Pembrokeshire Short Mat Bowls pick up 'Top Team' award

Pembs Short Mat Bowls - team winners
Pembrokeshire Short Mat Bowls Association team’s success in winning the ‘Top Team Challenge’, the annual event between the best county associations in Wales, England and Ireland was recognised at this year’s Sport Pembrokeshire Awards as they won the coveted engraved glass trophy in the ‘Team of the Year’ category.
Competed for annually between the best county teams from Wales, England and Ireland it is the first time that a Welsh team has won it against other countries which have massively more participants, coming together from across Pembrokeshire in a pulsating weekend of competition at the magnificent facility at ‘Heatherton World of Activities’.

Small but competitive local competition has bred success at higher levels

Pembrokeshire Short Mat Bowls Association was established in the late 1980’s and the first competitive league was contested in the 1989-90 season. Players are chosen to represent Pembrokeshire from the 20 affiliated clubs that play in a two-league structure at present.
From this small, but competitive structure Pembrokeshire select their squad for this popular annual event and have done supremely well over the years. In January 2020, Pembrokeshire became Welsh champions for a record-extending eighth consecutive year and it was their 18th Welsh Championship victory since the competition was first contested in 1993.
As a contrast, Ireland has over 40,000 members and in Wales we have close to 3,000. As a consistent contributor to the Welsh National team, here in Pembrokeshire, we can boast numerous Welsh Champions, no fewer than 14 British champions, four of which are two-time British Champions and eight World Champions,  two of which are two-time World Champions.
This year, Pembrokeshire also boast the Welsh Pairs and Welsh Rinks Champions, beating off competition from all over Wales.

Pembs team celebrating their win

Qualified for record-equalling eighth successive year

To be able to compete in the Top Team Challenge you must be reigning national champions from your respective countries. Pembrokeshire won the Welsh County Championship by beating the seven other counties of Wales in a round-robin competition and overcoming Montgomery in a one-sided final.
It demonstrated their vast experience despite being the smallest country in the competition
Two players have played for 20 consecutive years in the Welsh team, with many more playing in over 10 competitions (British Championships and World Championships).  Many Pembrokeshire players have been chosen to captain their country.
In October 2019, Pembrokeshire Short Mat Bowls team made history, becoming the first Welsh county to ever be crowned Champions of Britain. Since the Top Team Challenge started in 1995, no Welsh county had beaten their counterparts from England and Ireland until Pembrokeshire became Champions of Britain.

Team captain Rhydian was delighted . . .

It was a great triumph for Rhydian Rees, who had taken on the captaincy and giving encouragement to each and every member of the squad, putting his considerable experience in cricket and rugby to good effect.
“I was really proud to be captain at this time,” he told us, “and it was nice that we all worked together as a team. In the past eight years we have built up that team spirit as we have travelled to Ireland and England three times each – and let’s hope we can go from strength to strength now.”

Pembs Captain Rhydian and his Family

. . . And so was president Andrew Hudson

He was ably assisted by Andrew Hudson as one of the youngest presidents on record and a consistent winner at Welsh British and World short-mat bowling levels. – so it was in recognition of his immense success, and huge respect he holds in the sport around the UK.

“We have looked forward to winning the competition for as long as I can remember so it is great to raise the trophy aloft at home.

“We are lucky to have such a great venue as Heatherton to host such an important event and we would like to thanks Charles Davies and his team for looking after everyone so well.

Pembs President Andrew Hudson in action against West Midlands

Frantic finale before Pembrokeshire wins by a single shot!

It was a very close competition all weekend and it was evenly poised after day one to set up the platform for a massive second day where there was no relaxation in the tension. Fortunes ebbed and flowed as most matches were very close before it came down to the very last bowl of the weekend as Wales took on Ireland before Pembrokeshire were able to celebrate by a single shot!.
*At this time of team success it is worthwhile to pay tribute to those in the county who have gained honours at Welsh, UK and even World Championships, to carry the Pembrokeshire Flag with distinction!*
Roll of Honour:
Welsh Champions:
1998    Andrew Faulkner       
2004    Luke Guymer
2005    Andrew Hudson        
2009    Andrew Evans
2012    Andrew Evans
2014    Sean Hughes
2018    Peter Norman
1995    Alan Megson, Paul Megson                 
1998    Bryn Phillips, Gareth Davies
2004    Craig Guymer, Luke Guymer
2006    Andrew Evans, Andrew Hudson       
2009    Andrew Evans, Robert Hughes         
2013    Paul Hudson, Andrew Hudson          
2018    Simon Lewis, Sean Hughes
2020    Jon Gladstone, Andrew Hudson
1994    June Small, Alan Megson, Paul Megson        
1995    Gordon Williams, Hywel Lavis, John Mayhew
2000    Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson, Martyn Davies
2001    Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson, Martyn Davies
2003    Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson, Martyn Davies
2007    Andrew Evans, Jon Gladstone, Andrew Hudson
2011    Andrew Evans, Robert Hughes, Jon Gladstone
2017    Alan Evans, Jon Gladstone, Andrew Evans
2019    Paul Hudson, Jon Gladstone, Andrew Hudson
1999    Janine Bancroft, Matthew John, Robert Hughes, Andrew Faulkner
2002    Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson, Gareth Davies, Martyn Davies
2004    Janine Bancroft, Craig Guymer, Robert Hughes, Luke Guymer
2005    Janine Bancroft, Craig Guymer, Robert Hughes, Luke Guymer
2009    Neil Crawford, Andrew Evans, Jon Gladstone, Robert Hughes
2016    Marley Hughes, Mark Thorpe, Simon Lewis, Sean Hughes
2020    Chris John, Rhydian Rees, Jamie Stiles, Mikey John
British Champions:
2004 - Luke Guymer
2005 - Andrew Hudson                     
2012 - Andrew Evans            
2016 - Michael John  
2018 - Andrew Evans & Sean Hughes          
2001 - Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson & Martyn Davies
2008 - Jon Gladstone
2009 - Neil Crawford, Jon Gladstone & Robert Hughes       
2016 - Mark Thorpe, Alan Evans, Marley Hughes & Sean Hughes
World Champions:
2004 - Andrew Hudson & Sean Hughes
2002 - Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson & Martyn Davies
2004 - Janine Bancroft, Craig Guymer, Robert Hughes and Luke Guymer
2006 - Paul Hudson

Getting a bit tense Pembs v West Midlands