service. Bridgman’s Fire Safety Officer is an accredited Fire Warden.

Our Team We're all about teamwork and having competitive fun!


Brian Nelson

County Manager & Competition Secretary

Chris Weston

County Manager & Competition Secretary

Robin Patching

Premier Captain

Dave Ekins

Premier Captain

Brenda Hart

Fund Raiser

Jean Foster

Fund Raiser

Our History Northamptonshire Short Mat Bowls Association the beginning

Northamptonshire Short Mat Bowls Association the beginning

In the summer of 1989, a number of community-led facilities were approached by Comsport an organisation set up by the county council at the behest of the then government to facilitate more exercise and wellbeing for the over 50’s.

Led by Judith Percival and ably assisted by Gary Hammersley a meeting was held on the 13th July in order to set up the said association. £100 was given by the County Council in order for the set up to be implemented, the first elected chair was Jock Boyle from Harpole ably assisted by Dennis Shepherd from Overstone/Sywell (vice-chair). Peggy Howell of Moulton was elected as Secretary with Chris Pink (Scott Bader) as competition Secretary and Den Woolford Treasurer. Lotte Sanders (Overstone) and Una Woolford (Deanshanger) jointly became social secretaries. It was agreed that Northamptonshire Short Mat Bowls Association would come into being on 1st October 1989.

There was a firm commitment for membership from the following clubs, Abington, Brookside, Cotswold, Crick, Deanshanger, Harpole, Moulton, Overstone/Sywell, Ravensthorpe, Rushden, St Johns Kettering, Scott Bader, Welford, Wellingborough Victoria, West Haddon, Woodford Halse and Yelvertoft. There was interest signified also from Guilsborough, Creaton, Little Harrowden and St Andrews Kettering.

Whilst initially set up as an activity for the over 50’s, such was the interest that not only were day leagues formed but evening teams began to spring up necessitating the formation of both types of league in 1990.

The county team was formed and set up with our first match being held at Rascals (Lavendon) in 1991 versus Hampshire, who subsequently made a complaint to the National governing body that our facility floor was not up to standard!

The ensuing five years saw an explosion of interest from all over the county with teams as far north as Corby Labour and Corby Ex-Services as far south as GEC Marconi (Milton Keynes) as far west as Middleton Cheney with an abundance of leagues set up a Knockout cup was instigated and the overall day winners each year played the overall evening winners for the County Rose Bowl.

County qualifiers were held somewhat differently to the early 1990 format where when a player lost, they changed their shoes and departed the competition. A round-robin group format was set up and players started to really enjoy coming for a full day’s play. Post 1991 it became more and more difficult to find venues to accommodate our growing numbers. Deanshanger School was our first venue, but we rapidly outgrew that. Northampton College was a stop off before we found a welcome home at Roade School and the NSMBA grew. It was a regular occurrence to have 16 plus mats out for our county qualifiers, one year there were sixteen mats laid out on both Saturday and Sunday for our singles qualifier. 76 pairs entered the competition with 57 triples and 46 fours such as the interest in competitive bowling. After Roade came the Wasp Centre (Wellingborough) closely followed by Brackley Indoor Bowls Club. Numerous other facilities have been used but with the unfortunate current decline in participants, our needs have been tailored accordingly.

The first player to be introduced to the England team was Howard Toms (Rascals) followed by Chris Hopkins (Deanshanger). The first national title won by Northamptonshire players was the National Triples won by Steve McAlister and Chris Hopkins (Potterspury Magpies) with Neil Hughes (Yardley Gobion). 2001 saw the triples title once again in Northampton with Tim Godman, Chris Hopkins and John Manley (Magpies) lifting the trophy. A new competition implemented in 2000 was the National mixed fours consisting of two male and two female players. This was also lifted in 2001 by John Manley, Chris Hopkins, Thelma Hopkins and Lyn Fletcher (Magpies). 2006 saw the triples title back for a third time when Brian Smith, Leigh Hall and Matt Lawson (Deanshanger) lifted the trophy.

2012 saw the triples crown back again when Chris Weston (Pytchley), Edward Sawbridge and Chris Hopkins (Old Stratford) lifted the trophy followed by lifting the British Isles Crown on behalf of England.

2014 saw the same trio, this time joined by Leigh Hall, lift the National Fours title and also the British Isles crown, albeit with a different skip.

The latest new competition was the over 55 pairs started in 2017. This trophy was lifted by the Northamptonshire in 2020 by Chris Hopkins and Stephen McAlister.

We as a county are experiencing a quite worrying trend whereby, we are not only losing players but also clubs. Let’s all pull together in order to reverse this trend. It is our sport/recreation, can we afford to ignore it?

The county has moved yet again to a new venue with Bridgman Bowls Club (Harrold) being our current venue. The floor is very true and there will be a warm welcome for all participants as we move forward. Why not try it, you may well enjoy the experience.

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