KENT COUNTY HISTORY
The Kent County Short Mat Bowling Association was formed following talks held in Blackpool in April 1988 between Ted Messer, Tony Mulcuck, and Andrea and John Rycraft. Several independent short mat associations and leagues were in existence within Kent at that time and the co-founders of the Association were mainly playing in the Maidstone and District Short Mat Triples League. The Maidstone league had been founded in 1987/88 and consisted of one division of six clubs. Those clubs being; Detling, Langley, Rochester, Sutton Valence, Tovil & YMCA.
The Association held their first AGM in February 1989 and the following committee was formed:
President: Des Butters, Vice-Presidents: Tony Mulcuck and Glynne Hibbert, Chairman: Ted Messer, Vice-Chairman: Ray Owen, Treasurer: John Rycraft, Secretary: Andrea Rycraft, Competition Secretaries: Ray Owen and Ted Pocklington.
Following disagreements with the English Short Mat Bowling Association it was decided to resign from the Association in 1990 but the County re-affiliated in 1992.
The first County team was formed in 1989 and played its first game at home against the South West England Zone at Margate on 23rd September 1989. The return match was played at Huish Episcopi, Somerset on 29th September 1990, with Kent again losing, this time by 15pts - 33pts, 210 shots - 266 shots. Kent entered a team into the ESMBA Inter County Championships for the first time in 1992/93 season. In that season Kent were entered into South East Region and played against Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. Then from the 1993/94 season the County entered teams into the National Premier and "A" team competitions. Success in these competitions soon followed with Kent Premier team winning the national title in 1994/95, 1997/98, 1998/99, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03 and 2004/05. With these successes Kent became the first county to win the national title three times in succession. The Premier team were also National runners up in 1996/97, 2003/04, 2005/06 and 2008/09. The County "A" team have won their national competition in 2001/02, 2005/06 and 2006/07 having been runners-up in 1995, 1996, 1999 and again in 2008. The County "B" team was reformed in 1993 and then following a four year break until 1997, have played a full fixture list of friendly inter-county games.
In December 1995 Kent competed, as English National county champions, in the first Team Challenge between the champions of England and Ireland. Their champions, Western Zone, represented Ireland. The Challenge Match was held at the Arrow Valley Social Club, Redditch and the result was a win for the Irish. In 1997 Wales was invited to compete and in December 1998 Kent travelled to Tenby, to represent England against the Welsh, Pembrokeshire and Irish champions, Limavady. In 1999 and 2002 Kent hosted the tournament at Hartsdown Leisure Centre, Margate. In both events Kent were unable to beat the Irish champions and finished second. In December 2005 Kent once again hosted the British Isles Team Challenge. The match was played in Folkestone between Kent, Pembrokeshire and the Irish champions Oriel with the Irish once again winning with Kent finishing second.
Domestic league competition has flourished in Kent and the County Association embraced most leagues. To encourage competition between the various leagues, Inplay Ltd donated the Inplay Challenge Trophy. This trophy was first competed for at the end of the 1990/91 season and is played for annually. Teams of triples from the winning teams of the competing leagues play each other, generally in September, at venues hosted by each league in turn. Originally the competition was between the Maidstone & District; Malling and South East Kent leagues. In 2000 the competition was extended to embrace the Swale and West Kent Leagues.
The County organises individual competitions each year. The County Championships are competed for in Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours. In addition a Club Championship is also played for annually with clubs entering a team of triples made up of players who have not gained their County badge. The County teams are selected from players who qualify for County badges by appearing on the ranking list. The ranking list is compiled from points obtained from winning games in the four domestic individual competitions.
Kent players have over the years attained individual English and national honours and Tony Mulcuck was the first Kent Player to obtain England recognition. Tony was selected to take part in the first ever international between England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland played at Lytham St. Annes in 1986. Playing in the individual fours, which Tony skipped, he was part of the winning team, beating the Irish in the final.
In 1993 Struthers Brown, Grain SMBC, became the first Kent county short mat bowler to be selected to represent Scotland in the British Isles Championships.
In 1994 eighteen year old David Smith, Langley SMBC, became the youngest Kent county short mat bowler to gain national recognition when he played for an England squad against West Sussex on Sunday 13 February 1994.
In 1996 at the age of 19, Jody Frampton, Hamstreet SMBC, gained national recognition when he was selected to play for England in the British Isles International against Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man and Wales. Playing in the individual fours Jody was part of the winning team, beating the Irish in the final. In the following year Jody was again a member of the fours that retained the fours championships, which was held in Dumfries. The final was again against the Irish. In 1998 Jody was again selected for England, this time to play in the pairs in the World Championships were he and his partner came second to the Irish pair.
In 1998 Richard Stagg, Wye SMBC, became Kent's youngest bowler to be selected for the England National squad. At the age of 15 Richard's initial squad selection was to lead to a number of international selections including, in 2000, representing England in the World Championships held on the Isle of Man when he was 17 years old.
Since 1996 a number of Kent players have played in Full and "A" internationals and have included Len Frampton, Tim Rycraft and Gary Best.
Along with England honours, Kent players have been successful in the individual National competitions and a full list of international and national honours can be seen here.
In 1999 Ted Messer, KCSMBA President, was elected Vice President of ESMBA, a position he held for two years. Ted then became the England team assistant manager, a position that was held for 2 years before in 2004 becoming team manager. Ted remained as England team manager until 2007.
In 1992 the County was awarded the first of two grants, totalling approx £18,000, from the Foundation for Sports and Arts to purchase bowls and office equipment.
In 2008 Jody Frampton, Hawkinge SMBC, was the first Kent player to gain an International title. Jody represented England at the World Short Mat Bowls Championships held in Herentals, Belgium and played in the pairscompetition. Jody was partnered by a former Kent player, Babs Morokutti, then playing for Essex, and they won the World Championship Pairs title.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the formation of the County Association an open pairs competition was held at Strood Leisure Centre on May 18th 2008. During an interval in the play a presentation of a memento was made to five of the eight founder members of the association.
On May 25th 2009 it was with regret that the County Association had to report that Ted Messer had died on Sunday 24 May 2009. Ted was a founder member of Kent County Short Mat Bowling Association when it was formed in 1988 and was currently serving the County as President of the Association. In 1999 Ted was elected as ESMBA Vice President, a post he held for 2 years and in 2004 he took the position of England Team Manager until 2007. To read various tributes to Ted click the following links. Tim Rycraft remembers - Click here to read. Ted’s achievements as England team manager -Click here to read.
Following the Annual General Meeting held in June 2010 Bryan Smith was elected President of the County Association.