The love for Rugby League is alive and well in Bolton!

Bolton Mets update…

With no league games scheduled for late July or August we had a few weeks of R&R before partaking in some form of competitive sport.

The Annual Ken Jones Memorial Bowling Day took place on Saturday 28th July, and with exactly 32 participants in attendance it made for a perfect draw. The names were picked out of the hat by Darren Robinson Snr, and with each pair guaranteed at least one game of bowls and one game of dominoes things soon got underway.

With all the warm weather we had throughout July it was sods law that rain showers were forecast for the day of the event, this meant we couldn’t run the second half of the bowls comp for those losing their opening games. On the plus side, this allowed the main bowls event to run smoothly on the green whilst the dominoes took place inside.

The dominoes event came to a climax with Head Coach Al Scarbrough and ex-Chairman Glenn Jones taking on Michael Horrobin and Tom Banks in the final. With each game being the best of three it went down to a last round decider to find out the winner, that being Horrobin and Banks on count up.

The bowls comp had thrown up some close and some not so close games, Ryan Terry and Andy Platt making their way to the final without conceding more than 4 points in any of their previous three games. However, they now had to take on Club President Jack Dorning and his partner Chris Jones, son of Ken, which would be no mean feat. From the first end I think the writing was on the wall for the Terry/Platt partnership as Jack rolled in a neat forehand toucher. As the game progressed Jack and Chris took control and stretched their lead each and every end, taking the victory with an 11-3 thrashing. That meant the Ken Jones Memorial Trophy will now spend the next 12 months in the hands of his son Chris until next year’s event comes around.

Our second social event was the Challenge Cup Semi Final Double Header held at the Macron Stadium. A small group of club members attended the games together, with several others also there having bought or won their own tickets. It was fantastic to have professional Rugby League taking place in Bolton again, having previously been the location for Test series games, World Cup Semi Finals and several World Club Challenge games. Despite a few negative comments about traffic and the fact you couldn’t take a rucksack full of food into the ground, it has to go down as a success. Bolton Mets for one would love to see this made a regular event in the calendar, or if not, then we would at least like to see the stadium used for professional Rugby League games as often as possible.

Rugby League has been played in Bolton for many years, as far back as the early 80’s with the original Bolton RL team that included the talents of a young Dave Hadfield. Bolton Mets are now coming to the end of our 23rd year of existent, and if you include the 20 years plus of Westhoughton Lions then you have to say this is no flash in the pan. Bolton Council are bidding to be a host town of the RLWC2021, with the hope of hosting a World Cup QF, some of the Women’s WC games, and/or the Wheelchair RL Tournament, and we really think it would be well deserved if granted. The love for Rugby League is alive and well in Bolton, but sometimes it just needs that bit of extra encouragement for people to sing up about it. Here’s hoping we are all successful with the bid and we not only bring the best players in the world to the town, but those supporters of far flung destinations to our delightful town.

After a couple of successful social events, it was now time to get back into action on the rugby field with the inaugural NWML Nines Tournament. We were drawn into a group with Division 1 side Pilkington Recs A, Division 2 side Wigan St Jude’s A, and Burnley & Pendle of the Merit Division.

We were caught a little cold against St Jude’s in our opening game and struggled to complete tackles when needed. We gifted them a couple of tries but they still managed to come away with a 22-0 win after the 15-minute outing.

We had to back up immediately with our next game against Burnley & Pendle, but in all honesty, this probably helped us as we were now in the swing of things. In the first half a kick and chase from Daryl Devlin saw him touch down and convert for a 6-point lead. For the second half, a break away from Mark Riley ended with him being dragged down 10 yards from the line, but he was able to skilfully offload to the supporting Paul Charnock who went in for try number two. Our third and final try came from new recruit Tom Cain, the nephew of former Mets Captain and owner of Bunbury’s Darryl Leech, who rounded a couple of would be defenders before sprinting away to score. A 14-0 win put us joint top in the group ahead of our third game against Pilks A.

The final game could make or break our day, a defeat would see us knocked out, but a win could see us progress to the finals day. Pilks had to back up this time, but with us now down to a bare 9 players it would be a tough 15 minutes. The guys from St Helens managed to get around our sliding defence to opening the scoring mid way through the first half, before doubling their lead in the second half. A barnstorming run by Ryan Terry skittled the Pilks defenders and saw him touchdown in the right corner, setting up a tense final few minutes. A couple of breaks gave them good field position, but when a penalty was awarded in front of the posts they opted to kick for two rather than run the ball and run the risk of losing possession. This speaks volumes about the Mets performance in the final game, as a team from 4 divisions higher were pushed right to the wire and needed to take the easy option of two points to secure the win.

The lads that kitted up did themselves and the club proud, here’s hoping we can take the positives from our last few league games and this tournament into our final two league fixtures and finish the season in style. We’re back in action on Saturday 1st September against Wigan Spring View A, before finishing the season at Home on Saturday 8th September vs league champions Thatto Heath Crusaders B.

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